PHOENIX — Valley Bar’s retro interior design was the perfect setting for psychedelic rock band Post Animal’s entrancing show on Sunday, July 23. Their music and the atmosphere of the rain outside were the perfect combination for a show that made the crowd exude happiness and dance throughout the entire set.
The show was opened by Femny and Stef Chura. Stef Chura had a female lead singer /guitarist, as well as a female bassist. Their music echoed underground vibes, and it had a reminiscent sound of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
When Post Animal came on stage, they began their set with an electrifying new song. The crowd was quickly out of their seats to dance, and filled up the previously barren space by the stage. “Swamp Fruit”, the next song, brought ambiance that made for the perfect transition.
Jake Hirshland (Guitarist/Keyboardist/Vocalist) bolstered the crowd as he complimented their presence saying, “Beautiful, Phoenix, Arizona!”. There’s always something special about hearing a band say the name of your hometown.
The entrancing guitar in the following song, “Alabaster”, took you somewhere else; it’s truly a psychedelic must-hear! The crowd was feeling the band’s energy, and head banging was in full swing.
The band played fan favorites, including “When I Get Home”. After Hirshland let the crowd know they had nowhere to sleep that night and were looking to crash at someone’s place, Javi Reyes (Guitarist) said, “Let’s talk!”.
They ended their set with another new song. You could feel the high energy of the crowd the from beginning to the end of Post Animal’s set.
Post Animal brings a modern touch to classic psychedelic rock with heavy drums and powerful guitar solos. Each member plays their role perfectly as they synchronize with each other. Their music is just as good live as it is on their records, with the added bonus of an impressive energy worth the experience. Undeniably, they are a band you will want to listen to and make sure to come out to see next time they are in Phoenix!
PHOENIX — With two stages to alternate between, Joe’s Grotto music venue has always been a favorite local spot for deliciously gritty punk & metal shows, and unusual performances. This made it an obvious venue of choice for a “sexy fetish party” like SINister – calling out for Phoenix fans to rock out as their wildest, freaky selves. Amongst murky shadows of dimly lit stages and strobing rainbow LEDs, a true sense of community could be felt as this unique local scene came together to support a myriad of eye-catching, emerging artists.
Lucky for you, Burning Hot Events was on the scene to capture fans and performers alike. Our photo booth was hosted by our event photographer London Snow, who donned her very best sexy maid outfit — complete with a matching wig and frosty makeup perfection.
Organized as a birthday celebration for Ikonoklast vocalist, Jonah Foree, the night boasted a hard-hitting lineup including musical acts on the main stage like Scar Eater, Amensic, S.L.U.T. (Satanic League of Underground Techno), and of course Ikonoklast. Agents of LUST heated things up during the sets of both S.L.U.T. and Ikonoklast, sending arches of electrified metal sparks onto the dancers and into the crowd below.
The party also featured DJ Beautiful John, live body painting by El Spawk, and burlesque & fetish performances by Pain Proof Punks on the second stage. The performers on the second stage included Little Jae Sinclair, Lexi Locket, Katara Fox, Crystal Frost, Dr. Copperchops, Miss Wonderland, and Luna Sky.
TEMPE, Ariz. — Marquee Theatre was heated up by Phoenix’s electric performance on June 13th. Just four days earlier, Phoenix released their sixth studio album Ti Amo and played a few songs from it. It was an unusually cool night (well, as cool as Arizona in June can get), and everyone was lining up to enter into the venue. The atmosphere was filled with excitement as the Marquee was quickly filling up, and looked to be a nearly sold out show.
The venue seemed to be filled with mostly ages 21 and over, as many people had a drink in their hand as they watched the opening act, The Lemon Twigs, perform. The Lemon Twigs owned the stage with their vintage style and sound. Brothers Michael (Lead Vocalist/Guitarist) and Brian (Drummer/Backing Vocalist) D’Addario front the band; with Megan Zeankowski on bass, and Danny Ayala on keyboards/backing vocals. Michael D’Addario commanded the stage with his flare pants and teal shaggy hair. He did numerous high kicks into the air and had a reminiscent look and presence of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards combined. They played a song “Bay Baby”, which gave a 70s feel-good heartbreak vibe. The Lemon Twigs are about to take the music industry by storm, so make sure to check them out!
