The first words out of Maria Zardoya’s mouth on Friday night were “Eres una obra de arte” — “You are a work of art” in gringo — and an hour later nary a soul at the sold-out Regent Theater wouldn’t have said that about the singer and her band, the Marías.
The quintet, abetted by trumpeter Gabe Steiner, showed why they are one of the most beloved bands in Los Angeles right now. First, there is the music, a smoldering, bilingual combination of lounge- and dream-pop all dressed up for jazz and bossa nova heads. The Marías have released only two six-song EPs, 2017’s “Superclean, Vol. I” and last year’s “Superclean, Vol. II,” and fans (who snapped up all the tickets shortly after they went on sale in December) had the lyrics committed to memory Friday, whether in Spanish or English.
Then there is the Marías’ style — cool but charismatic and approachable. They had the Regent stage decked out like a garden, framed in ferns and adorned with flowers, paintings and statuary. Zardoya, the Puerto Rico-born, Atlanta-reared frontwoman, vamped (but not too much) in a blood-red jumper while her band of hepcats went through the paces, nodding in approval. Somebody in the front row even gave her a bouquet. And drummer Josh Conway elicited cheers whenever he traded vocals with Zardoya, especially on their most popular song, “I Don’t Know You.”
Sprinkled in with their originals was a cover of the Britney Spears hit “Baby One More Time,” which the Marías turned into pillow talk. Combined with swoon-worthy opening sets from San Bernardino’s Royaljag (who covered Bobby Brown’s “Every Little Step”) and Loyal Lobos (fronted by Bogotá, Colombia, native Andrea Silva, who dazzled in Spanish and English), it made for one of those nights that could cause a minor baby boom nine months from now.
If only, as Zardoya sang in the Marías’ closer, you déjate llevar.
The Marías setlist: Cariño, Only in My Dreams, I Like It, Superclean, Over the Moon, ABQ, Ruthless, Catalyst, I Don’t Know You, Baby One More Time, Basta Ya. Encore: Clueless, Loverboy, Déjate Llevar
Photos by Jessica Hanley
||| Live: The Marías, along with Steady Holiday, open for Khruangbin on April 18 at the Fox Theater Pomona. Tickets.