Gente de Zona live from SOBs in New York City

| 06/18/2011

gente de zona

Jennifer, Casinera in DC, with Gente de Zona

When I heard that Gente de Zona was going to be at SOBs in New York City on a Saturday night I thought one thing: Can DJ Asho hook me up with introductions to the group? As I reviewed my schedule for the weekend I knew I could go and made the plans. DJ Asho, friends with Alexander from Gente de Zona, promised me a photo-op with the group and I’m happy to say he didn’t disappoint.

The week before the concert, I did my research. I listened to the group as much as possible (not a hard thing to do), read about them online, watched concert footage on YouTube so that I would know what to expect. I wanted to know the music and be familiar with it as I think it makes concerts that much better. As we arrived, I jumped in line with DJ Reyna who had also travelled from Washington DC for the night with her sister and friends. DJ Asho headed inside. The line was very short compared to the time I went to see Charanga Habanera. The weather had been in the 90s when we left but that evening it was rainy and chilly. Slowly the line grew but it was clear the floor wouldn’t be as packed as previous concerts.

Finally we were allowed inside. We headed straight to the stage and stood as the crowd slowly pressed up against us. I was blessed to stand behind a guy who was very into the music as he danced far too big for the space. I protected myself as much as I could be felt as if the women around me were ready to pounce if I moved an inch. Wanting to get good photos, I had my nice camera with me and it felt like I was dragging around a 2-ton weight trying to maneuver the space around me. The crowd was young, heavy on the females, and scantily dressed. They were prepared to be in front of Gente de Zona and most likely head to the stage if given the opportunity.

I felt a tap on my shoulder and DJ Asho was motioning to me to follow him. I gave up my space at the front of the stage – totally worth it to head downstairs to the greenroom. All of my preparation was for nothing. I walked in, DJ Asho was making introductions, and I got tongue-tied. All those questions I had hoped to ask, the brief love of their music that I had wanted to share… nothing came out of my house. I felt like an idiot as I stood there smiling like a goofball. DJ Asho mentioned something about my love of timba and the fact I had driven 5 hrs just for them. Alexander seemed impressed. Whew. We proceeded to take a ton of photos with the group. They didn’t seem to mind. We were trying to hurry so that they could take the stage.

As I climbed the stage to wait for the concert to start I was pretty happy. Sure, I wasn’t going to be right in front of the stage but that’s why I brought the good camera. I didn’t need to be for good shots. Soon they walked up on stage and started. They sounded good. I was towards the side so I imagine it sounded even better towards the back of the room. They went through most of their hits from their most recent album – my favorites being Quien Eres Tu and El Silicona. El Silicona starts with rumba and has a great feel to it.

Through the concert the guys wooed the women with their smiles, danced a bit, but overall were quite tame compared to other concerts I had seen on YouTube. There was no removal of shirts (many women were disappointed I am sure) or overtly sexy dancing. They sang their songs and sounded terrific. El Chacal was travelling with them and got on stage to perform for one song. His voice was amazing. I would have liked to heard more. The musicians were, of course, top-notch. I was on the side with the horns and they were quite good.

If you haven’t had the chance to hear Gente de Zona you will find they are not like other reggaeton groups. Their music is more melodic infused with timba and other AfroCuban rhythms. Every song has its own flavor and feel unlike so many other reggaeton artists. In fact, when I described their music online to a friend he remarked, “oh, you are talking about Gente de Zona aren’t you?”. This from a man who dislikes reggaeton – they are obviously doing something right with their music. This is the reason they are huge in Cuba and have been featured in the series Animals of Cuban Music talking about how many see reggaeton taking over salsa/timba in Cuba. I don’t think that people should have this fear as it is clear from their music that they enjoy integrating it into their music. Without it their songs would sound repetitive like so many other music in that genre.

I highly recommend seeing Gente de Zona in concert if they come to your city! They’ll make you want to get your despelote on and move those hips!

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Category: News, Reggaeton, Upcoming Events

About the Author ()

Hello! I love Cuban salsa. While I really love all salsa music my heart, soul, and body just responds best to Cuban salsa. It doesn't matter if it is the early work of Celia Cruz or Ibrahim Ferrer or the current Bamboleo album - I'm gonna move to it! I live in the Washington DC area and work to promote Cuban dancing and music and try to educate people about what timba is... what rueda is... what salsa casino is... and how, historically, it all played a big part in them being able to go to a club and dance salsa.

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