La Luz The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON, May 17
Published May 18, 2016"Can we please dim the stage lights? It's so hot," said La Luz frontwoman Shana Cleveland.
It certainly felt like a summer's eve, what with the sweltering temperature inside the Horseshoe Tavern and the surf-rock stylings of the Los Angeles four-piece filling the air. The band, whose sound incorporates doo wop oohs and ahs, trembling riffs and a slight tinge of eeriness — "surf noir," if you will — brought their alluring tunes to Toronto last night (May 17).
Onstage, La Luz exude an undeniable sense of enjoyment: when keyboardist Alice Sandahl has a break from playing her eerie organ fills, she's shimmying and swaying along, shaking a maraca or her hips, and when Cleveland goofed just a little during "I'll Be True," she smiled and powered through. But while the foursome don't take themselves too seriously, they still allow themselves to get lost in the waves of their sound onstage.
They had the crowd in the palm of their hands: when "Morning High" was brought down to a low and slow tempo, soft and sensual, the crowd reacted with hoots and yelps; they were keen, too, on the salute Cleveland gave them to end off "You Disappear"; and when she climbed up on an amp, commanding them with her moody, trance-like gaze and her hand gripping the whammy bar, it was to their great delight. Later in the night, brilliant bassist Lena Simon went for a little crowd surf, as an audience member sweetly helped to dole out her amp cable so that she could continue playing during her ride.
Instrumentals "Phantom Feelings" and "Sunstroke" off their debut LP It's Alive and "Oranges" from 2015's Weirdo Shrine were highlights, the sound La Luz concocted so scrumptious it could easily be gobbled up with a spoon. Cleveland's guitar tone in particular was tasty, and laying on the tremolo thickly, like a mixture of Link Wray with some Shangri-Las mentality and spark.
"This one is a new one, so don't expect a lot," drummer Marian Li Pino warned the audience before they dove into a melancholic number. They followed it with the gorgeous "Sleep Till They Die," but the backing vocals, whose layered harmonies make the song, were unfortunately too low to hit with power.
"Call Me In The Day" ended off the night as a semi-encore (the band only left the stage for a brief spell), with Cleveland walking past the keyboard, cheekily playing a little glissando with her elbow.
"Thank you so much for coming out on whatever day this is," she said, as the band bid Toronto farewell, all smiles and sweat.