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The sole European making rock en espanol who's matched the success of his Latin American brethren in their own backyards, Manu Chao has done as much as anyone to fuel the growth of the genre. Born in Paris to Spanish parents, he fronted the rock band Mano Negra starting in the mid-80s; the group's politics and reggae vibe came straight from the Clash, but it also made rap, flamenco, and rai music part of the mix. Mano Negra toured extensively in South America in the early 90s, and Latin rhythms (as well as an increased awareness of the continent's poor) informed its final album, 1994's Casa Babylon. After moving to Spain, Chao assembled a new group, Radio Bemba, and recorded 1998's Clandestino, which has sold 2.5 million copies worldwide; its more Latinized amalgam is chockablock with reggae grooves, social messages, and feel-good spirituality. The follow-up, 2001's Proxima Estacion: Esperanza, suggested the well might be running dry--Chao is fond of reworking the same melody in different songs--but his popularity has only swelled since. On his most recent disc, 2002's live Radio Bemba Sound System (Virgin), the propulsive, hip-swaying tunes just keep coming, and he attracted well-deserved praise last year for his production on Amadou & Mariam's 2005 breakthrough, Dimanche a Bamako. I'd love to hear some new material at this show, but since Chao's never played Chicago I'm not feeling fussy. Chao performs on the second day of Lollapalooza; for a complete schedule see page 42. Sat 8/5, 8:30 PM, Bud Light Stage, Lollapalooza, Grant Park, Columbus & Congress, 866-915-6552, $65 for a one-day pass, $150 for a three-day pass. All ages.

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