WHO: Ximena Sariñana
WHERE: The Echoplex
Better than… the movies.
Cut from a similar dainty-floral-patterned cloth as Zooey Deschanel and Jenny Lewis, child actress turned cheerful indie darling Ximena Sariñana has led an equally charmed life. The daughter of a prominent writer-director pair from Guadalajara, Sariñana landed her first silver screen role before turning 10 and has featured in many of her parents' collaborations since then. In 2002, mom and pop wrapped up a Romeo and Juliet-esque teen drama called Amar te Duele by proudly placing three of their 17-year-old daughter's original songs on the soundtrack — and a star was born.
Fortunately for all of us, the lucky little girl can wail. It's hard to hear Sariñana's music — from the throaty jazz of 2008's Mediocre to the bigger and badder, electrified forthcoming Ximena Sariñana (August 2011) — without feeling its warmth in your veins and pumping a fist or two. In the air, even. And that's what Saturday's show boiled down to: a charmed-yet-charming, giggling, unpretentious girl with a startlingly lush voice that boomed from somewhere genuinely deep.
After debuting two new tracks, Sariñana kicked into the poppy hand-clapper “Different,” an English-language single released this February where she fesses up to the weirdness of adjusting to a musician's turbulent life. Moving into “Normal,” the aching love ballad from her 2008 record, you could see how far she's come since then. The Latin pop/indie/jazz/rock songwriter has added serious cred to her name, collaborating with everyone from Jason Mraz to her now-longtime boyfriend, Omar Rodriguez Lopez of The Mars Volta.
Sariñana assembled her self-titled album in both Mexico City and Los Angeles, with songs in English and Spanish and the production talents of Dave Sitek (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and Greg Kurstin (Lily Allen). Appropriately, one of the new tracks that she debuted on Saturday — backed by a veritable cross-border gaggle of percussionists, guitarists, and her own brother Sebastian on keys — is called “Echo Park.” Go figure.
For her encore, Sariñana returned to the stage by herself and introduced her stripped-down hit “Mediocre” with a self-deprecating chuckle that morphed into a sort of whimper. “It's about this guy,” she said. “He didn't want to be with me.” When a devoted dude in the audience howled in disbelief, Sariñana laughed and smiled. “Exactly, right? It's like, fuck him.”
Personal bias: The last time I saw Sariñana's face this close was when I went to see Amar te Duele at the theater in 2002. Somehow, she doesn't appear to have aged.
Overheard in the crowd: “Haha, she always says 'Gracias-thankyou' after her songs.” And, more than once, “She's toooo cute.”
Random notebook dump: We were super impressed and kind of confused when Sariñana took the stage quietly to set up her own equipment during a break after the opening act.
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