La Santa Cecilia with Perla Batalla and QuetzalEXPAND
La Santa Cecilia with Perla Batalla and Quetzal

La Santa Cecilia and Friends Revive the True Spirit of Dia De Los Muertos

Yesterday was Día de los Muertos, the Latin American but mostly Mexican celebration of the dead that is becoming as marketable as Halloween is nowadays. While many debate about how Dia de los Muertos may be losing its true essence here in the U.S., last night's beautiful celebrations of the Mexican holiday at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall  were an affirmation that the culture is still alive and well as La Santa Cecilia, Quetzal, Perla Batalla and Pacifico Dance Company brought out the true essence of what Dia de los Muertos means, a celebration of both life and death.

Taco trucks including Taqueria De Anda were parked on Argyros Plaza by the box office providing welcoming raza vibes to the pristine concert hall. Once inside, a large adorned altar with flowers, candles, plates of pan dulce and frames of passed loved ones welcomed concert-goers in the lobby. A crowd of skull painted faces, women wearing colorful rebozos or trajestipicosand the casually dressed huddled by the altar taking turns for photo-ops. Lines for the full-service bar in the lobby were long as people started the fiesta early.

Pacifico Dance CompanyEXPAND
Pacifico Dance Company

Pacifico Dance Company added more Día de los Muertos vibes early as dancers opened the show dressed in arrays of stunning outfits ranging from sparkly skeletal jumpsuits to traditional swirly Folklorico dresses. Dance numbers ranged from traditional Folklorico to what felt like a modern twist on indigenous ritualistic dances.

Grammy-nominated vocalist Perla Batalla switched effortlessly between Spanish and English to welcome the Segerstrom audience to the night's celebrations.  Batalla sang Spanish language ballads including "La Llorona," and the touching "Cucurrucucu Paloma" which Batalla described as a song about a man dying from a broken heart. "Cucurrucucu Paloma" earned Batalla the highest praise from the audience as the singer filled the concert hall with her strong yet transcendent voice, hitting note after note with absolute grace. I'd be lying if I said I didn't shed a tear while listening to the heartfelt ballad sang passionately by Batalla.

Perla BatallaEXPAND
Perla Batalla

The grand seven-piece collective knows as Quetzal added a funkier Chicano rock presence to contrast Batalla's romanticism. Quetzal's dynamic mixture of Mexican, Afro-Cuban rhythms, jazz, R&B and rock added an eclectic background to lead singer Martha Gonzalez's fierce vocals and fiery stage presence.  Shout out to the band's violinist who wowed the audience with her amazing rock violin solo.

After a 15-minute intermission—which saw even more lines at the bar, photo-ops with a real life catrina and another stunning performance by the Pacifico Dance Company, the audience re-gathered to welcome the night's most anticipated act, La Santa Cecilia.

Fresh from their performance in Mexico City, Grammy winners and Olvera Street darlings La Santa Cecilia brought the puro pinche party to the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall with their blend of cumbia, bossa nova, boleras, rancheras, norteñas, soul and R&B.

Marisol "La Marsoul" Hernandez charmed the crowd as her crass yet vibrant chingona personality gave little introductions to each song which made the concert feel more like it was taking place in an intimate living room rather than a grand concert hall.


Before the song "Monedita," Hernandez joked about how life is still good as long as you have love, Jodidos perocontentos" (We're [financially] fucked but happy) she said. An audience member seated behind me then added, "She's a bad ass woman."  "Monedita" later saw an epic accordion solo by Jose 'Pepe" Carlos which received great applause.

Hernandez then spoke about how our country, especially in these times, needs more love and that Dia de los Muertos is not only about celebrating loved ones in the afterlife but also a reminder to enjoy your life while you have it. She then shared how her and the rest of the band are living the dream by touring extensively with her baby along for the adventure before breaking into the lyrics for "Vámonos." Which fit the night's message of living life to the fullest perfectly with lyrics like "Vámonos volandoque la vidase nos va." (Let's go out flying because life is slipping away from us) sung compellingly by Hernandez's sensual yet fierce voice.

"La Negra" closed the show as the audience in the orchestra pit and in every tier of the concert hall couldn't resist La Marisoul's invitation to dance and clap along.  The venue turned into a full on pachanga with Perla Batalla, Quetzal and Pacifico Dance Company joining La Santa Cecilia onstage for one last collective hurrah Dia de los Muertos style.


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