KCRW presents Ozomatli, Kinky, and Juana Molina at Disney Hall

Walt Disney Concert Hall

Nic Harcourt, the inimitable host of L.A.'s ahead-of-the-curve radio music program MORNING BECOMES ECLECTIC, hosted KCRW's A LATIN CHRISTMAS at the Walt Disney Concert Hall on Wednesday, December 22.

JUANA MOLINA opened the evening with a deft weaving of electronics, keyboards, and acoustic guitar. Following Molina was the forceful sound of Mexico's KINKY, whose driving layers of traditional suramericano rhythms with rock-and-roll impelled mass aisle-dancing. And headlining the evening was the concoctive L.A. band OZOMATLI, whose musical brews have earned them a sturdy following.

Nic Harcourt

Although Harcourt showed up late, singing the overplayed ballad of L.A. freeway traffic as part of his quick apology for not introducing Molina, the performances themselves never lost their stride.


Juana Molina

Molina, who abandoned an otherwise successful stint as host of the sketch-comedy television program JUANA AND HER SISTERS in Argentina to pursue music, has developed a style that, while certainly more subdued than the pulsing rhythms of Kinky or Ozomatli, has its own series of twists and shouts...and barks. Brian Wilson, whose own performance of SMiLE at the Disney Hall just a few weeks back re-energized the sound sensations that had marked his post-Pet Sounds period, would have certainly leaned in to hear Molina's sharp yelping in her ode to the perpetual irritation of the neighbor dog.

But Molina's sound is more aptly marked by an amazing assemblage of vocals, acoustic guitar, and synthesized instrumentation, a combination which subtly, skillfully, and a tad wryly constructs melodies that simultaneously resist convention and arouse delight. While her set opened the evening, it was the perfect counterpoint to what was to follow.


Kinky, led by the bracing energy of Gil Cerezo, opened with the compelling and rhythmic "Mas", stirring immediate crowd energy. Cerezo's vigorous onstage presence was refreshing in the face of what has felt like a dying art of late.

Performing songs from both their debut album KINKY and their most recent ATLAS, the band looked both comfortable and confident as they danced around the stage. Where Ozomatli at times seemed to resort to the coercion of the audience to dance, clap, and sing along, the energy exuded throughout Kinky's performance brought the audience to its feet and had even the most austere KCRW-supporting Angelenos bobbing their heads and splitting a grin.


The evening's final slot went the L.A. band Ozomatli. Since the mid-1990s, Ozomatli - who headlined the event - has been layering Latin rhythms with hip-hop and, more recently, fusing a Middle Eastern blend into the mix. Even in the late 1990s, members of Ozomatli's congregate of believers were already sporting the bands "Ozo" emblem on tees and stickers. That has only since grown. And one can only applaud a band who avoids the self-congratulatory encore performance, instead carrying their performance all the way out to the lobby. And while the maze of Disney Hall prohibited full sight of the band once they had left the stage, most folks were leaning over staircases to - at the very least - catch ear of the continuing performance.

L.A. band Ozomatli

If you missed the Christmas show, you are still in luck - Ozomatli, Kinky, and Molina are available at Amazon, and both Ozomatli and Kinky are available through iTunes.

KCRW will wrap up their 2004 concerts with Pink Martini at the Disney Concert Hall on December 31, 2004. Check out KCRW's Calendar of Events at kcrw.com. For upcoming concerts and other events at Disney Hall, visit musiccenter.org or call 213-972-7211.

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