Allah Las @ The Zoo

Slightly psychedelic cacti straight from the shores of California

From the the USA’s West Coast to the AUS East Coast, California’s lo-fi surf rock band Allah-Las are riding a wave of mostly sold out and well overdue shows on their debut Australian tour. Hosted in Brisbane by local live music stalwart The Zoo, only recently reopened after their upstairs refurbishment, the band played a highly unemotional and subdued set that really did sound like something straight out of an old school surfer’s record collection. The four-piece, stripped back rocker’s may take a lot of influence from those early surf/garage rock bands from the West Coast 60s but they are not imitators, nor do they try and peg themselves inside a niche - evident by the diverse crowd they pulled last Friday night.

Opening for the Allah-Las boys was up-and-coming Brisbane band Nice Biscuit - a more perfect combination of headliner and opener could not have been imagined in this town. The sweet, dreamy sounds of Nice Biscuit’s seductive psychedelic prog-rock set the stage for the more refined and refrained sound of Allah-Las. The band features the talents of Ben Mulheran and Jess Ferronato on guitar/backing vocals with Nick Cavendish on bass and Kurt Melvin on drums. The band is fronted by Grace Cuell and Billie “mwa” Star, with their piercingly beautiful vocals and highly choreographed performances with matching outfits to boot. Together, this sextet of friends moved freely between the lighter elements of psych pop and elongated, bluesy riffin’ with an attentive use of instrumental FX.

After Allah-Las quietly sauntered onto stage, they cut straight to the chase - diving into the ever-popular Busman’s Holiday. Combining sounds inspired by both the surf rock waves of California’s coastline and the slightly psychedelic cacti of it’s interior deserts, the song proved to be the perfect segue between the two bands. The four boys carried an air of rather intense disinterest throughout the set, staring determinedly towards the right of stage, but it gives the performance the laidback feel that fits their style. At odds with those lazy, chill vibes was the mosh pit formed by a minority of Violent Soho shirt-clad lads, pushing and shoving and failing at a handful of crowdsurfing attempts. The other and older members of the crowd, attracted by Allah-Las’ musicianship, were visibly irritated by the unnecessary display.

Regardless of audience antics, the band surfed through their set covering fan favourites and a few picks from their latest album Calico Review. Coming back on stage, for an encore performance that could have been regarded as a second set, frontman Miles Michaud swapped places with drummer Matthew Correia for an unknown song amongst classics like Catamaran. The band will be playing at Coachella again later this year, and our local favourite Nice Biscuit will surely be seen at a venue near you soon. If you haven’t heard of them check out their latest single Upside Down before the Arnott’s legal team contacts them about a band name change.

Nick Lewis

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