La Luz at Hoxton Bar and Kitchen
A sizeable and expectant crowd are packed into the bare-walled, dimly lit cube of Hoxton Bar and Kitchen’s gig space ahead of a performance by all-female surf rock quartet, La Luz. Nearing the end of a three-month, international tour you might expect a band to flag somewhat; but throughout a passionate, and technically excellent, set from the Seattle-based band there is nothing but enthusiasm and energy on display.
Before singer and lead guitarist Shana Cleveland and her crew impress with their doo-wop harmonies, however, the studied cool of an East London crowd is challenged by a compere warming up the crowd with appallingly cheesy jokes. Chuckles (of relief) rise as he leaves the stage and drummer Marian Li Pino explains: “You can tell we’ve been on the road for three months because we’re losing our fucking minds!” The crowd laugh again and without further encouragement the group throw themselves into the harmonies and lazy reverb of Big Big Blood and With Davey, two tracks from 2015 album Weirdo Shrine.
Pausing only for bassist Alice Sandahl to adjust her guitar, the group enthral and invigorate with their blend of ethereal harmonies, airy surf riffs and rolling drums, transporting the crowd to the West-coast dive bars where La Luz cut their teeth. As Cleveland continues, drawling her way through the disarmingly dark lyrics of You Disappear and beautifully titled Pink Slime, the influences of 60s pop and rock legends like The Ventures and The Shangri-Las are evident, albeit with themes that are more menacing than anything mustered during the genre’s heyday. Although the crowd are slow to warm up (Li Pino notes, in a post-gig interview, that European crowds are disconcertingly polite), there are eventually cheers aplenty for a band that are absolutely on point throughout their performance. Buoyed by this enthusiasm, Li Pino invites a member of the crowd to take over the drumming (he does a commendable job) during I Wanna Be Alone so that she can crowd surf, to laughs and cheers from audience and band members alike.
This attitude sums up La Luz; here are a group of talented musicians that revel in their 60s inspired surf rock sound and aren’t afraid to have fun doing it. It’s an attitude that is clearly infectious and, come the end of a brilliant set, the crowd are left screaming for more.
Photo: Bryan Parker
For further information about La Luz and future events, visit here.
Watch the video for You Disappear here: