The Fresh Latin Sounds of Angélica Rahe & Victoria La Mala Fill Historic Mack Sennet Studios [REVIEW+PHOTOS] REVIEW+PHOTOS: Jack Daniel's "Amplify Your Life" Presents Angélica Rahe & Victoria La Mala 8/23/16 @ Mack Sennett Studios
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I’m in a place I didn’t even know existed, which is pretty shameful considering the studio I’m in is celebrating its 100 year anniversary. Originally started by a legendary comedic filmmaker from the silent era, Mack Sennet opened the studios in 1916 in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, so he could have more creative control over his films. Mack Sennet Studios (as it’s still called) has evolved over the years, housing web shows, TV pilots, and live concerts, and on August 23, 2016 it hosted a musician’s showcase sponsored by Jack Daniel’s, offering free cocktails all evening. I’m not complaining.
The event is produced by Jack Daniel’s and is part of their “Amplify your Life” campaign. The evening’s music featured live performances by Angélica Rahe featuring Victoria La Mala. The venue fills up with individuals who received special invites: music producers, artists, song writers, taste makers, photographers. It’s a mix of astutely dressed women perhaps hoping to be seen as socialites, dressed down guys who could pass as extras on a TV show, and studio exec types in blazers complimented by button downs and cocktails. It’s a mixed bag and everyone is playing nicely. I’m sure some of it is influenced by the free-flowing whiskey. Booze and music – the great uniters.
After everyone gets good and sauced and the place is filled wall-to-wall with audience members eager to be introduced to the evening’s talent, the executive producer / vision developer of Max Sennet Studios (that must look interesting on a business card) Azzurro Mallin takes the stage. He’s a tall, bushy haired fellow wearing what I assume to be prescription glasses bordering on a pair Elvis Costello might wear. Azzurro is personable, warm, and excited for tonight’s show.
He introduces the act we’re all here to see and hear: Angélica Rahe whose website professes that she combines “soulful, soaring vocals, a fiery Spanish guitar, and bilingual compositions that mix her Spanish gypsy roots with American Pop and Soul.” Applause vibrates the air as Rahe takes the stage wielding said Spanish guitar. She is rocking a black leather jacket and oversized, shimmering gold hoop earrings with her long, dark hair tightly woven into a braided ponytail that’s the thickness of a python. The woman means business.
Tonight isn’t just all about her though. She welcomes to the stage 3 backup singers and another artist she clearly wants to showcase: Victoria La Mala, a Banda Singer who bills herself as the self proclaimed lovechild of Tupac and Selena – and she doesn’t disappoint in that symbolic pedigree. Between Rahe’s hybrid guitar sound that lives somewhere between classic country music and traditional Spanish melodies, and La Mala’s voluptuous vocals, there are many echoes of Spanish heritage and Selena is only one of them. In fact, when I had a chance to catch up with Rahe before she left later that night, she said one of her major influences is Luis Miguel, the Mexican singer who is nothing short of an icon in Latin America.
Given the right circumstances, La Mala could also be an icon for a younger generation. Her vocal range is riveting and her style and presence commands attention. When she finishes a micro-set of music, she leaves a few jaws dropped and a few eyes wide with interest in learning more about her. She has the potential to be a serious hit in the Latin pop world.
However, it is now time for her to take a bow and clear the stage for Rahe, the headliner of tonight’s intimate concert. Whereas La Mala was all about the embodiment of a more traditional Latin pop sound, Rahe clearly distinguishes her self with a soulful voice that ranges from near perfect pitch to a gritty expressiveness in which she abandons perfect vocals for some rock and roll.
When she performs her song Pa’Lante (an abbreviated slang version of “para adelante” meaning go ahead or forward), she belts out the chorus “Vamos Pa’Lante, Siempre Pa’Lante” with such conviction and vigor, the crowd can’t help but groove to her infectious music and personality. When she performs, listeners get enveloped by her genuine passion and talent. It’s clear she doesn’t want to be just a Latin singer. She wants to be that and way more: a rock star, a country performer, a pop vocalist. She is all about fusion, fun, and some furious fingering on her 6 string.
Later that night, when I catch up with her, we get to talking. She tells me how her mother and father were a singing duo, how they played in Japan and Spain, and how she was always in clubs watching her parents perform. The music is in her blood; it’s genetic.
I ask her how she defines her sound and her answer is simple and to the point. It’s “pure soul in the universal sense.” With that she smiles, hugs me, and dips out the backdoor. This woman knows her music and it shouldn’t be too long before everyone else does too.
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