L.A. Witch get trippy at Teragram Ballroom

L.A. Witch Desert Daze 2018

Los Angeles trio L.A. Witch brought a solid crowd out to the Teragram Ballroom on Thursday night — an impressive feat, especially when considering nobody living in Los Angeles was even in town due to the industry holiday break.

By the time I got to the venue, Oakland psych rockers Sugar Candy Mountain were just beginning their set. I was exactly the right amount of high to see a band with the name Sugar Candy Mountain, and they didn’t disappoint. Their sound was a perfect appetizer for what was to come from L.A. Witch later that evening. I was previously unfamiliar but became quickly enamored b their groovy guitar and the dreamy vocals of Ash Reiter. About halfway through their set, it was brought to my attention by the people near me that there was a group of young dudes tripping acid (a bit aggressive on a bumfuck Thursday, but who am I to judge?) and I got caught up in watching them for a bit.

By the time L.A. Witch took the stage, the acid trippers were in deep. One guy was dancing around like he had an imaginary yo-yo at the end of both of his hands, doing a sort of Frankenstein move. I really can’t blame the guy — L.A. Witch has the perfect sound for a psychedelic experience, I’ve thought that ever since I saw them open up for Warpaint a couple of years ago. At one point between songs, I fucked with one of the dudes by asking, “Hey, have you ever thought about infinity?” And he looked at me with a crazed look in his eyes, “What…do you mean?” It was great.

L.A. Witch played their excellent self-titled debut album that dropped earlier this year, and it’s one of the stronger debut records from 2017. I’m amazed at how layered their sound is given it’s just the three of them on stage.

This is a band that has been playing regularly for years (including 128 show this year, per the band) but is just now getting the attention they deserve. There’s still a bit of shyness in terms of stage presence that I recall from seeing them years ago, but there’s a lot of confidence when singer-guitarist Sadie Sanchez unleashes killer lyrics like “I’m gonna hurt my baby tonight” (from “Kill My Baby Tonight”) and “You love nothing / You want nothing / Why do I want you? / Why do I need you?” (from “You Love Nothing”).

The bass lines and guitar riffs in “Kill My Baby Tonight” had the crowd moving in unison, and it didn’t stop there. The fuzz and reverb could be felt through your sternum, especially as songs picked up in the second verse like in “Brian”. There’s a shoegaze-meets-doowop sound to the group as a song can pick up tempo or drop off without warning. Drummer Ellie English doesn’t just have a drummer-sounding name — she can really pound them. Bassist Irita Pai is the garage-rock backbone on many of the songs from the record. There’s almost an old-school country-western feel to some of the songs, I really dug it.

I’m really hoping L.A. Witch gets a slot on the Coachella 2018 lineup — they seem like an almost too-perfect fit for the new rock-heavy Sonora Tent that was launched last year when the festival expanded. They certainly fit the Desert Daze vibe perfectly on this year’s bill. Hopefully it isn’t too long before we get to see them again.

Photos by Lee Bedrouni