Ozomatli, Weapon of Choice

House of Blues, 12/20

I know it’s been said before but I’ll say it again: If heaven had to spit out a party band, it would be Ozomatli. They are the reigning kings of feel-good L.A. roots music. Aside from one lady in a black halter top and spike heels who was throwing up in the restroom, absolutely everyone was having a good time. Tre Hardson (formerly of Pharcyde) had an ear to ear grin and shiny nuclear glow that commanded the show from first note. Limbs flailing, smashing a tambourine, Hardson danced right on time with guitarist Raul Pacheco and fellow vocalists Justin Poree and Asdru Sierra.

Photos by Rena Kosnett. Click here for more from the show.

The dancing—that’s something I’ve always found impressive about Ozomatli. Not many acts out there are tough enough to warrant attention with hip-hop fans, yet simultaneously home-fried and sweet enough to incorporate a prominent brass section, swirl their guitars around in sync with little choreographed dance moves, and be totally smiley and ebullient. Besides the crowd’s vast multiethnic make-up (typical for Ozomatli shows), it was also clearly multigenerational. A common trope was the tattooed father drinking and dancing with his tattooed son and/or daughter. If I was queen of L.A. I would make the City's anti-gang force attend more Ozomatli concerts so they could harvest a few cues on bridging racial divides.

Photos by Rena Kosnett. Click here for more from the show.

Halfway into their set, Ozomatli left the stage in darkness and reemerged from the back of the club, made their way through the entirely sold-out, stuffed to the brim House of Blues, and proceeded to play (with said brass section, including trombone) in the middle of the packed main floor, while a wall of confetti was dumped from the rafters. When the lights came up Jurassic 5’s Chali 2na was on the mic, and of course, he was smiling, and eventually dancing in step with Ozo. The whole experience was warm and wonderful and exactly why Los Angeles is a culturally important city.

Weaons of Choice. Photos by Rena Kosnett. Click here for more from the show.

Opening group Weapon of Choice was fun rock/funk, but it was their physical appearance that caught my attention. There was the half side-hawked singer draped in neon green polyester pashmina, the sexy, sequined jungle print loin cloth-clad back-up vocalist performing snakish belly maneuvers, the tie-dye wearing, big hair (dreaded?) guitarist, the long skirted and hatted Seattle transplant-looking female trombonist, and the hooded faceless dude at the keyboard. Also a drummer wearing a faded black muscle tank. Very out-of-fashion, but so consciously and of a particular era, namely late 80s early 90s New York funk scene, to make it seem carefully calculated. Looking at the band history, they’re most likely making a conscious decision, as the singer and bass player Lonnie “Meganut” Marshall sites his influences as RHCP and George Clinton. Definitely images of Parliament arose, but also Public Image/Public Enemy/Basquiat. I would love to see them play a show with the Noisettes—combined with Shingai Shoniwa’s crazy locks, there would surely be a hair-plosion.

Photos by Rena Kosnett. Click here for more from the show.

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.