Material: From the opening note of the opening song, it’s clear that Los Angeles’ the Killing Floors have something special going on. This five-piece ensemble formed in 2014 over a shared love of 1960s rock & roll blended with a garage-punk attitude. The tunes are huge, from the Brit-invasion-y “You Know it Ain’t Right” to the gloriously snotty and mildly aggressive “Se Fue, Se Fue.” On the latter, keyboardist Alvarado takes the lead vocals and he turns in a spectacularly oddball, fun performance. Those moments of quirk among the ‘60s rock & roll fun making the whole thing fascinating, as does the fact that the music switches between Spanish language, English and instrumentals.
Musicianship: There isn’t a weak link in this band, but a particularly large amount of praise must be heaped upon drummer Rocha. The guy is impressively precise for someone who hits as hard as he does, and the power does nothing to diminish the groove. When he gets the opportunity for a fill, he grabs it and lets it rip, but he also does the simple things perfectly. But again, every musician in the group is an integral cog in what appears to be a well-oiled machine.
Performance: No complaints here. The band put a lot of thought into every aspect of the show, including the clothing. They all look immaculate in retro suits and appropriately stylish haircuts. There’s little in the way of theatrics in the show, but that’s kind of the point––they’re playing this straight, like those bands of old. Their faces betray the fact that they’re having a good time, and they’ll pull the odd guitar hero pose. That’s more than enough.
Summary: The Killing Floors is an incredible act that deserves a lot more attention, although the hefty number of people who arrived early on a Thursday evening to see them (the openers on a three-band bill) is reassuring. All of the ingredients are in place for the band to have a solid drive at wider success: the songs are awesome, the musicians are tight together, and they look fantastic. Given the right backing, one would imagine that they have a real shot and, with the dual languages, they can appeal to a variety of markets. The world is their oyster.
The Players: Jorge Martinez, guitar, vocals; Irbinn Rocha, drums; Josue Alvarado, organ, vocals; German Cruz, bass; Mario Garcia, guitar.
Photo by Brett Callwood
Venue: Alex’s Bar
City: Long Beach, CA