Category Archives: Concerts

Review: Viva PHX 2017 – Downtown Music Festival Retrospective 3-11-17

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PHOENIX — As the relatively packed light rail rolled to a stop, I knew I was in for an adventurous evening as I was greeted by roughly 50 bridal gown clad men and women shotgunning Red Bulls on the platform as passersby confusedly took pictures for their Snapchat stories. Despite what the light rail’s human to personal-space ratio suggested, Viva PHX kicked off with a relatively mellow start. While there were certainly some larger packs of high school aged patrons eagerly hustling to get prime spots at all ages stages, specifically the 2nd Ave stage outside Crescent Ballroom, the pre-sundown streets were not quite fully alive with festival buzz.

Viva PHX 2017 Lineup Flyer
Click to Enlarge

After picking up my wristband in front of Comerica Theatre, I decided to follow the majority and head toward Crescent Ballroom to watch Rozwell Kid open the evening on the outdoor stage. While opening an unorthodox festival comprised primarily of people unfamiliar with your band can certainly provide a daunting challenge, Rozwell Kid showed absolutely no signs of nerves as they got the crowd bobbing along to their signature blend of old Weezer-style vocal patterns and bouncy pop-driven guitar lines while showcasing tracks from all three of their albums. They also seemed to have the most fun of any band as they dedicated several songs to the glowing AT&T sign they mistook for the moon as well as the users of the stage right port-a-potties. Judging by their post set mercy line, I wasn’t the only one impressed. At this point, the majority of my group was clamoring to go and lock down good spots for The Drums, so I embarked on the first of many trips between 2nd Ave and Comerica Theatre.

A post shared by Rozwell Kid (@rozwellkid) on

We arrived at Comerica to a much smaller crowd than anticipated and easily made our way down to the general admission pit area in time to catch the last few songs of The Mowglis. While they were certainly quite good and seemingly tailor-made for festival season appearances, I couldn’t help but think their music sounded as if it were the background soundtrack for The OC. Either way, they got the dance floor moving with everyone from mid 40’s moms to high school students decked out in their pre-Coachella best. Now, full disclosure, I must admit that I have never listened to The Drums so I didn’t quite have the same excitement as the majority of the crowd. I have nothing against their music, but as soon as the rest of my group made their way to the guard rail I pounced on the opportunity to run back to the 2nd Ave stage to watch The Menzingers deliver one of the absolute best sets of the night.

gettin pumped for this tour guys 💪🏽

A post shared by The Mowgli’s (@themowglis) on

Kicking off their set with “Tellin’ Lies”, the lead off track from their newest album After The Party, the now packed crowd instantly chanted along with the chorus “Where we gonna go now that our Twenties are over?!”, a question that is becoming uncomfortably relatable. With little more than a pause to catch their breath, the band quickly launched into fan favorite ” Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore” and never letting up until their set came to a close. On a stage with primarily slower temp bands, The Menzingers made their punk rock pedigree very visible as they whipped the crowd into a frenzy of circle pitting and crowd surfing. As I walked back toward Comerica to rejoin my friends at The Maine while we waited for Girl Talk, I couldn’t help but notice that the breakneck dashing between stages was easily the strongest asset of Viva PHX. As opposed to single destination festivals like Coachella, the spread out confusion of various downtown Phoenix venues created a nostalgic energy and sense of adventure which could have easily been lifted from Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist (or perhaps Dazed and Confused for the older crowd.)

Phoenix! We’re on at 9 at Viva Phoenix festival tonight. Come hang!

A post shared by themenzingers (@themenzingers) on

After a quick detour down Monroe Street for a Lucha Libre match and an average Ghost Pepper cheeseburger, I was dismayed at how quickly I grew bored watching The Maine play a largely lackluster set. While it is almost certain that many bands’ sound and style will evolve over time, it appears that The Maine’s attempts to transition their new material toward an almost Black Keys style is not yet ready to be properly manifested. Even when playing old material, attempts to update classic songs to the new format were met with a lackluster reception evidenced by the dull attempts to create a call and response vibe with the audience. As the set drug to a close, the band awkwardly called for the largely underage crowd to “break out the weed” and ended the set with a cacophony of feedback laden strumming before quickly exiting the stage.

Following The Maine, I made my way to the general admission pit floor area and worried aloud to my friends that the preceding set may have driven too many people to other stages and would result in a dismal turn out for Girl Talk. My worries were quickly dashed as Greg Gillis took to the stage and the floor immediately filled to capacity, as well as most available seats. Storming through a surprisingly Trap-heavy rendition of his signature mash-up style amidst toilet paper cannons and confetti blasters, the largely relaxed Comerica Theatre exploded with non-stop energy as everyone in attendance brought Viva PHX to a close worthy of a true festival experience. From the unhinged visuals streaming across the video wall at the back of the stage, to the 80 person deep mob of dancers strewn across the stage, Girl Talk’s set was that of a tried and true festival headliner worthy of his top billing alongside legendary acts Wyclef Jean and American Football.

