More often than not, some of the best live performances are the ones you prepare for the least. On a comfortably cool Monday night, Girlultra performed in the atrium of the Santa Cruz Catalyst–the more intimate stage. My experience with the atrium has been a hit or miss. Sometimes I exit feeling like I’ve watched a whole lot of nothing and at others, it feels as if I’ve tapped into some kind of primordial, musical energy that doesn’t dissipate until the next morning. Monday night, May twenty-third, was one of those kinds of nights
Hailing from Mexico City and standing at about 5’5 in platforms, Mariana de Miguel, known by her stage name Girlultra, is the kind of performer you want to see in a Superbowl half-time show. She commands the stage with an energy akin to that of Selena Quintanilla–but with a little bit of punk. She is glamorous, royal, delicate yet gritty, and a damn good dancer. I learned about Girlultra two days before that Monday night, thanks to a fellow KZSC DJ who invited me to the concert, and I’ve been jamming since then.
The show opened with Jasper, a groovy Pasadena guitarist with a sultry voice and smart sense of style. While it was his first time at the Catalyst, you would have thought he was a seasoned Santa Cruz performer. After a relatively small set, Girlultra popped onto the stage in yellow sunglasses. The lighting was blue-green and she took to the mike with an unanticipated sensuality. Her voice cast a spell so strong, even the giant fake elephant head mounted on the back wall appeared more at peace and the crowd, which was an unusually friendly one, stood unmoving, completely absorbed by the moment. And then a switch flicked. She busted a move and the energy in the crowd exploded. Unfortunately, I didn’t know any of the lyrics and I couldn’t exactly sing along but I danced regardless. Girlultra has that effect. Her sound, which is a mixture of R&B, punk and dance-pop, has an uncanny ability to set limbs in motion. I don’t think there is a more sophisticated way to describe it other than pure fun.
During one of the final songs, she invited members of the audience to come up and dance with her. To say the stage was full would be an understatement. A performance as heartfelt, entertaining and so chock full of talent as Girlultra executed can too often be rarity. She is an artist with an immense love for her fans, and her fans for her. I actually never went to sleep that night. I was so stoked I saw the May twenty-fourth sunrise.