Jersey Beat Music Fanzine

Mystery Lights, The Loons, and Warbly Jets at Soda Bar, San Diego 7/29/2016

By Paul Silver

There’s a mystery behind Mystery Lights. They’ve been around for several years, but just released their debut LP. It’s not really a mystery. The band was something that was just a fun project for front man Mike Brandon and his high school friends Luis Solano (guitar) and Joe Della Mora (bass). In 2011 Brandon and Della Mora moved to New York and decided to take the band more seriously. Joining them were Alex Amini (bass) and Nick Pillot (drums), and they started building a solid following through their classic garage rock’n’roll. Their debut LP would take another five years to come to fruition, via the new Wick Records subsidiary of soul label Daptone Records. Their current tour is in support of that LP, released in late June. Joining them at their San Diego appearance at Soda Bar were SoCal locals The Loons and Warbly Jets.

Warbly Jets

Warbly Jets are a five piece from Los Angeles that play music with a psychedelic groove. The keyboard shifts while playing, giving the music an acid trip sort of feel. Loads of reverb and the relaxed groovy vocals give the band a very laid back sound, maybe too laid back sometimes, as the energy level felt like it could go up a few notches. One particularly cool aspect of the band was the bass processing in the guitar, giving it a deep 70s soul bass feel.


The Loons

The Loons, hailing from the San Diego suburb of La Mesa, offered a hybrid mix of the 60s British Invasion sound, psychedelic rock, arena rock, and the Rolling Stones. The band did seem a bit underprepared, as they often paused too long a time between songs, had multiple equipment problems, and played their set list in the wrong order, as they announced apologetically. The 70s acid rock sound was a bit sloppy, as if they could use more practice to tighten up. And the lead vocals were quite passionate, but a little off key at times. The standout in this band had to be the creative and awesomely executed bass lines. Combining the volatility of The Loons with the professionalism of Warbly Jets would yield an excellent band.

Mystery Lights

Finally, Mystery Lights took the stage. Immediately, the atmosphere electrified. You could tell this band has spent years honing their craft, because they were perfectly tight and together, but they also had a looseness making it feel like the band members were just hanging out, jamming, having a good time. The band is incredibly energetic, and that particularly comes through in Mike Brandon’s lead vocals and lead guitar. His voice reminds me of another classic garage rock front man, Gary Burger of The Monks. There’s the same higher register, the same throaty quality, and the same intensity. They played many of the songs from their self-titled debut LP, tracks with a great garage rock sound and a soulful feel. There’s tons of reverb in the vocals and guitars, giving the set a slightly surf-like, slightly psychedelic sound. There were some extended jams, too, that simmered and boiled. There were also a few tracks I didn’t recognize from the LP, but loved all the same. Mystery Lights live were all I hoped for and more, after hearing the debut LP.

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 is an independently published music fanzine covering punk, alternative, ska, techno and garage music, focusing on New Jersey and the Tri-State area. For the past 25 years, the Jersey Beat music fanzine has been the authority on the latest upcoming bands and a resource for all those interested in rock and roll.

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