After a long anticipated wait, Phoenix walked onto stage and the crowd roared with excitement. They started with “Ti Amo”, the title-track of their newly released album Ti Amo. Next came “Lasso” which was met by a pleased crowd that cheered after hearing the first few seconds of the song.
Phoenix played “Entertainment”, and were immersed in an incredible light show during parts of the song. White lights created a curtain cover and our concert photographer, Katherine Amy Vega, described it as being like a holographic effect. The lighting really complemented the electric rock sound. Strobe lights of white, red, blue and yellow filled their set. During some songs, there was a rainbow lighting effect, which may have hinted to Phoenix’s support of the LGBTQ community during Pride Month.
Phoenix seemed to have one of those awe-struck moments as the band paused after playing “Lisztomania”, and smiled at the crowd. During most of the set, balloons with a heart and “Ti Amo” printed on floated through the air amongst the crowd. The whole band put on an energized performance and played their part in creating a music loving atmosphere.
One of the most amazing intimate moments of the show was during the encore when Thomas Mars (Lead Vocalist), climbed off the stage and came to the barricade while singing a stripped-down version of “Countdown” to the crowd as guitarist Christian Mazzalai played on stage.
Phoenix played many fan favorites including “1901” and “Fior Di Latte”. The band took over the stage and created an exhilarating atmosphere. Constant dancing, singing along, cheering and pure happiness filled the venue. It was a concert where you couldn’t help but feel joy because the band projected their happiness and love for music onto the crowd.
To end the show, in the BEST way, Thomas Mars came off stage and joined the crowd in the final song “Ti Amo Di Piu”. He walked through the full crowd with his microphone connected to a glowing red cable that the crowd held up; and he said “Thank you!” over and over again, showing his gratitude to the loving fans. At one point he seemed to be hoistered on someone’s shoulders, possibly a fan, and said “Thank you!” again; followed by crowdsurfing back up to the stage . It was truly a moment no one will forget!
Phoenix put on an amazing performance that rocked the Marquee. Fans will definitely be awaiting the next time they come to Arizona!
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Gothic rock band The Birthday Massacre, along with supporting acts Army of the Universe and Sumo Cyco, brought their 2017 North American tour to Pub Rock on the verge of releasing their seventh full-length studio album Under Your Spell. The Scottsdale stop was the 15th of 27 tour dates. With a whopping 20-song setlist and tireless energy, The Birthday Massacre brought their signature animated and dark stage presence to a packed crowd on a Monday night.
Fronted by Sever (formerly solo artist Skye Sweetnam), punk metal band Sumo Cyco from Ontario opened the show. Their 2nd album, Opus Mar, was released recently on March 31, 2017. The charismatic front-woman with teal hair, matching bustier, high-waisted shorts, and fishnet stockings easily caught the attention of The Birthday Massacre’s fans. Sumo Cyco’s song “Danger” well-represents the image of the band and it’s lead singer, with lyrics like, “If you want it, we’ll give you danger“, and “I’m young and feisty, so tongue me and try me“. At one point, Sever rode on the shoulders of the guitarist Matt Drake amongst the crowd. With her sex-appeal and aggressive movements, and the band’s lively performance, they drew in crowd and left them pleased.
The next band to play before the headliner took the stage was an Italian industrial band named Army of the Universe. Vocalist Lord K is also the lead singer of the band Kult of the Skull God. The audience was visibly impressed with the power that the band brought to the stage. Lord K took the stage with ferocity and cocky mannerisms; yelling and thrusting his mic into the faces of audience members, raising up and pumping the mic stand above his head, dripping with sweat and shirtless by the end of the set. While DJ, producer, and band co-founder Trebla primarily focused intently on his synthesizers and laptops; guitarist Davide Tavecchia and drummer Giuseppe Amato wildly played their instruments with their hair flying like they were caught in a storm while donning big smiles and roaring facial expressions. It was clear that the band members were having a blast, which made them equally fun to experience.