With Comerica Theatre left in shambles and Monarch hitting capacity for Murs and Peanut Butter Wolf, I elected to leave downtown on the light rail amidst a group of fellow attendees comprised primarily of ASU students holding one another upright as they half heartedly spoke of trying to find afterparties, despite their sweat stained clothes suggesting that their physical abilities may not match those of their spirit. Until Pot Of Gold next weekend, their adventures had drawn to a sudden, yet fulfilling, close befitting a festival which had truly blossomed into something the Arizona music scene can truly be proud to host.

Low Points: The late start time led to a huge amount of headline quality artists overlapping. While the dashing between stages is sort of the point, I can’t help but think that starting earlier or possibly reducing the amount of stages may help to focus the fest a bit more.

Highlights: The team of Girl Scouts hustling cookies to people waiting in line to get into venues. I respect and applaud your hustle.

REVIEW: Space Punk Zombies From The Future, Quantum Colossus, Shred Faces At The Yucca Tap 3-3-17

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TEMPE, Ariz. — It’s ten o’clock on a Friday night at Yucca Tap Room, and the crowd is starting to trickle in at a greater volume as drum and guitar duo Face The Flames is finishing up their set. It’s a good mix and seems like the typical Yucca crowd. There’s a diverse array of people ranging from crust punks to cow punks and garage punks. The band up next was not one that I was familiar with at all, but my curiosity won the night. Quantum Colossus is a local self-described “Sci-Fi driven Punk/Sludgecore” band, and I’ve been tapped to come out tonight and check them out. So here I sat against the wall watching fans mill around in Bad Religion hoodies and Everything Dead tees, sipping cold Pabst and warm Jack. As Quantum began setting up I ducked outside for a quick smoke before they start tuning.

There was a slight change in scheduling because one of the bands had to cancel. As I sat on the curb speed smoking, I overheard the reason. Apparently one of the guys from the band was arrested the previous night and the other members only found out hours before the show. That sounds pretty damn punk to me. I sauntered back in after stomping out my Camel butt, and reclaimed my seat against the wall just as the show is about to begin, and I resumed people watching. I felt out of place. It’s been awhile since I’ve been to Yucca. The last show I attended here was Future Loves Past with The Sugar Thieves, and this was by far a stark contrast in demographic.

Suddenly, as if a light had been switched on, the show had officially begun. No hello, no introduction, just thrash. I immediately noticed that bass player Andikrist bears a slight resemblance to a young Gary Oldman, which made me think of Batman’s Commissioner Gordon a la Sid and Nancy. As the intro lead into the meat of the first cut, the group had pretty much fully meshed. They sound great. The bass tone is very Godsmack. Deep and clear. Guitarist Kelvin Yazzie is an absolute shredder. The red Schecter SGR he’s playing has a bright tone that compliments the bass so well that I could have sworn it was a Paul Reed Smith. Drummer Mike Driscoll is on point and in time pounding out the heartbeat of the entire band as Yazzie begins a blistering solo that left me thoroughly impressed as well as checking to see if my ear drums were still in tact. Lead vocalist Geoff Lane seems to be a very hands-on kind of guy. He seems more comfortable in the crowd during the set than he does on stage, even going so far as hugging several fans during the set.

The band dedicates “Naked Ape” to legendary vocalist Ronnie James Dio, incorporating an intro that seemed to me reminiscent of “Holy Diver” with plenty of crowd participation. Throughout the rest of Quantum’s time on the stage they shared banter amongst themselves and with the crowd. They were genuinely having fun up there. Their Grand Finale for the evening is “War of the Currents” and Quantum gives it the full beans. The band expertly maintains an impressive ebb and flow to their sound, alternating from slow and brooding into hard and fast with surprising precision. Punk is not my personal genre of preference but these guys are by no means amateurs. The YouTube videos I watched of Quantum Colossus online before coming to the show actually didn’t do the band justice all and I’m pleasantly surprised. They sound far superior live.

If I had even one criticism of the show, it would be that the vocals were difficult to decipher, but that’s to be expected and not necessarily a bad thing. It’s punk. It’s meant to be abrasive. At face value, Quantum Colossus is a pretty talented group of guys who seem to really enjoy what they’re doing on stage. The show had a fun-loving vibe and it was evident that their audience thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Even though this was a free event for a relatively obscure local band, I drove away thinking I would have gladly paid to see that show. Thanks for showing me a good time, fellas!

