In a previous life but during this lifetime, I once ended up at a Brian Jonestown Massacre show early enough to catch the opening act. We’d long felt that the opening bands we happened to catch the tail end of often sucked, so we were blown away by what we heard. It was the Flavor Crystals, and their set was one spectacular jam after another.
Soon after that we saw Sonic Boom/Spectrum, and I believe it was they who had Blank Dogs, who are interesting, opening for them.
So then I stopped assuming and started getting to shows in time to see the opening bands’ full performances.
Last night I was especially excited to see Allah-Las’ openers, The Babe Rainbow, because I love their Planet Junior song. Absolutely love it. That song is catchy and lovely with a mild, heavenly vibe. Live, their set was similar, though mildness reigned. The Babe Rainbow are good musicians and they brought love to their performance, but it wasn’t red-blooded. I think they’ll easily get there in time, though.
And they’re funny. At one point one dude told the audience, “Just so you know, this guy doesn’t have a girlfriend…” And the dude without a girlfriend said “So if you’re sick of doing yoga all by yourself…”
That’s my kind of humor.
After the perfect amount of time to admire the crumbling majesty of Turner Hall Ballroom and get a second round of drinks, the Allah-Las eased onstage with effortless cool. Nothing showy, no hipster shit, just chill talent showing up to bring some solid tunes.
For one second before they started I thought everything might go to hell cuz a bro rushed the stage doing an almost-heckling whoop, but the bro chilled just as the band got to work. Dunno where he went, cuz after that it was mostly bearded/glasses dudes in high risers swaying to sonic bliss.
Allah-Las played songs from all their albums, and everything was good. One thing that’s great about them is that every member sings and plays guitar. While each has their forte, no one monopolizes anything, and no one seems overcome by ego or ownership. On one song the bass player does lead guitar; on another he sings; on one of my absolute favorites the lead singer and the drummer swap roles.
And every time lead guitarist Pedrum Siadatian did one of his brief sweet solos, Milwaukee said “Fuck yes.” Fans of under-the-radar bands are often intensely mellow (I think it’s U2 fans who save the screaming for the arenas), but last night the crowd was lively, into it, stomping the floor for the encore.
The band is touring with two support members: a second percussionist laying down extra rhythm, and a Clint Eastwood cat in a cowboy hat on keys and slide guitar. I liked the poncho he had covering his table.
One of the best songs of the show was “Tell Me What’s on Your Mind.” That’s the first Allah-Las song I ever heard, and as much as I liked it, it actually turned out to be my least favorite song on their first album, because that album is packed with fantastic feel-good songs that make you long for the coast, long for the past, and thank God for the present. Live, “Tell Me What’s on Your Mind” was less poppy and more badass. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with poppy, but badass is, well, badass.
They ended with “Long Journey,” which is really pretty much the song to end everything. It caps their first album, and it signed off a rapturous performance.
Top image courtesy of my phone