Army of the Universe was a fitting choice to set the mood and round-out the audience appeal following Sumo Cyco, with the style of The Birthday Massacre somewhat being a combination of that of the two openers.
The Birthday Massacre’s new album was funded through PledgeMusic, with full-album downloads being sent out on June 1st exclusively to pledgers in advance of the June 9th release. When they hit the stage, they kicked off their set with the first track of the new album, “One”, with instant force.
The Ontario-based band was formed in 1999, and their well-seasoned prowess is clearly evident in their performance. Their fanbase at the venue that night was also a mature crowd, who interacted with the band like loyal, long-time friends. Front-woman Chibi engages with the audience, grabbing hands and emoting delightfully vicious facial expressions throughout the night; while the rest of the band also contorts their faces, violently headbangs, pounds on and swings their instruments around. With such a dynamic, The Birthday Massacre is a band that it would feel off to experience with a substantial distance from the stage; so it’s just as well that Pub Rock has no barricade between the crowd and the stage.
The next two songs the band played were “Red Stars” and “Looking Glass”, the first and second singles from their 2007 album, Walking With Strangers. “Red Stars” is a personal favorite due to it’s raging power-chords. Following, were a couple more songs from their new release, “All of Nothing” and “Counterpane”. Then, a few songs from the Superstition album; “Destroyer”, “Divide”, and “Superstition”.
“Lovers End” from the 2004 Violet album came next, followed by “Happy Birthday” and “Video Kid”. These two songs were originally from 2002’s Nothing and Nowhere, and then appeared again on the Violet album. They next played the new album’s title track “Under Your Spell”, and then “No Tomorrow”.
Chibi exudes such confidence and comfort on stage, it is inspirational and it garners respect. Event when forgetting some of the lyrics, she simply burst into laughter, which caused guitarist Rainbow to crack up too. It was very endearing as they continued through the song, unable to hold back more laughter between them. Temporary mic issues didn’t snuff out the fire of her enthusiasm either. During “Lovers End”, Chibi grabbed a fan’s phone that was recording video, and walked around stage singing into it.
Continuing to give a full-discography sampler, the next two songs performed were “Leaving Tonight” and “Alibis” from Hide and Seek, which was released in 2012. Lastly, from the 2010 Pins and Needles album, “Pins and Needs” and “In the Dark”.
Almost immediately after the band exited the stage before returning for the encore, the enthusiastic fans started chanting, “Ten more songs! Ten more songs!”. While they didn’t get their 10, they seemed to be satiated with the long set and an intense finale, which included “Blue”, “I Think We’re Alone Now”, and “Broken”.
MESA, Ariz. — As I approached Mesa Amphitheatre on the hot Arizona day, I saw many of the almost-5,000 people walking in to fill out the sold out show to see The 1975. I was surprised to see the wide range of fans who filled the venue. A very different scene from when I first saw The 1975 at Comerica Theatre in 2014 where the venue was filled mostly teenagers. This shows how much the band has grown in reaching their music to a broader audience.
The first opener, Pale Waves set the indie pop mood for the night. The up-and-coming British indie pop band got the crowd moving with their catchy guitar riffs and the lead singer’s enchanting voice. Pale Waves played a song called “Kiss” which had an ‘80s pop nostalgia vibe that I loved. The strong female presence was amazing with the lead singer and drummer both being girls. With a sound reminiscent to The 1975, it was no wonder they were opening for the band. Pale Waves is definitely a band you’ll want to listen to.
came out next and the crowds excitement roared when they walked out on stage. Lead singer, Sarah Barthel, commanded the stage with her electric voice and 70’s fringe, Stevie Nicks, inspired outfit. Her captivating psychedelic-pop voice hypnotized the crowd. Energized guitar solos, powerful drums and added keyboard for a synthesizer effect got the crowd moving.
