A Concert to Celebrate Life After Death

Photo courtesy of Goldstar Events.

Dia de los Muertos is a popular holiday celebrated in the United States and throughout Latin America from October 31 to November 2. Some of the most common objects used for Dia de los Muertos are calaveras (skulls), pan de muerto (bread of the dead), and ofrendas (altar). Skulls and pan de muerto are used to decorate the altars, which are intended to lure the spirits that “awaken” on October 31.

Dia de los Muertos is a celebratory holiday that impacts large student communities at UCSD, so it is only appropriate that ArtPower organized a concert at the Balboa Theater on Nov. 2 that featured three very talented bands.

La Santa Cecilia is a Grammy award-winning Mexican-American band from Los Angeles that incorporates many different Latin sounds, such as cumbia and banda. The band is comprised of lead singer Marisol “La Marisoul” Hernandez, accordionist Jose “Pepe” Carlos, percussionist Miguel “Oso” Ramirez, and lastly bass guitarist Alex Bendaña. The group has been performing with Mexrissey and Mariachi Flor de Toloache as part of their “Dia de los Muertos” tour that San Diego was fortunate enough to host.

A special moment of La Santa Cecilia’s performance was their performance of “Como Dios Manda”  without a microphone. This performance created an intimate moment with the audience, unable to be replicated by the studio version of this track. During this performance, the crowd grew silent and and all eyes were glued to La Marisoul; we all felt as if she was singing directly to us. La Santa Cecilia concluded the show by inviting Mexrissey and Mariachi Flor de Toloache out onto the stage to perform one final song together. During this time, the audience was encouraged to dance and many took to the front of the stage.

Morrissey, the famous lead singer of English rock band The Smiths, has a very large Mexican-American following. Naturally, a group from Mexico City, cleverly named “Mexrissey”, formed to sing Morrissey’s songs in Spanish. The rather large group is made up of the following members: Chetes on guitar, Jay De La Cueva on bass, Ceci Bastida on keyboards, Adan Jodorowsky on guitar, Liber Teran on guitar, Alejandro Flores on violin, Alex Gonzales on trumpet, Ricardo Najera on drums, Camilo Lara on electronics, and Sergio Mendoza and Jacob Valenzuela on accordion and trumpet, respectively. Mexrissey opened with Morrissey’s “The First of the Gang to Die” and closed off with “How Soon is Now.” Anyone who knows Morrissey is familiar with his melancholic tunes and poetic lyrics. Mexrissey delivers a performance equally melancholic and somehow even more heart-wrenching through the translation to Spanish. Nonetheless, Mexrissey provided an eclectic sound different from the other two bands as their music links English rock to Mexican-American musicians.

Mariachi Flor de Toloache is a mariachi group that hails from New York City. A quartet comprised of Shae Fiol (vihuela, vocals), Mireya Ramos (violin, vocals), Julie Acosta (trumpet, vocals), and Eunice Aparicio (guitarron, vocals), Mariachi Flor de Toloache is the first all-female mariachi band from New York City. This group is nothing short of talented.

The song that stood out most was “Las Caras Lindas”, a song that acknowledges the beauty of Afro-Latinidad: a population that often goes unnoticed in Latin America. Mariachi Flor de Toloache is unique not only because they are an all-women mariachi band, but also because they are able to captivate audience members through their powerful vocals and graceful instrumentation. Each instrument was vibrant and playful; their overall performance created a captivating tapestry of distinct sounds. Apart from this synchronization, the vocals also yielded an immense force that drew the audience into their musical stories.

The night proved to be a perfect way to maintain the celebratory nature of Dia de los Muertos. La Santa Cecilia, Mexrissey, and Mariachi Flor de Toloache all delivered exceptional performances that reminded us of life’s never-ending beauty during a time often associated with death.

Benjamin Lomeli Jr is a Staff Writer for the Arts and Entertainment section of The Triton.