REVIEW: AFI Brings Despair, Blood, and 26 Years to Tempe 2-17-17

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TEMPE, Ariz. — Eyeliner-tinged catharsis and angst were alive and well at the Marquee on Friday night when AFI made their Arizona stop on The Blood Tour with support from Nothing, and Souvenirs.

Souvenirs got the night started with a set heavy on tracks from their newest album Posture Of Apology. With stark emotional lyrics focused on understanding, loss, and forgiveness, Souvenirs struck the perfect balance between the 90’s Sub Pop records catalogue and The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me-era Brand New. Overall, while their set may not have astounded many of the ardent AFI fans in attendance, it served as the perfect transition to Nothing’s reverb-heavy set which followed after a speedy changeover.

Nothing proved to be an exceptionally polarizing band for the sold-out crowd. With awkward stage presence, dedications to the memory of George “The Animal” Steele, and rambling half-mumbled banter between songs, it would be easy to simply write off Nothing as a band trying to emit a false rockstar facade. However, as they worked their way through a reverb-drenched set of songs that called to mind My Bloody Valentine’s vocal delivery layered over instrumentals which would have felt right at home amongst the Smashing Pumpkins discography, or even Incubus’ Morning View, they revealed themselves to be truly adept performers and songwriters who deserved their spot supporting AFI on a large scale tour. Though Domenic Palerno’s airy, trance inducing vocals may have seemed out of place opening for the concussive ball of energy that is AFI, the fact that they were able to hold a largely unfamiliar crowds attention for a 45 minute set is testament to their well-deserved presence on the Relapse Records roster.

Following Nothing, the stage lights were tuned to an ominous purple while the hazers were ratcheted up to blanket the stage in heavy fog. Finally, the lights dimmed and AFI took the stage to a cacophonous roar from the packed Friday night crowd. Opening with a near-soulful rendition of “Strength Through Wounding” from legendary album Black Sails In The Sunset, Havok and company quickly ratcheted the energy up to a thousand by launching directly into “Miss Murder”, launching the crowd into a frenzy that never relented for the rest of the evening.

Jade Puget (guitarist), AFI - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Jade Puget (guitarist), AFI © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

Most impressively, songs from the recently released Blood album received just as much of an explosive crowd response as tried-and-true Sing The Sorrowera favorites. “Aurelia”, “Snow Cats”, and “So Beneath You” all found great strength in a live setting where Davey Havok’s powerful vocal flourishes combined with a wall of guitar tone, propelled them beyond an album sound which many felt was a bit too “clean” for a band which has consistently based their career on raw emotion.

Davey Havok (vocalist), AFI - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Davey Havok (vocalist), AFI © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

The setlist also made a direct point to showcase how much pride the band takes in their material from each album by sandwiching Blood album lead single “Snow Cats” between The Art Of Drowning‘s legendary tracks “The Despair Factor” and “The Days Of The Phoenix”. Whether calculated, or simply a serendipitous surprise, this pacing showed that with age, AFI at their core is still focused on the same message of sorrow, regret, pain, and love.

Hunter Burgan (bassist), AFI - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Hunter Burgan (bassist), AFI © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

Throughout the career-spanning set, Davey continually launched himself off of every available surface, while Jade Puget pirouetted effortlessly across the stage; making it clear that nothing about their performance or career would be slowing down at any point in the near future.

Highlights: Deep cuts from Sing The Sorrow, including “This Celluloid Dream” and “Paper Airplanes”, dedicated to anyone who had seen them at The Nile long ago.

Lowlights: An oddly-aged and very drunk crowd, who continued shouting for “Miss Murder” long after it had been played.

PHOTO ALBUM
by Katherine Amy Vega

AFI – Marquee Theatre 2-17-17

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PHOTOS: Unagi Usagi – The Rhythm Room 2-16-17

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PHOENIX — Last night, locals Unagi Usagi performed at The Rhythm Room. They opened the gig with the high-energy “Holy Valkyrie”, which takes the audience by storm without a buildup, and shows them they’re in for something delightfully insane right off the bat.

From start to finish, Unagi Usagi brought constant power and animation from each band member. The vocalist, who goes by Ghostrick Alucard, brings oozing charisma and animation to the stage.

In the midst of their set, “It’s Your Fault I Have Issues… You Stupid Bitch” is a crowd favorite, as all stand together in solidarity for glorious bitterness. The breakdown during the song, which might be their hardest and heaviest instrumentals, unexpectedly blows first-timers away and brings sweet satisfaction to fans.

Setlist

  1. Holy Valkyrie
  2. Pigs!
  3. It’s Your Fault I Have Issues… You Stupid Bitch
  4. You Suck
  5. Reason
  6. Heart In The Graveyard

Unagi Usagi debuted a song called “You Suck”, which is distinguished from their other songs by an infusion of ska. It really rounds out their set list by offering an upbeat sound and comic relief, while retaining their signature angst.