The 1975 finally came on, and to say the crowd was excited was an understatement. Pink lights flooded the stage and the beginning of “Love Me” caused the crowd to scream with excitement, myself included. It was the perfect opener, showcasing the new image and sound of the band.
Throughout the set, when the band played songs from their first self-titled album, the lighting fit the aesthetic of a darker mood with darker colors. During the transition to “I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It”, the lighting consisted of neon pink and white. I loved how the band made it a point to showcase the different album styles through lighting. Not to mention how amazing their backdrops were! The 1975 is definitely an aesthetically pleasing band.
Lead singer and frontman, Matty Healy, commanded the stage and engaged the eager fans as he climbed on top of the speaker and lit a cigarette, while singing “A Change of Heart” to mesmerized girls. Before playing “Falling For You” Matty asked for “no phones”, adding, “let’s live right now”. The sheer silence and lack of phones, with the exception of the few fans who couldn’t possibly resist capturing how beautiful Matty looked, made “Falling For You” a unforgettable song. The outside venue made this moment even more magical because for just a few minutes the outside seemed calm and everyone free of any worries.
One of the most captivating moments of the concert was when “Loving Someone” started play and suddenly the lights projected the LGBT flag colors into the crowd. I couldn’t help but smile and feel comfort in knowing one of my favorite bands is using their music to show support.
The band played many fan favorites including “Robbers”, “Sex”, “Girls”, and “Somebody Else”. They ended the set with “The Sound”. On the last verse, Matty asked for everyone to jump. Seeing close to 5,000 people jumping and singing along will definitely be one of my favorite sights I’ve witnessed. In that moment, nothing but pure joy exuded from the crowd.
As I walked out of the venue, I couldn’t help but smile. I overheard girls telling their friends about the experiences they had with Matty being so close to them and the happiness they felt. It’s so amazing how The 1975 never fails to impress. Seeing them live is an experience that leaves me speechless every time.
TEMPE, Ariz. — Tempe was bursting with anticipation Friday night as fans of co-headlining Bayside and Say Anything gathered early outside Marquee Theatre, pushing their way inside to claim their spot in the front row.There was a tangible buzz in the air as people of all ages lined up to be checked by security outside the theatre.
The air was crisp in my lungs as I walked rather quickly behind Burning Hot Events concert photographer Katherine towards Will Call to claim our press passes for the evening. As we arrived for Bayside in the nick of time following some transportation chaos, the opening band, Reggie and the Full Effect, had set a fast-paced tone for Bayside to take the stage after them. As the set change became evident, audience members rushed to claim their place before the stage, rumbling with shouts and claps in a flurry of excitement; and I hurriedly followed suit to find my place in the front corner near the security barrier.
As I quickly worked to get my things in order, I could feel the deep rumbling of the bass move from beneath my converse and slowly encompass the rest of me as the band did a quick warm up. The vast, dual-level concert area makes for great acoustics, which they used to their advantage as they dove into their set with the ever-popular “Already Gone.” The breakneck tempo of this A Day to Remember-esque song sent the crowd into a frenzy of cheers and metal hands as the band members danced around the stage to the opening chords.
“What’s up Phoenix?! We came to sing with you and dance with you!,” vocalist Anthony Raneri shouted into his mic, attempting to rouse the crowd even more. This song comes from the band’s fifth album Killing Time, which was released back in February of 2011, and it was obvious why they chose to open with it. The exuberant crowd danced and sang along in unison, receiving copious opportunities to sing back the words they’ve come to know so well. Raneri made it known immediately to everyone there that the rest of this particular set was going to be filled with high energy and vivacious songs. And they did not disappoint.
This being my first time seeing Bayside live, I can honestly say I didn’t know what to expect, but the next 12 songs following the opener all had one thing in common: they were meant to make you move. Wanting to keep the electricity flowing, Raneri continued to captivate the crowd with other old favorites such as “Sick, Sick, Sick”, “Masterpiece”, and “Blame it on Bad Luck.”. Guitarist Jack O’Shea and bassist Nick Ghanbarian could be seen dancing around stage the entire performance, singing passionately as they moved fluidly from one song to the next.
