Evolfo at Moe's Alley, by Joshua Huver
Evolfo (photos: Joshua Huver)

Last Thursday, the soulfully soothing sounds of an East Coast garage band invaded Moe’s Alley in Santa Cruz ahead of a return to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival on Sunday.

Evolfo, a seven-piece band that could dangerously be described as fifth-wave glam-ska, hit the stage for the first time in the surfer town with a 20-song set and encored with two more for good measure.

Evolfo at Moe's Alley, by Joshua Huver

Starting at 8:45 and playing until 10pm, Evolfo threw a party and even inspired plenty of new fans. Lead vocalist and guitarist Matthew Gibbs’ energy was bursting with every movement across the stage. There were clear moments where he ran right up to the edge of the stage, but somehow managed to keep from running into the crowd.

At their core, Gibbs, Rafferty Swink on keys and vox, Ronnie Lanzilotta on bass, and drummer Angelo Spampinato are a fast and noisy four-piece rock and roll band with a soft spot for the mid-to-late ’80s. Add to the mix the three-piece horn section — Jared Yee on saxophone, Kai Sorensen on trumpet, and Ben Adams as a trombone player who doubles as a wild-card second guitar — and enter the inescapable energy of Evolfo.

They’ve been playing together for several years, but have only just released their first collection of music, provocatively titled Last Of The Acid Cowboys, a five-song EP. Ahead of LOTAC, they released three tracks on their SoundCloud, bringing the total to eight available tracks, all of which they played on Thursday.

Evolfo at Moe's Alley, by Joshua Huver

In addition to a ton of otherwise unavailable material, the band also had a number of stand out covers. “Dirty Harry” off of Gorillaz‘ 2005 album Demon Days got an exciting twist put on it, and at the end each of the horns took brief but impressive solo runs. Gibbs’ sister, Katie Gibbs was also welcomed on stage for a performance of David Bowie‘s “Moonage Daydream” and during the encore for Curtis Mayfield‘s “Move On Up.”