Even though it was a Monday evening, Cuco’s “Para Mi” tour brought a completely sold-out show to the Masquerade’s Heaven room in downtown Atlanta on Sept. 30. The 21-year-old Californian singer has consistently delivered sold-out shows on his first-ever American tour, on which he performs his debut studio album, “Para Mi.” “Para Mi” is a continuation of Cuco’s audible aesthetic: a new wave of psychedelic music created primarily for Generation Z. His bedroom-pop vibes and alternative pop sound were certainly reflected in his colorful performance.
Typically, artists performing at the Masquerade rely mostly on their stage presence to add flair to the show. However, Cuco utilized every inch of stage and screen that he could. Cuco brought infectious energy to the performance, and his visuals were formatted well to match each song. The concert’s color palette was vivid, trippy and reflective of the psychedelic whimsy on his album cover, which depicts a colorful painting of Cuco with a delighted look on his face as clouds, hot air balloons and eyes float around him. Drug use continues to be a controversial subject in society, but referencing it is an undeniable staple of the bedroom-pop genre that Cuco’s music belongs to, which was most definitely conveyed through the visuals of his performance. The song “Keeping Tabs” which opened the show, particularly exemplifies these themes with lyrics such as “Take another tab, an ounce of the shrooms” and “Oh no, don’t hate just get up out my way/ I’ve been getting high like every single day.” These lines clearly lack subtlety on the substances they reference; however, the audience was incredibly receptive to the visuals displayed alongside the lyrics. What started off as a wall of orange behind Cuco and his band at the beginning of the song ended up transforming into an animated graphic of colors blending together that would change with the beat of the music. With every switch of the screen came another yell from the audience. Everyone present was continually impressed not only by Cuco’s music but also by the visual artistry of his performance.
Cuco also created his set to be a celebration of his Mexican heritage. Cuco, along with his openers KAINA and La Doña, are all Latinx and used their performances to showcase their cultural pride. All three artists sing in Spanish, either interspersing it with English or producing whole songs in the language. As he mentioned on stage, Cuco wants to use the success and traction that his career has gained to set a precedent: artists with Latinx heritage can still honor their identity while becoming mainstream in music and other creative fields.
Alternative pop and bedroom pop are both unofficial subclassifications of the not-quite-pop but not-quite-alternative music space that originated from SoundCloud and lesser-known YouTubers. It has only been in the past year or so that bedroom pop has made itself stand out amongst other alternative music. Like Cuco, artists Clairo, Omar Apollo and Boy Pablo have all claimed their ground in the bedroom-pop scene. Spotify has even created an official “Bedroom Pop” playlist that has almost half a million followers. Cuco’s song “Keeping Tabs” currently holds the #1 spot.
Opener KAINA was first to entertain, but it was La Doña who really stole the spotlight. Her set was high energy and full of positive vibes, falling more into the traditional pop music sound rather than matching Cuco’s bedroom-pop genre. La Doña’s most recent songs have been celebrations of being single again after a difficult relationship, and it was clearly a topic the audience was sympathetic toward. The women and men in the audience quickly caught onto her sassy and unapologetic aura, and every person in the room was dancing to her mariachi-inspired beats.
Cuco’s show was a wonderful experience, from the first opener to his last song. The three artists together showcased a variety of what Latinx musicians can offer the music scene, as each artist brought their own perspective to the stage. If you have not listened to “Para Mi” yet, you will probably hear it soon because Cuco and his bedroom-pop sound are only going to grow from here.