“Heart In The Graveyard” was a fitting closing song, finishing things off with both Big Jake (bassist) and Austang (guitarist) down on the floor, wildly emoting… while, astonishingly, Dead Wesley (drummer) shows no sign of fatigue up to the end.

Every crowd becomes noticeably impressed and intrigued shortly after the band begins playing, and they are always enthusiastically applauding and cheering by the end of the set. Unagi Usagi just keeps getting better and they’re gaining traction in the Phoenix scene, so follow them on Facebook to see what comes next.

PHOTO ALBUM
by Katherine Amy Vega

Unagi Usagi – The Rhythm Room 2-16-17

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REVIEW: Hearts Burst for Dashboard Confessional at Marquee Theatre 2-8-17

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TEMPE, Ariz. — Energy coursed through the crowd as Dashboard Confessional fans spewed through the doors of Tempe’s Marquee Theatre Wednesday night, anxiously awaiting the return of frontman Chris Carrabba’s sweet-sounding lyrical prowess.

Following a charismatic opening performance by acoustic duo This Wild Life, Vinyl Theatre took the stage with a magnetic energy that immediately caught our eye. Each track appeared to pulsate through them, elegantly rocking out between heavy drop-beats, vivacious keyboard riffs and catchy lyrics which boasted a similar rawness to that which Dashboard Confessional is known for. Vinyl Theatre closed out their set with a commanding performance of newly released track “Built by New Machines,” which explores universal ideas on human existence and our current world state.

Dashboard Confessional - Marquee Theatre
Hands Raised for Dashboard Confessional
Phone pic from Emily Rudolph

The Dashboard Confessional crew wasted no time setting stage. In fact they even made time to whisp what appeared to be Palo Santo smoke around each instrument, also positioning a small Himalayan salt lamp at the foot of guitarist Armon Jay. Minutes later, Carrabba stepped center stage immediately kicking things off with timeless track “The Good Fight” off Dashboard Confessional’s sophomore album The Places You Have Come to Fear Most, followed by longtime favorites “Saints and Sailors,” “The Sharp Hint of New Tears,” “As Lovers Go,” and “Remember to Breathe.”

Beneath a glaze of violet light, Carrabba’s voice settled as he began to address the crowd, “I’ve been thinking lately. You know, because the world went to shit these past three weeks.” The audience responded in overwhelming applause. Carrabba went on to speak on the current social tensions revolving around topics like sexual orientation, race and religious differences. “What the fuck does it matter?”, he said. Before going into the next song he finished his thoughts with a message for the audience, “Go out into the world and try to talk to as many people with opposing views as you can. Find out why they believe what they do and learn from that.” As Carrabba stepped back for another quick guitar switch, the audience was able to catch a closer look at drummer Ben Homola’s t-shirt, which read “Equal Is Equal. No Matter The People.”

Chris Carrabba, Dashboard Confessional
Chris Carrabba, Dashboard Confessional
Phone pic from Emily Rudolph

Next up was “We Fight” off the group’s latest unreleased album which Carrabba has been steadily building anticipation for since co-headlining with Third Eye Blind in the summer of 2016. The new track merges Dashboard Confessional’s classic emo-core sound with a montage of wildhearted lyrics and heavy-handed guitar that suggest a revitalized perspective on the free-spirited determination needed to find fulfillment as an artist. Making for the ultimate crescendo moment, Carrabba then announced the band’s performance of newly released track “Heart Beat Here” would be recorded live for possible inclusion on the their highly anticipated upcoming album. As the crowd sang along, Carrabba appeared visibly moved by the fans response, commenting moments later on the sweet sound of our voices in harmony together.

The setlist was fitting considering Carrabba’s plans to welcome singer-songwriter Trevor Hedges of local band, Sundressed to the stage following Dashboard’s hit track “Stolen.” Hedges stepped into the spotlight and instantly captivated the crowd with his intense vocal diversity and passionate lyricism. Although it was a single-track performance, it quickly became clear Hedges possesses a vocal dexterity reminiscent of archetypal groups like Taking Back Sunday, The Starting Line, 30 Seconds to Mars, The Used and of course Dashboard Confessional. It was an impressive performance to say the least, but the night wasn’t over yet!

Dashboard Confessional finished out the night with three additional tracks, including “Screaming Infidelities,” “Vindicated” and “Hands Down.” Conclusively, it was a night of truly stellar performers. The Burning Hot Events team is patiently awaiting the release of Carrabba’s latest material, but in the meantime we’ll be jamming out to newly discovered favorites Vinyl Theatre and This Wild Life.

Today’s #dashtag is brought to you by \m/ and @Danimal2533 (onTW). Hell of a night, Tempe. Austin, see you tonight at @emosaustin !

A photo posted by Dashboard Confessional (@dashboardconfessional) on

Want to know more about Sundressed?

They’ve just announced pre-orders for their upcoming LP A Little Less Put Together which is set for release on March 24th (2017). Click here to check it out! We have a feeling you’ll be seeing them alongside Dashboard Confessional very soon.

PHOTOS: Unagi Usagi – The Rebel Lounge 1-12-17

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PHOENIX — Local “Anime-themed Punk” band Unagi Usagi (Japanese for Eel Bunny) performed at The Rebel Lounge in Phoenix on January 12. Oozing with animated and charismatic stage presence, and energy reminiscent of some of our favorite rock bands from the early 2000s, Unagi Usagi has great potential and persona build a solid following, and mature into a band that will sell a lot of records!

We previously discovered this band during an open mic night at a coffee shop while working on a behind-the-scenes post for Burning Hot Events’ Patreon. Between the folksy acoustic and hiphop lyricism in the background that we tuned out as we worked on our post, Unagi Usagi started up on stage and they were a force to be reckoned with, commanding our attention and sending goosebumps across the surface of our skin. (Become a patron to read the post from when we discovered them: For the Love of Music: Sum 41 and Open Mic Night)

“Ghostrick Alucard”, Unagi Usagi © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

Presumably meant as self-deprecating humor, during the show Unagi Usagi proclaimed themselves as weaboos – people who are overly obsessed with Japanese culture to the point where they become annoying. But the following is a more flattering and clarifying descriptor, taken from their Facebook bio:

Unagi Usagi is a rock band from Chandler, Arizona. Catchy melodies and excellent songwriting are no stranger to this band, as they create the unique blend of Pop Punk, Post-Hardcore, and Japanese Rock Music that’s unique and fresh in the saturated music scene of today. Complemented by an eye catchingly beautiful visual presentation heavily influenced by anime, and joined by an eccentric live performance with plenty of energy, the band is creating a must-see phenomenon that is original, and unique to this group only.

It’s refreshing to have a fresh band in the local scene that garners such enthusiasm. While they have a ways to grow, keep an eye on these guys and do not underestimate them! We hope to see them get into the recording studio sooner than later. With the right support, they will go far!

PHOTO ALBUM
by Katherine Amy Vega

Unagi Usagi – The Rebel Lounge 1-12-17

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REVIEW: Getting Intimate with The Sounds at Tempe’s Marquee Theatre 12-10-16

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TEMPE, Ariz. — Swedish indie group The Sounds rocked the house at Tempe’s Marquee Theatre Saturday night with their 10th anniversary performance of sophomore album, Dying to Say This to You. Following energetic sets by spirited openers Zipper Club and My Jerusalem The Sounds guitarist, Felix Rodriguez took over the stage beneath a vibrant purple cloud of light. As soon as the first few notes of “Song With a Mission” dropped, the crowd went wild. Although it wasn’t a full house, there was a clear sense of communal nostalgia that seemed to supercharge the audience.

The Sounds - Marquee Theatre
The Sounds © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

Next up on the set list was crowd favorite, “Queen of Apology” which kicked off with a signature Maja-esque display of her gives-no-fucks attitude, backed by airtight guitar and a stagelight-shift which illuminated fans as they sang along to every word. Hit after hit, The Sounds proved that ten years hasn’t slowed them down a bit, boasting a stage presence that could rival some of Rock and Roll’s most iconic female-fronted acts.

Arizona, I love you… We’re back, baby. We’re fucking back!” Maja yelled, igniting an outburst of claps and shouts throughout the venue. Maja’s pop-rock sound has been countlessly compared to that of Blondie and Missing Persons, and rightfully so! Personally, I also picked up on some similarities in tone between her and The Submarines’ vocalist, Blake Hazard.

The Sounds - Marquee Theatre
Maja Ivarssonv, The Sounds © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

The Sounds finished out their live revival of “Dying to Say This to You” with a gritty, electrified reproduction of “Running Out of Turbo” before topping off their forty-five minute tribute with an additional 9 tracks including everything from classics like “Living in America” (from their debut album) to the group’s recent single “Thrill” which features an impressive display of Maja’s vocal diversity in addition to fast-paced drum beats, a reverberant dual guitar solo and some subtle synth-heavy, 80’s era keyboard.

The Sounds - Marquee Theatre
Maja Ivarsson, The Sounds © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

It was truly a night to be remembered, especially considering the intimate audience size and Maja’s up-close-and-personal stage persona. By the show’s end, each track was visually pulsating through the audience as they fist-bumped, clapped and headbanged to the final songs of the night, “Rock N Roll” and “Hope You’re Happy Now” which Maja energetically concluded with one middle finger to the sky, and a cigarette in her other.

