#GirlsRockLA: Madame Ur, Love La Femme And Having Fun Making History
By Patrick O’Heffernan
I have often said in my essays and on my radio shows that Los Angeles is the music capital of the world. That statement draws denials from Nashville, New York, and London — understandably so. But it cannot be denied that something historic is happening in the south and east quadrants of the City of Angels, in Boyle Heights, EastLos, El Sereno, Compton, the Arts District and even places like Mt. Washington, Silverlake and Echo Park. There, the long-resident Latino music scene is colluding with rock and rap and jazz while it adds a constant stream of fresh talent from Mexico, Columbia, Guatemala, El Salvador and the Caribbean, all drawn to the enervating proliferation of bands, producers, studios, venues, managers and publications dedicated to the emerging new genre, American Latino Music – or ALM.
That collision was on full display Friday night upstairs at Los Globos in the Silverlake District as the production partnership The Living Sessions and Sunset Eclectico produced the third #GirlsRockLA event with a stellar lineup of local and international bands. Sponsored by local businesses Quetzal Boutique and VM Elegant Entertainment, the ongoing series is produced monthly in different LA venues, complete with music, art and community involvement.
As crowds settled into the leather couches and plastic chairs, Mistress of Ceremonies Julieta Isela telegraphed that she sensed that what she is doing with GirlsRockLA is historic. Her introduction and lavish welcome and gratitude to the fans and musicians and press recognized that this was a bigger deal than three bands and a large friendly crowd. She said as much when she introduced the first Girl RockerLA, lifelong Angelino Iris De Anda, founder and lead singer/bassist of the Latin punk band, Bexox.
Bexox kicked off the night with high energy and some wry wit. With De Anda’s son commanding the drums and Jovan Frias riffing out pure energy on the lead guitar, Iris electrified the crowd, turned heads, and shot a high voltage message throughout the room: Latinas play any kind of music. Which is the larger message of #GirlsRockLA. From love songs to punk, from floating piano notes to a thumping bassline, Latinas do it and they do it really, really well. It was a message that brought shouts of joy from the women in the room, including Latin Grammy Winner and rock guitarist Alih Jey.
By the time the last vibrating note from Bexox had faded, the energy and density of the room had doubled as more people poured through the red curtain separating the music lounge from the hip hop pouring out of another Los Globos venue. But the tracks laid down by #GirlsRockLA DJ Fanny Demode easily overwhelmed the beats from downstairs and kept the room buzzing while the Mexico City-based band Love La Femme plugged in and tuned up.
What a contrast – and a hat tip to Isela for her programming that set up musical acts who contrasted and yet complimented each other. The powerline sparks of Bexox were a perfect appetizer for the gentle, exotic, aching voice of Marion Sosa and the soaring riffs of guitarist Pablo Valero. Love La Femme took us through heartthrob and heartache, but also paused to tell us the story of the missing 43 students in Mexico and sing about it – a song Sosa said was “very sensitive” in her native Mexico.
Talking and singing in Spanish and English, Sosa took us through many of their hits that blended her own roots in folk and classic rock supported by Valero’s dark psychedelic guitar. The blend is a love affair with the power of the feminine – “Love La Femme.” Her songs, her powerful, gentle presence, her lyrics in Spanish and English (mostly Spanish) chronicle the force of love and the essence of woman, a woman who I learned in later conversation is completely comfortable with her talent and her authority.
A Panoram recording star, the band will be in Los Angeles for a week, opening Friday at the Belasco for León Larregui, who also produced the band’s haunting video, Hoy Me Desperté, and stopping for a concert in Riverside in mid-week. Snagging the band for a Friday night was a coup for The Living Sessions.
However, it was the night’s headliner who blew the room away. Tijuana-based Madame Ur Y Sus Hombres brought us the emotional and vocal power of the best of Mexico’s love songs and ballads, powered by a three-piece Grammy-level rock band. Madame Ur’s operatic voice, sensual flirtatious body language, striking poses and emotion-wracked countenance, all combined into a set the likes of which have seldom, if ever, been seen in LA. The epitome of American Latino Music, Ur and Sus Hombres melded powerful love song forms from Mexico with shimmering, pounding, beat-driven rock that would bring down the house in any venue in the country on its own. Ur held the focus both visually and sonically, writhing, undulating, grimacing, smiling, seducing and at one point leaving the stage and dancing romantically with an audience member- leaving him stunned and grinning with a kiss on the cheek.
Azzull Monraz – the singer behind the character Madame Ur – and her “hombres,” Toto Zúñiga and Joel Castillo, have honed their mix of cabaret, jazz, art and rock into a unique alt rock sound that is fits the America Latino Music mix perfectly. Monraz has a long and deep history in art, theater, film and even orchestra and has shared the stage with greats from the US and Mexico. Her performances in Mexico sell out quickly. Booking her for #GirlsRockLA was not only an accomplishment for The Living Sessions but a gift to Los Angeles in bringing one of the most popular and creative talents from Mexico to a Los Angeles stage, especially in an intimate environment.
The next #GirlsRockLA WILL BE July 28 and will feature Los Angeles native, the stunning torch and jazz singer Irene Diaz, plus other bands from Latin America to be announced during the month. Attending is not only fun, it is being a part of history.
Patrick O’Heffernan. Host, Music FridayLive!
#GirlsRockLA is produced by The Living Sessions and Sunset Eclectico