La Santa Cecilia at Valley Performing Arts Center

La Santa Cecilia
Date:
February 18, 2017
Location:
Valley Performing Arts Center

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Story
It became quite a journey as I made my way to this concert. First off I did not realize the biggest storm in six years to hit Southern California was occurring weekend. Luckily the storm hit Friday so that by Saturday only small drizzles take place randomly throughout the day. I also did not take into account the 90 minute distance Northridge is from my home. The parking situation was not complicated but took me a while to figure out how to get free parking. As I got everything together I entered the venue right when the first song concluded.

The concert turned out to be an incredible, memorable experience. This concert was better than their Muertos Boogie! show which they threw last year in Pomona. For me that particular show was the best one that I attended in 2016. From beginning to end La Santa Cecilia took the audience on a wonderful journey through different styles of Latin American music that translated into glorious night. Lead singer Marisol “La Marisoul” Hernandez twirled on stage wearing a pink Día de Muertos themed skirt as she gave life to every song that evening. Jose “Pepe” Carlos who dressed in black was a sight to view as he impressively played both the accordion and guitar with such raw talent. Alex Bendana, also in black, displayed his mastery of the guitar as he played multiple ones song after song. Miguel “Oso” Ramirez demonstrated his skills at playing the percussion section all while wearing a Dodgers hat.

The lively performance of La Santa Cecilia proved to be quite infectious as everyone in the room danced getting lost in their performance. Calaverita continuously proves to be the standout performance of every La Santa Cecilia concert. “Calacala Calavera la noche invita/ Los muertos bailan con mi canción.” The song sums up imagery of a festive time centered around Día de Los Muertos, at least to me. La Marisoul’s skirt matched perfectly to the tune of that song as she danced wildly on stage. Another performance I look forward to is Pa Que’ Trabajar. The song highlights the strong vocals that La Marisoul possesses, proving what an extraordinary singer she is. Though this song showcases her singing abilities, I Won’t Cry For You demonstrates the emotional prowess she puts into her performances. Though that performance became emotional, La Marisoul was energetic on stage along with the other members of the band. Though this song was quite sad, the most emotional performance that night was Here We Go Again. I have to admit, that performance did make me cry for bit. I’ve never cried before at a concert, but this one hit me hard. The turmoil I experienced throughout the last seven days became to much for me to handle as this emotional song started getting to me. It became therapeutic for me letting out my emotions to a beautiful, sad song. At least I was not the only one crying as the woman next to me kept wiping tears from her eyes. If a band is able to cause you to cry, i believe that screams volumes of how amazing they are.

Halfway into the concert the band members left the stage leaving the audience in suspense. The spot light shined on band member Roberto Carlos who walked on stage wearing a bright blue suit over a white shirt.

He excitedly announced that the band is in the process of writing new songs for a new album! The band had traveled to 12 different cities in Mexico in 6 days. They also collaborated with a few different musicians such as Mon Lafrete and Rebel Cats. During his announcement of the new album the audience was treated to a three minute clip of the process of creating their new album. The video showed imagery of the band recording in the various cities, working with different musicians, as well as them being interviewed about the album. Once the clip ended the band members rejoined the stage to continue the exciting night. All three male members came back on stage wearing the same bright blue suits that Roberto was wearing a few minutes ago. The favorite moment of the concert occurred during this second half of the band. After singing a few songs La Marisoul addressed the audience as she reflected on the bands career. 15 years ago when the band formed they had high hopes and even bigger dreams they hoped would come true. For them they were hoping to catch a break and be able to sing their songs to other people as they traveled throughout the world. At the beginning of their career it seemed futile, but they never gave up and continued on. This inspiration and moving speech moved me seeing as they were able to make their dreams come true; winning a Grammy, making six albums, and traveling all around the world. The reason I loved her speech was because one could see the genuine humbleness among the band. Yes, they’ve achieved their dreams however they are not taking it for granted. After that speech, the funniest moment of the concert occurred when La Marisoul took a flask and drank on stage. She did share with both Pepe and Alex as the audience cheered them on. Unfortunately the night came to an end after two hours; I so wish that they played for another hour. I became a bigger fan after this concert as they impressed me tremendously. I love this band so much, and will see them again whenever they play in southern California again.

Trivial Notes

  • 1st concert at Valley Performing Center.
  • 2nd time seeing La Santa Cecilia.
  • 1st concert with no opening band.
  • Jose “Pepe” Carlos reposted the photo I tagged him on his Instagram page.

