On Tour: Luna | 10.11.19

Photo by Luz Gallardo, courtesy of High Road Touring.

w/ Lab Partners | 8:00 PM | Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Ave. | All ages | $25 advance, $30 day of show

It’s perhaps unsurprising that the music made by a band named after the moon could be best described as “sleepy” or “dreamy.” One might also suspect that a “sleepy,” “dreamy” band would be a dud live. Yet, as Luna proved in their 2017 stop by the Off Broadway stage, they are anything but boring. In a live setting, their gently jangly dreampop is less a warm and cozy blanket and more like the gentle waves of the ocean, perfectly suited to just stand still and let it wash all over you as the tide of reverb-soaked guitars rushes in.

Formed in the early ‘90s from the ashes of seminal slowcore band Galaxie 500, singer-guitarist Dean Wareham’s sequel project treated the Velvet Underground’s third album as a mission statement. The band released a series of critically acclaimed records throughout the 1990s and early 2000s filled with Wareham and Sean Eden’s interweaved guitar leads, a rhythm section (drummer Stanley Demeski and bassist Justin Harwood, and their respective later replacements, Lee Wall and Britta Phillips) that thrummed with energy, and Wareham’s laconic vocals.

Luna originally split in 2005 but reunited in 2015. Those hoping for new music from the band have so far had to make do with a covers LP and an EP of original instrumentals (2017’s A Sentimental Education and A Place of Greater Safety, respectively). The band’s latest EP, the digital-only Postscripts, collects a series of 7-inch singles released this year and last. It too is a mix of covers (Roy Orbison’s “California Blue,” Monochrome Set’s “Inside Your Heart,” the Velvet Underground’s “Lonesome Cowboy Bill,” Thunderclap Newman’s “Something in the Air”) and new instrumental tracks.

In the band’s uniformly excellent discography, one album still stands above the others: the band’s 1995 breakthrough, Penthouse. From the gentle strums and cheeky lyrics of album opener “Chinatown” (“You’re out all night/ Chasin’ girlies/ You’re late to work/ And you go home earlies”) to the jingle-jangle of “Double Feature,” from the loping bass of “Lost in Space” to the skipping guitar strums of “Rhythm King,” it’s an album of instrumental beauty and lyrical wit best experienced after the sun goes down. The album’s most beloved moments are “23 Minutes in Brussels,” six minutes of hypnotic groove with the drawled chorus “Say a prayer/ For you and me/ Say a prayer/ Tell me do you miss me?” repeated until it becomes a mantra, and “Bonnie & Clyde,” a cover of the classic Serge Gainsbourg/Bridgitte Bardot duet recorded with Lætitia Sadier of Stereolab but given a sexy spin live with Phillips’ breathy vocals.

Given Penthouse’s vaunted placement in Luna’s discography, St. Louis fans are in for a treat: the band will be performing Penthouse that night in its entirety, while other cities are being treated to full album shows of its predecessors, 1992’s Lunapark and 1994’s Bewitched. Take advantage of our good fortune and check out the Penthouse show while you have the chance. Trust me, it’ll be a dream come true. | Jason Green

Tour dates:

10.08.19 Atlanta, GA, performing Lunapark
10.09.19 Atlanta, GA, performing Betwitched
10.10.19 Birmingham, AL
10.11.19 St. Louis, MO, performing Penthouse
10.12.19 Chicago, IL, performing Bewitched
10.13.19 Chicago, IL, performing Penthouse
10.15.19 Toronto, ON, performing Penthouse
10.16.19 Ithaca, NY
10.17.19 Holyoke, MA
10.18.19 Brooklyn, NY, performing Lunapark
10.19.19 Brooklyn, NY, performing Bewitched
10.20.19 Brooklyn, NY, performing Penthouse
02.05.20 Los Angeles, CA
02.07.20 San Francisco, CA

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