March 7th, 2012 | Live reviews

Ominous smoke and neon lights prepared the stage for L.A.’s own He’s My Brother She’s My Sister at The Echo, Thursday night. The Echo Park-based band started off with the aptly named “Let’s Go,” getting the crowd moving in a folksy, bluesy, glam rock swing. Every member of HMBSMS brings a distinctive, essential quality to the table—or rather, stage. Sister/singer Rachel Kolar kicked off her shoes and sang the blues with her brother Robert , who complimented her sultry bends and trills with gritty soul in between a bowler hat, glittery guitar and red and black stripped bellbottoms. He also braved the stage in a leg brace, as he injured himself during a semi-competitive adult roller hockey league game. In a giraffe mask and African elephant dress shirt, guitarist Aaron Robinson played a lap slide decked out with parrot and lion stickers, adding a sometimes country, sometimes psychedelic flare to HMBSMS’ multifaceted sound. Other members joined the plastic jungle later in gorilla, tiger and koala masks—a surreal surprise.

Killer whales and stenciled birds (Portlandia would be proud) moved with Oliver Newell’s painted upright bass, as he kicked a sparkling bass drum behind him that matched his rainbow converse shoes. The locomotive percussion was reinforced by tap-dancing drummer Lauren Brown, who played the drums with all her limbs like a rock n’ roll Fred Astaire atop a bass drum on its side. Cellist (and Scott Pilgrim VS The World cast member) Satya Bhabha also joined the band on a few songs, weaving his silky strings into the swaying sound.

As the moon rose along with the bar tabs, the audience became more and more a part of the band, as they clapped, sang, shouted and counted off with Rachel and Robert—one girl even held up a lighter. As Aaron Robinson sipped on a straw through his giraffe mask, he commented on the liquid sociability: “It’s almost cocktail hour!” After the encore of Velvet Underground’s “What Goes On,” the band packed up their gear in bags and vintage suitcases and lingered to converse with friends and fans.

—Shannon Cosgrove