Like any good surf the waves can lift you up or knock you down, and the music from La Luz is no different. Formed in summer(naturally) of 2012 by Shana Cleveland (guitar), Marian Li Pino (drums), Abbey Blackwell (bass), and Alice Sandahl (keyboard) this four-piece all-girl outfit from Seattle can kick your butt or make you swoon faster than the turning of a tide.
In conjunction with the release of the fourth issue of She Shreds; a Portland based magazine with a focus on female guitarists(the only periodical of its kind) La Luz was the headlining act of an all lady rock evening. She Shreds founder Fabi Reyna and bass player of Ghost Ease (the evening's 2nd band) introduced La Luz as one of her favorite bands(featured on the mag's 3rd issue) to a sold-out crowd at the Doug Fir Saturday night.
Like neo-soul this modern surf-rock is a mix of what's current while still maintaining a nostalgia of music from the distant past. The track "Brainwash" shows the band's versatility; moving from its mellow intro reminiscent of a calm summer morning, into a shaking melody perfect for a beach blanket dance-off.
"Call Me In A Day" will be on a soundtrack someday, until then it will play out whatever movies your mind makes. The marching drumbeat in combination with the simple guitar riff incites a feeling that a spaghetti western style duel is near, yet Cleveland's soothing vocals reassures that danger is far away. The song remains my favorite; ominous yet steeped in beauty.
Still a new act in the live sense, the chemistry of the band is evident on stage as well as their genuine excitement to be playing for appreciative fans. All members of La Luz sing and contribute accordingly to Shana's stellar guitar work. The sun drenched songs had the Portland crowd forgetting about their seasonal affective disorder, at least for one cold January night.
The audience was peppered with more females than your usual crowd but all were excited and attentive throughout the performance, head bobbing in approval of what they heard. Surprised yet accepting by La Luz's request for a parting aisle to encourage a Soul Train space for dancing during one song. The audience was also given the challenge to try "the Worm" while crowd surfing. Of course this awkward task was happily met and was a great representation for the show as a whole; a fun and friendly mix of tunes with unexpected good surf in the wintertime.
Catch them on their return visit to PDX on March 6th at Mississippi Studios.
ListeningMan is the host of The Lunchbox on Mondays at noon.