Colombian Bomba Estéreo performs at IMU


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The lights flash, and the hum of electronic beats and folk music fill the air. Bomba Estéreo's music combines familiar aspects with elements that will surprise the audience.

The Colombian band will perform at 9 p.m. today in the IMU Main Ballroom. The event is sponsored by Hancher, and admission is free.

"We try to find diverse expressions from across the world and bring them to Iowa City," said Jacob Yarrow, the Hancher programming director. "We look for the unfamiliar, different from popular culture, in order to expand people's views of what they like."

He decided to bring Bomba Estéreo to campus after seeing it perform.

"[The band is] remarkably high energy and exciting," he said. "It is a little to the side of mainstream."

Band director and founder Simon Mejia said the group came together because of an experiment in a studio, and the band members say their tunes come from the love they share for the style they play.

"We're trying to achieve a new and fresh beat that when you hear it, you probably would think that it comes from some place in Latin American," Mejia said. "Then you research a little and find that it comes from a whole tradition of Afro-Colombian drums."

The Bomba Estéreo members said they would like people to think more positively. The group's native country, Colombia, deals with many social and political problems, and the musicians hope to use their music to inspire optimism, especially among Colombians.

The group has been touring Spain, and it will come to the U.S. this week.

"We've turned our lives into some kind of Colombo-gypsie style," Mejia said. "We don't have a permanent home; our house is inside a bag, which every time is smaller because we don't like to pay overweights to airline companies. We're permanently under the influence of jet lag and wine, and we don't get much sleep. But we're happy people, I suppose."

Bomba Estéreo is working on new music, and the players say their show is half old material and half new pieces.

Yarrow describes Bomba Estéreo's shows as colorful and abstract, noting that the group has a video portion that enhances its concerts.

"You don't have to understand Spanish to enjoy the show, because there are so many aspects to it," he said.

The group members said they are excited to show an Iowa City audience what they have to offer.

"We love college crowds; they're always very open-minded," Mejia said. "We're preparing a very grand show for this opportunity, something especially dedicated to the young people, very hot, very danceable. I would say to the people to get prepared for a dance bomb."

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