Just barely over a year ago I saw Los Angeles hard rock warriors Dead Sara make a ferocious and monumental return to the stage and so the bar was set very high, along with my hopes, that their sold-out show at The Troubadour last night would live up to my sky-high expectations. Thank heavens, it damn well did.
Austin, Texas’ soulful singer-songwriter Walker Lukens along with backing band The Side Arms kicked things off. The crowd got a nice little preview of Lukens’ forthcoming album Baked Goods which is due out later this year and was produced by Jim Eno (Spoon). They tore it up with new single, “Every Night,” and covered a lot of ground zipping through and across musical genres, from blues to soul to pop to doo-wop and back again. There was even a moment when Lukens’ took to the keys and I thought to myself, “It just got a little Billy Joel up in here.” The transitions and sometimes abrupt song endings felt a little too fast at times for the crowd to catch on and keep up with. However, by the last few songs it felt like the band had truly hit the peak of their groove. You know when the bass player and back up singer start jumping up and down in unison, the guitarist’s eyes light up and the singer’s top shirt buttons become unfastened whilst wailing into the mic with all their might, a certain level of harmony and on-stage camaraderie has been reached.
Then the anxious ridden 30-or-so minute wait in between sets took hold. Luckily, drinks, chatting, crowd-watching (completely mixed crowd of all ages and ethnicities really reflected the particularly broad audience reach Dead Sara have) and even a celebrity spotting of Mark Boone Junior (aka ‘Bobby’ on the hit series Sons of Anarchy) helped pass the time. Soon enough a roar of applause welcomed Dead Sara to the stage and they jumped right in with “Suicidal,” the lead track on their new album Pleasure to Meet You, which dropped this March on Pocket Kid Records. Some concert-goers were already completely familiar with the new songs and singing along right off the bat. The band also threw in some much-loved tracks from their previous self-titled release such as “Lemon Scent” and “Face to Face” which had the dead-icated fans floating on cloud nine.
Dead Sara brought a live saxophonist on stage for a resounding version of “L.A. City Slum” which felt like a throwback to bands like X-Ray Spex who rock the sax with punk vigor and during “Blue Was The Beautiful You” I wasn’t sure who was headbanging more, lead singer Emily Armstrong or the crowd. Armstrong’s captivating vocals, freewheeling movement (she danced, she stood on top of risers, she crowd-surfed, she conquered), and witty yet casual banter is impeccable, impossible not to love and proves that she is an absolute, real deal rockstar. It also can’t be denied that the band’s precision playing is so spot on that it sounds just like the record, and then some. The crowd echoed every lyric and moved to every beat. When Dead Sara brought the house down with an encore that included their biggest hit to date, “Weatherman” everyone just lost their shit, myself included. Last night’s Dead Sara show was the ultimate powerhouse rock n’ roll performance that every rock band today should look to for guidance and that I guarantee no one in that audience will ever forget.
Words: Emily Saex
Photography: Wes Marsala
Want more photos of Dead Sara and Walker Lukens? Check out the photo gallery below!