Tag Archives: Rock

REVIEW: Third Eye Blind, Jimmy Eat World Deliver Nostalgia With A Modern Spin (7-31-19)

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PHOENIX — What comes to mind when you think of the 2000’s? Motorola RAZRs? MTV’s Pimp My Ride? Undoubtedly, your mind also went to the music that defined the decade: bands like Jimmy Eat World and Third Eye Blind. It might surprise you to learn that both of these groups are still going strong and loving every minute of it, as evidenced by their incredible performances at the Ak Chin Pavilion in Phoenix this past Wednesday evening.

Both bands are refreshing examples of groups that have not only outlasted their respective peaks of fame, but have continued going strong in spite of it. Jimmy Eat World playing timeless classics like “Sweetness”, “The Middle”, and “Hear You Me” to ear-piercing cheers and thundering applause is all the proof you need. Obvious musical and songwriting talents aside, a big reason for the longevity in Jimmy Eat World’s career is the sheer gratitude they express to their fans at nearly every show.

Jim Adkins (Vocalist), Jimmy Eat World
| Photographer:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

There are countless examples throughout musical history of artists who gain big heads from their fame but this band, and especially Jim Adkins, could not have been more humble, crediting their fans for helping them get to where they are now. About halfway through the set, Jim strapped on a beautifully shining acoustic guitar and as he was tuning for “Hear You Me” he warmly addressed the crowd: “I remember when we were sitting out on the lawn watching shows and dreaming about being on this stage. Now, here we are and it’s all thanks to you guys and your support.” This would become a common theme throughout the night as he so graciously engaged the audience and made them feel as welcome as they so clearly made him and the rest of the band feel in return. 

Ra Ra Riot began the show with an uncharacteristically energetic set for an opening band; the crowd couldn’t get enough and the band definitely got the job done getting people out of their seats.

Wes Miles (Vocalist), Ra Ra Riot
| Photographer:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

The stage chemistry and musicianship of each member shined through during key moments, like the crisp backing vocals of bassist, Mathieu Santos blending seamlessly with lead vocalist, Wes Miles. Guitarist, Milo Bonacci and his versatility with guitar FX pedals created mind-bending soundscapes of delayed and chorused chords, and even allowed him to smoothly recover from a brief tussle with some nasty feedback. Ra Ra Riot are entertainers in the truest sense of the word and are definitely one to watch out for.

Mathieu Santos (Bassist, Vocalist), Ra Ra Riot
| Photographer:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Jimmy Eat World continued to amaze the audience by mixing in a pleasant blend of old and new songs, with the old songs sounding just as fresh as the new. It’s difficult to make a song like “The Middle”, released in 2001, not sound slightly dated when it appears in movies or TV shows for example, but live, this song takes on entirely new life, as those same familiar four power chords envelop you in pure nostalgic delight. It’s honestly incredible – a true testament to their abilities as a band to stand the test of time by continuously putting out timeless song after song.

Jim Adkins (Vocalist), Jimmy Eat World
| Photographer:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Third Eye Blind closed out the night with a highly engaging set that the vast majority of fans never wanted to end. Lead singer/guitarist, Stephan Jenkins, displayed a level of energy and charisma not often seen in a 54-year-old man. The music keeps him young at heart, and the same can be said of his fans as they screamed every single word along with him.

Stephan Jenkins (Vocalist, Guitarist), Third Eye Blind
| Photographer:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Third Eye Blind effortlessly charged through songs like the latest collaborative effort with Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells, “Screamer”. This track has a harder modern rock vibe that they transition into deftly from their classic sound. Hearing a band continue to reinvent themselves is a sign that they don’t intend to give up on music anytime soon; which is good news for many.

