Though the word “retro” by definition is the imitation of a past style of some sort, it’s a concept that always seems to be a la mode. At last night’s second to last show in the Santa Monica Pier’s iconic Twilight Concert summertime series, the Allah-Las and OK Go embodied two distinct manifestations of retro spirit, from dress to music to overall attitude.
Allah-Las, a surf-rock quartet so LA homegrown they almost seemed like permanent beach fixtures, filled the air with their mellow, groovy sounds, casting a dreamy aura over both the crowds gathering on the boardwalk, the beach, and beyond over the waves. As the sun set, infusing the beatniks onstage with a soft glow, it almost felt like fan favorites“Busman’s Holiday” and “Catamaran” plus new tracks off forthcoming album Worship the Sun, were being played back on a gritty,orange-tinged 60’s-esque film reel.
Power pop headliners and treadmill enthusiasts OK Go zinged onto the stage next with as much eager energy as the ensemble’s name signifies. Channeling a retro vibe of the 80’s pop ilk, the boys of OK Go lived up to their innovative reputation, giving their eclectic set even more texture by adding interactive layers, like recording the audience and using the sounds to lay the base for one of their tracks.
At one point, lead singer Damian Kulash even headed into the crowd for an intimate acoustic performance of “Last Leaf,” made even more emotionally charged given the context of his recent coming out. The audience’s heartfelt reaction seemed to fuel the rest of the set, as the boys snapped back into their quirky vibe almost as quickly they had abandoned it.
The quartet headed into an implied encore with Kulash and longtime friend and bassist Tim Nordwind assuming the roles of Les Miserables’ Jean ValJean and Javert for a theatrical rendition of the musical’s iconic “Confrontation.” Wrapping up with a sneak preview of tracks off October’s upcoming album Hungry Ghosts, the ensemble simultaneously showcased their seamless ability to channel Collective Soul followed by a Cure vibe, before wrapping it all up and reminding us of their inimitable sound with nationwide hit “Here It Goes Again.”
Beyond providing just an evening of lush music in the most picturesque of settings, these two stellar ensembles used their incredible and unique abilities not so subtly reminded us that pure talent will never go out of style.