Rumspringa shows stand out from other Los Angeles indie rock bands because they try to make them feel more like parties than performances.
“We’re making the sounds we love for people that want it,” said singer and guitarist Joey Stevens.
The name Rumspringa refers to the Amish rite of passage during which adolescents leave their community to experience life outside of their religion’s restrictions. Many of the teens take the opportunity to let loose like they never have before. That’s the spirit with which Stevens and drummer Itaru de la Vega approach their shows. Rumspringa is playing at the Unknown Theater on Friday, and they’re opening for the Moving Units at the Glasshouse on Saturday.
“We played with them one time before at the El Rey, it was a super fun show ““ we’re grateful they wanted to have us on board again for the Glasshouse,” de la Vega said.
They’ve been known to pass out instruments to audience members and invite everyone onstage. Their crowds dance and sing along to lyrics like “Brothers and sisters won’t you gather around / no need for tickets / we’re all from the same town.”
It’s that interactive quality of their shows that has attracted fans like fourth-year ethnomusicology student Este Haim.
“There’s something that draws you in, you can’t help but move your body,” Haim said.
Their sound is sometimes psychedelic, sometimes funky, sometimes bluesy, and sometimes infused with a hip-hop vibe.
“Their lyrics are percussive. verything’s about rhythm, even when it’s downtempo, it’s super energetic,” Haim said.
Haim is on the concert committee of the Campus Events Commission, and it was her idea to have Rumspringa play in Bruin Plaza two weeks ago.
“I thought they would be a really great fit for UCLA because they’re so much fun to watch and their music is great ““ not super poppy, but it has a pop sensibility,” Haim said.
Stevens and de la Vega started playing music together in the summer of 2006. They subsequently added a loop station pedal to achieve a bigger sound and Stevens has nicknamed the device Lil’ Lupe.
“That pedal is the core of creating the multi-layered sound dynamic,” Stevens said.
Now, less than four years after the band”˜s conception, they have almost 300,000 hits on their Myspace page, and their L.A. concerts are frequently packed with enthusiastic fans.
“We love playing shows,” de la Vega said. “The energy, the smiles, the movement ““ it’s what makes life magical.”
Last year, Stevens and de la Vega asked all of their friends to bring flashlights to their show at the Unknown Theater. During the performance, everyone came onstage and waved their lights around while they danced.
“All the lights were swimming around us in darkness,” Stevens said.
De la Vega’s childhood friend Shia Labeouf was there with his camera to capture the effect. Some of the footage from that night appears in the music video Labeouf directed for the song “Minds Awake.”
“Shia genuinely had an appreciation for our music and wanted to contribute in his way to it,” Stevens said.
As much as Stevens and de la Vega enjoys live shows, they also find time to get into the studio. Their first full-length album, “Sway,” will be released on Cantora Records in late May and the sound has evolved since recording their last EP.
“To me it’s like a royal Egyptian orgy driven by psychotropic drugs, as it makes its way for an orgasm in my brain,” Stevens said. “Our producer Manny Nieto did a ridiculously superb job in directing our sound. The tonalities are huge and rich. The production quality is vintage yet fresh.”
The album took a year to make and they can’t wait for the world to hear it.
“We’re very psyched to get this out to everyone. There’s been a lot of blood, sweat and beers put into this record,” Stevens said.