They even included a few songs off of their new album Vacancy, and while it “isn’t a breakup album”, the songs were written to portray a very uncertain time in vocalist Raneli’s life. That doesn’t mean they have to sound that way, however, and as “Mary” followed hastily by “I’ve Been Dead All Along” were blasted through the speakers I was standing precariously close to, the frenzied tempo was enough to keep everyone moving.
While the set was primarily focused on the music as opposed to engaging the crowd, Raneli did pause about halfway through the set to discuss their new album. “CDs are expensive to make and even more expensive to buy” he stated matter-of- factly, and went on to inform the concert goers that the band has created a $5 version of their new album that is available for purchase now. The roar in response was deafening, and all the motivation Raneli needed to jump into the next set of fiery songs that would steadily keep the energy of the room at maximum level right up to the final song “Devotion and Desire” off their very first album.
As I left the Marquee that evening, I couldn’t help but notice how quickly I moved, or the extra spring in my step. This band had even found a way to keep the energy flowing through me, even after their set was over. They show true passion in their music on and off the stage, and gave me the motivation to be as fluid with my writing. This was admittedly my first time writing a concert review for Burning Hot Events, but I can easily say that if every show is like Bayside, I will definitely be back for more.
PHOENIX — It’s around 7:30 PM on a Tuesday night and the streets are busy on 4th Ave and Washington. The throngs of people milling around are desperately searching for the end of the impossibly long line that will eventually lead them to the entrance they are only feet away from at the moment. The lights from the large electronic marquee reads “A Perfect Circle TONIGHT!” and casts a glow on the faces passing below. For many standing there on that night, this was a long anticipated show.
“Oh my god, she just left her fuckin boyfriend back there!”, I heard a woman blurt out as I sat on a bench next to the box office at Comerica Theater. With lines stretching around the corner for several blocks, people of all different backgrounds are shuffling slowly past me toward the entrance gates. There are goth teens, soccer moms, bikers and hipsters all standing together in line. They’re chatting excitedly, talking about the last time they had seen the band perform and even dancing to Sublime’s “Wrong Way” as the sky gets darker.
I prepared myself for what would be the second time I would see A Perfect Circle since Lollapalooza 2003–the year they released their second album Thirteenth Step. In the nearly 14 years since that show, they’ve come a long way. Although the lineup has changed slightly, lead vocalist Maynard James Keenan of Tool-fame and lead guitarist Billy Howerdel have remained the central force of the band since its inception. Current bassist Matt McJunkins, who joined in 2010, has played with the likes of Thirty Seconds to Mars, Maynard James Keenan side band Puscifer and The Beta Machine, a band he formed with current APC drummer Jeff Friedl. McJunkins was also the touring bassist for Eagles of Death Metal during the Le Bataclan attack in Paris, France on November 13th, 2015. The audience was attacked by terrorists wielding automatic rifles, grenades and suicide vests, killing 89 fans including the band’s merchandise vendor. Rounding out the group is former Smashing Pumpkins alumnus and founding member James Iha on rhythm guitar, a superstar in his own right.
As the line seemed to shorten to a visible end, I took my place to be screened by security. It was a relatively short process. I got through the entrance within maybe 5 minutes of entering the line and spotted another long line snaking up the stairs to the second floor balcony. A friend remarked, “That’s the line for merchandise.” After purchasing my respective Cola and water bottles, I finally found my assigned seat just moments before the house lights come down and the uprising of applause and whistles begin. Smoke begins to seep from across the foot of the stage and everyone in attendance knows that this rocket is about to blast off.
The first notes of “The Package” begin to trickle melodically from the speakers behind a hazy white cloth that encompasses the entirety of the stage. Hidden beyond the opaque white veil, the band members’ silhouettes can be seen in various distorted sizes dancing as the lights produce their shadows. With little silence to buffer, each of the beginning three pieces all vaguely kind of bleed into the other. This first medley, The Package, The Hollow, and The Noose perfectly set the tone for the remainder of the show.
