Luna at The Independent, by William Wayland

Photo by William Wayland

Words by Sosha Young

On Friday, February 7, Luna and Everyone is Dirty played to a sold-out crowd at San Francisco’s best-sounding venue, the Independent. I grew up on the East Coast listening to Luna songs and meditating on the lyrics. Now I’m an Oakland girl who dances at a lot of Everyone is Dirty shows. In the 1990s, Luna was the pub-rock band in New York and so many cool college towns of the Northeast. Now, Everyone is Dirty fills a similar role for the West Coast scene.

Call me a romantic, but I think you should know that power couples lead the songwriting and stage performance in both bands. In Everyone is Dirty, Sivan Lioncub leads on sweet siren vocals and electric violin with her man, Chris Daddio, by her side. Daddio strums a rigged-up acoustic guitar like he’s got a demon heart on both sleeves he’s trying to shake off. It’s part Neil Young, part Elliott Smith, and part Bo Diddley — he is a drum.

In the green room before the show, Sivan transforms the band into space alien mermaids. A lick of icy blue paint goes onto Everyone’s eyelashes as friends start showing up. One last swatch of turquoise on Daddio’s soul patch sends him into a feverish strum of “Wax Mannequin Mode” and I’m caught off-guard when their bebop-loving drummer sings along.

Everyone is Dirty takes the stage and the room swims in a magical projection world. Giant schools of fish swim under inky rain showers in a soupy mix by video projection artist Zach Rodell. A very ’90s looking mannequin head bobs on screen and Rodell tells me it’s a happy coincidence he brought that footage. It feels like we’re on their ship, and tides are high, wild, and dangerous, but we need to explore.

On “The Wishing Song” all four players call out “I’m wishing/ for the one I love/ to hold me/ inside” in high harmony. The room melts into a cavern of Lovedust energy (more on that later).

A black-light turns Daddio’s soul patch into a neon laser gun that shoots sex energy. But our Oakland heroes keep it cool — Tyler puts his bass away to play pedal steel which one audience member complains about afterward, asking “for more punk rock…like at the warehouse shows.” You have to love California.

When Luna comes on, my friend tells me, “it’s a full moon tonight,” and I try to explain what it means to have “a very Luna sort of evening.”

Dean Wareham’s lyrics take us inside a glamorous play “Inside Italian magazines / Inside my wishes and my dreams/ on the sand and on the beach / On the walls and on the streets / I’ll write your name / In Malibu.” In 2000, Luna needed a bass player so Britta Phillips auditioned. She and Dean fell in love, went to Malibu and wrote this song about it.

Britta always puts the love in on bass. Listen for how she lines up the emotional entanglements of a song, hugging a groove for Dean and Sean Eden to scrawl into with biting harmony. You have to love their back-and-forth on guitars; Dean’s hollow-body Jazzbox slides through Sean’s Jazzmaster chords like a knife through butter.

Covers slide into the Luna set and become distinctly Luna songs. The band plays “Indian Summer” by Beat Happening, repeating the phrase “We’ll come back for Indian summer / and go our separate ways,” and Dean rips into a solo. Britta tells me the best way to describe Dean’s guitar playing is that it skirts the edge. His chord progressions fall hard, but something always catches him from the brink.

Britta told me that “music is just life,” and she works very hard to make it all look so effortless. She does yoga, gardens, and cooks during the day and plays bass and guitar at night. You should know how delicious her solo album is. Listen to her song “Fallin’ in Love” and then check out the original version by Dennis Wilson from 1970.

It’s a strange business to be in, sharing one’s most intimate emotions in the form of poetic verse. It’s vulnerable in front of an audience. You need some serious gunslingers on guitar and drums to paint the walls warm, and both bands paint the walls of any room they’re in.

I want you to come to a show and sail in Luna’s nostalgia, feeling very old and very young. We can dance and let Lee Wall’s drums carry us like rolling hills going by your car window while we drive back in time.

Sometimes it’s hard to feel anything and sometimes we feel too much; we write Black Postcards because the world is dark, and sometimes it’s better to feel heartache than nothing at all. Like Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Lou Reed, and Alex Cameron; Luna and Everyone is Dirty write songs about twisted scenes, misunderstood love affairs, and… well, I guess it’s all just life.

If you’re feeling romantic, glamorous or just plain freaky, you might find some of yourself in these songs. For now, I’ll leave you in the “Lovedust.”