I had never almost-cried at a concert before watching Silvana Estrada’s late-night set at Bing Studio on Saturday.
Typically when I go to shows, I am either dancing around happily or sobbing manically at the barricade as my feet hurt in shoes I regret wearing. This time, though, in the basement of Bing Concert Hall, Estrada — nominated for Best New Artist at the upcoming 2022 Latin Grammys — captivated me with her beautifully raw voice, keeping me at the edge of my seat for the duration of the show. Nothing was tense, though; put short, I was in awe.
The show was originally scheduled for the fall of 2020; COVID-19 restrictions pushed back the date until Saturday. It was well worth the wait.
To start, the atmosphere of Bing Studio was a beautiful addition to Estrada’s vibe. The intimacy of the venue, in addition to the excitement and support from the audience, enhanced my connection with Estrada and her art. A few flashlights mistakenly went off from conspicuous bootleggers, but I was still very much grounded in space. The lighting helped keep me attentive: colorful backgrounds matched the tone of each song and spotlights added to the drama of the performance.
I was in a trance from the very beginning. Rather than starting with a bang, Estrada pulled us in with an a cappella rendition of “Un Día Cualquiera,” from her debut album “Marchita.” By layering in the instrumentals halfway through, Estrada eased us into her acoustic world. It was welcoming, and her quips after each song set a tone of kindness and camaraderie.
Silvana followed the opener with “Carta,” which translates to “letter.” Before she began singing, Estrada briefly discussed themes of returning to love and attachment that the song explores through an upbeat and joyous acoustic rhythm.
“It was originally a letter I never sent, so I turned it into a song,” Estrada said.
Another song that particularly stood out to me was “Casa,” which translates to “home.”
Again, upon introducing the song, Estrada noted how meaningful the lyrics were to her. The song relates to her relationship with her parents (“And my brother too, I guess,” she added) and how their presence, despite being far away, remains close to her heart and acts as guidance for her as an adult. In the song, she explained, there’s a line that compares this feeling to stars in the night sky and their relationship to helping people with navigation. The song itself was a beautiful, melancholic folk ballad.
Estrada also talked about how the pandemic shaped her music. Not only was her time in isolation spent learning to play and compose music on the guitar, but her experiences in the spring of 2020 led her to write the song “Aquí.” The song reflects on the appreciation of little things — such as the resurgence of nature due to pandemic lockdowns — even amid chaos. It’s yet another heartfelt ballad; I continue to play it after the concert and it never fails to rescue me from anxious spirals.
One of the later songs that garnered a collective awe was a cover of beloved Mexican icon Juan Gabriel’s “Amor Enterno.” A friend of mine sang the lyrics next to me in excitement as Estrada perfectly captured the same sorrow as Gabriel in her acoustic set.
The concert (my first at Bing Studio) will remain as the best of the performances I’ve seen at Stanford for a long time. The synergy of acoustic folk songs with the space is something I hope to return to, and Estrada — as she gave a gift through her simply beautiful performance — set a high bar.
Editor’s Note: This article is a review and includes subjective thoughts, opinions and critiques.