Kryz Reid (Guitarist, Vocalist), Third Eye Blind
| Photographer:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Third Eye Blind also treated the crowd’s ears to a clever medley of songs “Back To Zero”, “Can You Take Me”, and “London”, strung together so well you’d think they were back to back on the same album. The band was obviously well-rehearsed, and executed each song down to the last screaming note. Playing songs from the first album like “Motorcycle Drive-by” and “Graduate” served as an endearing homage to their past, which acknowledges that they haven’t forgotten where they came from and how they arrived where they are today. This was a more understated approach to showing the fans gratitude: by treating them with more hidden gems on the early albums, which went over very well overall.  

Stephan Jenkins (Vocalist, Guitarist), Third Eye Blind
| Photographer:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

A more cynical observer might write off a joint tour between Jimmy Eat World and Third Eye Blind as an attempt to revive a dying genre; however this could not be further from the truth. Both bands are timeless examples of pop-rock bands of the early 2000’s that bring unique qualities to their music that only serves to guarantee their respective longevity. The “Summer Gods” tour is an aptly named one because these bands have successfully become immortalized through their music. And honestly, isn’t that what any band ultimately strives for?

Photo Gallery

Photographer: Rodrigo Izquierdo

Third Eye Blind, Jimmy Eat World, Ra Ra Riot – Ak-Chin Pavilion 7-31-19

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Photography © Reagle Photography
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REVIEW: Black Pistol Fire Engulf Phoenix Fans In Rock n’ Roll (7-19-19)

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PHOENIX — Time and again, rock n’ roll has proven that it’s a genre that staunchly refuses to die. Two good reasons for this phenomenon were proudly on display this past Tuesday evening at Crescent Ballroom in downtown Phoenix; the opening act of the night, Seattle rock band Thunderpussy, and the incomparable two-man rock powerhouse known as Black Pistol Fire.

Thunderpussy

The evening couldn’t have kicked off better as Thunderpussy took the stage by storm, captivating the audience immediately with their slick style along with some effortlessly proficient musicianship. Lead vocalist, Molly Sides (a Tucson native) had undeniable charisma and grace from the moment she strode across the stage towards her iconic Elvis-style microphone.

Molly Sides (Vocalist) & Leah Julius (Bassist), Thunderpussy
| Photographer:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Donning a vibrant, glittery and flowing outfit, she was the centerpiece that completed the unmistakably rock n’ roll spectacle the band was giving off. As her darkly-colored vocals soared to the stratosphere with an excellent cover of Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody to Love”, she dazzled fans with her fluid dancing that seemed far too natural to be choreographed.

Molly Sides (Vocalist) & Leah Julius (Bassist), Thunderpussy
| Photographer:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

The charisma didn’t stop there either; it comes pouring out of each member as you see them thoroughly enjoying themselves on stage. Lead guitarist, Whitney Petty opened the show wielding a violin bow, grazing it across the strings in ways that would make Jimmy Page’s jaw drop. The rhythm section could easily hold their own with the best of them as Leah Julius’ bass and the battering proficiency of the drums made up a rock-solid foundation supporting the rest of the music. The band was an excellent choice for an opener and definitely one to keep your eyes on as they inevitably ascend to greatness.

Black Pistol Fire

As palpable as the excitement in the room was for the main attraction, it was still hard to imagine the night getting much better. However as soon as singer/guitarist Kevin McKeown and drummer Eric Owen rushed the stage, it was obvious that the night had only just begun.

Kevin McKeown (Vocalist, Guitarist), Black Pistol Fire
| Photographer:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Ripping into the first lines of “Suffocation Blues”, you could feel the desperation behind every note being bent out of McKeown’s beautiful SG guitar. Deeply rooted in the blues and garage rock of the dirtiest varieties, Black Pistol Fire must feel right at home back in the thriving Austin, Texas music scene. As a rock duo featuring no bassist, the superficial comparisons to other famous rock duo groups like The White Stripes and The Black Keys are inevitable, but don’t be fooled; Black Pistol Fire brings many unique qualities to the table in a genre saturated with copycats.

