Bomba Estereo | International | Chicago Reader

Bomba Estereo Soundboard

When: Mon., July 26, 9 p.m. 2010

This excellent combo, led by guitarist, bassist, and programmer Simon Mejia, emerged in 2005 from the electronica scene in Bogota, Colombia, and developed a frothy, propulsive take on cumbia and champeta (a kind of stew of local, African, and Caribbean styles). Mejia had been working toward this sound for some time, and Bomba Estereo lead singer Li Saumet turned out to be the key that made everything click. On the group's 2008 album Blow Up (released in the States last year by Nacional) she combines aggressive swagger and punchy precision, her delivery informed by the rhythms of dancehall as well as the soulful fervor of traditional Afro-Colombian music (on "Juana" she seems to be channeling the brilliant Toto la Momposina). And onstage she's a ball of energy, her vocal presence matched by her physical charisma. Bomba Estereo's lively sense of fun can carry their music even when it's at its least original—they recently covered Technotronic's "Pump Up the Jam" for a silly Levis promotion without embarrassing themselves. Bomba Estereo also plays with Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens earlier Monday at Millenium Park. —Peter Margasak

Price: $15, $10 in advance, 18+

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