With Zuzuka Poderosa & Kush Arora
Heineken TransAtlantic Festival 2013
North Beach Bandshell
Saturday, April 6, 2013
Better Than: An aguardiente-drenched wedding in Bogotá.
Man or woman, if Bomba Estéreo's Liliana "Li" Saumet doesn't make some part of your anatomy hum with strange, sensual electricity, then you need a libido transfusion.
Saumet took the Heineken TransAtlantic Festival stage in style on Saturday night, dressed in a knee-length, metal-studded jean jacket, fishnet top, and tight, green metallic shorts. She gripped the mic with a pink glove, and snarled superquick Spanish lyrics from behind a bizarre frilly pink headpiece. Her bleach-blond ponytail snapped back and forth as she whipped the crowd into a frenzy.
Saumet might have looked like a neon-lit, Latina version of early '80s Madonna, but Bomba Estéreo rocked harder than ol' Madge ever has.
After an energetic but slightly staccato opening performance by female Brazilian rapper Zuzuka Poderosa, Bomba Estéreo hit the stage and began to play a long, synthy intro.
Saumet was nowhere to be seen, however, and the crowd -- a nice mixture of hipsters and families with kids -- stirred with anticipation. Then there was a flash of pink and Saumet appeared on stage.
"Wassup Miami?" she belted, climbing on top of a speaker as the fascinator glowed like hellfire on top of her head. "Bomba Estéreo en la casa!"
Suddenly drummer Kike Egurrola began pounding out a sharp beat. Simón Mejía and his mustache started strumming the bass. And as the scrawny Julián Salazar synth-ed away on the keyboard, Saumet launched into "Caribbean Power."
The lead singer was all sex and snarl, and by the time Bomba began its second song -- the hit "Sintiendo" off the group's most recent album -- the crowd was bewitched.
Things didn't slow down. Egurrola's arms were a blur, as if he were in a bad Jason Statham movie where he had to beat the shit out of his drums or his heart would explode like a baked potato. "¡Levanta las manos si quieres bailar conmigo esta noche!" Saumet ordered. The audience obeyed.
Li and her Bomba Estéreo bandmates are by no means unknown around these parts. They've been big in Miami since their 2009 album "Blow Up," and are part of a wave of Latin American bands infusing traditional beats with electronic sounds or rap.
But this gringo was nonetheless amazed to hear Bomba switch beats incessantly, gliding from cumbia to champeta or hip-hop and then back again.
Halfway through the set, Bomba Estéreo was joined by Zuzuka Poderosa and -- more surprisingly -- Locos Por Juana lead singer Itagui Correa for a raucous performance of "Rocas."
Next came "Fuego," one of Bomba's first big hits. It was the most frenzied, ferocious moment of the night. Saumet tore off her headpiece and commanded the crowd to jump as images exploded on the screen behind the band.
Saumet then disappeared. After a short musical interlude, she emerged in a new outfit, a strange combo of a campesina-like dress with a tiny black leather cape with shoulder frills. She slipped the fascinator back on her head and began to talk to the crowd.
"You all have to hold fast to two things in life," she said seriously. "El alma y el cuerpo" ("The body and soul").
Bomba Estéreo launched into its song of the same name, but this version was unexpectedly sad. Someone had handed Saumet a bouquet of roses. And as she sang about heartbreak, she began tearing the petals off the flowers and tossing them into the air.
"La sangre está hirviendo" ("My blood is boiling"), she crooned. "Me quemo por dentro" ("I'm burning up inside").
She then walked to the back of the stage and staring at the flashing screen in front of her, sang "No puedo estar más así" ("I can't be this way anymore"). "No puedo estar más así."
As the song died, so did the concert. It was 10:47 p.m. and a TransAtlantic organizer came onstage to explain that the curfew meant the music had to stop.
It was a sudden, surprisingly sad end to a sexy, kick-ass concert. But before you send Saumet your letters of concern, Crossfade snuck a peak at the setlist. It had five more songs: "Bis," "Raza," "Agua Sala," "Juana," and "Huepaje."
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So I guess that means Bomba Estéreo still owes Miami five songs. See you soon, Li Saumet.
Follow @MikeMillerMiami on Twitter.