PHOENIX — The Rocket Summer has an intense fan base. They love frontman Bryce Avary, and nowhere was that more evident than at The Rebel Lounge on Tuesday, May 10, when the indie rock headliner played there as part of their Zoetic tour.
Opening for The Rocket Summer, local band
The Foxies got the crowd warmed up for the show with some indie-pop beats and melodies. Their undeniably charismatic lead vocalist, Julia Lauren, invited the audience to dance with her, and by the third song in their set, she had everyone at the front of the house moving. Like any good opening act, The Foxies left concert-goers excited and ready for more.
Arriving on the stage to the sound of screams and applause, The Rocket Summer opened the show with “So in This Hour” from the 2007 album Do You Feel, with Avary showing off his skills on the guitar while simultaneously singing the vocals. It was followed up with “Cold War” from Avary’s latest album Zoetic. Then he switched to playing the piano and singing “Of Men and Angels” from the 2010 album of the same title.
Known for his skill as an instrumentalist, Avary’s talent was evident all throughout the show. He frequently swapped instruments between songs, effortlessly transitioning from piano to drums back to guitar again. And the passion he poured into the performance made it easy to see why fans were so eager to swoon for him.
“Let’s celebrate the community that is The Rocket Summer,” Avary told fans, “You, us, all of us together.” For the entirety of the night, concert-goers were packed tightly around the stage of the intimate venue. They knew the words to the songs so well, that in some parts of the show, it was almost as if Avary was being backed by a choir.
When The Rocket Summer finished “Circa ‘46” and started playing “Same Air,” there was hardly a pause between songs. Avary played and sang with such ease and familiarity that one song simply transitioned into the next. Then for “Roses,” he waded into the crowd with a mic and guitar and performed from the center of the audience. Avary interacted with concert-goers all throughout the night and surprised and delighted fans when, during “Brat Pack,” confetti exploded out above the crowd.
“This is pretty freakin’ rad for a Tuesday night,” Avary said in response to the high level of energy and engagement in the room. “I’ve played a lot of places around Phoenix,” he continued, giving a nod to all of the local venues of his past performances—including some that have long since closed. He also joked about playing when it was “impossibly hot” outside. “God bless you people,” he said before playing “FL, CA” and changing the lyrics to, “Arizona, you’re an earthquake.”
A lot of Avary’s music is about a message of hope and positivity, but the soulfulness with which he performed and his affection for his fans made it all the more genuine. “Even when you’re alone, you’re not alone,” he told concert-goers before playing “Walls.” Holding one long note, he elicited more applause and cheers from the audience. “Let’s make this epic!” he said, as he was rejoined by the choir of his fans.
#1 So in This Hour
#2 Cold War
#3 Of Men and Angels
#4 Do You Feel
#6 Circa ’46
#7 Same Air
#10 Break It Out
#11 Help Me Out
#12 Brat Pack
#13 FL, CA
#14 Hills and Valleys
#15 Around the Clock
#17 Never Knew
#18 Cross My Heart
#19 Hanginaround (Cover)
#21 So Much Love
#22 You Are, You Are
After leaving the stage and then coming back out for an encore performance, Avary left it up to the audience. “What do you guys want to hear?” he asked the crowd. With so much enthusiasm from concert-goers fueling his already energetic performance, Avary proceeded to play nearly an entire second set, including “Hills and Valleys,” “Around the Clock,” “200,000,” “Never Knew,” “Cross My Heart,” and “Revival.” He even covered “Hanginaround” by the Counting Crows just to change things up a bit. “I like to play my own songs, but sometimes it’s fun to jam to other things,” he smiled.
“There’s something about Phoenix that brings out all the good stuff,” Avary told fans. He then played “So Much Love,” while, at one point, he hung from the rafters of the building’s low ceiling. “Thank you for being a part of this. You’re just as much a part of this as we are,” he said afterward.
When The Rocket Summer finally closed with “You Are, You Are,” Avary didn’t just sing it for the audience, he sang it to them.
PHOTO ALBUM by Katherine Vega