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Katzù Oso And Irene Diaz At Grand Performances, Friday August 20th 2021

Katzù Oso

Katzù Oso

 

The Grand Performances concert series at California Plaza are usually part of summer in Los Angeles, but of course, the pandemic put a halt on everything happening downtown and everywhere else. Friday night was the first time I was returning to the place, for two local artists Irene Diaz and Katzù Oso.

Irene Diaz was wearing a pair of adorable golden wings because ‘she wanted to set herself free,’ and the beautiful costume was fitting well her aerial synth-pop ballads. She started her set with a rather stripped-down series of electro-pop songs, only accompanied by her musical partner Carolyn Cardoza on synth, and moving with great ease on stage. Her sultry voice had great range and was vibrating with emotion and strength over keys. Most of the songs were about love, or at least had love in the title or the lyrics (‘I love You Madly,’ the title song of her 2013 EP, ‘Crazy Love…) and most of them were rather upbeat, while Irene’s voice was soaring effortlessly. After a few songs, her set became more interesting and eclectic: from synth to power-pop, she went full vintage torch song, playing guitar sitting on a stool, while her voice had echoes of someone like Angel Olsen… needless to say, it was my favorite of the entire set. ‘Me and my Babe’ had an infectious chorus and the rest of her songs had a captivating ambiance and rich electronic textures although she easily switched to the simple strum of a ukulele for her last song ‘Crazy in Love.’ Irene Diaz attended the SXSW Festival in Austin Texas in 2014, and already caught the attention of NPR’s All Things Considered. Yesterday’s concert was the first time she was performing since February 2020, and she is supposed to release soon her debut album ‘Lovers & Friends,’ that was recorded in Mexico City and Los Angeles.

Katzù Oso (aka Paul Hernandez) and his large band were next with their signature dreamy synth-pop sound. The artist from Montebello was all smile and seemed very happy at the idea of performing live again in front of a real audience. The 6-piece band brought their bedroom sound pop alive with sweet hooks and a blend of synth (plenty of them), guitars, percussion and even horns. The trumpet parts, delicately added here and there, were spicing up the otherwise dreamy and sweet soundscapes. The love songs (once again, it was mostly about love: ‘Crazy4luvinU,’ ‘Cherry Love,’ ‘Sophie’…) had undeniable Latin vibes, but the synths were bringing another layer of sweetness while the tempos were flirting with jazzy arrangements and groovy dancefloors. Even though the music could speed up into a more percussive and even tempestuous Latinx party tempo (‘In Too Deep’), most of the songs had a feel-good dream pop flavor, floating between two synth lines and Hernandez’s soft vocals.

Katzù Oso has released an album, ‘Pastel’ in 2018, and an EP, ‘Colour’ in 2020, with songs in English, or Spanish or even bilingual. He switched from synth to guitar and performed ‘Secuestro Al Corazòn’ alone, during a more intimate and nostalgic moment, followed by ‘Los Angeles Lindo y Querido’ a love song to the city and originally written for a Tecate beer commercial. The set was an upbeat and colorful collection of deeply romantic love songs with swooning moments and a happy crowd… There is no doubt Katzù Oso is an upcoming talent, the indie artist had a spot in the Goldenvoice festival, Tropicália 2 years ago, and shared festival stages with Cuco, Omar Apollo, BROCKHAMPTION, and Tyler, the Creator pre-pandemic… When I think about it, Katzù Oso may well be the Latinx answer to Tame Impala.

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