Zoé Presents Memo Rex in New York

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On Monday March 12th the Mexican band Zoé played its second consecutive night in New York City as part of an American tour, which included shows in cities like San Francisco, Los Ángeles, Chicago, Hollywood and Santa Bárbara. Perhaps because of the production of Phil Vinall (Placebo, Radiohead, Elastica) and a sound at times reminiscent of The Stone Roses, The Beatles, and yes, Placebo, critics and fans alike have described Zoé’s musical style as amalgamation of Britpop and electronic based alt-rock. However, this band’s solid delivery and stylish musical approach render both classifications and comparisons insufficient. This is solid Latin rock.

Zoé opened its show with the serene notes from “Memo Rex” allowing for its humanized technological dreamscapes to take form -and linger- before pulling the crowd at SOBs into a sci-fi love affair and diving into songs from Memo Rex Commander y el Corazón Atómico de la Vía Láctea—their third full length album and their first to be released in the U.S.

Relying on a well-built rhythmic foundation and captivating stage presence, Zoé has been able to successfully connect the pop sensibility in which melodies, simple choruses and a lyrical content that explores common themes, become at once attractive, musically interesting and inclusive. Once I heard “Vinyl”, I knew that walking away disappointed, at least as far as the night’s repertoire was concerned, would simply be impossible. “No me destruyas” with its straightforward plea and a world of hidden places and torn wings is, for me, always the highlight of any Zoé presentation, but “Via Lactea” and “Human Space Volt” were nicely executed and drove many to actually mosh, a practice which I did not think could take place at a Zoé show.

Some people in the audience danced and vocally externalized their excitement, but “Love” requires a certain introspective mind-set that can then respond to the release of more electrifying guitar riffs in songs to follow. I must say that I wish Zoé had played earlier material, “Razer Blade” and “Tarántula” are a couple of tracks I’ve always wanted to hear live, but “Dead” and “Soñe” effectively rounded up a show in which layered subtleties coexisted with the explosive moments that energized the crowd.

Fortunately for those of us who enjoy intimate shows, Zoé does not yet enjoy the kind of popularity that Latin American bands such as Aterciopelados or Café Tacuba have in New York City and the band might not yet generate the type of overwhelming attention as it does in places like the Teatro Metropólitan or the Vive Latino and Creamfields festivals in Mexico City—but considering that Memo Rex Commander y el Corazón Atómico de la Vía Láctea is, for many, the first reference to this great band—it is evident that Zoé will become the act to pay close attention to in the coming years.