Eric Owen (Drummer), Black Pistol Fire
| Photographer:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Owen’s creative contribution of playing the synth bass while he simultaneously drums with one arm is a sight that must be seen to be fully processed. This is not something that can be pulled off easily but he makes it look like the easiest thing in the world, which is a testament to his raw musical talent. Shockingly, this also does very little in simplifying his drum parts because his merciless whacks on the toms and snare drum are just as strikingly heavy as if someone were playing with two burly arms.

McKeown’s vocal and guitar chops are both solid, with attitude aplenty. It’s so powerful to see how the themes behind the lyrics of songs like “Hipster Shakes” directly translates through his guitar into this emotional downpour of soulful distortion. The songs exude this fiery, sensual energy that’s simply magnetic and is sure to make anyone loosen up a bit. He screams with this begging and pleading tone that perfectly complements the gyrating motions he does on stage. It’s almost as if you’re watching someone go through an exorcism the way he shakes, tearing away at the pain of past experiences and shedding them from existence. There was even a moment when McKeown’s exorcism took him off the stage and into the crowd with the help of a dedicated stagehand. This personal journey of his took him all the way from the back end of the room onto the bleachers, all the way to standing on top of the bar as the bartender proudly handed him a splash of whiskey, all during the same guitar solo.

Kevin McKeown (Vocalist, Guitarist), Black Pistol Fire
| Photographer:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Crescent Ballroom proved to be the ideal venue for the performance of both bands, balancing high sound quality with the intimacy that only it’s dark walls can provide. The light show was also complimentary without it being too blinding or distracting for the audience. The reactions you gather from watching both of these bands are visceral ones and each of their reputations are definitely elevated because of it. Black Pistol Fire and Thunderpussy are as rock n’ roll as they come.

Photo Gallery

Photographer: Rodrigo Izquierdo

Black Pistol Fire & Thunderpussy – Crescent Ballroom 7-16-19

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Photography © Reagle Photography
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REVIEW: Bonobo’s Desert Migration Electrifies The Van Buren 10-3-17

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PHOENIX – Tuesday, October 3rd, gave way to a beautiful early fall evening despite the higher temperatures during the day. This weather lead to what locals likely hoped was an adequate welcome for musical visitors from across the pond. Either way, Bonobo and his live band were greeted with immense enthusiasm by Phoenix music lovers.

Bonobo - Photo Credit: Neil Krug
Bonobo
Photo Credit: Neil Krug

Bonobo was one of the first shows announced for The Van Buren when the new downtown venue initially revealed its opening date, and many Phoenix area fans bought tickets as soon as they heard about this stop on Simon Green (aka Bonobo) and his band’s world tour.

Early in the evening, the diverse and interesting crowd that gathered within The Van Buren’s gorgeous walls seemed excited. One could easily sense the anticipation in the air. Many people were hanging out in the lobby area or enjoying the beautiful weather on the patio outside. Once the lights dimmed, people rushed to fill the floor, looking for the best spots available. It was a packed show that was nearly entirely standing room only, and people seemed hesitant to get close to one another at first. By the end of the evening, this part would change.

As the first few songs came on, heralded by pure white stage lights and a bright white Bonobo logo on the backdrop, people were tentatively interested. Fans or acquaintances of Bonobo already know that his music is quite chill and ambient most of the time, and he certainly started out with a couple of rather calm songs. Looking around the crowd, one might notice people gently swaying, bobbing their heads, and perhaps even wiggling around a little; otherwise, they seemed a bit unsure of how to properly enjoy the show.

Seizures imminent. @si_bonobo

A post shared by Sean Tingle (@music_seen) on

This uncertainty did not last long, however. Soon, Bonobo and his wonderful travelling companions warmed up the crowd with increasingly energetic beats. Shortly after the beginning of the show, they were also joined by the immensely talented and stunningly gorgeous Szjerdene. She began serenading the crowd, making for an entrancing accompaniment to the surreal tunes of Bonobo. Her dress was perfect for the interesting lighting as well, as more and more colors were added. The dress was made up of huge, bright white, vertical stripes that reflected the blues, purples, oranges, and reds of the light show. Overall, the entire stage took on a dreamlike quality. This gave the performers a mysterious presence on stage, shrouded in light and smoke.

