Bands often run back onstage for an encore, especially if the crowd is chanting for them or if security hasn't been able to capture the live animal running loose backstage. Go wild with this GrouponLive deal to see Lila Downs at the Congress Theater. For $35, you get two tickets for general admission on Saturday, March 30, at 7:30 p.m. (up to a $71.30 value, including all fees). Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
For Lila Downs, multicultural mixing isn’t just an academic affectation, it's a part of who she is. The daughter of a Mixtec Indian singer and a Scottish-American professor, Downs split her youth between Mexico and the United States, absorbing aspects of both cultures. With disparate musical styles filling her youth—including jazz standards, Woody Guthrie tunes, and winsome rancheras sung by her mother—Downs’ smoky-voiced singing developed a cosmopolitan quality, transcending genre while paying tribute to the styles that inspired her.
Her border-blurring tunes also reflect her commitment to social issues, frequently dealing with immigration and justice in Mexico and the US. Her most recent album, the Grammy-winning Pecados y Milagros (Sins and Miracles)—won praise from the New York Times for "the thrilling, chameleonic voice at its center: one that can go for playfulness, operatic bravura or tearful, heart-on-sleeve melodrama."
Lila Downs – "Naila"
After 18 years playing the drums, doctors diagnosed Joaquin Hernandez with focal dystonia—a neurological condition that causes involuntary muscular contractions. But he didn’t miss a beat in his musical journey. Instead, he turned to an unusual substitute—the zendrum—and rebuilt his style around chirpy sequencers and midi loops, becoming Cumbia Machin. A wooden triangle with pressure-sensitive discs, the zendrum controls a host of prerecorded, electronic noises, letting Hernandez steer his churning, joyful, dance-ready pieces with minimal arm movement. A rotating slate of bandmates offers support with traditional percussion, keeping things grounded in the physical world and preventing android audience members from getting too smug.
Cumbia Machin – “Esuper Cumbia”
With its gargantuan ballroom space, the Congress Theater is just as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the ears. The former movie palace, which boasts a curved upper deck lined with red-velvet seats, beckons concertgoers to its lushly vintage confines for country-music shows, bluegrass festivals, and electronic-music performances. Regardless of the act, audience members revel beneath an ornately decorated domed ceiling that's perfect for jetpack escapes when the dance floor gets too crowded. The theater also is branching out into its surrounding neighborhood by filling attached storefronts with restaurants, small grocers, and other community partners.