It was then that Keenan finally addressed the crowd, explaining that this was their first show since their three show Vegas tour kickoff at the Palms Resort and Casino Pearl Concert Theater. “Normally we try to do this first so we don’t make a bunch of fuckin’ mistakes and then you guys judge us…”
“And now a song about anal sex!”
Keenan playfully muses into the mic as the band launches into “Weak and Powerless”, another track from Thirteenth Step, their 2003 sophomore masterpiece, followed by “Rose” from their debut album Mer De Noms. As the show goes on I feel as though I’m transported to a time when I first started listening to a group whose lead singer sounded like that guy from Tool. It would be months after first being introduced to this new band until I would find out who it was behind those vocals, and would ultimately turn me on to Tool after hearing A Perfect Circle, and not the other way around.
Keenan has been an eccentric figure in both his professional and personal life. Army veteran, musician, winemaker and entrepreneur; he is one of the most eclectic artists ever grace a stage. With a residence in Jerome, Arizona near his Merkin vineyard in Cornville, where he produces his Caduceus Cellars blends of wine; Keenan has single-handedly raised the profile of Arizona wine nationally and internationally to break it out of mediocrity and make it a truly respectable region in the wine world… But that’s another story. We’re here to talk about the music.
The fourth movement and majority of the body of the show begins with a cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine” from 2004’s eMOTIVe album, in a style that one could only expect from A Perfect Circle. It’s brooding and not without the quintessential melancholy that only APC can produce. Truly a beautiful cover. As I ruminated on that thought, I scanned the crowd behind me. Not a single sarcastic smirk. The audience seemed to think it was as beautiful as I did. The show continues with several more amazing tracks from previous albums and including their incredible cover of Depeche Mode’s “People are People”. Keenan prefaces this performance with a few words to the audience regarding forgiveness.
“It’s those moments that forgiveness is the only thing that’s gonna get you through it, so, forgive each other, forgive yourself. Move to the light.”
For some people it was an emotional experience. I saw a woman across the aisle from my section wiping tears from her eyes during that particular track. It was evident that it meant something to her that only she understood. This band holds a special power that allows them to tap into the listener’s psyche. The feeling and raw emotion they emote entrances these fans with melodious distortion and precision combined with Keenan’s articulately barbed lyrical style. A Perfect Circle masterfully ends the main body of the show with “Blue” and Keenan once again addresses the masses before introducing all the players to their venerate fans.
The final medley of the concert is comprised of two tracks from Thirteenth Step, and a new song they debuted in Las Vegas during the first dates of the tour. Keenan describes the first song, “The Outsider,” as song “sung from the perspective of an asshole who has no compassion, so think of the whole album as being parts in a play and this is the Rodney Dangerfield… Being a dick.”
“So anyway, look out for each other. Don’t be a dick”
At this point, James Iha is introduced and expresses his distaste with the desert.
“The sand, it permeates my clothes. I don’t like it.”
The monologue goes on a little longer and almost seems necessary to lift the crowd back up from getting too cathartic and deep. It’s certainly a fun interlude as the final trio of pieces signals the beginning of the end of the show. By the close of “Feathers”, the final song and A Perfect Circle’s newest unreleased track, everyone is on their feet and cheering as Keenan speaks one last “Thank you”, and the band gives their final humble bows amid the silken forest of pillars amongst them and walks off stage.
Iha throws several handfuls of guitar picks into the front rows and the band disappears, never to be seen again by those hoping for an encore. Those dreams were dashed when the house lights immediately hit like a blast of reality and signaled that it was indeed time to go. I sauntered out into the streets and walked down Jefferson toward Squid Ink to wait for my Uber, and savored the sights and sounds I had just beheld.
