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PRAYERS’ All Saints Eve Costume Ball At The Mayan, Sunday October 30th 2016 Reviewed

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PRAYERS

 

PRAYERS, an electronic-chillwave-rock duo, as they could be described, are in the middle of a short tour with stops in Las Vegas, Phoenix, Denver and Los Angeles, and they gig at the Mayan club in Los Angeles, was supposed to be something special, an All Saints Eve Costume Ball to celebrate Halloween a day before, with no less than four other bands opening for the duo. The evening ended up being an electronic dance-rap-rock marathon, with the biggest disco ball I have seen since LCD Soundsystem’s show. The music was quite different from that of the New York band though, PRAYERS use the term Cholo-Goth to define their genre of music they have innovated, and frontman Rafael Reyes aka Leafar Seyer (unless it is the reverse?) rallies the crowds under a mix throbbing electro beats and synth, with a scream you can’t forget once you have heard it. This is not a guy who plays music as a hobby or even as a career move (he is 40 and has only been a musician for 3 years), he plays music because it saved his life and this shows every time. He is an ex-gang member who is still exploring the harsh realities of gang and street life through his art.

Many people had dressed up for the circumstance, Lady Tragic was DJing and then Latina rapper Nina Dioz, who should not be mistaken for Girl in a Coma Nina Diaz, showcased her fast rhythm and fluid delivery in a colorful suit and a Mexican wrestling mask. And yes, she was a girl, a hip-hop-in-Español girl in a usually very manly world.

Electronic duo Night Club was a sight to see, a red-hair girl wearing a seal skin, Jessica Rabbit in black leather singing and doing sexy dance moves over harsh electro beats and retro synthetic industrial waves, something for the very late hours, for the after-post party. At times they sounded almost industrial like Depeche Mode fronted by Kylie Minogue, and the aggressive dance numbers may have been the dark side of Britney Spears.

But you couldn’t go darker and more mysterious than Drab Majesty, another synth-guitar duo with a shoegaze vibe at first, playing on each side of a bust of some classic statue. There was a bleakness in their soundscapes, a monotonous tone à la Robert Smith, and a lot of what they played evoked the dark post-punk of 80’s synth legend Gary Numan or new wave the Cure. The music was icy as the blue light that was bathing them, and gloomy as their sad clown make-up.

Then came William Control, who immediately gave honor to his moniker with a formidable energy, he got very theatrical, asked for a maximum of participation from the crowd, got way over the top, and put his hand-up-to-the-ear à la Prince one hundred times,… who is this guy? There is a story there, plenty of style and I was not aware of any of this? The music was heavy hitting dark EDM with big hooks – just listen to ‘The Monster’, the song has a very sticky chorus – and Will was controlling the crowd with a lot of mic swagger, whipping it like a lasso, just slowing down for a few numbers, keeping a Depeche Mode vibe through the night, although I thought he was a sort of Goth Pitbull.

Cholo-Goth pioneers PRAYERS finally took the stage, in front of a dense crowd… I had seen them years ago at the Echoplex, and they were now headlining their own Goth festival on Halloween eve, in a larger theater. ‘Do you know who I am’ screamed Leafar Seyer in his vintage mic, as these are the first lyrics of the opening song ‘Blood on the Blade’, he immediately electrified the crowd with his haunting howl over the aggressive synth beats produced by Dave Parley, and the tone of the night was given. The duo was standing in front of luminous giant crosses and Prayers’ logo, it was an impressive sight and each tune opened more darkness and rage at the crowd’s greatest delight. People cheered in Spanish each time they heard the throbbing booming synth and Seyer’s vocals, which were then delivered on an aggressive rap tone. ‘We came here to give back, we came here to empower you,’ he said after a few songs. The songs were effectively energizing the audience like an adrenaline shot, and the next one opened with an organ-like synth, which could have transformed the place, already looking like a Mayan temple via Hollywood, into the church of Satan. ‘I worship the devil, but let’s get this straight, the devil worships me,’ screamed Seyer, I had already spotted two guys around me, one wearing a Slayer shirt, the other a ‘Metallica’s Kill Them All’ shirt, and the experience was complete, I was in the middle of an intriguing ambiance where death metal meets rap meets goth meets dark wave and what else?

If you get close to Leafar Seyer, you will notice the black nail polish, the black lipstick, the fingerless gloves, and the black lace shawl, then the numerous gothic lettered tattoos covering his entire torso and neck when he removes his clothes, it’s strange and rebellious at the same time, it’s goth to the core with some femininity while the attitude couldn’t be more brutally displayed in your face.

Music is therapy for the duo and especially for Seyer, but you can tell that the experience is shared by the whole audience, as Seyer swears in interviews he has received many emails from suicidal people who got saved by listening to Prayers’ music. With songs titled ‘Ready to Bleed’, or ‘From Dog to God’, and a new EP ‘Young Gods’ featuring Travis Barker from blink-182 on drums, the Goth gang feels ready to conquer the world.

There is also an affirmation of identities through all this, the Mexican identity being one of them, ‘We are not Spanish, we are Chicano’, Seyer said at one point, and when a whole gang of heavy-tattooed tough guys came on stage and held the Mexican flag behind Seyer during a whole song, it was enough swag to piss off an entire Trump rally and a sort of middle finger to the whole state of the elections,… while Seyer was joking about getting back to Mexico, which would allow him to take some vacation.

The show ended by a jump in the crowd of course, but that was barely over, they did another song then another one, nobody wanted to go home, and everyone wanted a piece of Seyer who spent a lot of time in the middle of the crowd, allowing all the hugs with fans and the selfies you can imagine.

PRAYERS is putting the gang culture right inside the gothic culture, it’s a first and it’s apparently there to stay, they are breaking barriers so nobody should ever talk about building walls again.

More pictures here

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Night Club

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Drab Majesty

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William Control

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PRAYERS

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