The gorgeous sonic tsunami that is Lenguas Largas
Tucson's Lenguas Largas is a loud, dynamic psych/hardcore punk/melodic punk/garage/lofi/indie/fusion/border rock/so-many-other-things rock band whose waves of percussive fuzzy rhythmic noise sometimes visibly radiate off a stage. When you stumble into a Lenguas show, if you've ever heard the band before you will have zero doubt who it is that's playing.
Therefore, it somewhat boggles the mind to imagine that this large and somewhat loose confederation of talented players was once a tiny duo: lifelong friends jamming and experimenting and bouncing ideas off one another.
Isaac Reyes: "Lenguas Largas started out as a duo. Ricky (Shimo) and Isaac. Recording as much stuff as we could, as quickly as we could. I think it was 2009. It didn’t start out as a band, just a creative experiment. Later we asked our friend Chris Koeler to play drums. Our friend Mark Beef joined on guitar after that."
With three guitars and drums, things were starting to get loud. So, naturally Lenguas decided to get even louder, adding Reyes' former Shark Pants bandmate Dick Solomon as a second percussionist and John Polle (Whispering Wires) on baritone guitar.
It was around this time that the band began to hone their distinctive sound, weaving Shimo's intricate psychedelic melodies with Reyes' raw, emotive vocals all layered beneath wave upon wave of punk rhythmic and garage fuzz all under a tsunami of percussive pulse.
The band developed a pretty impressive following both in town and (courtesy of touring and some pretty stellar recording) out in the greater music-loving world, becoming one of Tucson's most celebrated bands and topping many folks' lists of "the best bands ever to come out of Tucson." They put out a handful of well-received 7" and full-length recordings and a handful of creative and epically "Tucson" videos, including the one for "Little C's,"shot by their friend Neil Kight (Shit Knife/F.A.N.S.S.) But, as often happens to Tucson's better bands, life intervened a bit.
Reyes: "Chris moved back to California, so my brother Levi Reyes started playing drums with us. Both he and John Polle’s wife had babies within a few months of each other so they left to do the family thing. So then came Brian Bollt on drums and Tommy Melchionda on bass. Time goes by, Dick does the family thing, and Mark moves away so now we’re a four-piece."
The quartet version of Lenguas Largas consists of Reyes on vocals and guitar, Shimo on lead guitar, Bollt on drums and Melchionda on bass, but has been known to exapand from time to time, including several gigs in the past couple of years that have featured a multi-drummer lineup featuring Matt Rendon (Freezing Hands/Resonars) sitting in.
While other local bands stick to West Coast, cross country, or maybe even European tours, Lenguas Largas has the distinction of being literally "big in Japan," having toured there to appreciative crowds. But for all their artistic recognition, Reyes, Shimo and company still have a pretty basic motivation in creating music.
Reyes: "Our goal from the beginning was to focus on the songs. Focus on whatever is best for the song. Not getting upset if an idea is shot down. Also being in a band you have to spend a lot of time together. So you gotta find the people that you can spend long periods of time together in a van and not Kill, or hate each other. We’re all big music fans. We’ve dedicated our lives to it. We don’t write songs because we want to, we do it because we have to. It’s too late to change at this point."
Lineup changes and life events be damned, the band still plays a ton around town (including several upcoming gigs) but seeing so many great local venues meet their demise, with more on the horizon, is a little bittersweet.
Reyes: "Tucson is disappearing. The Red Room, The District. There’s a bunch of bands doing their thing in town that we dig and respect, but gentrification is fucking it up for all of us. Art needs a home. But rich college kids need it more I guess."
Lenguas Largas has a number of upcoming local gigs and plan on recording and releasing more material in the near future. In the meantime, you can catch them twice this week.
This one's for Hugo O'Conor...
Tucson may be a border town, but we've got some serious Celtic cred as well, beginning with our city's founding as a Spanish-ruled presidio by Irishman Hugo O'Conor in 1777. In honor of our Emerald Isle lineage and a certain saint who allegedly didn't like snakes very much, this weekend brings several Saint Patrick's-themed shows including the debut performances of new local collective The Lucky Ones, a visit by Irish band The Lost Brothers and performances by Bastard Sons of Patrick, Puca and the Wild Ones, Tucson Bagpipers, and musician Nancy McCallion whose band The Mollys was once the gold standard for Tucson Celtic border rock.
The Not-Boy's-Club of Indie Rock and Roll
It's also a stellar week for double-X-chromosome-fueled rock and roll this week, with a number of incredible female-fronted acts visiting our local stages including Lucy Dacus and Adult Mom, La Luz, Zepperella, and Ex Girlfriends to name just a few.
That's just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to the awesome deluge of out of town talent hitting the Old Pueblo this week. Here's the low-down:
Check your local listings...
