June 17th marked the first performance of total fifty concerts at the Levitt Pavilion in MacArthur Park. With three acts kicking off the event, we got a range of synth pop to salsa to western Hispanic-tinged music rebounding all the way across to the Park Plaza Hotel. However, there was more than enough space to take a front row seat, whether on the grass or on a makeshift chair, you could experience the music VIP style.
Opening act, Sin Color (Without Color), warmly but shyly greeted the audience, with the first song lasting about a minute. A synthpop mix of Spanish and English songs followed, which included “Pregunto” and “Frutas.” Crisia Regalado, the lead singer, rode over the synthpop landscape with her vocals that, at times, mirrored Shakira. Along Crisia, was David Aquino playing the synthesizer and guitar. Though the music is subtle and mellow, with slow backbeats, you can sway from side to side as it picks up speed. Crisia’s vocals wade through the electro sound, giving you awesome wails. Trained in opera at a young age, you can easily hear the depth of her voice as it goes quite high, and never whispery. They are definitely not your typical Latino band, because Sin Color has managed to bring Spanish music into another level for those indie lovers out there. A mix of dream and electro pop, Sin Color cooks up something else you didn’t know was flavorful.
Dressed in a fitted red flame charro outfit (minus the hat), stepped in Nancy Sanchez along with her band. What we heard was not mariachi music however, but a string of jazz, big band and salsa influenced songs. Nancy has won awards in jazz, and she continues to bring her knowledge into the music she writes. She fuses jazz trumpets and saxophone sounds with a Spanish acoustic guitar to achieve an uptempo song about the quirks of having an American boyfriend. She highlights the Latina bicultural experience, but sometimes her lyrics remain stunted, and can leave you wanting more underneath the surface. She paints you a direct narrative, which makes the viewpoint she wants to get across accessibly superficial, but where’s the message? At one point of “Espinoza Paz”, she adds a verse about Trump to comment on the political climate, but in her depiction of Trump, it ends up more like a joke than a message.
A three member band, Mexican Standoff, entered the stage ready to take us back to a nostalgic Americana sound. With a slide guitar player, a trumpet player, and saxophone one, the group gave us western sounds in both Spanish and English. As soon as the slide guitar cried its first notes, the sound changed the stage from Sanchez’s celebratory one to one of remembering. The lead singer, Fernanda, carries swagger reminiscent of Johnny Cash, growling out words like pistols, then bringing them to a high pitch. The best part came when the two brass players engage in a duel, with the saxophone blowing great improvised notes. It was engaging and cool. Then, came the weeping slide guitar, to close the night off. With sparse drawn out notes, a quiet settled over the audience before the end. Fernanda and the Mexican Standoff, influenced by Mexican and American folk music, offer a forgotten part of history and our music consciousness. It was great to see a band build off this tradition.