Their first time in Phoenix! 😁

A post shared by Sean Tingle (@music_seen) on

After a few songs, Szjerdene took a break – likely to rest her vocal chords after such a marvelous performance. During the next segment, Bonobo was able to truly show off his mastery of building energy up and transitioning between different songs. The transitions were just about perfect; it was obvious that the order of songs was carefully considered, and they were performed with expert precision. The impeccable execution of these transitions became the true highlight of the show. In some instances, these transitions should have been jarring, but they were superbly timed. The crowd responded well, of course, and by the middle of the show, they were moving around much more than before.

With each seamless transition, the crowd hyped up more and more. The cheers and shouts grew louder, and many people raised their glasses high into the air. It was interesting to observe who got excited for each new song, as it seemed that everyone in the crowd had favorites by Bonobo. His immense library of released music did not allow for nearly enough of his songs to be performed, even within the nearly 2 hours they played, but it was clear that the crowd was having a great time throughout.

All around, people were dancing or enjoying the music in their own ways. Some were standing as still as possible, truly enchanted by the show and the energy surrounding them. Some were standing or swaying with their eyes closed, absorbing the music itself, perhaps further immersing themselves within the energy of the room. Others still were dancing with as much vigor as their space allowed – even in such close quarters with other concert-goers, many found ways to show off their best dance moves.

Thought someone was going to be teleported. #energize #twotobeamup @si_bonobo

A post shared by Sean Tingle (@music_seen) on

It is prudent to mention how much the light show amplified the music as well. While the music, the musicians, Bonobo’s DJ skills, and Szjerdene’s singing and dancing all made for a wonderful experience, they were all enhanced by the streams of light and smoke floating and shooting around them. At one point, it even seemed as if Simon was going to be teleported onto the Enterprise. While the light show would certainly not be ideal for those who may have light sensitivity, for those who were able to witness it, it was an almost-transcendental experience. It helped to energize the crowd and augment those incredible transitions between songs.

While Simon Green did not speak much at all during the show, he did mention how this was his first time visiting Phoenix after over 15 years of making music and touring as Bonobo. He also made sure to introduce everyone in the band, which was an admirable quality. They truly helped to make his music something else entirely when heard live, as people who are fans of his recorded music may have noticed. The live instruments and vocals were wonderful touches, and Simon himself even picked up an electric guitar during a few moments of the show. There was even a drum solo, and at one point, the concert felt like a fantastic heavy metal show. This was certainly not the average DJ show, and Simon/Bonobo is definitely not the average DJ. All in all, Bonobo live was such an intense, interesting, unique, and diverse experience, much like his music.

This tour was to celebrate Bonobo’s new album, Migration, which came out in January of this year. Next up on Bonobo’s tour, they are stopping by Tucson and then moving on to several locations in Texas before making a final US stop in Florida. From there, Simon and the band will move on to visiting several countries in Europe before heading over to Singapore. The last legs of the tour include Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, and Japan. Next year, they will return home to London and perform a few shows there, once this epic world tour has come to an end.

If anyone is going to be in an area close to one of these upcoming shows, they are highly encouraged to attend, even if they aren’t very familiar with Bonobo’s music. This show was an experience like no other, making it an entirely enjoyable experience. The nearly 2 hours of continuous, non-stop music was absolutely impressive. Their stamina, as well as their devotion to their music and the crowd, was nearly unparalleled. Seeing Bonobo live was such a rare treat to be cherished, and Phoenix and The Van Buren hope they will be back again someday soon.

Caught someone making a ❤️ with their hands up front 😍😂

A post shared by Sean Tingle (@music_seen) on

Featured photo (top) by Neil Krug