LIVE REVIEW: JUANA MOLINA

My wife and I visited our friend in Argentina this past May. While my poor lady spent our first afternoon recovering from a 14 hour flight of using every spew bag in a 9 seat radius (don’t eat the airplane food), I wandered around Buenos Aires. Deliciously coffee-fueled, I headed to Exiles Records. The fella working, Nacho, was an incredible wealth of music knowledge. As he dissected every band we talked about, he suggested a few local musicians. One I immediately fell in love with was Juana Molina. Her newest album, Halo came out in the Spring. It looks daunting and dark at first glance of the cover, but it’s a hypnotic, ambient creation. The folksy, playful, electronic aesthetic reminded me of Bjork and something that I’d never really heard before. I literally ran back to our friend’s apartment like a giddy school boy—eager to tell my wife and friend about the vinyl haul.

Fast forward four months … Juana Molina is playing at Brighton Music Hall in Boston on a mini-tour! Local record label, Fenway Recordings were presenting the show as part of their fall music series and had me snap photos of her performance. And what a show! Molina spoke of barely making it up to Boston as connections from Lima, Peru were limited with recent tumultuous weather. A fan down there had even gifted her a necklace, and once she wore it, they were able to get a flight North. She wore for the evening and swore it was staying on through the tour to keep the good luck going.

Her previous output has been as a beloved comedienne and actress, and this showed vividly on stage as she charismatically joked with her band and the crowd. A few songs in, she pulled out a nail filer and monologued about how she’d taken a spill and broken most of her nails. The odd segue fit beautifully with her joyful presence as part of the whole show. Looping vocals recorded on the moment with crunchy guitar chords, the set layered on itself to repeatedly crescendo in elaborate peaks of noise and harmonized howls. It’s a rarity to catch someone like Molina all the way from another hemisphere.

Thanks to Nacho and Fenway Recordings!