Y La Bamba with Tres Leches and DJ Lucha at Tractor Tavern
March 6, 2019 in Seattle
Words by Aarin Wright, Photos by Marcus Shriver
The threat of snow would not obstruct Seattle from an Y La Bamba performance again. After rescheduling the original Feb. 10 date due to Snowmageddon 2019, a parka-clad crowd braved the cold to cram into a sold out Tractor Tavern on Wednesday, Mar. 6.
Luz Elena Mendoza, the creative visionary behind the Portland-based group, made it worth the wait. Taking the stage with her four bandmates, all dressed in black, they immediately crafted a hypnotic soundscape of fuzzy guitars and chiming cymbals. As the music swelled a woman in the very front turned and cheered to anyone who would listen.
“Are y’all ready to dance?!”
A fanatic bassline broke out, followed by thundering drums and audible approval from the audience as the band launched into the title track of their newest record, “Mujeres.” A folk-rock feminist anthem and take-down of misogyny, Mendoza sang in Spanish that women are like water – strong and powerful, but taken for granted.
“Que llueve, que llueve, que llueve.”
Mujeres is an extremely passionate album, and Mendoza wore the emotion of each song on her face. From beaming and step-touching on upbeat tracks like “Conocidos,” to staring down an unknown subject beyond the audience on “Lightning Storm,” Mendoza gave her whole self to the performance, rarely breaking even to speak with the crowd.
Shaking folks out of their hump day slump at the beginning of the evening were local art punk trio Tres Leches (#41for2018). The explosion of first track “What Are You Doing” snapped many awake, and all heads were banging along by the end. The impressive set was filled with bilingual lyrics, enviable time changes and three-part harmonies which melted into full-body shouts. The subject of the band’s songs ranged from alien conspiracy theories to an important statement from drummer Ulises Mariscal on immigration.
“There is no such thing as walls,” he said. “And there is no such thing as illegal.”
DJ Lucha warmed up the crowd with excellent pre-show spinnings of classic cumbia and mariachi hits. Members of both Y La Bamba and Tres Leches were spotted getting down before their sets.
But, the crowd was there for Mendoza’s powerful and euphonious voice above all. Part poetry reading and part dance party, they applauded as she sailed through high notes on singles “Boca Llena” and “Cuatro Crazy” and listened intently as she delivered interludes like “Santa Sal.”
Some weren’t listening as closely as others, though. During one acoustic track, Mendoza reminded those having loud conversations that “there’s a door and you can go outside.” At the end of the night she addressed the crowd in Spanish, passionate about the community and family built at live shows, yet with a challenge.
“Remember you’re here to hear someone speak,” she said, and asked for all to pay attention.
Remaining on stage as the rest of her band exited, Mendoza performed a stripped-down version of “Ojos Del Sol,” the only song of the evening from Y La Bamba’s 2016 album of the same name. As her voice soared and dipped across multiple octaves and dynamics, a fully captivated and completely silent audience heard what she had to say.
“No hay, no hay, no hay nadie como tu”