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Calle 13 @ The Merriam Theatre.

October 2, 2014

9.27.14_JUMP_Calle13_Merriam_DarraghDandurand_17Text and images by Darragh Dandurand.

The Merriam Theatre seemed like an unlikely place for Puerto Rico’s Calle 13 to perform on Saturday but the Latin-inspired hip-hop group rocked the venue through the night.

Calle 13, who holds the record for winning 19 Latin Grammy Awards, is on tour this fall covering much of the United States. This was their debut performance in Philadelphia.

The group, which is led by two step-brothers, Residente and Visitante, is famous for their political messages and heartfelt tributes to Latino culture.

Lead singer Residente came out on stage to a flair of horns and symbol crashes. The crowd immediately stood and stayed standing for the rest of the show. Often compared to Eminem by critics, Residente’s lyrics were witty and self-aware. As he rapped (mostly in Spanish), he flung himself into his music, bouncing back and forth on stage and grinning toothy smiles to the crowd.

The show was electric and energetic. Red and golden lights practically lit the stage on fire. The 11-piece band, including two drummers with full kits, as well as a separate accent percussionist, horn section and electronic synthesizer set-up, pumped Bossa Nova jazz infused with alternative rock into the venue. Almost every seat was filled with fans gyrating to Calle 13’s infectious rhythms and rhymes.

During the almost two-hour show, Residente mentioned a few times how happy he was to be in Philadelphia. He danced and paid respects to each musician on stage as they took constant turns to solo.

Calle 13 ended the night with their famous anthem, “Latinoamérica,” a love song to Latin America and its people.

The audience screamed for an encore.

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