In an interview last fall with the Daily Nexus, singer-songwriter Margo Rey said, “I feel now that every performance is this living organism, and the audience has a big part of what this performance is going to evolve into. It’s my chance to give them the best performance I can and win new fans.”
At her concert at the SOhO Restaurant and Music Club on April 1, Rey certainly won over a few new fans. Standing onstage, gloriously donned in her trademark all-leather outfit (as a matter of fact, leather seemed to be a theme onstage), the singer put on a thunderous show and lent her rock goddess soul to the audience.
While Rey is indeed a rock goddess, her music genre should not necessarily be sorted into the broad genre of “rock.” It is more than that. Rey’s roots are deeply intertwined with both the jazz and rock scenes. In the early years of her career, she was the leader of an all-girl rock band called Debutante and later, a Latin Jazz/R&B group called Sambuca. Nowadays, Rey calls her music “Organica:” a blend of jazz and pop that is audibly influenced by the keys, rhythmic guitars and groovy downtempo beats of the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Although a native of Arlington, Texas, whenever Rey appears at SOhO, it is with her devoted band from L.A.: a diverse cast of characters ranging from a badass and oh-so-stylish Asian-American, female bassist to a shaggy-haired drummer clad in a loosely buttoned dress shirt.
Together, the groovy bunch took the dimly lit venue to a new level of chill. Deep blue and orange lights illuminated their jiving bodies as they picked guitars and played the keys. Balding heads of the middle-aged SOhO goers surrounding the stage nodded along with the rhythm of the drums.
Shrouded in candlelight with sparkly eyelids and slicked, jet black hair, Rey kicked off the show with “I Saw You,” a sassy post-breakup song about an uninvited chance encounter with an ex. Her relentless energy reverberated off of the deep burgundy walls of the venue as she rocked her hips — covered in, you guessed it, leather — back and forth.
Before the next song, Rey told the story of when her husband and two-time Grammy nominated comedian, Ron White, proposed to her before getting on a plane that dipped about ten thousand feet. Shaken, he managed to say, “Give me that ring back, Jesus doesn’t like this [proposal].” This short anecdote was the perfect lead into a soft, sentimental melody about White, “I Give my Heart.” Sitting down on a wooden stool, Rey crooned into the microphone and gracefully sailed through the high notes in her song about her “one and only.”
Later, the singer kicked up the volume again for “Habit,” her breakout single that landed her a spot at #1 on the Billboard charts. Filled with sharp and upbeat keys delivered by a spunky twenty-something-year-old wearing a Superman tee, “Habit” embodied her trademark musical style. She said afterwards, “I coined my music ‘Organica’ because it’s not rock and it’s not pop. I believe music is a living organism … it’s created on stage by humans, not machines.”
This philosophy shone through her concert as she put her all into her songs, rocking and prancing across the stage as her band exerted the same amount of vitality. Her songs were all kinds of quirky fun — one featured a cool violin solo while another, she admitted in a voice filled with Texas twang, was written in honor of “bushy seventies porn, y’all.” Rey delivered a couple covers as well, including the bluesy “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers and the more contemporary classic, “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes.
The energy did not stop once and drove to her hit ballad about courage in a time of hardship, “Colors.”
“I had cancer twice,” the singer began, “and it felt like I was never going to get back on stage … but I like being bald. It’s fun.”
Rey’s vivacious show ended on a high note with her newer song, “Beautiful Train Wreck.” Before Rey began her set, Ron White had introduced her as “the most talented person I know.” Her fantastic performance proved the statement true.