As the Burning Hot Events team exited the venue, we happened upon a couple who had actually travelled all the way from Kansas to see The Sounds in Tempe that night. It was a powerful reminder of just how impactful music can be, especially with a group like The Sounds who have an unbelievable, authentic connection to their fans.

PHOTO ALBUM
by Katherine Amy Vega

The Sounds – Marquee Theatre 12-10-16

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All Content © Kataklizmic Design.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. NO STEALING

REVIEW: Jimmy Eat World & Good Charlotte Wake the Dead at Zombie Prom 10-22-16

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PHOENIX One day after the release of their ninth studio album Integrity Blues, as well as an intimate in-store performance and signing at Zia Records (Mesa) in homage to their roots, Arizona’s own Jimmy Eat World returned to the stage for 93.3 ALT AZ’s Zombie Prom Music Festival.

Now more than halfway through the U.S. leg of their album release tour, J.E.W. was slated as the night’s headliner, preceded by a long-awaited performance by pop-punk legend Good Charlotte. The full lineup also included The Struts, Lewis Del Mar, Barns Courtney, K. Flay, and The Hunna.

It’s hard to believe both of these iconic bands have been dominating the alternative rock scene since the early nineties, famed for timeless hits like Good Charlotte’s “Anthem” (2002) and Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle.” (2001). Blood-spattered prom dresses and tattered tuxedos speckled the lawn of Fear Farm this past Saturday while undead fans began spilling through venue gates as early as 2:30p.m.

Following a Steven Tyler-esque performance by The Struts frontman Luke Spiller later that night, Good Charlotte collectively stepped into the spotlight for the first time in five years. The group announced an end to their hiatus in November of 2015, and have since released their sixth studio album Youth Authority, a revitalizing tribute to the heavy-handed, punk rock sound Good Charlotte fans have come to know and love.

Good Charlotte - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Joel Madden, Good Charlotte © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

All at once the intro to “Anthem” roared across the stage, lights throbbing in rhythm as onlookers burst into a sea of fist-pumps, audibly singing along to every word. Good Charlotte’s drummer Dean Butterworth was unable to accompany his bandmates to their comeback performance. They were, however joined by Tony Palermo of post-hardcore band Papa Roach. Joel went on to explain that Tony had learned the setlist on his way to the show, with no rehearsals.

Good Charlotte, Zombie Prom
Good Charlotte at Zombie Prom © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

The energy of the crowd seemed to mirror the intensity of the music, surging through classic throwbacks like “The Story of My Old Man,” “Girls & Boys,” and “Riot Girl.” As the audience raged with excitement, Joel’s voice once again took over the speakers.

“We were off for five years! We made a new record and I want to play a song off of it. This is our first night on tour. If I teach you a song, will you sing it with me?”

Good Charlotte - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Benji Madden, Good Charlotte
© Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

His question of course, was met with a resounding and exuberant, “Yes!”

Next up on the setlist was “Life Changes” off of Good Charlotte’s latest album. Despite having been released in May of 2016, this track sounds like it could have been off their first album The Young and the Hopeless back in 2002. The band followed up their latest hit with Avenged Sevenfold collaboration, “The River” and lastly, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” Needless to say, Good Charlotte hasn’t lost their touch — and they still put on one hell of a show. (View Full Setlist)

After a brief soundcheck, members of Jimmy Eat World took the stage one-by-one. Some might say that Good Charlotte would be a tough band to follow after a year off from music, but Jimmy Eat World is one of those bands that is absolutely electrifying when seen live. Zombie Prom was slated to be J.E.W.’s first major Arizona performance since the Summer Ends Music Festival in 2015.

Jim Adkins, Jimmy Eat World
Jim Adkins, Jimmy Eat World © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

As a shimmering blanket of blue and violet fog billowed out above the stage, Jim Adkins humbly stepped forward, greeting the crowd as if we were all old friends. “We are Jimmy Eat World! Originally from Mesa, Arizona. Thanks for being a bunch of dead people,” he joked. The first few notes of “Get Right” echoed across the venue, and the audience was once again overjoyed, yelling out song titles in hopes of hearing their favorite tracks played live. Although Jimmy Eat World has a definite down-to-earth quality about them, their stage presence is one to be reckoned with.

Rick Burch, Jimmy Eat World
Rick Burch, Jimmy Eat World © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

Adkins and Linton seemed to become one with their instruments as the group passionately moved through popular songs like “Bleed American” and “I Will Steal You Back.” The authentic quality of Adkins’ vocals was especially evident as the band transitioned into a few newly released tracks including “You Are Free” and “Pass the Baby” — a particularly unique composition off of Integrity Blues due to its soulful metaphors, hard-rock undertones and one mega-explosive breakdown.

