Halloween night at Laxson Auditorium on the campus of Chico State University took on a Latin twist; and once again, the power of music broke down race, age and language barriers as people joined together in joy and celebration with the Dia De Los Muertos Tour with the music of Flor de Toloache, Mexrrissey and La Santa Cecilia.
The night began with a superb performance by New York City’s Flor de Toloache, an all female mariachi band that combines the traditions of mariachi music with hints of pop, soul, jazz and rock & roll. In October I had the opportunity to catch the band’s opening set at Sacramento’s Ace of Spades as they opened for Café Tacvba and they were impressive, but at Laxson Auditorium, a venue much better suited for their sound, Flor De Toloache just kept raising the bar with every song they performed. They played traditional mariachi songs as well as original material and excellent cover versions of such classics as Nirvana’s “Come As You Are” with a coda from Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”, or an exceptional a capella rendition of “La Llorona” that gave us all goose bumps and even a medley of the late Juan Gabriel.
Up next was Mexico’s Mexrrisey, a group of well known and respected Mexican musicians who happen to be Morrissey and The Smiths fans and have created a wonderful and interesting fusion of Spanish and “Mexicanized” versions of Morrissey’s music.
Camilo Lara, better known for his work with The Mexican Institute of Sound, led the band through such classic Morrissey and The Smiths classics as “The First Of The Gang” (El Primero Del Gang), “Every Day is Like Sunday” (Cada Dia Es Domingo), “Suedehead” (Estuvo Bien), “How Soon Is Now” and others.
Up front we had Chetes (Zurdok) and Jay De La Cueva (Moderatto, Fobia, Victimas Del Dr. Cerebro) displaying their expertise on both bass and guitar as they switched from one instrument to the other throughout the performance as well as great vocal performances, on keyboards and vocals, we had Ceci Bastida (Tijuana No!) who was the first one to get the audience going as she invited some of the audience members up on stage. On trumpet, Sergio Mendoza (Calexico) put the Mexican touches on the music and at the back, on the drums; Ricardo Najera (Furland) kept the energy at top level.
At first the audience was trying to be respectful of the “older theater going audience” that was sitting at the front and they were dancing on the side of the stage, but when Jay De La Cueva invited everyone to stand and have a good time, all those standing on the sides rushed to the front of the stage and raised the energy of the band and music which didn’t need much help as they were already setting the bar quite high for the closing act.
To close out the night, L.A.’s own, La Santa Cecilia (LSC) got a great reception but as the fans began to rush to the front, security pushed them back, when singer La Marisoul saw this, she took it upon herself to make sure their fans could enjoy the show and she stepped down from the stage and invited all the fans to follow her to the front of the stage and the party went full tilt as they played an energetic set featuring songs like “I Won’t Cry For You”, “Calaverita”, “Monedita”, and “Mexico Americano” among others, but without a doubt the highlights of their performance was “Como Dios Manda” in which La Marisoul left her microphone behind and with her strong and passionate voice projected all the way to the back of the theater, which got everyone singing along. During “Falling”, Jay De La Cueva joined La Santa Cecilia on guitar and had and incredible guitar duel with LSC’s Marco Sandoval and for the encore, Jay De la Cueva along with the members of Flor de Toloache joined LSC on their version of Ramon Ayala’s “Tragos de Amargo Licor” which they recorded with Spain’s Enrique Bunbury and it was the perfect ending to a night of amazing performances, fantastic music and a great vibes on stage and in the audience.