by Brad Roberts
Even though Los Angeles was about to be hit by it's biggest winter storm in years (which included the tornado) I had to get down to El Rey to see Allah-Las (at right) on Thursday, December 11th. I also wanted to see all three of these local bands break out on the big stage so I knew I'd be spending the whole evening there
I recalled seeing Dream Boys at The Echo at Echo Park Rising earlier this year and liked them so I got there as they were still in their first song. Dream Boys (above) play dream pop with an appropriately relaxed vocal style even though three of them sing. Nice melodies and precise playing, even with the sound mix at El Rey a little bass heavy, they still sounded good. The 30 minute set included some of their best songs and provided an appropriately inviting opening for what was to come.
When the curtains parted on the myterious Tashaki Miyaki (at right), I was startled to see Joel Jerome up there on the stage playing bass with them, but his presence lent a full sound and his pitch perfect vocal harmonies were thrilling. With their wailing guitar flourishes by the tall and lanky long-haired gentleman who will only say his name is Rocky, and the blissed out voice and pounding drums of lead singer/drummer 'goes-by-the-name-of' Lucy, they bring a very electric and striped down style to the dream pop genre.
How do I describe Allah-Las without making them sound like a '60s tribute band when their music is like a magic carpet ride to an earlier era? They make the genre sound like they were inventing it, so full of pep and passion about authenticity they are. When Brit pop met Acid Rock somewhere over San Francisco in 1967, psychedelic rock and Allah-Las were born. They must have jumped into a time travel machine to get here.The spare arrangements all seem like pieces of a great historical puzzle as my mind races from one San Francisco band of that era to the mid sixties British bands and back again looking for the reference points. The thin, echoey sound of earlier recordings, the clean, crisp definition of each instrument all transport me to another time. I got lost in the dream.
Great light show and one the most pot-smokinest show I've seen in quite a while. It felt like an electric kool-aid acid test at times the crowd was so 'elevated'. (There was even body surfing at one point, above) They are able to recreate the exact sound of their super CD, Worship The Sun in a live setting and with energy and real joy. You can catch them playing again next Monday at The Echo for the Tribute for Josh Schwartz.
Funny that I just recently purchased Jerry Goldsmith's 1966 soundtrack of Our Man Flint and have been listening to it non-stop (I've always been an insatiable soundtrack collector and this has been one of my favorites for almost 50 years) along with the Worship The Sun and I can't deny the connection. If Allah-Las hasn't been influenced by this score, they certainly sound like it. The twangy, surf guitars and the spacey sixties-style futuristic soundscapes. Mix in some Byrds, some Airplane, a bit of Donovan, don't forget The Kinks, a dash of Beatles and The Mamas and the Papas and, you know what I mean.