XPN Fest Recap: Y La Bamba bring an explosive set of music from Mujeres on Saturday afternoon - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
Y La Bamba | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN

Saturday afternoon, Y La Bamba brought an explosive set to the Marina Stage at Wiggins Park, consisting mostly of cuts from their recent album Mujeres. The Portland-based band, led by singer-songwriter Luz Elena Mendoza, plays indie punk and experimental alt rock songs in Spanish and English with strong influences from the many genres of música Mexicana.

Mujeres focuses on women’s stories and features several songs about Mendoza’s relationship with her parents, who are Mexican-American immigrants. It also features bold instrumental explorations, which the band realized with startling precision on Saturday. Their songs, and the murky spaces in between, were filled with with abstract rushes and rumbles from Julia Mendiolea‘s keyboard and Ryan Oxford‘s guitar; bassist Zack Teran and drummer Miguel Jimenez-Cruz‘s proved capable of transforming any song from a psychedelic haze into a blistering groove in a heartbeat. Mendoza gave arresting vocal performances, from the seething choruses on “Boca Llena” to the intense whispers on “Cuatro Crazy.” On some of the song’s during their set, all five musicians sang at once, and Mendoza never quit dancing.

Before she introduced their album’s title track — which recently got a trippy new music video — to close the set, Mendoza announced, “This song is for all the women. All the mamas, all the sisters, las tias, las primas — todos los mujeres.”

Y La Bamba released Mujeres in February on Tender Loving Empire; earlier this month, they released a new track called “Something Wild” as part of a compilation of bands from the Portland community entitled Paradise Hotel. The band also played an intense set at World Café earlier this year for NonCOMM. Y La Bamba recently announced that they recorded a Tiny Desk Concert in Washington, D.C. last week, which NPR Music will share online in the coming months — stay on the lookout.

Boca Llena
Paloma Negra
Bruja de Brujas
Cuatro Crazy
Rio Sueldos

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