The Marías played a pair of hometown shows at The Novo on Saturday and Sunday to wrap their CINEMA 2022 tour of North America. Their blend of alternative rock and Spanish-language jazz-pop tunes was well-received by local fans.
Saturday night welcomed openers Evann McIntosh and OGI, while Sunday night featured Maye and Rosie Tucker. Miami-based singer Maye was a welcome opener with her all-female band, singing in both English and Spanish, shining on both falsetto and natural vocal moments. Her song “My Love” was a groovy, danceable standout as well as the breezy, feel-good “Tú”, which ended her set.
The Marías’ opened with a warm welcome from drummer Josh Conway’s father, music publishing executive Lionel Conway, dressed sharply in a blue suit addressing the crowd, “Good evening, Los Angeles”. “It’s so great you’re here to see the very last performance of the Cinema tour. For the past two months they have been selling out shows all over America. So we’re getting there because of you guys. I’m Josh’s father. We saved the best for last because we’re in our hometown”.
The Novo was already charged up before any of the music started, and the orchestrated opening track “Just A Feeling” off The Marías’ 2021 album CINEMA elegantly set the tone while the musicians hit the stage, lit in red. They launched into “Calling U Back”, with lead singer María Zardoya’s sensual vocal shining, while drummer Josh Conway joined in later on the vocals, earning their own moments for applause. The classy, soulful rock sound is one they have perfected, consistent throughout the dazzling display of timeless music. Zardoya wore a white corset with a beaded statement piece and a flowing black skirt.
The lighting changed to multiple white spotlights, with hints of green and orange peeking through on the minimalist stage which was very simply two circle platforms for keyboardist Edward James and another for Conway and an archway with a curtain and two steps as a backdrop behind Zardoya. The lighting was cool and the stage design was sleek, silhouetting circle and rectangle shapes throughout the night. Catchy Spanish tune “Un Millón” was completely alluring, with the entire venue screaming when trumpet player Gabe Steiner was added to the mix. Zardoya danced while performing, arms out, completely embodying the sexy tune about infatuation.
Purples and pinks flowed around the musicians for the chill “Little By Little”, with both Conway and guitarist Jesse Perlman joining Zardoya’s dreamy voice (accentuated in Spanish), while the trumpet enjoyed its moments and a jazzy flutter by the end.
“We can’t believe it’s our last show on this tour, it’s crazy”, said Zardoya. “We’ve been all over and it’s been a wild ride but we’re so glad to be finishing this tour with y’all”. The Marías continued with the bedroom pop ballad “Only In My Dreams”, with beams of white light complementing the blue, followed by the jazz interlude “Hable con Ella”.
The spotlight was in place for Steiner’s trumpet which launched into “Care For You”, while Conway started off the lyrics and Zardoya echoed the melody and danced gently. The audience “woo’d” and Steiner had another standout solo. The disco-pop song “Ruthless” was next, with Zardoya stepping away from center stage and venturing off to the sides dancing while singing, while Steiner was back for the perfect moment.
Another song, “Clueless”, from the band’s 2018 album Superclean, Vo. II made the set, with its funky groove and both Zardoya and Conway in vocal harmony. Strobe lights flashed, the trumpet blasted and the fans were singing and dancing along, followed by huge cheers. Zardoya thanked the crowd for listening to their recent album and mentioned the next song really gets “in her feels”, about the highs and lows during tour and the occasional feeling of not wanting to get out of bed. They mentioned they wrote “Heavy” in their apartment.
The stage was flooded in indigo lights, with a standout guitar instrumental on the emotional and beautuiful pop/rock song. It was a solid showcase of Zardoya’s vocal control, now atop the two steps in front of the lit-up archway for the down-tempo, keyboard-led whispery jam “Over The Moon” with its delicate drums and guitar chugging along.
The Marías’ delightful cover of Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time” was preceded with a fun fact that there’s a family video of Zardoya singing the song when she was 11. The bluesy version of the 1998 pop tune was immediately followed by guitar mastery from Perlman on the funky “Basta ya”, with Zardoya working both sides of the stage and shaking her head from side to side. She gave a shout to her openers and asked “Cuando está mi familia Latino?” followed by huge cheers. They continued with another two songs from Superclean, Vol. I from 2017, “Dejate Llevar” and later the English-language “I Don’t Know You” with more funk and twinkling guitar on the thrilling mid-tempo, blending Zardoya and Conway’s voices.
The guitar took the lead on “Spin Me Around”, with its 60s psychedelic vibes with a hint of post-grunge, while pink and red hues and beams of white light swirled around the band. The Marías sounded really tight as a collective on the dreamy ballad “All I Really Want Is You”, with the keys fluttering and the bass driving on the completely cathartic song. Zardoya’s voice shined once again on this one, for the bright, good-vibes-only mid-tempo. She sat on the steps for the final chorus while the band jammed out.
For The Marías’ encore, fans lit up their phones all over The Novo awaiting their return. Zardoya was now dressed in a long red skirt and a black corset. The stage was flush in red like an emergency was about to take place and the fans wailed as The Marías’ massive “Hush” pulsated like a mysterious dream, with the perfect blend of alternative rock and a hint of electronic. Zardoya introduced her band and thanked all of the behind-the-scenes personnel, mentioning how grateful they are and said, “Our lives are literally changed because of ya’ll”. The Marías called it a night with the very pleasing guitar-led “Cariño”.
Words by Michael Menachem
Photos of The Marías and Evann McIntosh by Eric Han