La Luz at The Chapel, 01/20/14

Monday nights are usually unfruitful when it comes to live music. But fans who wandered into The Chapel during this month’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day were in for a treat. A couple of West Coast acts managed to stir up the venue that evening, building on the soothing psychedelic mood set by a trippy redux of Stanley Kubrick’s classic horror film The Shining projected in the background of the room before the show.

The Aerosols, wearing berets, were first to hop the stage. Shortly after 8pm, they delivered a fairly ordinary 30-minute set. Bassist Josh Bevelaqua pulled off some nice licks, and acknowledged a lack of energy from his crowd.

“Come up closer,” said vocalist Joe Armin. “We’ll play better.” His audience obliged, but even still, like the air in the room, The Aerosols remained slightly flat and unenthused.

The Aerosols at The Chapel, 01/20/14

La Luz, after a brief set change, brought a little more cheer. The Seattle-based surf rock band started immediately into “All the Time,” a surf-y vacation track off last year’s It’s Alive. Frontwoman Shana Cleveland, wearing braided pigtails, spoke to dedicated fans at the foot of the stage. Her voice surprisingly deep, she joked with bandmates Marian, Abbey, and Alice who were all smiles.

La Luz at The Chapel, 01/20/14

The girls worked every track on their record for the audience. It even seemed they repeated songs because of the set’s consistent themes and go-to caravan rock sound. Compare the studio versions of “All The Time,” “Call Me In The Day” and “Sunstroke” and you’ll get an idea of the lack of variety–the band’s only fault of the night. The performance was otherwise on point; especially the slower, lilting groove of “You Can Never Know” which stood out like a sore–but musically welcome–thumb.

Zaina crowdsurfing during La Luz at The Chapel, 01/20/14

Toward the end of the set, Cleveland had a surprise for the crowd.

“So we came up with this thing called crowd surf cam,” she explained with the shy excitement of a six-year old who was just about to meet her first mall Santa. “You tape a camera to your head and then you crowd surf. Does anyone have a phone they don’t really care about?”

A few nervous chuckles shook the crowd before a girl named Zaina volunteered. She glided across a sea of hands, and the show ended happily with La Luz’s lead single “Sure as Spring.”

Pure Bathing Culture at The Chapel, 01/20/14

Following the high energy of La Luz was new age/disco/downtempo band Pure Bathing Culture, who drew in a different demographic. In many ways, the Portland quartet had a larger sound than the noisy rockers before them. Each item on the setlist began with a programmed beat before synthesizer, bass, percussion, and vocals were layered on. “Pendulum,” “Scotty” and “Golden Girl” put everyone into a comfortable trance.

The live performance, a different beast than their recorded music, was overall astoundingly golden.

Pure Bathing Culture at The Chapel, 01/20/14
Monday’s show marked the first night in a month-long co-headlining tour—check those dates to find out if La Luz and Pure Bathing Culture will be near you. And snag a sample of their sounds below.

article and photos by Joanna Jiang

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