Concert Review: The Marías

News Co-Editor Andrew Ha recalls his experience at The Marías concert at SOMA on January 27th, 2022 in this guest concert review for A&E.

Do you ever go to a concert and have this thought in mind: they could not possibly sound like their recordings. That voice isn’t something you could reasonably hear on a live stage. It’s too melodic, too unique. Concerts for better or worse seemingly expose an artist’s real vocal dynamic behind the veil of production. A good difference sometimes, while others… We don’t talk about the others. It’s almost as if I were subconsciously tempering my expectations. 

When Puerto Rican indie singer María Zardoya stepped to the stage, I was afraid that her soft and rich voice would be drowned out by the heavy instrumentation. This was a similar concern I had when listening to Chvrches and an issue that actually rang true for Clairo. Yet here I stood, surrounded by enthusiastic fans hearing The Marías perform a set that reminded me of all the reasons why I missed going to concerts throughout this pandemic. Her energy, like her genre-defying music, meanders from the provocative to the whimsical swaying everyone in the hall with a marriage of Latin pop and psychedelic rock.

Her command of the stage coupled with the band’s apt setlist made me become immediately engrossed with the performance. Choosing “Just a Feeling” for their opening song felt absolutely right. Lyricless, the song is slow and endearing; it builds a sort of excitement while making you have a sense of comfort. The lively resonance of the string instruments elevates your body as the guitar interludes ground you again. Paired with “Calling You Back,” The Marías prepare the audience for a night of beautiful paradoxes the gentle allure of her voice and hard hitting beats that encompasses your senses.

The warm red hues from many of the band’s songs provides a seductive charm that draws you in to focus on Zardoya, who dressed and surrounded in red butterflies, is the focal point of the concert. With her delicate smile, you feel like she genuinely means it when she says “I wanna make you feel alright.” Little by little, The Marías took their time creating a calming ambience for the audience and before I even realized, I felt surrounded in a tender embrace.

The atmosphere, lights and her voice blended into a beautiful display of what music should always be: an amazing sensory experience that captivates you with every moment. As fluid as each song followed into the next, The Marías continued to surprise with a trumpet solo that honestly took me aback. 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 the smoke-filled stage, white beams of light turned into red strobes and The Marías returned for their encore. And if not for the technical hiccup between transitions, it would have been a perfect rendition of “Hush.” Perhaps I am a bit biased because it’s my favorite song, but “Hush” felt as though it tied the perfect knot on an already amazing set. Mesmerizing us with her seductive voice, Zardoya made certain that it would be a memorable concert experience.

It’s here that I must also give notable mention to the openers, Rosie Tucker and maye, who both had great performances to lead up to The Marías. Tucker, whose music is much more pop and rock oriented, led their band through a medley of songs that, although unknown to me, were all wonderful to listen to. Their relatable interludes while tuning their guitar between songs provided the audience with a sense of familiarity. A gentle voice that can grow more powerful with the strength of the bass guitar, Tucker  sang to her heart’s content. After listening to “Ambrosia” once more on the car ride home, I felt as though Tucker is one of those artists that has an incredible potential to grow big in the future.

Following them was maye, who, with her blend of latin and bedroom pop, had an eclectic set of songs. While I really wanted to enjoy her set, two things held me back. The first was a rocky technical start as the volume of her microphone was too quiet followed by a slightly obnoxious buzz from her guitarist’s mic. While her more upbeat songs flowed perfectly well, her two slower ones — which started and ended the performance — highlighted how her voice struggled to hold a consistent tone. I really enjoy maye’s discography but these particular renditions left me disappointed. The chorus felt disjuncted and took away from the overall experience. That being said, everything else in her performance was incredibly fun. Mixing Spanish and English seamlessly, maye knew how to intertwine the languages with the melody. Her band played well with these changes and even had their moments to shine — the pianist in particular blew me away.

The Marías, coupled with maye and Rosie Tucker, had an awesome performance that highlighted how soft and gentle voices can still carry so much sway over an audience. I am excited to see how their music will evolve in the coming years.

The Marías: A
maye: B
Rosie Tucker: A-

Image courtesy of UCSD Guardian Photographer Raya.

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