Photos by Justin Yee / Words by Blanca Myers (@blancatron)
Allah-Las hosted a sold-out beach party last night at The Chapel in San Francisco’s Mission District, filling the venue with surf wax and the sandy vibrations of the California coast. The all-ages show drew a cross-generational crowd of west coasters –from longhaired surfers to hipster girls, headbanging vinyl heads, and even some cool-dad-types.
The band opened with “Don’t You Forget It”, a simple and melodic surf rock tune that reveals the nomadic life of a surfer (‘Cause when the summertime leaves your town/You know you ain’t gonna find me around/I’ll be out there to follow the sun/No I ain’t gonna take no one’). Next the band moved into “Tell Me What’s (On Your Mind)” and upped the reverb blending the modern surf rock sound their best known for with a garage rock sound that they kindled the remainder of the evening. Textured instrumental track “Ela Navega” laid down a relaxed, post-surf bikini groove and demonstrated the bands’ commitment to the retro beach esthetic. Later in the evening, a fuzzy, bass-heavy instrumental track with wobbly reverb brought countour to the mostly amber-toned set, reminiscent of waves walling up. “Sandy”, a melancholy surf anthem drove the set home with everyone singing along.
As a band, Allah-Las keep things simple, easy and effortless with maracas and tambourines, a four-piece drum kit, electric lead guitar, acoustic rhythm guitar, and an electric bass. Their refined pop sound is familiar. Mostly in 4/4 time, their songs are easy to rock your hips to. The retro precision of their album is what you can expect to hear live from these guys. This comes at little surprise given their audiophile background–three of the four band members met while working together at Amoeba Music in Los Angeles, and their album was produced by throwback R&B aficionado Nick Waterhouse. Their songs are catchy and nostalgic evoking an afternoon at the beach or a long drive along the Pacific Coast Highway. They deliver their ornamentation through heavily harmonized vocals and reverb. Harnessing the serene, golden tones of the California sunset combined with the bubbly sensations of duck diving, this band transported the audience to a leisurely afternoon on the left coast.
Last night’s intimate show at The Chapel took place the evening before The Allah-Las play Napa’s inaugural Bottle Rock Festival. The band will be taking the stage with the likes of The Flaming Lips, The Black Keys, and The Alabama Shakes on what many are calling the festival’s best day. Next up for the band is a European tour. But the bro and hot girl contingent at last night’s show tells me we’re going to be hearing a lot about this band once they’re back.