Cuco Live at The Novo
If you’re able to find the Novo inside the maze that is LA Live, you’ll probably agree that it’s one of the superior of LA’s innumerable locales. The venue felt more like a kickback the night of July 27th; the music that played prior to the start of the show wasn’t offensively loud, allowing for the crowd filled with couples, people in bucket hats, and girls with technicolor hair, to chat. For the 21-year old Cuco—real name Omar Banos—this seems more authentic. I feel as though I’m about to watch one of my peers get up onstage, rather than some aloof, untouchable superstar.
“Helloooo,” Cuco cooly spoke into the mic. “Los Angeles, I’m so happy to be back home. This is our last date of the tour. It’s been crazy but nothing’s made me happier than being back here in LA. So without further ado…I dunno,” he said, kicking off the show.
With a red solo cup and an unopened bottle of water at his feet, Cuco launched into his set with “Keeping Tabs” off his newest album Para Mi. Featuring vocal layering and a trippy background that looked like a cross between a biology class cell video and something you’d find on IFYOUHIGH.
Cuco sang into the mic, eyes closed, seemingly in a trance, slipping with ease into an impressive falsetto that had the entire crowd swaying along.
Breaking into “Hydrocodone,” Cuco had the entire audience singing along for the first time in his hour-long set. He carried on this formidable wave of engagement with his hit “Lover Is a Day.” The Chicanx artist experimented with sound and echo effect, before cutting to a spirited trumpet break.
“LA, I’ve had some pretty big crowds this tour, but for this next one I need y’all to be the loudest,” he said to ear-shattering screams. “I need to know if my hometown fucks with me.” Taking a sip out of his mystery cup, Cuco launched into “Lo Que Siento,” featuring an extended bass solo.
As the show wrapped up, Cuco took the time to express his gratitude for his parents, who sat right below the stage. “They’re the reason I do all of this,” he said.
Finishing off his show on a high note with “Bossa No Sé,” Cuco took a rare step beyond his keyboard, running around the stage. Joining him onstage for the end of the song were a collection of friends and collaborators as they all sang, “Don't play with me / You broke my heart / But I'm also so obsessed with you / I don't know if I love you / I don't know if I hate you.”
Stream Cuco’s New Album Para Mi on all platforms now.
Photography by Devin Kasparian