At their first LA show since releasing Weirdo Shrine, Seattle surf-rockers La Luz blasted through a jam-packed set filled with old faves, bringing along Bay Area garage-janglers Cool Ghouls as support.
Moodier and darker than it’s surf-noir predecessor It’s Alive, La Luz’ latest effort Weirdo Shrine (Hardly Art) takes a winding, lonelier route to the waves.
The album opens on the slow angelic, siren-song “Sleep Till They Die” before taking a turn on “You Disappear,” which hits fast with dreamy, 60s surf riffs and a let’s all go down to the beach and have a surf party vibe, completed with a frenzied, reverb-whirlwind of fuzz and harmonies. However, it would be misleading to think that Weirdo Shrine is a record about fun and wasting away under the sun.
A meditation on the pains of loneliness and death, the record waves between warped, clamoring jangles and haunting doo-wop harmonies. “Life is short, so take it slow,” guitarist Shana Cleveland sings on “With Davey”—a sleepy track with the interspersed howling of Cleveland’s distorted 60s clangs. The imperfections are radiant across the album, and much of this is owed to it being produced by Ty Segall in a DIY surf studio. Together, they created a unfamiliar sound by adding layers of fuzz across the whole album that’s already rich with reverb and lo-fi distortion.
Throughout the record, we also see frontwoman Cleveland take on more anxious guitar solos, likely as a result of her spending more time with her guitar on side-project Shana Cleveland and The Sandcastles. And it translated just as well on stage at The Echoplex, if not better. With less vocal responsibility now added to the live show, Cleveland spent more time mid-stage, which added immensely to showing off her talents as a nuanced guitarist.
Darker vibes aside, Shana Cleveland, along with bassist Lena Simon, keyboardist Alice Sandahl, and drummer Marian Li Pino are always a joy to watch. With live sets filled with frolic antics, this time around wasn’t any different. The gang tried to get the Soul Train dance line going, but somehow, it didn’t connect with the audience. Instead, Sandahl took matters into her own hands and jumped over everyone’s heads for a good ol’ crowd-surf. In fact, this inspired more ecstatic crowd-surfing locals to take the stage and go wild, especially when hearing old favorites like “Call Me In The Day.”
See photos from their Echoplex set below, taken August 11, 2015.
All images Copyright © Julie Juarez and James Juarez.