Jim Adkins, Jimmy Eat World
Jim Adkins, Jimmy Eat World © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

Saturday’s show also included “You With Me” and “Sure and Certain” off of Integrity Blues, among a myriad of other hits from previous records over the years. Of course, the night wouldn’t have been complete without a crowd-thumping performance of “The Middle” and “Sweetness,” each of us singing the lyrics back through every verse. It was the ultimate album homecoming party, with a robust 19-track set list to boot. (View Full Setlist)

PHOTO ALBUM
by Katherine Amy Vega

Zombie Prom: Jimmy Eat World & Good Charlotte

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REVIEW: Phoenix Rises Again for CHVRCHES’ Highly-Anticipated Return 10-6-2016

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TEMPE, Ariz. — Fans of Scottish synthpop / indietronica band CHVRCHES have been saving their tickets since the April show, when Martin Doherty charismatically fronted three songs before the trio had to cut their performance short unexpectedly. The group returned with an overwhelming response this past Thursday, selling out their second show at Tempe’s Marquee Theatre within six months. Frontwoman Lauren Mayberry announced last minute openers Thursday afternoon, adding local indie-electronic duo MRCH to the lineup.

MRCH - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Mickey Pangburn, MRCH © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

MRCH took the stage at 8 p.m sharp, greeting fans through a haze of vibrant blue-green lights. “We are very excited to be here!” vocalist Mickey announced. “My last time at the Marquee was to see Bone Thugs-N-Harmony,” she added through smiles. Mickey radiated an energy similar to that of Debbie Harry while energetically serenading the audience with romantic, electronically-infused vocals — although the synth and percussion were a bit overpowering, making the quality of her performance difficult to hear at times. Towards the end of their set, MRCH won over the crowd with an effervescent performance of Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass,’ showcasing Mickey’s unique, vintage pop sound.

CHVRCHES - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
CHVRCHES © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

CHVRCHES wasted no time getting started, drenching the audience in a mesmerizing, strobe-like display of geometric white light and signature esoteric beats. The crowd erupted as silhouettes of Iain Cook, Martin and Lauren marched across the stage, kicking off their performance with a throwback to the April show  — “Never Ending Circles,” the first track from their latest album Every Open Eye. The group immediately engaged listeners with a few fast-tempo favorites and of course, Iain’s electrifying dance moves behind the keyboard.

CHVRCHES - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Iain Cook, CHVRCHES © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

As the audience sang along Lauren’s voice cut in, “We return to the scene of the crime!” The audience responded in applause once again. “Thank you for coming back to see CHVRCHES! I know many of you came to see us many months ago, but things didn’t go as planned,” she continued, struggling to untangle a mic cord at her feet. “Much like this,” she joked. “But this  — this I can deal with.”

She went on to give an electrifying performance before handing the mic over to bandmate Martin for “High Enough To Carry You Over” and “Under The Tide,” a nostalgic selection considering the band’s courageous performance last April, in which they continued without Lauren in order to satisfy their fans. Lauren did re-appear at the end of their shortened set during the April show, fighting extreme illness in order to give fans one final song.

The band’s dedication to their fans was not lost on the people of Phoenix. Lauren’s hypnotic stage presence combined with an impeccable sixteen track set list Thursday night colluded seamlessly with the crowd’s energy, truly making this heightened performance one for the books. CHVRCHES left the stage on a high note, leaving the audience excited and hungry for more. Spectators spottily chanted “One more song! One more song,” lingering to see if the band might continue.

CHVRCHES - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Lauren Mayberry, CHVRCHES © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

Suddenly Lauren took the stage once again, stepping forward to address the crowd. “I’m not trying to make you guys jealous,” she said coyly, “but I am going to see Beyonce tomorrow and I’ve got to make it all the way back to the east coast. So, we are going to play you a couple more songs.” The crowd exploded in ecstasy once again, vibrating the floor of the venue as they began to fist pump along to “Afterglow.”

At this point, the group had now performed more than double their set list from last April, and continued to pour their souls into each track making for an unforgettable display of commitment to their fans. Lauren paused, holding Martin’s drumsticks in a crisscross formation above her head as the crowd roared, begging to hear the final song of the night. CHVRCHES then concluded things with their timeless hit, “The Mother We Share” from album The Bones of What You Believe, drawing on the communal energy exhibited during the April show one last time.

Their show Thursday night was more than high enough to carry us over. In fact, we think it’s safe to say this was one of CHVRCHES’ most impressive performances to date.

PHOTO ALBUM
by Katherine Amy Vega

CHVRCHES & MRCH – Marquee Theatre 10-6-16

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Photography by Katherine Amy Vega, © Kataklizmic Design
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REVIEW: Blink-182 Goes ‘Overboard’ for Phoenix 9-24-16

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PHOENIX — With the word “FUCK” emblazoned in flames behind them, Blink-182 opened their set to a packed house at the Ak-Chin Pavilion on Saturday, Sept. 24. Despite steep ticket prices, the long-awaited return of the pop-punk headliner, along with openers All Time Low and A Day to Remember, brought fans out in droves. And they didn’t disappoint. Even after 24 years, Blink-182 was able to bring the same energy and bawdiness fans have come to expect.

