Ritual Is Born Within Experience

At Natalia LaFourcade’s recent show at Revolution Hall, ritual was everywhere, and some of which was only able to be seen through the eyes of this beholder: a Mexican American woman, at a Mexican woman’s show. Walking up to Revolution Hall and seeing a large crowd of mostly women, who were mostly Latinx, I began to sink into the beauty of us at events like these. Long dresses, heels, embroidered shawls, silver hoop earrings, Mexican beaded jewelry, curled hair with flowers pinned it, and red lipstick. Rituals.

As I made my way into the show, I was surrounded by a new type of crowd at Revolution Hall — a mostly brown one. Latinx folks were filling up the house, all eager to see Mexico City songstress, Natalia LaFourcade.

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Photo by David Alvarado

The show was sold out. It was night two for LaFourcade in Portland, a singer whom I had never even heard of until about four months ago. After having recently missed her previous sold out show in New York, I began to think about LaFourcade, her music, and why she seems to mean so much to her fans. A Latina having a sold out show here in Portland is significant, and seeing a mostly Latinx crowd at an East Sidevenue in Portland is significant — but why? This is a piece of a larger social and racial puzzle that Portland isfiguring out how to put together, and it illustrates part of the change our city is witnessing at the moment: a shifting demographic that is lessinterested in beer and beard culture, andready for more of what feels like home to them. More like LaFourcade.

With bands like Y La Bamba, Orchestra Pacifico Tropical, Savila, and others paving the way through the Portland music scene and generating a larger influx of Latinx music here — we’ll continue to see this change, and these rituals.

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Photo by David Alvarado

LaFourcade took the stage in all black with her hair braided up like Frida. She opened with a legendary Mexican folk classic, “La Llorona,” and played for almost two hours, coming back out for not one, but two encores. Her set was a mix of songs off of Hasta La Raiz, and her latest release of Mexican folk classics, Musas. LaFourcade’s sound is not only traditional; as she and her band rolled through back-to-back songs, she went from guitar-picking romantic folklorico, to jazz and pop rock en Espanõl. She kept the audience cheering, clapping, and throwing gritos (Google it, folks) while speaking mostly in Spanish the entire night.

Like many Spanish music concerts, the night was an emotional journey, both a cathartic and joyous one, that ended with everyone on their feet dancing, elated, and glowing with pride that only comes from seeing an artist of your own culture perform in front of you, and for you.


For more Dez Ramirez, you can find her on Instagram or on Twitter.