Brooklyn’s Ava Luna performed their brand of soulful indie funk pop at a full Barboza at 10:00PM on day 2 of the Capitol Hill Block Party. Since seeing them at the Vera Project several months past, they seemed to have a fuller, richer sound this time around. Whether it was more instrumentation, or the band going for thickness over nuance is unclear, but what is clear is that Ava Luna is chock full of talent. I just wish I liked them more.
Ava Luna’s songs are so tightly written that at times they veer into prog rock territory. They are unafraid of odd time signatures, and feels so syncopated that the audience doesn’t quite know where to put their feet on the floor or when to clap along. It’s smart, grown-up music, but it feels like there is more science than magic going on. There is a great deal of understanding and skill between the funk lines and the vocal harmonies, but we all see where they are coming from.
To me it’s like they are holding back. It’s more pretense than restraint, and everything is within such aerospace tolerances that there is very little room for any experimentation. It has all of the clean edges of Motown hits, but the audience is kept at a distance. We’d like to see the emotion underneath, and not just marvel at the expertise.