Concert Review: Allah-Las and Babe Rainbow at The Beachland Ballroom
Written by Reid Smith on March 21, 2017
By: Emily Brodke
The Beachland Ballroom has always been one of my favorite venues in Cleveland, from its disco ball, the cute vintage store in its underbelly, to the seemingly out-of-place folk paintings near the main stage. When I heard that the Allah-Las, a Los Angeles-based band with an insanely cool vibe and sound, was playing there, I was stoked.
There was a significant amount of standing room when I arrived at the venue, so I was able to nab a spot near the front. The Babe Rainbow, a band from Byron Bay, Australia, hit the stage first. I really wasn’t too sure what I thought of their performance at first, but I quickly warmed up to them, and was absolutely loving their set by the end. The rest of the crowd was as well, with everyone bobbing to the psychedelic, 1960’s-esque sound that included some bongos and twangy guitar playing that was very reminiscent of a sitar. Strangely enough, the best way to describe their sound is Mac DeMarco doing an entire album cover of Magical Mystery Tour. The band’s stage presence was a bit off-the-wall, but in a way that made you want them to keep playing, just so you could watch their antics. Lead singer Angus Darling feverishly shook the six maracas he was somehow holding in his hands, and finished out a song with at least 30 seconds of quacking like a duck.
The single, “Love Forever”, was definitely a standout in their set. The band has only one self-titled EP available so far (available on Spotify, iTunes, and Bandcamp), so there were a great number of songs that they played that haven’t been released yet. This is great news, as these unreleased songs that they played were some of my favorites throughout their whole set. Definitely keep tabs on these “peace warriors of the new paradigm”, they’ve got some great things on the way.
Much to the ever-growing crowd’s delight, the Allah-Las then took the stage and immediately jumped into their set. The crowd instantly perked up when that distinctive, West Coast sound began to ooze from the amplifiers. The Allah-Las have a great deal of music that isn’t exactly the type of music you’d start a mosh pit to, (even though there was one failed crowd surfing attempt) but you could just feel the positive energy radiating in the room. Everyone swayed and turned as the band played some favorites, like “Tell Me (What’s On Your Mind)”, “Sandy”, “Busman’s Holiday”, and “Sacred Sands”. The band also played some songs off of their most recently released album Calico Review, including “Famous Phone Figure” and “Warmed Kipper”. The band has a much grittier, rock and roll sound live, which was most apparent during the latter song.
It’s during live performances that one also realizes just how much talent is in this band. Although the lead vocalist is primarily Miles Michaud, the band rotated lead vocals throughout the set. Their harmonies were impeccable, and instrumentation impressive. The band finished up their set and soon hopped back on stage for an encore, this time with a far more intense energy level. This round of songs included Michaud ditching his guitar for a tambourine, after saying into the mic, “Here’s the four songs you wanted to hear the whole time!” I had more of a cardio workout during those last four songs than I have in the past year, and also had more PBR spilled on me by the guys behind me than I could ever hope to come into contact with at your average fraternity party. Overall, the show was honestly amazing. I forgot for a minute while I was grooving that I was in gloomy, Cleveland, Ohio and not frolicking on some Southern California beach in 1967.
I also had the pleasure of having Pedrum Siadatian, the lead guitarist of the Allah-Las, answer just a few questions prior to the show.
The band formed in 2008 in Los Angeles while 3 of the 4 members (including drummer Matthew Correia, bassist Spencer Dunham and Siadatian) were working at Amoeba Music, an independent music chain with stores sprinkled across California. We’ve all paroozed a record store before and took a chance on a record, so I asked Siadatian about what his favorite unexpected find was:
“There’s been so many records that I’ve bought on just the cover alone, sometimes it’s a miss and sometimes I luck out. One of my favorites that I got years ago is Songs of Protest by Zelia Barbosa.”
The band is on an international tour this year, traveling up to Canada as we speak, criss-crossing across the United States, and then crossing the ocean to Australia. Their favorite part of being on tour is simply “seein’ new places”, which also includes seeing the different crowds. Siadatian commented, “different cities tend to have more energetic or less energetic crowds. Sometimes folks just stand there and sometimes they cause a ruckus.”
In regards to The Babe Rainbow, at Siadatian’s recommendation, the single of theirs that should be at the top of your list to check out is “Planet Junior”.
The band is also set to play at Coachella this year, but they’re not new to the Coachella game. They played the desert festival in 2015, and are coming into the gig with a different mentality this year, telling everyone that they’re going to “change it up a bit, so stay tuned.”
As far as fresh material, since the 2016 release of Calico Review the band has released an alternative version of “Autumn Dawn”. I inquired about the critical differences between the original and the alternative versions of the song that motivated the band to release it a second time. Siadatian responded, “The demo version is punchier and reminded us of Love’s Da Capo, so we thought it was worth it to put it out as well.”
Although there are no more upcoming shows in Ohio, make sure to check out the rest of the Allah-Las tour. Maybe you can catch them at your spring break destination! At the very least, give their discography a listen (available on Spotify, iTunes, and Bandcamp), and I guarantee you’ll feel like you’ve been dropped right into a scene from The Endless Summer.