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Vanessa Zamora at Gypset's Musical Showcases

Patrick O'Heffernan: Hats off to Gypset Magazine for conceiving of and producing these Music Showcases. It's very hard for promising young talent like LEX and Zamora at the very beginning of their careers to get booked.
Vanessa Zamora

Gypset presents promising young talent LEX and Vanessa Zamora for a magic night

One of DTLA’s newest treasures (that’s DownTown LA to my non-LA readers) are the Music Showcases produced by Gypset Magazine at 333Live in partnership with the Cosmica Music Agency, BMI and others. Gypset’s editors are dedicated to presenting outstanding rising artists, often in the Latin-Gringo Rock space, giving them an opportunity to reach a new audience and giving LA music lovers an opportunity to see future stars on the way up in an intimate venue.

The cozy side room at 333 Live features a low stage, very good sound system, couches, upholstered sitting blocks with low tables - some only a few feed from the stage - and friendly bar far enough back that its sounds rarely intrude on the music. In short, an ideal venue for the kind of show that Gypset curates. Last week’s show was no exception.

The evening opened with LEX, an all women band creating fantasy synth sounds, incorporating live electronic performance with art, fashion, design & technology - a perfect choice for a room full of stylishly dressed hip young people well-equipped with iPhones, tablets and internet-connected cameras. Dressed in a tight gold lame torso body suit, tights and a gold mesh cape, Bandleader Alexis and her 3 band members, LP, Licia and J, treated us to her haunting voice and modulated semi-electronic rhythms in an eight-song set that included a cover of “Empire Ants” from the virtual band Gorillaz’s Plastic Beach album.

Vanessa Zamora

Although the set could not duplicate the luminosity of LEX’s performance at the Snow Globe Festival, where an arena-sized stage and television-level lighting allowed them to spread their visual wings to the max, the four women geared the showed precisely to the room and keep us moving and engaged. I especially liked their performance of “Mystery Boy” with Alexis’s voice undulating over the pared down EDM-feel beat pulsed out by the band.

LEX’s deft blending of style, presence, music and voice is a star waiting for music astronomers to discover. While the set was a bit stage-confined, the music flowed well and entertained. Alexis injected and new level of energy into the room when she moved a single cymbal stand next to her mic, took a drumstick and banged the cymbal at the ends of lyric lines in tempo with the drums, adding anger, emphasis, attention to an already great set. I would have like more interaction with the audience – tales from the road, back stories and explanations to fill out the performance, but I suspect as the band moves forward and gains feedback, experience and confidence, they will perfect the art of not only creating a visual and aural environment, but inviting the audience personally into it.

Headlining the 4th Gypset Music Showcase was Vanessa Zamora, known as Tijuana’s newest and hottest female star after a debut in San Diego’s Fiesta del Sol. A classically trained pianist and guitarist, this alt. pop Tijuanera singer/songwriter has been signed by Carla Morrison’s indie label before even producing an album, based solely on her talent.

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Contrasting with LEX ,Vanessa bounded on stage ready for music with little flash, wearing in a plain gold top, short black skirt, straight hair, minimal make up. What you saw is what you got and what you got was so much fun. With a smile that lit up the back of the room, this ball of musical energy rocked songs from her album hasta la fantasía. Featured on NPR’s alt. Latin music show, Vanessa’s smooth, joyful voice and high energy band told us this is a woman going someplace.

She opened up with, “Encontré” from her “Ready, Set Sessions Video”, kicking off the evening with a steady guitar perfectly woven into the sonic scaffolding of her band. “Encontré’s” lyrics - una razón para construir mi corazón “ told you that the set was going to be a real treat, whether or not you understood the Spanish– and most of the room did.

Vanessa shifted the mood with “Otra Vez” from the album, her glass smooth voice carrying the lyrics like fragile emotions to be poured into your heart through your ears. Moving onto “Normal” Vanessa kicked it up and really reached out to the growing crowd, followed by “No”, “Lo Que No Tengo”, and her lead single “Correr” – which almost everyone in the room knew.

Continuing to introduce the album, Vanessa gave us “Este Finale”, “Te Quiero Olvidar” and my favorite, “Para Siempre” - a complex song that very subtly changes rhythms and makes full use of her vocal skills, modulated to pluck emotions on the fly. As the title implies, this could be a long-lasting classic. Vanessa wrapped up the set with the melodious pop rock song “Control” and the title song to the album, “Hasta La Fantasía” making us sway to her rhythms as she and the band took us up in the rise.

Zamora was the perfect choice for Gypset’s showcase, testimony to the savvy instincts and honest appraisal of the magazine’s music staff. Zamora is a prodigious talent who can appeal to a multilingual, multicultural audience and whose career is on the very edge of taking off. She will need the boost because she is launching into a world of hundreds of talented female-led bands, probably the most competitive corner of today’s music market. Her initial success, the label connection, the strong first release single plus an infectious stage enthusiasm that connects exuberantly with her audience will give her an edge. Her signature style is emerging and as it solidifies she will stand out above the crowd.

Hats off to Gypset Magazine for conceiving of and producing these Music Showcases. LA has many great showcase clubs like Hotel Café and Witzend, but it is very hard for promising young talent like LEX and Zamora at the very beginning of their careers to get booked and when they do it is in the early hours when audiences are thin. Gypset fills the need for a serious venue for this category of artist and I suspect someday will look back at some big stars who stood on the low-rise stage at 333 Live with the Gypset banner behind them.


Patrick O’Heffernan
Host, Music Friday Live.