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Austin-based Latin funk jam band Grupo Fantasma formed in 2000, and quickly established a reputation for their high-energy live shows. Comprised of musicians hailing from all over Latin America, Fantasma's players were brought together by Austin's bustling music scene, finding in each other a hunger and drive to create something truly unique. Drawing influences from genres and styles like cumbia, salsa, old-school funk, reggae, and more, the band built a buzz surrounding its new and inventive style almost immediately. Their debut record, Grupo Fantasma, was released in 2002 and sold over 7,000 units from the stages of their live shows. It was followed two years later by their regional hit record Movimiento Popular. Though offered label support, Grupo Fantasma elected to produce the record independently, maintaining complete creative control. The record's success put the band on-stage next to acts like Los Lobos, Barbarito Torres, KRS-One, and Buena Vista Social Club. Following two performances on Austin City Limits and an exciting night with Prince at his now defunct Las Vegas venue, the 3121 Club (he showed up to play after the band did a sold-out two-week stint there), Grupo Fantasma released their first record capturing their explosive live performances, 2006's Comes Alive. With their fan base and reputation built entirely upon word of mouth, the grassroots success of Grupo Fantasma marks them as one of the decade's most important independent artists in the Latin genre. Released in 2008, the band's worldwide breakthrough album, Sonidos Gold, received widespread attention from all over the world. Existential followed in 2010. ~ Evan C. Gutierrez