Los Angeles all-girl, guitar-psych-surf-pop quartet La Luz are already on to their third album but you wouldn’t automatically think it given their youthful disposition. Latest album Floating Features is their strongest and most clearly defined release to date and was well represented during tonight’s show at Tufnell Park Dome. It also proved that while their credentials are impeccably cool, they’ve undoubtedly also got the ability and songs to back it up.
Support tonight comes from Peggy Sue who, with a new band in place, play a set of new songs which bode well for their next album. They’ve been around longer than La Luz, and it’s easy to notice common ground between the two, namely the brimming self-confidence and engaging stage personas of both.
La Luz open with the title track from Floating Features, a sharp instrumental statement of intent that demonstrates their melodic guitar prowess. It’s a two-minute encapsulation of their sound and a perfect curtain raiser for their live shows. Like many of the new songs played tonight it’s swathed in organ which gives it a heavier, richer sound than on record. It flows straight into the quickfire, dreamy textures of Cicada which does well in showing how their songs have their own atmospheres, semi familiar but also alluringly different.
They dip back into their older material on You Disappear which possesses some brilliant shuffling percussive runs courtesy of drummer Marian Li Pino before returning to the new album. Loose Teeth is arguably their best song to date and tonight is a thrillingly fast-paced musical journey across the arid dustbowl. It also manages to sound like Piper At The Gates Of Dawn-era Pink Floyd crossed with Lush soundtracking a Quentin Tarantino movie.
Mean Dream suggests an all-female, sumptuously slowed-down version of The Byrds transported to the 21st century, spacious but with added impact courtesy of choppy, roughly-hewn guitars. California Finally meanwhile is sleek, cascading surf-guitar pop of the highest order (not to mention a fine example of how deceptively addictive their songs are).
At one point frontwoman Shana Cleveland divides the crowd into two, allowing a ‘dancing aisle’ to be established down the centre of the venue. Members of the audience then proceed to dance their way from the back to the stage. Later, fans are given disposable cameras and encouraged to take selfies while crowdsurfing (keyboard player Alice Sandahl can’t resist joining in herself and is held aloft and transported around the venue accordingly). It shows they’re just as much about having fun and creating spectacles as the music. If one of their aims is to send people home with broad smiles on their faces tonight sees them emphatically succeed.