LA-based psychedelic soul singers The Marías made their debut at LA’s newest venue the Moroccan Lounge late Wednesday night, playing to a packed crowd that had maneuvered its way past the bar and into the venue’s backroom. Furnished like the bar in Casablanca, the Moroccan Lounge has an air of exotic casualness to it and the rich variety of influences that give life to The Marías flourished particularly well in such an atmosphere. Fronted by the titular María, the band has only released a few singles but has already garnered a devoted following in Los Angeles and as their first headlining appearance there was an anxiousness to see how their upbeat, jazz-inflected lounge songs translated live.
Overall the band did not disappoint; María herself is a fixating presence onstage, swaying behind her microphone as she hypnotizes with her velvet murmurs and lays on the perfumed sensuality of their songs’ dually funky and nostalgic melodies heavily. Very much a band of people rather than voices, however, María’s partner Josh Conway sat on drums where he provided the soft backing of the lovingly layered minimalism that accentuates itself in their songs. Each player has a moment to shine, whether it was Carter Lee bouncing the elastic thumps of his bass, Jesse Perlman providing a mesmerizing guitar solo, or Edward James dazzling on his wistful keys. Thriving on the intimacy of such a small venue, The Marías dreamlike, sultry creaminess pines for era’s long past while also edging towards a certain urgent call for affection in the here and now. Their fusion of jazz, soul, funk, and newly-bred psychedelia shine with a sincerely vintage sheen, it’s a sound that has no qualm with fading to become the backing soundtrack to whatever memory or dream it takes you to–as it’s also the source of the horn, drum beat, riff, or croon that’ll wake you from it eventually.
Hard to pin singer/songwriter August Eve opened up for The Marías, brandishing a chameleon-like penchant for a variety of sounds that ranged from melancholic, 80’s synthesizer induced pop to a 90’s love child of Celine Dion and Alicia Keys style ballads. Sonically aggressive and powered by Eve’s ethereal vocals, the 20-year-old singer learned to play piano by ear and was apart of a Grammy-nominated choir at the age of nine–and it shows. Classically stylized, Eve’s songs envelop and enthrall when allowed to grow within such a small venue as the Moroccan Lounge–this is one LA-based artist that you’ll no doubt be seeing more of across town.
Words & Photography: Steven Ward