La Luz, Bad Licks, and Rubedo at the Bluebird in Denver, CO on 9/3/17

La Luz’s Shana Cleveland

I first saw La Luz four years ago opening for the psychedelic group Of Montreal. The band just released their debut album and was thrilled to be traveling the country. Two days later they were involved in a horrific highway accident. Besides sustaining injuries, the band’s van and instruments were demolished forcing them to cancel their national tour. Despite the crash, they came back as road warriors. La Luz (Spanish for in the light) appears to be always trekking to the next gig. They play every venue big or small and have been the support acts for the likes of Ty Segall. This time they were the headliner. Lead singer Shana Cleveland confessed to the near capacity Bluebird audience that she didn’t know if anyone was going to show up.

La Luz’s sound is a combination surf guitar and 1960’s four girl harmony accentuated by a heavy sadness. The band describes it as Surf Noir. Their drummer Marian Li Pino calls it “sad songs for stoners.”

La Luz

Somber songs about loneliness, obsession, and death captivated the diverse crowd. The audience consisted of an abundance of teenage girls, women with buzz cuts wearing leather vests, and a few men that felt out numbered. When La Luz picked up the pace, a mosh pit formed in front of the stage which inspired keyboardist Alice Sandahi to crowd surf her way to the balcony. She remarkably reappeared on stage in time to finish the song.  Every time the band posts tour dates on social media someone always replies, “What?  No Denver?” Cleveland asked if the person responsible for the numerous requests was in the crowd. No doubt La Luz’s appearance satisfied them.

Bad Licks

Before the sounds of sadness hit the stage, local Denver band Bad Licks warmed up the audience. After Singer Rett Rogers convinced Alex Eschen to put down his beer and grab his guitar, the 1970’s inspired garage rock begun. Eschew broke his only pick and magically a pink pick appeared out of the crowd. Bad Licks ended with the punk classic People who Died by The Jim Caroll Band to the delight of people who mosh. Rogers stated that an EP might be released soon, but it needs time to “pickle.”

Rubedo

Rubedo kicked off the night of music. The transgressive synth rock band played two minutes of eerie tones until a groove formed that lasted for the remainder of their set. Rubedo has a musical bond that started in high school and was nurtured by the Denver DIY (Do IT Yourself) community. Singer Kyle Gray took the audience through an uplifting set that compelled the audience to sing along to their signature song Love is the Answer.  

See you at the next show. I’ll be the one daring you to body surf to the balcony.

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