Tonight is a night of harmonies at The Hug and Pint, where La Luz are just one of two all-female groups on the bill.
Opening act tonight, Halfrican, sport tiny gym shorts and small Adidas-style t-shirts with the band’s name on.
Dressed like this, the aggression one might expect out of songs titled ‘Cocksucker’ and ‘Down to Fuck’ is instead channeled into self-deprecating humour, expressed through the nervous energy of the likes of the Buzzcocks.
Lead singer Sancho Buna approximates melody in the vein of Australian psychedelic Blank Realm (who came to the Hug and Pint a couple of weeks ago), and he hollers delightfully above Halfrican’s pop punk, his guitar serving as duet partner where Buna runs out of expressive capacity.
Main support comes from TeenCanteen, who are captivating from the instant they begin their a capella opener, ‘Honey’, an immediate showcase for the all-female band’s three singers, and a song that is ambiguous and in a way that makes them an excellent choice of support for La Luz.
Every line of ‘Honey’ reveals a turning point in the relationship described, where first the protagonist feels the object of attention is “perfect like a circle”, but later she realises she is “a square” trying to fit in his circle, and by the chorus feels he is “going to want another/cos he always makes me suffer”.
Lead singer Carla Easton finds her levels of emotion heightened by the support of the two powerful backing vocalists, Sita Pieraccini and Chloe Philip, who are not content to merely provide harmonies to Easton, and are not shy to exhibit technical skill themselves.
There’s no more appropriate label for La Luz than the heavily bandied around ‘surf noir’; the surf guitar is so instrumental to the group sound, and the band borrows heavily from the doo-wop groups of the 60s, while latching on to and emphasising all the more weird and frightening elements of those bands.
Tonight, though, La Luz reveals a side that’s pure unpretentious fun.
If the band’s unsettling harmonies, the shimmering organs, the dreamy/creepy vocals, suggested a more gloomy approach, the band does everything to dispel these preconceptions.
“Maybe a magical fairy will come and save me,” remarks lead singer Shana Cleveland innocently after having trouble moving the light shining in her face, shattering any ideas you might have had about a gloomy frontwoman.
After ‘Sleep Til They Die’, the ominous opener to latest album Weirdo Shrine, with an even more sombre rendition tonight, the band teases someone called Alice for doing a dance that is “just a serious face”, before giving a shout out to Scary Spice; you realise La Luz aren’t afraid to call out their target audience for taking themselves too seriously.
It’s lucky to have such an intimate gig with long enough for the band to have fun too – on TeenCanteen’s request, La Luz split the audience in two and have audience members dance down the middle to the front.
Later, after debating the relative gigging habits on either side of the pond (“in the U.S., I guess, maybe people get more drunk at shows?” – “but this is Scotland!?”), drummer Marian Li Pino requests for an audience member to play drums so she can crowd surf for the first time in Europe.
La Luz can have fun at this gig though – when it’s in an intimate venue where the sound is great, with an apt and impressive choice of support, this is and ought be a pleasure to play.
Words: Tony Boardman
Photos: Elina Lin