After months of warning online that "Aparato is coming" the Jarocho-Rock hybridistas finally introduced themselves for the first time to an Orange County audience on Saturday as part of the eclectic line-up assembled for Santa Ana's Downtown Summer Block Party. In a parking lot on the corner of Third and Bush Street, curious onlookers, as well as concert headliners La Santa Cecilia, were exposed the LA/OC band's audio experiment mixing Mexican traditional instruments with a post-punk aesthetic.
Returning to front and center was lead singer, keyboardist, guitarist Cat whose previous Anaheim-based band Mystery Hangup was critically regarded for its all-female indie-experimental rock sounds. After a brief stint with LA's Strangely Attractive, she has found a new musical home teaming with LA-based guitarist Alexandro Hernandez and drummer Josh Duron to form the core of Aparato.
The fusion rockers' short seven-song twenty-five minute set gave a stirring glimpse into what the band is all about. Onstage, Aparato delivered poetically political lyrics, impassioned singing, and carefully crafted arrangements. Cat alternated between her Mexican jarana as well as her "Sangre Mixteca" electric guitar throughout the set. Hernandez relied on his numerous effects peddles to give the band's songs the futuristic elements that seamlessly commune with the centuries old stringed instrument of Son Jarocho. Duron's timing kept the beat on the drums as guest bassist Jon Alvarez rounded out the rhythm section. Together the band creates an interesting dynamic where verses are an intermingling of jarana strums and electric guitar melodies that transform into riff-rocking choruses with natural ease.
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Aparato played all the songs featured on their soon-to-be-released 5-track EP including the pro-immigrant anthem set closer "Kriminal." The band's performance, however, lent much credence to the notion that they have much more in their musical arsenal than what they've already recorded in the studio. "Desarmar" is a desperate call for the disarmament of the agents of state repression that recalls Tom Morello's exploratory guitar work on Rage Against the Machine's Evil Empire album. Cat's bolero-ballad "Sueños" is exemplary songwriting with life-inspired lyrics that can motivate the most immobilized of us to dream of better tomorrows. "Skinny Jeans Are Not My Lover" shows a lighter side of the band that's not willing to sacrifice humor upon the altar of taking itself too seriously.
With all the elements bound together, Aparato will be a force to be reckoned with on the local scene. Catch them when they return to OC on Aug. 24, 5:30 p.m. at the quad of Fullerton Junior College.
Gabriel San Roman is from Anacrime. He's a journalist, subversive historian and tallest Mexican in OC.