I do not recall what I had expected going into a performance from The Scarlet Opera. But, what I do know now is that their show would linger in my mind for a long time.
On April 11th, I gathered a couple of my friends up to take a trek up to Santa Ana to catch one of the last shows from the Los Angeles based band The Scarlet Opera on their latest tour. After some camera troubles and the frantic search for a gas station, we were sailing down the Five at golden hour to make it to the Constellation Room on time.
It was truly a special night. We got into the venue right when they were playing the first song of the night, “Riot.” Released as a part of their EP Comedy on March 24th of this year, “Riot” is the perfect introduction to the band. I am not exaggerating when I say this, The Scarlet Opera could command stadiums with the type of energy they brought to the stage. Marching to the grand, pop enthralling build of “Riot,” lead singer Luka Bazulka paraded around the stage in a large feather boa and sunglasses. He possessed the spunk of dazzling rock legends like Freddie Mercury and David Bowie. The room was a collection of jaws unhinged in amazement. We were all gladly under his spell.
The band is composed of five members: Luka on lead vocals, Colin Kenrick on the keyboard, Daniel Zuker on bass, Justin Siegal on drums, and Chance Taylor on guitar. After forming back in 2016 as Petra, the group has renamed itself as The Scarlet Opera, with their debut EP Comedy as an exciting beginning to this new era of music. Their set was accented by a variety of their singles. The first single they released as a band in September of 2022, “The Place To Be,” was the second song of the night. Ditching the feather boa, Luka jumped around in a blue top and leather pants, belting out line after line. Chance absolutely took the lead on guitar here in the bridge, solidifying their electrifying presence.
Their set also consisted of a couple covers throughout the night. Luka slowed down the set to recall and share a story of a song that brought him and his friends together. Introducing Cher’s iconic ballad “Believe,” he explained the nostalgia and sentiment that was attached to this song and then performed it for us. It was a touching moment for everyone in the crowd who was with their close ones. My two friends and I put our arms around each other and swayed to the sound of Luka’s momentous vocals. Everyone in the room hummed along to the lyrics, it felt like a token appraisal to the ways in which certain bands carry the torch of long loved pop and rock favorites. A bit after this song they proceeded to summon the most worthy Tina Turner fan to decide if the band played “The Best” or “What’s Love Got to Do with It.” We all ended up dancing around to “The Best,” paying homage to 80s idols with a band that is well on their way to becoming the standout icons of their own generation.
One of the highlights of the night had to be their performance of “Big City Thing.” This is by far my favorite song of theirs. Daniel drove the rhythm in this song, standing back to back with Luka at times, both of them appearing to be having the time of their life. It was spunky and fun, capturing the amplified and magnetic sound The Scarlet Opera has that draws you in. I’ll have to admit that their encore that night was a highlight as well. After going off stage for a second, Luka came back under the lights shirtless, putting his arms out in a royal manner as Daniel placed the blue feather boa back on the lead singer. After staring off at the crowd for a moment, basking in the atmosphere, he ended the set with the fifth song on the EP, “Alive.” Luka’s breathtaking vocals could be experienced in full force with this song, from the ballad beginning to the invigorating end. Their set closed off in a passionate burst of colors and sounds.
Immediately after the band cleared the stage, “Dancing Queen” by ABBA started playing and a handful of fans danced around the stage channeling their Mamma Mia B-roll moves. My friends and I lingered behind, spinning each other around for long enough that we ended up being last in line for merch. One of the things that I love most about these more intimate shows is that you usually get a chance to talk with the artist at the merch table after it is done. This was the case for us and we all got the chance to talk with various members of the band as they scrambled around to find silver sharpies to sign everyone’s shirts. On and off stage, The Scarlet Opera deemed themselves to be the most welcoming people. They told us they were eager to play their LA show the following night that would cap off their tour. We left the venue buzzing from their live performance, throwing on the signed shirts over our outfits, and hitting que on their EP for the drive home.
I am waiting for the day I get to see them again.
Featured image by Kirby Gladstien