Sugar Candy Mountain is a psychedelic pop band based out of Oakland, California. The band is fronted by lead vocalist/guitarist Ash Reiter, whose spacey vocals and reverb driven guitar licks drive the band behind drummer Will Halsey, keyboardist Peter Maffei, and bassist Sam Faw. Their debut album Mystic Hits came out in 2013, featuring standout tracks “Breakfast in Bed” and “Cactus Dreams.” They followed up their debut in 2016 with 666, featuring their most popular tracks “Windows,” “666” and “Summer of our Discontent.” A mixture of blues, 60s jangle pop and 70s psych rock, their sound draws listeners in within the first few minutes, myself included. Fortunately enough, I was able to catch them live this past Tuesday at the Continental Club.
Getting into the Continental Club was tricky because of their “21+” policy, but after going through some hoops with some friends from within (shout out to Franco Rosales and Cory Savage), I was able to position myself by the stage with opening act, local Houston band “Mojave Red.” Being a Tuesday night, the crowd wasn’t big, so situating myself in a place to absorb their music was easy.
Sugar Candy Mountain took the stage around 12:15 AM, right after Texas based band “Flower Graves.” Ash Reiter took center stage and introduced herself and the band to everyone in the crowd, thanking the preceding bands for performing and thanking the crowd for sticking around to catch them late night on a Tuesday. The crowd applauded and they kicked off the set with their most popular song, “Windows.” The familiar guitar intro was accompanied by the ride cymbal of the drum kit, throwing the crowd into a groove. Within seconds, we were all in a swirling vortex of 1970s vibes.
Although the crowd was somewhat in a daze due to their drinks and Ash’s trance-like vocals, that didn’t stop me and a group of others from nodding and playing air guitar alongside Ash’s solo. By the end of the song, the crowd huddled up together close by the stage in anticipation for the next song, “Knock Me Down.”
At the halfway point of their set, Sugar Candy Mountain carried the momentum with a smooth transition from an interlude jam into “666.” Being one of their most popular songs, the crowd instinctively took their phones out and to record the moment. Despite the stigma that people get from holding their phones at shows, everyone was more engaged and prepared for the last half of the set, including the interlude instrumental “Change” which morphed into a surreal mix of synth and guitar sounds backed by the rhythm of the drums and bass guitar.
Ash Reiter and Will Halsey concluded the set with an emphatic climax on the downbeat of the ending jam, thanking everyone for coming out and welcoming everyone to talk to them and check out their merchandise, both of which I did. Ash was really down to earth and thanked me for coming out after I approached her and purchased a CD copy of 666. I was tempted to ask her for a picture, but it was around 1am at the time so I backed out out of respect and consideration.
Sugar Candy Mountain put a great show that matched, if not exceeded my expectations. A major concern of mine was whether or not Ash could recreate the vocals on the record in a live setting, especially since it was late night. But she delivered ten-fold, as did the rest of the band. The group is slowly growing in popularity through their tours and appearances at shows and festivals based out in SoCal. and Austin, so catch them while you can before they break out and start packing larger venues like Revention or House of Blues.