- The Lucky Ones - 5:30 p.m. Flycatcher (Downtown)
- Better on the Inside, The Sindicate, Sorrows Ruin, Guardians, Hell Follows, Fire by Rank - 6 p.m. The Rock (Downtown)
- Drop D, The Jack, Wild Side, Scare Card, Harlette - 7 p.m. Rialto Theater (Downtown)
- Determined Luddites - 7:30 p.m. Borderlands (Downtown)
- Gertie and Her TO Boyz - 8 p.m. Exo Bar (Downtown)
- Bastards Sons O’ Patrick - 8 p.m. Fini's Landing (North)
- Infinite Beauties w/ Lisa Lemke - 9 p.m. Saint Charles Tavern (S of Downtown)
- The Bennu - 9 p.m. Sky Bar (Downtown)
- QAR, Flor de Nepal and Rabbit Snare - 9 p.m. Surley Wench (Downtown)
- Bryan Thomas Parker - 9 p.m. The Parish (North)
- Liquid Space Atmosphere & Friends - 10 p.m. La Cocina (Downtown)
- Gaza Strip, End Party, Saphyre Rain, Sons of Providence, Blacklidge - 8 p.m. The Loudhouse (North)
- Terry Trash - 2 p.m. The Buffet (Downtown)
- The Lucky Ones - 3 p.m. Crooked tooth Brewing (Downtown)
- Bastard Sons of Patrick - 5 p.m. Hotel Congress (Downtown)
- Puca and the Wild Ones, Tucson Bagpipers - 6 p.m. Fini's Landing (North)
- Andy Hersey - 6 p.m. The Parish (North)
- Nancy McCallion w/ Heather Hardy and the Wee Band - 7 p.m. Monterey Court (Central)
- Zepperella w/ Sugar Stains - 8 p.m. 191 Toole (Downtown)
- The Lost Brothers - 8 p.m. Exo Bar (Downtown)
- The Urban Renewal Project - 8 p.m. Flycatcher (Downtown)
- Lenguas Largas, Pork Torta, Golden Boots - 8 p.m. Tallboys (Downtown)
- The Lucky Ones - 8 p.m. Dusty Monk Pub (Downtown)
- The Jits - 9 p.m. Saint Charles Tavern (S of Downtown)
- AWG + The Disconnect ,Gunrunners, Old Fashion Assassin, Blueprints For Destruction,Bordertown Devils - 8 p.m. The Loudhouse (North)
- Sacred Groove, 21 Dreams, Still Life Telescope - 8 p.m. House Of Bards (Central)
- Mik and the Funky Brunch - 12:30 p.m. La Cocina (Downtown)
- Mariachi Luz de Luna - 11 a.m. Playground (Downtown)
- Golden Boots - 6 p.m. Che's Lounge
- Grindmother, Inferi - 8 p.m. 191 Toole
- Abstract Rude, Bennishoes, Def-I, Moss Orion, Master Rocs, DJ B.Rad - 9 p.m. Flycatcher (Downtown)
- Lucky Devils Band - 7 p.m. Hotel Congress
- Big Mike Dailey - 7 p.m. The Parish (North)
- The Electric Blankets w/ Juju Fontaine and The Elliotts - 9 p.m. Flycatcher (Downtown)
- Tom Walbank - 6:30 p.m. Sky Bar (Downtown)
- Scar Eater, Acid Teeth, Rodeo Weekend, Wrought - 7 p.m. Flycatcher (Downtown)
- Lucy Dacus, And The Kids, Adult Mom - 7 p.m. Club Congress (Downtown)
- For Love Or Absinthe - 7 p.m. Royal Sun (Downtown)
- La Luz, The Marias - 8 p.m. 191 Toole (Downtown)
- Willy Vlautin w/ Billy Sedylmyr - 8 p.m. Exo Bar (Downtown)
- Warcloud, Muskhog, Bigmean - 10 p.m. Sky Bar (Downtown)
- Leila Lopez - 6 p.m. Tap and Bottle North (North)
- Miss Lana Rebel & Kevin Michael Mayfield - 6 p.m. La Cocina (Downtown)
- Ex Girlfriends, Gustaf, Weekend Lovers, Fever Few - 9 p.m. Flycatcher (Downtown)
- Acid Dad, No Parents, Jeff Lownsbury - 7 p.m. Club Congress (Downtown)
- The Carnivaleros - 8:30 P.m. Tap and Bottle (Downtown)
- Lars Finberg, Lost Balloons, Free Machines, Lengaus Largas - 9 p.m. Flycatcher (Downtown)
- The Mission Creeps, The Strawberry Moons, The Rifle - 9 p.m. Sky Bar (Downtown)
- Texas T Trash, Bordertown Devils, BTP & Friends, Daniel “Dang” Black - 9 p.m. Surly Wench (Downtown)
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported which Lengus Largas video was directed by Neil Kight, and how many times the band has toured Japan. Reyes has played Japan twice, once with Shark Pants and most recently with Lenguas.