Gig Review: The Marías – UCSD Guardian
Co-editor Andrew Ha recalls his experience at The Marías concert at SOMA on January 27, 2022 in this guest concert review for A&E.
Have you ever gone to a concert and had this thought in your head: they couldn’t sound like their recordings. This voice is not something you could reasonably hear on a live stage. It’s too melodic, too unique. Concerts for better or worse seemingly reveal an artist’s true vocal dynamics behind the veil of production. A good difference sometimes, while others… We don’t talk about the others. It’s almost like I’m unconsciously tempering my expectations.
When Puerto Rican indie singer María Zardoya took the stage, I was afraid her smooth, rich voice would be drowned out by the heavy instrumentation. It was a similar concern I had while listening to Chvrches and an issue that rang true for Clairo. Yet I stood there, surrounded by cheering fans who heard The Marías play a set that reminded me of all the reasons I’ve missed going to concerts throughout this pandemic. His energy, like his genre-defying music, meanders from provocative to whimsical. — sweeping everyone in the room with a marriage of Latin pop and psychedelic rock.
His mastery of the stage coupled with the band’s appropriate setlist made me immediately become captivated by the performance. Picking “Just a Feeling” for their opening song seemed right on target. Without words, the song is slow and endearing; it creates a kind of excitement while giving you a feeling of comfort. The lively resonance of string instruments elevates your body as guitar interludes enliven you again. Associated with “Calling You Back”, The Marías prepares the public for a night of beautiful paradoxes — the soft allure of his voice and his percussive rhythms that encompass your senses.
The warm red hues of many of the band’s songs provide an alluring charm that draws you in to focus on Zardoya, who dressed and surrounded by red butterflies, is the focal point of the concert. With her delicate smile, you get the impression that she really means it when she says “I want you to feel good”. Little by little, the Marías took their time to create a soothing mood for the audience and before I even knew it, I felt surrounded by a tender embrace.
The atmosphere, the lights and her voice blended together in a beautiful demonstration of what music should always be: an incredible sensory experience that captivates you every moment. As fluid as each song flowed into the next, The Marías continued to amaze with a trumpet solo that frankly surprised me. The brass melody infused a jazz vibe into the soundstage and made it all the more entertaining to listen to. From ‘Un Millón’ to her cover of Britney Spears’ ‘Baby One More Time’, I found each song more enjoyable than the last. They left the stage leaving me wanting more.
With the sub-bass reverberating around the smoky stage, white beams of light turned into red strobes and the Marías returned for their encore. And if not for the technical hiccups between transitions, this would have been a perfect rendition of “Hush.” I might be a little biased because it’s my favorite song, but “Hush” feels like I’ve tied the perfect knot on an already amazing set. Mesmerizing us with her alluring vocals, Zardoya ensured it would be a memorable concert experience.
It is here that I must also mention the openers, Rosie Tucker and Maye, who both had excellent performances before The Marías. Tucker, whose music is much more pop and rock oriented, led his band through a mix of songs that, while unfamiliar to me, were all wonderful to listen to. Their relatable interludes while tuning their guitar between songs gave the audience a sense of familiarity. A smooth voice that can grow more powerful with the force of the bass guitar, Tucker sang his way. After listening to “Ambrosia” one more time on the drive home, I felt like Tucker was one of those artists who had incredible potential to grow in the future.
They were followed by Maye, who, with her mix of Latin and bedroom pop, had an eclectic set of songs. While I really wanted to enjoy his set, two things held me back. The first was a difficult technical start as his microphone volume was too low, followed by a slightly unpleasant hum from his guitarist’s mic. While her more upbeat songs flowed perfectly, her slowest two – which started and ended the performance – highlighted how her voice struggled to keep a cohesive tone. I really like Maye’s discography but these particular interpretations disappointed me. The chorus felt disjointed and took away the overall experience. That being said, everything else about her performance was incredibly fun. Perfectly mixing Spanish and English, Maye knew how to intertwine the languages with the melody. His band played well with these changes and even had their moments to shine – the pianist in particular blew me away.
The Marías, paired with Maye and Rosie Tucker, had an impressive performance that underscored just how such soft, gentle vocals can still exert such influence on an audience. I can’t wait to see how their music evolves in the years to come.
The Marias: A
Rosie Tucker: A-
Image courtesy of UCSD Guardian photographer Raya.