Show Review! The Boogie Down

It was a bit chilly out last Wednesday, so it was fortunate that The LIFE Project: Chicago brought the heat for the first of what might become a ritual at the East Room, showcasing talented artists doing work here, in Chicago. When I saw the Boogie Down's bill, I smiled to myself because all three bands have gotten play here at NR and it couldn't be a better time to check in on how they've developed since last we spoke. Súbele & Lester Rey y Los Leones are both quality ensembles that are truly coming into their own; and the diverse powerhouse that is ¡ESSO! Afrojam Funkbeat stopped by for a special live performance of some of their remixed material off the Pueblo Unido mixtape.

Tighter sound; increased confidence; added elements. That's how I responded to Súbele after they're opening set. ¡ESSO! saxophonist Kevin Miller summed it up best when he got on the mic later in the evening to give love: "...and Súbele — get the f@!& outta here" (reverence) And, really — that's what was up. When I first crossed paths with Súbele, I got some funk, I got some disco — it felt very reminiscent of some of Los Amigos Invisibles' work, but with splashes of poetry in the form of hip hop lyricism and spoken word. Wednesday night I felt some added texture that seemed to expand their sound into the same aural realms occupied by the likes of WAR & Azteca.

Special guest ¡ESSO! Afrojam Funkbeat followed with a presentation of some of their material off the Pueblo Unido 
mixtape album and proceeded to set off the Súbele-heated crowd. We got what we always get with the diverse intensity that builds and releases when the octopus spreads its inventive tentacles. The space the arrangements leave for improvisation makes every performance a treat as we never know which one of ¡ESSO!'s multi-talented performers will go off. That they're already all performing at a high level makes it that much more powerful when you leave the venue and head back out into the world. I had Diana Mosquera's dreamy vocals layering Armando Pérez, Logan Lu, and Puerko Pitzotl's lyrical solos with Matthew Davis's leathery trombone solo in my being for at least 3 da— who am I kidding, I can still hear them — and every morning since when I wake-up... 


Near the end of ¡ESSO!'s set we saw Lester Rey, one of the many guest artists to participate in the Pueblo Unido project, join the band onstage for a bit serving as a nice transition into his performance with Los Leones. I hadn't seen Los Leones yet, so I was eager to hear how they sounded in the boogaloo urbano style. Julian Harris, Richard Juarez, Giovany Revelle, Khori Wilson, and Melanie Irizarry all bring a quality and chemistry that is top-notch. Precise tempo changes and interesting arrangements make for compelling performances that stay with you and that's exactly what we got Wednesday night...

just watch the crowd.