Tal Bachman, Eileen Carey, and Guilty Pleasures at The Rose Pasadena

Tal Bachman
Eileen Carey
Guilty Pleasures
Date:
January 19, 2017
Location:
The Rose Pasadena

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Story
Tal Bachman was set to perform at The Rose and with a great deal on Goldstar how could one turn it down. The first of three storms that week had just settled leaving causing everything to be slippery and wet. As one entered they were greeted to the sounds of Guilty Pleasures in the warm venue. Previously the band opened for Berlin the month prior, as with that performance they played rock music inspired from the 1980’s. This was the smallest audience that I have ever seen, less than 40 people overall.

Eileen Carey, a local country -pop musician, took the stage with her performance receiving the largest reaction that night. Couples were on the floor dancing along to the heartfelt country songs. The feel-good music was met with strong ethusiasum from the audience that loved her performance. With her catchy melodies, warm vocals, and rockin’ attitude she made everyone in the room a fan, myself included. Around the middle of her first song an audience member presented the singer with a bouquet of flowers. During her performance an old man, who I assumed was her manager, was giving away CDs and shirts to people in the crowd. He never offered me anything, but I would have accepted any of the merchandise that was being passed along. Nevertheless,  Carey  was a standout that night who gave an impressive performance.

Tal Bachman’s concert was the most relaxed and intimate performance that I have experienced to date. Who knew that Bachman was such a great storyteller? In between songs he would tell stories that somehow related to the songs he played. Sitting down on a chair with his guitar and occasionally flipping through his music stand as he would tell us his stories. He started his set playing Aeroplane by introducing it as “a song that they put in American Pie 4.” I will admit it I was a big of the American Pie films and might even have them all on DVD. That could explain why that particular song sounded familiar to me. From there he played early songs from his careers that were largely influenced by The Beatles and David Bowie who were two of his idols. The best story of the night though would have to be when he and his dad recorded a song with the legendary Neil Young. That was an interesting tale, but one I do not believe he would be interested in having someone write about. From there he told stories of being signed up with Columbia Records, the time period where he was losing his religion, his divorce, and a time when he was dating an Asian woman who would refer to him as “Master”. His stories were fascinating which I enjoyed because it made his performance more intimate with the crowd. Musically the highlight of the night was his performance of She’s So High. Heck that was the reason why I attended just to hear this song performed live. The backstory he gave about the unexpected success of the song during the summer  1999 when he was at the peak of his career was insightful. The success of the song took him by surprise but he was enjoying every moment of it. That was when it came to a big shock to him that it all went down hill with the rise of Napster and other file sharing programs. Other songs that he performed that night were The South Will Rise Again and This Beautiful Dream. This was a nice change of pace compared to the other rock concerts that I have attended. This is the reason why I enjoy small venues because of how intimate they feel. I doubt that I would ever have another intimate concert like this in the near future, but would enjoy seeing him perform at the same venue another time in the future.

Musical Trivia

  • 6th time at The Rose venue.

The Airborne Toxic Event at Amoeba

The Airborne Toxic Event
Date:
February 25, 2015
Location:
Amoeba

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 Story
During the time of the concert I happened to be an intern in Hollywood whose building was two blocks away. I attended Amoeba at least once a week due to the proximity of the store . During my second trip to Amoeba, The Airborne Toxic Event were set to perform a free show. At that point in time I only knew one of the band’s songs; Sometime Around Midnight. I’ve done it in the past where I attended a show and I only knew one song from the band. Since this show happened to free why not attend and see it performed live? I entered the store at a perfect time because the band started playing the slow intro to Sometime Around Midnight as I entered the store. I quickly sped to my usual spot – Latin Music section- obtaining a decent view and saw the song come alive before my very own eyes. I became mesmerized as the live version sounded 100% better than the recording did. I could see the emotions the lead singer put into the performance which amplified the significance of the song. During those brief 4 minutes I lost touch with reality as the band had me under its spell. As the song came to a climatic end I snapped back into reality and would occasionally look at the band as I rummaged through used CDs. I’ll never forget the performance of that night, but I am hopeful that I’ll see the band perform live again soon.

 The Airborne Toxic Event Setlist
1. Changing
2. Gasoline
3. Hell and Back
4. California
5. Wrong
6. Sometime Around Midnight
7. All I Ever Wanted
8. The Fall of Rome
9. Missy/I’m On Fire

Trivial Notes

  • 1st time seeing the Airborne Toxic Event.
  • 1st free show at Amoeba.