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Ximena Sariñana: New York, NY, July 11, 2012

Ernest Barteldes By

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Ximena Sariñana + The Sconekt Ensemble
Latin Alternative Music Conference at Central Park Summerstage
New York, NY
July 11, 2012

On the first night of the 2012 Latin Alternative Music Conference, Mexico-based Skonect Ensemble took the stage with its clever musical blend of Latin, rock and classical music. The quartet—electric violin, electric viola, electric cello and percussion—performed personal arrangements of songs by bands like System of a Down and Argentina's Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, which brought to mind the work of Rodrigo y Gabriela and Poland's Motion Trio. This group of highly skilled, classically trained musicians was received well by the audience, which sang along with the tunes it knew and loudly applauded at the end of every number.

Performing at a corner of the stage, preparations were simultaneously made for singer Ximena Sariñana, who came onstage backed by a small band of keyboards, drums, bass and electric guitar, and kicked off with "Different," the lead single from her self-titled 2011 Warner Latina recording. Early in the performance, the band had a few technical problems, with the bass guitar seeming not to work, but the show went on without interruption.

Sariñana's style is close to the early work of pop singers Alanis Morrissette and Avril Lavigne, with songs that spoke of broken relationships and other issues. She played keyboards on most of the songs, and sang both in English and Spanish.

The Berklee college alumnus sounded like a diamond in the rough—she demonstrated great talent, but it was equally clear that she has a way to go, both musically and as an entertainer. She seemed a bit shy onstage, but compensated by effectively communicating with the audience, again in both English and Spanish. Though most numbers possessed a pop-friendly format, sometimes she went into a more bluesy direction that allowed her band to stretch in this live format.

She closed the set with "Vidas Paralelas," from her 2008 debut, Mediocre (Warner Bros.), accompanied solely by her electric keyboard. The audience cheered her loudly as she left the stage, and Skonect Ensemble then returned for a few more numbers, as the evening closed with Spanish rapper Mala Rodriguez.

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