PHOENIX — As I finished my coffee outside Comerica Theater, I watched the ever expanding line of eager concert goers and couldn’t help but marvel at how much the demographic for Underoath and Bring Me The Horizon had changed over the years. Bands who once suffered mile after mile in cramped vans to play to maybe 200 people on a good night were now riding in full size tour buses and playing 5,000 capacity venues decked out in state of the art stage production. Rooms full of angsty scene kids were now joined by radio ticket winners and suburban families all venturing into downtown Phoenix for a Friday night of metalcore’s biggest contemporary acts.
As I made my way down to the venue floor, Beartooth was two or three songs into their opening set and were doing an admirable job of getting the crowd moving and engaged while many were still trickling down to their seats or waiting in the (literally) two story tall merch line. Despite having played multiple sold-out shows at The Nile, sets at KUPD’s Ufest, and enjoying regular radio airplay, the crowd was largely silent when asked “Who here has seen Beartooth before!?”. However, by the time their explosive set wound down to a close, there was no doubt that Beartooth had won over the majority of the crowd and left the stage to raucous applause and an exodus of new fans headed to their march table.
Now, before I get into the Underoath portion of the evening, I must admit that this band has always held a special place in my heart. My first show in 2001 featured Atreyu, Underoath (then touring behind the album The Changing Of The Times), XDeathstarX, God Forbid, and Scars of Tomorrow at the Mason Jar long before it became it became The Rebel Lounge. Throughout high school the memories piled on as I went to virtually every Underoath tour that passed through Arizona with all of my friends who obsessed over every line of They’re Only Chasing Safety and Define The Great Line. My inner 16-year-old was just as astounded when the band opened up with “Everyone Looks So Good From Here” and “In Regards To Myself”, directly into “It’s Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door”, as when I first heard them blasting through the headphones of my yellow cd player back in 2004 and 2006 respectively.
The rest of the setlist was dominated largely by songs off these two albums, which makes sense given their recent reunion tour featuring both albums performed in full, but featured select songs from Disambiguation and Lost In The Sound Of Separation to add a bit of variety to the setlist for the diehard fans. Spencer Chamberlain and Aaron Gillespie sounded even more in sync than on the reunion tour and proved themselves to be absolute powerhouse vocalists who have more than earned their legendary status as truly influential members of the metalcore scene who have made a lasting impact on everyone from The Devil Wears Prada to headliners Bring Me The Horizon.
Disclaimer: The author (yours truly) watched the entirety of Bring Me The Horizon’s set and was absolutely astounded by how tight they sounded as well as the sheer magnitude of their lighting production. However, due to loss of material and a minor concussion from a recent vehicle accident I was unable to recover my review of their set. Look forward to it in a future Party Dispatch and thank you for the patience.
Tucson, Ariz. — The Paper Kites rolled into town from San Diego to perform at the intimate Club Congress inside of the historic Hotel Congress. The 7 year old band of an indie folk-rock genre hails from Melbourne, Australia. The band supported headliner Passenger for this North American tour, however Tucson received the special treat of a show headlined by The Paper Kites.
Opening the night was local songwriter Jess Matsen, who chilled his way through his mellow acoustic set while some in the crowd chattered directly in front of him. In between songs, Matsen spoke to the crowd, stating that he hadn’t anticipated such a large turnout. Despite the noise, there were some attendees that clearly appreciated his performance, and shouted up front to ask for his name. Matsen released The Killing of Our Kind Ofin November of last year, and has also performed with local groups Dream Sick & J.R.M.
The Paper Kites directly followed Matsen with a sound that one fan was overheard describing as “ethereal”, and they brought passersby into the venue with their notable sound. The band’s harmonies are entrancing, particularly their signature duets between lead vocalist Sam Bentley and keyboardist/guitarist Christina Lacy.
In between songs, Bentley took the opportunity to chat with the crowd, commenting that the intimate venue was like playing a house show… except not, because it’s much fancier. He also joked about wishing he could take one of the cacti home, that he saw during the drive to Tucson from California. After he broke out his harmonica, he mused that everyone always gets excited about the instrument.
