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Live Review: Allah-Las, Donny Love

22 May 2017 | 2:17 pm | Sam Wall

"People seem a bit shy at first but a couple of the Donny Love blokes break the ice and a goodly portion of the room floods the stage."

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We're not 100%, but judging from the shirts at the merch desk and singer/guitarist Andrew 'Hog' Hodges' drawled advice to "keep it on the dirty down low", smart money says Donny Love's opener is called 'Keep It On The DL'.

It's a cracking tune, full of jangly strumming and funky sax and Hodges does a pretty impressive job of playing trumpet one-handed towards the end. There are some prime dorky dance moves on display too; their saxophonist stutter-steps on the spot like a samba instructor. They play through Hey You, recent single No Sense and breakout track Carnivorous Man before wrapping up with a "cheery number" called Death ("So how do you, how do you handle death/How do you approach the idea"). Like most of their tracks, it has some surprisingly sharp lyrics draped in upbeat, off-kilter, kinda-tropical pop and delivered with larrikin panache. Extra points for skipping the shoey and knocking back a beer straight out of the sax.

Allah-Las might be the chillest dudes out, and they take over the stage with languid positivity and zero fuss. Drummer Matthew Correia relieves vocalist Miles Michaud of his singing duties for 200 South La Brea and he might not belt it like Levon Helm but he is pretty fucking good. Guitarist Pedrum Siadatian injects a fuzzy heaviness into the intro and chorus that was absent on the record and makes for a nice bit of aural roughage in their otherwise smooth sound. Then it's his turn on the mic next for Worship The Sun cut 501-415 and wouldn't-cha know it he's a pretty schmick singer himself.

The first lazy chords of Sandy peal out and easily snag the night's high score on the Cheer-O-Metre. People bob along happily as the band sing "time after time girl" in dreamy reverbed unison. Michaud asks us if "Y'all having a good time?" before starting on Warmed Kippers, which has some more of that meaty fuzz from Siadatian sprinkled throughout, increasing the song's usual wonky dissonance. Afterwards, they drop the vocals entirely for some warbly goodness from the guitarist in a five-minute instrumental that rolls straight into Tell Me (What's On Your Mind).

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After some echoey BVs on Had It All they step off the beach and into the desert for Sacred Sand, the instrumental taking on a mild Spaghetti Western vibe that makes for our personal highlight. Catalina somehow hits a whole new level of relaxed before we get a couple more tracks off last year's Calico Review in Strange Heat, Autumn Dawn. At this point a few people are heard saying that all of Allah-Las songs sound the same, and there's some validity to that. There's not a huge variety of sound as the LA lads switch back and forth between chill surf rock and chiller surf rock, but hey, if the shticks good stick with it.

A dude in a beret jumps on stage to help out on tambourine for No Voodoo and stays for Could Be You, a definite highlight from Calico Review and probably the liveliest moment of the night (we don't want to tell tales outta school, but did someone just light a joint in here?).

Correia takes over vocals again for their cover of The Human Expression's Calm Me Down, which they've been doing a few years now. For a second it almost sounds like they're going to cover Little Red Riding Hood and then Spencer Dunham's bass rumble combines with Siadatian's bluesy noodling to assemble their breezy first single Catamaran.

While Michaud expresses his gratitude for the good times and positive vibes they've had in Oz -"We're the Allah-Las, it's been a pleasure. Beautiful beaches, beautiful food, beautiful people." - Correia starts doing a spot-on rattlesnake impression with a set of maracas in each hand. The two switch places, the singer getting behind the skins so the drummer can croon Long Journey out front and centre. Correia thanks us himself, then tells us this is the final track and everybody needs to get themselves up on stage. People seem a bit shy at first but a couple of the Donny Love blokes break the ice and a goodly portion of the room floods the stage to dance to Every Girl.

There's no encore but it's worth sticking around for a beer - the 'Las take over the decks downstairs and spin everything from Bollywood hits to TOPS' new single Petals in an impromptu post-set set.