Noise Pop REVIEW: Cuco melts hearts at Gray Area

Cuco, Omar Banos

Cuco performs at Gray Area in San Francisco during Noise Pop on Feb. 24, 2018.

SAN FRANCISCO — Cuco delivered a genuine, albeit short performance to a sold-out Noise Pop crowd at the Gray Area in San Francisco Saturday.

“I guess I was too blind to see you were everything I had/ I can’t have you this way,” Cuco crooned, as the unreleased song fed into the audience’s palpable elation toward seeing the teen heartthrob in action.

This was the best medicine for the singer, who had found himself both under the weather and without his Double Tracker Pedal for the show. After taking a brief pause to preface the performance by telling the audience he was sick and noting the frigid San Francisco air, Cuco launched into a melodic rendition of “One and Only,” off 2017 album Songs4u.

“Summertime High Time” followed, with fans singing along. Though his recorded music is dreamlike, Cuco’s performance took fans through a range of emotions that appeared to leave fans both pleasantly surprised and slightly disoriented. Normally he would use the previously mentioned pedal for this song, alas…

As Cuco sang his popular 2017 single “Lo Que Siento,” his enchanting stage presence, coupled with his effortlessly cool ability to sing a vulnerable song about his feelings for someone, enticed fans to actively participate by singing at the top of their lungs. Cuco’s ever-expanding fanbase looked to transition from his English language songs to Spanish tunes as effortlessly as he did. The crowd reacted not only to his raw lyrics and delivery but also at his ability to blow on a trumpet.

During his performance, Cuco expressed nervousness performing “Lava Lamp” live for the first time; that’s when the crowd had his back, singing back-up to complement the singer. “Lover Is a Day” received a similar response, as the typically dreamlike song instead materialized as a cross between Sunday afternoon oldies, the vulnerability of a 19-year-old finding himself and the vocal cadence of a hopeful musical. The lyrics, on the other hand, balanced the seemingly contrasting elements out by telling listeners the story of an unforgettable love gone awry.

Jasper Bones

Jasper Bones perform at Gray Area in San Francisco during Noise Pop on Feb. 24, 2018.

Despite the factors that should have resulted in a different outcome, Cuco’s voice and stage presence grew significantly more powerful and confident as the night went on. As he sang “Amor de Siempre,” the song inspired some to confidently fall in love and have their hearts broken by their fellow (random) audience members. It was an eclectic mix of the quicker cadence and Spanish rock edge of Mana, with a fluctuating tempo and sheerly personal lyrics.

After ending his set with a jubilant rendition of new single “Sunnyside,” Cuco thanked everyone for coming and apologized for shortening his set. The crowd  didn’t seem to mind.

Still Woozy, Sven Gamsky

Still Woozy performs at Gray Area in San Francisco during Noise Pop on Feb. 24, 2018.

Jasper Bones kicked off the night with a vocally enticing, AM radio-feeling performance of his single “What’s Your Secret?” A fan tossed a red rose onto the stage; it was an apt description of the fans’ love for Jasper Bones’ moving cover of Luis Miguel’s “Sabor A Mi” that followed. The set concluded with sophisticated- and retro-feeling “Oscuridad,” which left me wishing Bones had more original songs to perform.

Oakland native Still Woozy performed next, with guest Skinny Pete, delivering an interesting set composed of alt-punk, synth-pop, soul and dreamy songs that kept concertgoers on their toes during the half-hour performance. With only four released songs to his name, Still Woozy and Skinny Pete performed a mix of unreleased tunes. Their set included a funky rendition of “Goodie Bag,” released late last year.

August Eve

August Eve

Los Angeles native August Eve was the final opener. With a voice powerful like Beyonce and soulful like Amy Winehouse (without the smoky finish), the 20-year-old’s moody pop sound was both youthful and nostalgic. A powerful, yet controlled, performance of “No Better,” an unreleased song, was a highlight. Jasper Bones joined August Eve’s band, playing guitar.


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