Los Angeles-based band Allah-Las sound like a throwback, even if they’d prefer not to be described that way. Although they’ve only been around since 2008, many of their songs would fit perfectly in with 60s Nuggets-era artists like The Electric Prunes, The Standells, and The Seeds. With one foot in the psychedelic revival that’s been brought about in recent years by bands such as Tame Impala and Temples, and another in the garage rock of Reigning Sound and Black Lips, Allah-Las have created a unique space for themselves in the modern musical landscape. Where at first they were derided as derivative, they are now gaining respect for their musical chops, and are finding a respectable fan base to go with it.
The band released their third album, Calico Review, back in September, and played a sold-out show at the Rock and Roll Hotel a few days after its release. They returned to DC last week, a mere six months after that show, this time to a headlining set at the much larger 9:30 Club. While the show in the larger venue didn’t sell out, the room was still quite packed with fans that hung on the band’s every song. Opening the show with “Follow You Down” from their second album, 2014’s Worship the Sun, the band played a 21-song set which featured songs from all three records. Highlights of the set included new tracks like the oddly-named “Warm Kippers,” “Famous Phone Figure,” and “Terra Ignota,” along with already-classic songs like “Buffalo Nickel,” “Catalina,” and “Tell Me (What’s On Your Mind).”
The set also included one cover, of The Frantics’ 1960 instrumental surf rock track “No Werewolf” (which Allah-Las originally released as a bonus track on Worship the Sun). For a band that claims to want to shed the "revivalist" label, pulling out an obscure 60s b-side seems like an odd choice, but of course the song blends perfectly into their sound. Regardless of whether the band is an intentional retro revival or simply playing to their influences, the new album and their live performance show that Allah-Las have made the sound their own.
Australian psychedelic folksters The Babe Rainbow and Brooklyn post-punks Roya opened the show.