La Luz Crowd Surf The Night At Soda Bar


LA LUZ played Soda Bar in San Diego

Just six shows into their 64-date world tour, La Luz, the surf-rock quartet from Seattle, made a significant splash in the San Diego music scene. With the release of their sophomore album, Weirdo Shrine still fresh in the air, Shana Cleveland (guitar), Alice Sandahl (keyboards), Lena Simon (bass), and Marian Li Pino (drums) took the stage at Soda Bar to unleash some of their new tracks, as well as please fans with memorable tunes from their first album.

The members of La Luz could be seen wandering the venue, selling merchandise and watching the opening bands before setting up their own gear and diving right into their eclectic mélange of music. It’d be easy to throw La Luz into a category of reverb-saturated surf-rock that, though entrancing, is not particularly dynamic, but this is simply not the case. The nuances in the band’s writing, as well as their impressive showmanship on stage tell a much different story.

More often than not, three-piece harmonies adorn their sound with Sandahl, Simon, and Pino finding their nook in the song with grace and ease. Their intoxicating voices float delicately above the room and are supported by Cleveland’s full and passionate guitar and melodic lyrics. Just as their nearly sickly-sweet harmonies have entranced the crowd, seemingly putting people under a spell of rare focus, a slick bass line and vigorous drums pull everyone back from the precipice. The bobbing of the crowds’ heads turn into full-fledged body gyration. La Luz may as well have an electric wire running up everyone’s back with the control that they find over their audience’s state of being.

After a few songs, the band joked about their backstage conversations with Cleveland saying her favorite Spice Girl was Scurvy Spice, a well-chosen new nickname. The ladies then inclined the audience to form a conga line around the bar, which sits in the center of the venue. The conga line idea morphed into a new plan in which Sandahl would crowd-surf the entire venue counterclockwise around the bar. The successfully completed maneuver was surely one of the best crowd-surfs ever done, maybe even on par with Flaming Lips singer, Wayne Coyne, rolling atop music festival attendees in a translucent plastic ball. The shenanigans were well received, pumping up the Wednesday night crowd to Saturday night levels of enthusiasm. Even better, the crowd-surfing experiment united the venue, which can sometimes separate into those standing listeners, who are there mostly to see the music, on one side of the bar and the sitting attendees, who might find themselves socializing throughout the show, on the other.

It’s easy to feel like you are witnessing something in the midst of splendor when watching La Luz. The four women exude confidence and comfort with one another and their stage. It’s because of this that their reach continues to grow. Their latest album, produced by fuzz rock king, Ty Segall, is already receiving glowing reviews and drawing them renewed and well-warranted attention. In the middle of their Soda Bar show, Cleveland noted that the band always found a good crowd in San Diego and that this time there seemed to be more people in attendance than ever before. Their growing crowd at the Soda Bar is surely just a foreshadowing of what the future holds for this talented group of musicians.

The show ended with a two-song encore and another crowd-surfing session, this time with Simon riding the waves of hands, bass still thumping along in her grip, until her cord unplugged and the crowd was told to return her to the stage. Simon managed to plug back in just in time to hit the last bass note of the night, an ominous tone bathed in fun that was the perfect exclamation point to La Luz’s last California show of the tour.