3RD APRIL 2014
Picture the scene. Two lone figures stand back to back. With hearts heavy and pistols loaded, they take five paces forward. A red handkerchief falls in slow motion down towards the worn sand path and the figures swiftly turn on one heel. And with the flick of a whammy bar on a beaten up Strat, La Luz’s surf sounds ring out across the showdown.
Tonight the Seattle quartet are far from a barren Western setting though. Instead, we are crammed into the stifling confines of Brixton’s Windmill (and yes, there is actually a windmill just shy of the main building). ‘Pink Slime’ thrusts us into the band’s outstanding range of vocals with its yelps and woops as the drums teeter into a mad jam wig out. ‘Sunstroke’ swaggers in with its Dick Dale vibrato and cockerel march whilst ‘Big Big Blood’ is a macabre twist of fates “All these creeps, they gather ’round / Every time that I leave town” layered in heavy harmonies and heaving drums. Mid way through the set, the band unleashes an inspired Soul Train re-enactment as the 100 strong crowd are ushered down the newly formed tunnel to dance. Timidly but nonetheless happily, much of La Luz’s fanbase oblige and soon the central pit ahead of the stage is swelling with arms flailing and heads nodding.
The band’s debut full length ‘It’s Alive’ has just hit UK shelves this month on Hardly Art and they’re chipper about its arrival: “We did it you guys” whilst throwing in a more contemplative curveball: “It took way longer to get here than we did”. As touring goes, La Luz has been through some rough stuff on the road. At the end of last year on the way to a show in their hometown Seattle, the band lost control of their van, sliding across black ice and slamming into a concrete highway divider. Whilst waiting for the police however, their van was hit by a semi-trailer truck. All of the van and the band’s gear completely destroyed. But punk spirit as we know it is alive and well on the West Coast and Seattle rose up in their forces to support the band following the horrific incident. Donations were made and 100% of single ‘Brainwash’ was given back to funding the band via their label at the time, Suicide Squeeze. Bit by bit, La Luz picked up the pieces to take to the road again.
As ‘Sure as Spring’ swirls and dances with an insane Blue Orchids key solo and ride bell trills, there’s also a nod to the fragility of life: “ Now I kind of want to die and that’s the truest way to know that I’m alive”. It’s a pretty special moment for all, only cemented by the band’s rousing encore who are brought back on for ‘Morning High’ and ‘T.V Dream’; the B-side to the Suicide Squeeze released single. More bands should do instrumentals, there I’ve said it. And why wouldn’t you when you have those clattering drums and Shrangi-Las choral refrains?
With his penchant for spaghetti Western guitar tones, Tarantino must be itching in his boots to work La Luz into a score. Quite rightly so.