The venue afforded him the opportunity to interact with the crowd in a way not possible on the other dates of the tour in which they performed grand theaters such as The Wiltern in Los Angeles and Fox Theater in Oakland, CA.
With the lighting that Club Congress offers, it was pleasant to be able to observe every band member clearly. The least visible being bassist/synthist Sam Rasmussen, who was tucked in the back right corner behind the other musicians and instruments.
With impressive mastery of their musicianship and sound, there was nary a difference in sound between hearing The Paper Kites live and listening to one of their albums.
Amidst their set, following the song “Too Late”, came the most intimate segment of all. Bentley asked that the lights be turned off, and the room was then lit only by the faint glow of the exit signs. The next two songs were a unique and meditative period of visual deprivation. The first song in the darkness was “A Silent Cause”, which was fitting considering how silent the crowd felt obligated to become with the lights out.
The second song in the darkness was “Bloom”, which instead had the audience united in a beautiful chorus. Usually while the unison sing-a-longs at concerts are touching, tone-deaf vocals shout-sang by fans are commonplace. (It doesn’t matter, because it’s about the experience and showing love to the artists.) But The Paper Kites’ fans in Tucson have surprisingly good singing voices, as they fell into a delightful harmony.
Before the encore, the band played “Electric Indigo”, followed by “Featherstone” to close the show. Afterward, the band was so kind as to meet fans, autograph merch, and take group photos outside. It was not just a small concert, but truly an experience to be in attendance at The Paper Kites’ gig in Tucson, with such a personal connection both during and after their performance. No doubt fans were grateful for the rare opportunity before the band heads back to Australia.
PHOENIX — If I were to describe Sleigh Bells’ unique brand of feedback-laden experimental electro-pop, I’d probably tell someone to imagine the sound that the nighttime cinematography of the film Drive would make if given human form. While admittedly a bit obtuse, I couldn’t help but think of wet streets, leather, and neon once the guitar cabs kicked on and assailed a sold-out Crescent Ballroom with danceable abrasion.
From the moment the duo of Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller hit the stage, every member of the audience was off their feet and dancing in a writhing chaotic mass. Touring as a two-piece in direct support of November’s Jessica Rabbit seemed like a potentially risky choice given the album’s emphasis on volume and upbeat power. Thankfully, the duo effortlessly executed their career spanning setlist with more energy and precision than is often afforded by an entire tour package.
Having not seen or closely followed the band since 2012’s Reign of Terror, I was impressed to see how the band had continued to expand on their signature sound while remaining true to the shredding meets dance floor aesthetic that Sleigh Bells fans have come to worship.
This manner of growth was perhaps most notable on Jessica Rabbit lead off track “It’s Just Us Now”. Played third in their setlist, the dramatic build of an almost Southern Rock riff alongside a surprisingly hip-hop leaning drum sample into a soaring vocal chorus over a tempo breakdown showcases the band at their absolute best. Even the title itself is reflective of the band’s confidence in themselves. They aren’t bound by hype, touring members, or notions of what they should sound like. They are simply two artists at the top of their game trying to push their music, as well as dance floors, to the absolute limits.
Above all, it was clear that the band was having just as much fun as the crowd. Alexis bounced from one side of the stage to the other, interacting with the crowd and positioning herself for photo ops, while Derek let his metalcore roots show as he headband at the front of the stage all night. Feeding freely from the energy onstage the crowd even broke into a push pit for a few songs, which seemed somehow natural despite it’s unusual setting.
As the evening finally wound down, Alexis brought opening act Tunde Olaniran onstage for a brief duet appearance before closing their set with A/B Machines from debut album Treats, then disappeared out the venue doors while the crowd finally paused to take a breath.
Highlight: Opening act Tunde Olaniran was absolutely astounding. Blending soul funk with trap EDM beats was the perfect way to set the crowd up early for an evening of high paced dancing while drawing even the most introverted audience member out of their shell for a night. Bonus shout out to the guy wearing an Agitator shirt who looked genuinely lost the entire night.