Blink-182 - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Mark Hoppus, Blink-182 © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

The set opened with “Feeling This” from Blink’s self-titled album, followed by “What’s My Age Again?” “Family Reunion” and “The Rock Show.” Finally, they gave the audience a taste of their new release, California, with the song “Cynical.”

Since hitting record stores in July, California has already topped the Billboard 200, making it Blink’s first number-one album since their 2001 success, Take Off Your Pants and Jacket. It was also their first album produced by John Feldmann whose past production work has included albums for Good Charlotte, The Used, All Time Low, and 5 Seconds of Summer.

However, what was perhaps most notable to long-time Blink fans was the absence of founding band member Tom DeLonge, who was replaced by Alkaline Trio lead vocalist and guitarist Matt Skiba at the start of 2015. The change came after DeLonge decided (for the second time in the band’s history) to take an indefinite hiatus from the group.

His announcement was a match in the powder keg of turmoil that had been brewing after DeLonge’s work with Angels & Airwaves and other projects were cited as the cause of long delays to recording a new Blink-182 album. But with Skiba in the band as a ready and willing partner, it looks like Blink-182 has finally put an end to the false starts and opened a new chapter.

Blink-182 - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Matt Skiba, Blink-182 © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

If Phoenix fans had any reservations about Skiba, there was certainly no evidence of it Saturday night. During one of several “audience participation” segments, Mark Hoppus told concert-goers, “Oh Phoenix, you’re in for a fucking treat now. This is ‘Sing Along with Matt.'” He paused, looked back at the crowd sternly, then repeated more seriously, “I said, this is ‘Sing Along with Matt.'”

Without hesitation, the entire venue erupted into a cacophonous choir and joined Skiba in singing “Reckless Abandon.” Then after playing “Kings of the Weekend,” Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker jammed together for a moment to loud cheers and applause, clearly having a good time. “You’re welcome because that was me and Travis time right there,” Hoppus said.

Blink-182 - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Travis Barker, Blink-182 © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

“We’re switching out the set a little bit tonight,” Hoppus announced at one point. “Just for you… Fuck all the other cities we’re going to,” he joked. Then during the part of the set when Blink would normally play “Not Now,” they gave concert-goers an unexpected treat and played “Man Overboard” instead. “Just for you, Phoenix!”

The show was rife with special effects, from fountain fireworks flowing from the rafters at the end of “Down,” to plumes of flames shooting up from the back of the stage during “Bored to Death.” During “Dumpweed,” several blow-up dolls were passed out to the audience and bounced around like beach balls. And later, the group turned off all the lights and played “Happy Holidays, You Bastard” to the light of thousands of mobile phones.

Blink-182 - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Mark Hoppus, Blink-182 © Kataklizmic Design.
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

“You guys having fun? Not anymore. Not. Any. More. This next song is fucking sad,” Hoppus told concert-goers before playing “Stay Together for the Kids.” He joked that the song was so sad, it was practically emo, comparing it to what would result if Jimmy Eat World and The Used had a baby. He also dedicated “I Miss You” to all the ladies.

[Setlist]
#1 Feeling This
#2 What’s My Age Again?
#3 Family Reunion
#4 The Rock Show
#5 Cynical
#6 First Date
#7 Down
#8 I Miss You
#9 Bored to Death
#10 Built This Pool
#11 Dumpweed
#12 Stay Together for the Kids
#13 Reckless Abandon
#14 San Diego
#15 Man Overboard (replaced “Not Now” on printed setlist)
#16 Violence
#17 Kings of the Weekend
#18 Happy Holidays, You Bastard
#19 Dysentery Gary
#20 Los Angeles
-Encore-
#21 Carousel
#22 All the Small Things
#23 Brohemian Rhapsody
#24 Dammit

But it was Blink-182’s encore that really hit it out of the park. Skiba and Hoppus returned to the stage with neon pink and white guitars and played “Carousel” to more fireworks. They followed it up with “All the Small Things,” turning a kiss cam on the audience. Then they rounded it out with “Brohemian Rhapsody” and “Damnit,” which ended with thick plumes of confetti spewing from either side of the stage onto the audience. And even when everyone had cleared the stage, Hoppus still came back one more time and gave concert-goers a short drum-solo to wrap up a wild night.

PHOTO ALBUM
by Katherine Amy Vega

Blink-182 Ak-Chin Pavilion 9-24-16

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Photography by Katherine Amy Vega, © Kataklizmic Design
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. NO STEALING