So, after my interview with Ozomatli on KXJZ Thursday afternoon, I had to go check them out. I saw them several years ago at the Crest, but that was it, so it was time. And while I really hate the hotel ballroom that is the CSUS Student Union venue - it's cold, it's boring, and it sounds awful, and Unique Productions seems to do nothing much to make the place interesting to look at - but it was OZO, so what the hell. And they didn't let me down.
OK, so the photos ain't much, but perhaps they communicate the joy and energy of the band, which loves this venue (with a caveat about the sound), and declared Sactown "our second hometown," which is pretty damned cool, considering that these guys played Nepal, India, Egypt and other exotic locales this year.
The show was opened by SambaDa, who play excellent Brazilian music, heavy on the percussion, and who joined Ozo by the show's end, when the Ozos jumped off the stage and gathered in the center of the room, pounding out rhythms that the crowd answered with chants of "oh-zo-mat=li" over and over. It was fantastic. And it was fantastic despite lame sound and a half- or slightly-better-than-half capacity of 900 or so. It was fantastic because it was what the best "rock" shows (what does that mean anymore?) are fantastic: They create a sense of community.
This is what Springsteen and U2 and the other great bands do. They let us know that we are not alone. They free us. They get us out of the little boxes we call "home" - damn, people, get out of your fucking houses! - and remind us that we're part of a community, and that we are all the same in our myriad differences, especially if we can dance.
Dancing. I love to dance, and I do it as often as I can. And I watch people who DON'T dance, and I wonder why. How can they not? Is it about being so self-conscious, or so out of touch with the boo-tay, that you can't just feel that basic, primal, human THANG? Are you afraid you're going to look too silly? Or GAY?
And as Mike and I watched people, we agreed: Men Who Dance Will Save the World.
George Bush doesn't dance (I bet). Dick Cheney does NOT dance. Rick Rodriguez is very unlikely to dance (I'd be happy to be surprised). People who dance aren't afraid to look foolish, or uncool, or "gay." People who dance feel what it is like to be a human being (right down to the aching knees and lower back, doh!), and they can look at each other and smile and not be AFRAID that someone is going to a) hit on them; b) mock them, or c) ask them for money.
And it's not about the women in this case. Women are so much freer to dance than men are. Women are EXPECTED to dance, almost. A women who's having a good time can shake her booty; and man who does so is, well, suspect. Fuck that. MEN WHO DANCE WILL SAVE THE WORLD.
Because they aren't afraid to FEEL, and they're not always on guard, to make sure that they can kick someone's ass, just in case. And they're not always THINKING. Or judging.
MEN WHO DANCE WILL SAVE THE WORLD, because they are in touch. That's why God made gay men - to give everyone else permission to stop worrying about how they look, or if they're masculine enough. Straight men need gay men.
And that's why OZO rocks: They are a bunch of unassailably macho/straight/"real" men who dance their asses off. Bassist Wil-Dog would not be called a "pussy" by even the dumbest frat boy, yet he dances his ass off all show long...these guys shake it HARD, and they have a sense of humor about themselves, which the Dance also encourages. After all, you dance, you take a risk of falling on your ass.
OK, end of rant. I love OZO, and I love seeing people - especially men - dancing. It gives me hope. And God knows we need that now...