Julieta Venegas, Mexico's Queen of Pop, Stunned the House of Blues Last Night

Categories: Show Reviews

Winston Rivas

During Julieta Venegas' 20-year artistic career, the Tijuana-via-Long Beach songstress has been described as both "mainstream" and "alternative," but both are been misguided ways to describe Venegas.

After finding cult-like support with her first two releases, Buenviento and Aqui, both of which forever shook the Mexican pop/rock landscape, Venegas started recording Top 40-smashing pop albums that were considered her selling-out moment. (Because succeeding is such an awful thing, right?) Regardless of her past classifications, there is one title she now holds, undisputed: Julieta Venegas is Mexico's Queen of Pop.

Presenting her new critically acclaimed album Los Momentos, Julieta returned to Dallas' House Of Blues Wednesday night to a diverse crowd of art-punk latinos, post-cholos and enthusiastic Mexican mothers who were ready to see the Tijuanaese open a new chapter in her already stellar career.

Last night's concert, part of House of Blues' 20th anniversary, started in the almost customary ritual of confusion that accompanies many Latin showcases that happen in Dallas: First, this concert, when first announced two months ago, was set to have both Julieta Venegas and Mexican indie-pop sensation Natalia Lafourcade on the same lineup. But she wasn't there, leaving many cardigan-wearing Latin males with their desire to see their two dream girls on the same stage unfulfilled. Second, it was set to start around 8 p.m. and ended up starting closer to 9:30.

Even after the two-hour wait and no opening band, the ridiculously well-dressed crowd was still in high spirits as Venegas made her way out dressed in a couture combination of red print jumpsuit pants, navy blazer and nude heels (This fashion tidbit comes via my date.) "Te amo Julieta," ("I love you Julieta"), someone in the crowd screamed, and then came the reply, "No, yo te amo Julieta"(No, I love you Julieta).

Winston Rivas

Shifting from her orquestal-based lineup from her last tour, Julieta opted for a more traditional four-piece backing band that included the vocals of Mariani Ruzzi, who commanded the synthesizer. Three projector screens behind her displayed Super-8 video reels expressing themes of femininity, solitude and peace.

Starting the night with "Hoy," Julieta took her position at the piano. With a fantastic stage prowess and warm grace, it took very little time for Venegas to grab our attention and never give it back. Venegas isn't a dramatic vocalist -- instead, she uses her airy inflections to weave in and out of emotional spaces, giving her songs new twists by using clever timing and catchy wordplay.

Venegas played three instruments. Her native accordion is the one on which she radiated the most, displaying masterful command of the instrument. There are very few people on this planet that can play the accordion like her.

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