Material: Opening up a three band bill on a Saturday night at Hermosa Beach’s prime rock & roll venue, L.A. rockers Swami Lushbeard have the advantage of presenting the only original material on offer all evening. The other two bands performing are tributes to the Ramones and Pearl Jam, which makes for an interesting package of entertainment. It presents challenges though; a lot of the people in attendance just want to rock out to songs that they know and love, rather than making an effort with a band they might not have heard of before. To be fair, the band has pulled in a respectable number of people who are happy to see them, and shake their heads to radio-friendly, prog-lite, alt-rock tunes like the so-serious “End of the World,” power ballad “Haunted,” and the mildly Dream Theater-esque “Enemy.”
Musicianship: There’s certainly nothing to complain about here. The four musicians clearly take pride in their craft, and one would imagine they rehearse pretty regularly because they’re very tight. The rhythm section does its job perfectly well, while frontman Sprouls likes to dazzle with some widdly fretwork. Nothing wrong with that. Keyboardist Sachs contributes the fascinating ingredient X. It’s he that adds the prog factor, which helps the crunchier tunes take on a Queensryche/Dream Theater vibe. The lighter tunes, on the flipside, end up on the Asia/Toto side of things. Make of that what you will. Sprouls has a good enough rock voice, complimented nicely by Safel’s harmonies.
Performance: Nothing to write home about, but that’s by design. The band members take their positions at the start of the first song, and barely move at all. There’s some fun to be had admiring their various rock grimaces, as they emotionally pull riffs, melodies, beats and bass lines out of their instruments, or really feel the lyrics that their mouths are emitting. It gets a little earnest, but they can be forgiven for that. The guys are decked out in jeans and t-shirts, pretty much what you’d imagine they wear when they’re not on stage (or at the day job).
Summary: Swami Lushbeard is a decent, unspectacular rock band. The songs are enjoyable, but ultimately not memorable. There are flashes of fun, but they stop short of excitement, and they’re certainly not dangerous in any way. The closing cover of the Foo Fighters’ “Times Like These” is telling––safe, bouncy rock & roll played by very smiley people.
Saint Rocke Hermosa Beach, CA
Players: Don Sprouls, guitar, vocals; Ian Michaels, drums; M@ Sachs, keyboards; Greg Safel, harmony vocals; Darren Scholtz, bass