An intimate crowd of twenty-somethings welcomed psych-punk/garage rock band Las Rosas to Brick & Mortar Music Hall in San Francisco on May 29.
The band consists of vocalist and guitarist Jose Boyer, bassist Jose Aybar and drummer Christopher Lauderdale, and was conceived in Brooklyn, New York. In its Facebook biography, the trio compares itself to three leaves floating along a river only to escape the murky waters and drive away in a “sea-foam-green van” to release records for the world.
“No autumn leaf, if you bothered to check, ever stops moving,” says the Facebook profile. Yes, this band is eccentric. Yes, this makes its shows even more fun.
The atmosphere was friendly — everyone seemed to know each other, cups of beer were passed around and dances shared among the small crowd under the warm glow of the chandelier over the floor. Members of the crowd brought hoards of excitement, doing skateboard tricks on the floor and dancing with rowdy energy in the crowd as Las Rosas played its set.
Up on the stage, deep purple and blue hues struck the band as it performed songs off of its recent sophomore album, Shadow by Your Side, which was released May 11. A spinning white disco ball sat in the middle of the stage, lighting up the crowd and adding a kaleidoscopic touch to the performance.
A red spotlight stayed on Boyer throughout the performance, making the frontman look like Green Day singer Billie Joe Armstrong’s little brother, even as he performed with the veracity of Jimi Hendrix and echoed the vocal style of Julian Casablancas from the Strokes.
The band also played songs off of its previous releases — Everyone Gets Exactly What They Want and Flower in the Sun + Ms. America.
One of these tracks was “Cops,” which is the band’s statement on police brutality released amid the tensions of 2017. The band members played the song with all the passion they could muster, imparting their message of the issues with abusive authority as if to a crowd in the ‘90s punk scene.
The classic cool-boy band members, who thanked the crowd for coming out on “whatever day it is,” then played the song “Boys,” matching the purposefully contained messiness of the Kooks. This song oozed raw guitar licks and head-bopping beats.
Later, Boyer dedicated the hit song “Black Cherry“ to the opening group, the Alleyways, whose guitarist and drummer traded turns on a tambourine to casually join Las Rosas on its performance of this track.
The rolling drums and atmospheric instrumentals continued on “Dinner For One,” which makes listeners long for a beach house they’ve never lived in and a road trip they’ve yet to venture on.
In the song “5000 Hits,” the emotion of the instrumentals followed the emotion of the lyrics perfectly, speeding up with the intensity of what was being sung. As Boyer belted, “She says, ‘I found me another boy,’ ” the speed of the guitar matched the defeated feeling the lyrics conveyed.
However, not every song held the same fast-and-loud feeling. The band slowed it down with “Me Myself,” exuding atmospheric harmonies and psychedelic backing guitar lines paired with lines such as, “I love my life, I live in ecstasy.”
Boyer was partially incoherent for some of the lyrics and nearly any time he tried to speak to the crowd — this all contributed to his too-cool-for-you aesthetic, and somehow, it worked for him.
Sure, the venue was small and the company sparse, but the night was spirited and filled with a sense of community among people who just genuinely wanted to enjoy a good time with good music. And on that front, Las Rosas did not disappoint.