La Hell Gang recently signed to Brooklyn’s Mexican Summer label and played their first ever US show on Wednesday night at Glasslands.
Having followed Chilean pyschedelic rock extensively over the last couple of years, it is always a rare but essential opportunity when a band rolls in to town. Given that La Hell Gang’s new album, Thru Me Again, is only their second in close to 5 years, it was definitely not a show to miss.
Opener Jefre Cantu-Ledesma created a wind tunnel soundscape, which I was into, whilst others clearly didn’t even realise someone was on stage playing a set. More fool them. I found it a nice contrast to put an ambient musician first considering what was to come.
Arp were up next and I think they’ve come a long way since I saw them last year at East River Park, their opening number in particular was a krautrock-inspired head-nodder. There are a couple of tunes that don’t quite hit the spot when you just want them to break loose a little bit, but I enjoyed their set.
If the occasion were to cause any nerves for La Hell Gang then one could never tell. The band made a cool, unassuming entrance before effortlessly laying down an hour long psych masterclass.
The songs on record are more of a guideline for their live sets, which often wander into improvisational jams. Drummer Nes and bass player Sarwin lock into a groove which lets KB Cabala set the room on fire with his guitar, it’s thrilling to see and hear, with that classic Hendrix vox pedal sound being put to perfect use.
Sarwin plays left handed but just flips a right-handed bass over, so the low E is the bottom string, it’s an odd technique, but works a charm.
There’s an obvious emphasis on the new album, but their debut, Just What Is Real, has also just been repressed on Blow Your Mind Records and they played a few older numbers as well, though not the title track which would have been fantastic to hear.
Santiago is slowly gaining recognition as a hotbed of inventive rock and roll, there are nods to the past but La Hell Gang are looking to the stars. Thru Me Again is available now on Mexican Summer.