Gig Review: URSS Bajo el Árbol @ Casa del Lago, México


If there’s something true about us Mexicans is that we do love a free gig. More so when it’s a band you know will take you to Mictlán and back. Such is the case of the reality bending music of URSS bajo el Árbol, who played a free gig at Chapultepec’s Casa del Lago to flaunt their new album, 7, one which has been slowly making waves with two singles (‘Las aves sin ala’, ‘Los hilos de Dios’.)

After a seemingly eternal soundcheck (where we got teased with a bit of Radiohead‘s ‘Knives out’), the band took the stage (after a quick poetry moment). The band introduced themselves and warned us that the following hour would be a trip through the nooks and crannies of their six minds, a trip fueled by the hoots, hollers and well-earned applause from the public (the seventh member of the band.)

‘El Predicador’ has that “opening track” feeling perfectly attached to it. The crowd goes wild when the song inevitably explodes after the mournful sax intro by Jonathan Arellano. It’s a trippy track and it sets the scene perfectly.

‘Las aves sin alas’ (review) boasted a thundering reception from the public. The refrain “¿Dónde quedó la fé?” (“where is the faith?”), an essential part of this song, was prominently displayed on a banner behind the stage, possibly identifying this track as the calling card of 7.  ‘7’ and ‘Derrócrata’ (ace title!) rode the wave that was generated by the previous song. By no means did this mean that the band played it safe, not at all. They took it as a cue to experiment a bit, with the guitars of Exael Salcedo and Rogelio Gómez trying to out-postrock each other. Who won? The songs, of course.

Mind you, both Cristóbal Martínez (drums) and Alfredo Larrosa (bass) get their chance to shine through in ‘Los hilos de Dios’ (review), the magical realism flavoured cone that gripped the public by the throat and shook it to its core. ‘Dibújame y Bórrame’ was easily my fave moment of the day, a chance for lead singer Samuel Cervantes to work his vocals, with some dream rock tones he usually reserves for his side-project, Los Impresionistas.

‘Cronos’ was the impressive end of the show and then it was encore time. The entire Lin3as M3ntal3s EP was played and I’m happy to report ‘Contra sí mismo’ is the emotional heart of this 4 track gem (review.) Jonathan Arellano‘s skull mask was symbolically destroyed when it was thrown like a wedding bouquet to the public and his keyboard almost suffered the same fate. No instruments were harmed in the making of this album launch.

Once it was all over, you could feel the atmosphere still buzzing between fans (but old, new and fairweather), bloggers, chancers and people with better cameras than mine (not hard to accomplish). The entire audience had a big, smug grin on their faces and that was pretty much what the band was aiming for.

Not only was it an experience to finally catch this band live (finally!) but also you could perceive the changes it has gone through, thanks to years of gigging their arses out and a couple of pretty nifty side projects (Jonathan Arellano Project, Impresionistas, Xavier.) The band had all the love for their audience and that love was mutual.

In the end, that’s the biggest satisfaction a band can get.

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Words: Sam J. Valdés López

Photos: Araceli Herrera/Sam J. Valdés López

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