30th September | Thekla

Acclaimed by a sold-out Thekla, Californian combo, Allah-Las, brought their sunshine psych-pop to Bristol.

We all know that two-song encores are a consolidated common practice most artists feel forced to stick to. When the audience’s request for the classic “one more song”, though, goes beyond praxis and it’s a genuine outburst of joy, it means that the act has done a superb job. Or maybe it’s something more than appreciation, as in the case of Allah-Las. It was a declaration of love for the cult American act. In fact, when straight-faced and not-so-chatty frontman, Miles Michaud walked back on stage, he looked truly humbled and radiant. He mumbled words of appreciation for the Bristol crowd before kicking in the last two numbers of the hour-long set.

Allah-Las stopped at Thekla as part of their European tour to promote upcoming long-player, Lahs, the fourth studio effort for the L.A. band. However, not much from the album was revealed, apart from its three singles already known. Allah-Las seemed to prefer first album classics over the rest of their repertoire, pleasing the audience with numbers such as ‘Tell Me What’s on Your Mind’, ‘Catamaran’ and ‘Catalina’.

The performance was, in the act’s trademark style, a balanced mix of sung numbers and instrumentals, showing the four Californians’ love for Latin jazz and Morricone scores for Sergio Leone’s dollar trilogy. Echoes of southern California and Mexico’s dry and sandy landscapes reverberated through Allah-Las’ exquisite vintage gear and surfer cowboy aesthetic. The band’s sound could be described as the music Calder or Picasso would be listening to while busy painting in their mid-century furnished atelier with a Technicolor Spaghetti Western film showing on the telly.

Latest single, ‘Prazer Em Te Conhencer,’ highlights the band’s research for new Brazilian tropicalia-inspired sounds, which could also be traced down in the funkier arrangement of older songs. Tropicalia moods à-la Os Mutantes and early Caetano Veloso blended with early 70s Kevin Ayer-style baroque swamp blues, as witnessed by new number ‘In The Air’, already an audience favourite. Surprisingly finding their space in the classics-filled setlist were George Harrison cover, ‘Fish on the Sand’ and B-side ‘Brittany Glasz’, one of the night’s highlights.

There’s something uniquely magnetic and catchy in the simplicity of Allah-Las’ sound. Their jingly jangly, surfy sunshine pop captures Los Angeles as accurately as only a few other artists have managed to (see Beachwood Sparks or The Byrds). Once the gig’s over, all you want to do is just put a cowboy hat on, grab a taco and sip an icy margarita, slowly tasting the salt on the glass’ edge. We don’t mind if tonight’s raining, we’re all feeling a bit warmer and happier.

See the video for ‘Prazem Em Te Conhencer’ here: