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)
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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.
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.
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)
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.
PHOENIX — There’s nothing quite like seeing a show at an outdoor venue in the middle of Arizona’s monsoon season. Preceded by a torrential downpour and accompanying thunder and lightning, Marilyn Manson played at Ak-Chin Pavilion on Saturday, August 20, opening for headliner Slipknot.
The deluge started shortly after metalcore band Of Mice & Men took the stage to get the show rolling. Fans seated in the lawn area at the back of the venue probably weren’t expecting to need a towel, nor did they care. Front man Austin Carlile incited the crowd to cheers and shouts as the rain fell harder.
However, after Of Mice & Men finished their set, the show took a disappointing turn. An announcement came over the pavilion loudspeakers asking concert-goers to exit the venue and seek shelter. Due to the presence of rain and lightning, the show was being postponed until the storm passed. The announcement, unsurprisingly, was met with boos and fans chanting “Fuck that shit,” later changing their chants to “Rain or shine.”
It’s not surprising that concert-goers were disappointed. The show had already been postponed by more than a month due to Corey Taylor’s unexpected surgery after the Slipknot vocalist broke his neck without realizing it.
Many of the people in the back lawn left the venue or waited in their cars for the storm to pass. Others crowded into the walkways and stairways under the pavilion to take shelter. It wasn’t until just after 8 p.m. that the loudspeaker finally announced that the worst of the storm had passed and the show would go on. Fans filed back onto the lawn and into their seats in droves after waiting nearly one and a half hours for Manson’s set to begin.
With curtains up, “Bitch Better Have My Money” by Rihanna played over the speakers. Then when the curtains dropped, Manson was standing on the stage in a suit and tie, wearing his iconic gothic makeup. He opened the show with “Angel with the Scabbed Wings” from his 1996 album Antichrist Superstar.
“Technically, I may have caused that,” Manson joked about the rain. “You guys fucked with a fucking thunderstorm to be here. Thank you,” he said after playing “Disposable Teens.” “How many times does it rain in Phoenix? I’m just saying,” he continued. “Sometimes when you bring the sun, you get caught in the thunder.”
Manson followed up “Disposable Teens” with “No Reflection.” Then after joking that he was glad he was able to make the rain stop, he sang part of the chorus to David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream.” Manson, who is an avid fan of Bowie’s music, wrote a touching tribute to the iconic singer songwriter for Rolling Stone after the announcement of Bowie’s death earlier this year.
Manson then sang “mOBSCENE” from his 2003 album The Golden Age of Grotesque, followed by “Cupid Carries a Gun” from his latest album, The Pale Emperor, singing the lyrics “pound me the witch drums” as he pounded his mic on the stage. “I’m sorry to make you all wait,” Manson told concert-goers, referencing the lightening again. “But now we can all say what we wanted to say—we love hate,” he said as he launched into “Irresponsible Hate Anthem.”
“Do that again,” he told drummer Gil Sharone, making him re-play the drum solo at the very end of “Irresponsible Hate Anthem.” “I know. I know. Cocaine is a powerful drug,” he said before playing “The Dope Show,” changing the lyrics to, “drugs, they say, are made in fucking Phoenix.” Afterward, Manson came back on the stage in stilts and arm braces to sing his cover of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).”
The highlight of the performance came when a huge podium was added to the stage during a set change. Manson stepped up to it and began his sermon. “And behold, there was a great red dragon, and its name was Phoenix,” he preached before launching into “Antichrist Superstar.” During the song, he set a Bible on fire before tossing it aside, with huge plumes of hell-lit smoke bursting from the front of the stage every time he screamed “Repent!”
Manson wound down the show with an emotional performance of “Coma White”—one of the most controversial tracks off the Mechanical Animals album—ending the song by letting the mic fall over as he stepped back off the stage. Then he wrapped it up with, perhaps his most well-known song, “The Beautiful People.”
By the time the show ended, the night skies were clear and not a drop of rain was falling. No rain checks required.
PHOENIX — YouTube sensation The Piano Guys shined with the power of their unique piano and cello arrangements of popular music to an audience of 3,500 at Comerica Theatre. The Piano Guys not only create orchestral versions, but they also create hybrids of classical music and pop songs; such as “Hello / Lacrimosa“, bridging Adele and Mozart, and “melting together” Disney’s Frozen and Vivialdi with their rendition of “Let it Go“. Something that is to be truly appreciated is how they manage to keep classical music relevant for new generations.
The Piano Guys consist of Jon Schmidt, Steven Sharp Nelson, Paul Anderson, and Al van der Beek. The majority of the concert featured Schmidt (pianist) and Nelson (cellist). Al van der Beek joined the duo for vocal performances of “Father’s Eyes”, and “OKAY”, their debut to an upcoming release. Paul Anderson joined them for a couple of epic jams featuring all 4 of them, “Ants Marching/Ode To Joy” and “What Makes You Beautiful“.
They had a couple of delightful surprises for Phoenix when they were joined with guest performers from Chandler School of Fine Arts and Phoenix Youth Symphony for “Beethoven’s 5 Secrets“, and Mesa Caledonian Pipe Band for “This is Your Fight Song“. The young performers on the strings moved me to tears, and the climactic energy of the bagpipers gave me goosebumps.
Jon Schmidt and Steven Sharp Nelson have great senses of humor, taking jabs at each other and interacting with the audience. They also engaged the audience with funny, entertaining and inspirational stories about things like how they started and became what they are today, getting a piano on the great wall of China, Nelson’s sneaky goal behind “Cello Wars“, and much more. At one point Schmidt got up from his piano and did an unanticipated and highly animated dance that, combined with Nelson’s hilarious reaction, had the audience cracking up.
Seeing The Piano Guys live is definitely something you want to add to your bucket list. You might be pleasantly surprised and how much a concert featuring the piano and cello will rock your world.
PHOENIX — The Rockstar Energy Drink Taste of Chaos Tour landed in the Comerica Theatre on Thursday July 14, bringing with it a night of nostalgia for Phoenix’s 30-somethings.
The show opened with performances from The Early November and SAOSIN and concluded with headliners Taking Back Sunday and Dashboard Confessional.
SAOSIN lead vocalist Anthony Green could hardly contain his enthusiasm between songs. “We’re SAOSIN and we came here to fucking dance!” Green told fans at the beginning of the set. Later, he said that in his youth, going to a concert like this was the one place where he felt like he could truly let go, be himself, and not care about how others saw him and encouraged the audience to do the same.
SAOSIN’s set included songs from their new album, Along the Shadow, which was released on May 20. It was their first studio album since releasing In Search of Solid Ground in 2009. The new album features vocals from Green, who returned to SAOSIN in 2014, nearly a decade after his 2004 departure.
By the time Taking Back Sunday took the stage, Comerica Theatre was packed with fans excited to hear the music of their youth. The group opened with “Cute Without the ‘E’ (Cut from the Team),” “Liar (It Takes One to Know One),” and “Flicker, Fade.” Their set also included other favorites from their hit albums Tell All Your Friends, Louder Now, and Happiness Is, including “A Decade Under the Influence,” “You’re So Last Summer,” and “Timberwolves at New Jersey.”
Taking Back Sunday played in front of the backdrop of an American flag, with an impressively colorful light show. Between songs, lead vocalist Adam Lazzara said that Rockstar Energy Drink was paying him $30 every time he said “Rockstar Energy Drink Taste of Chaos Tour” and joked that he would be saying it as many times as he could (and he did).
“I understand a lot of you are here tonight for nostalgic purposes, and that’s okay. People say ridiculous things like, ‘my 16-year-old self’ or ‘my 18-year-old self’. Is that not still a part of yourself that you are today?” Lazzara asked concert-goers. “I was there when you got your driver’s license. I was there when you were exploring your bodies in the back of your dad’s car” he continued, “I was there when you went to college or when you didn’t go to college,” Lazzara said. And Taking Back Sunday is still here today.
Later, Lazzara introduced the audience to “Holy Water” from the band’s upcoming album, Tidal Wave, due to hit record stores later this year on September 16. They played the song “Tidal Wave” as well. “I’m just killing time because I don’t want the night to be over,” Lazzara confessed toward the end of the set. “Let’s go out with a bang,” he said before finishing the performance with “MakeDamnSure.”
Dashboard Confessional, the final headliner, opened their set with “Vindicated,” “The Sharp Hint of New Tears,” and “The Good Fight.” They had an equally impressive light show and stage display, which included footage projected onto a large screen above the stage. By request, front man Chris Carrabba also played “The Moon Is Down,” a song by Further Is Forever, another band he performs vocals for.
Carrabba was impressed with the “soft and sweet” singing of concert-goers. “Phoenix, can we sing this one together?” he asked as the group began to play “Remember to Breathe.” “You guys sing beautifully,” he told the audience. Later in the show, he asked fans to sing the chorus of his new song “Heart Beat Here,” because he wanted to see how it would sound recorded with the crowd singing along.
“I’m really proud of the records we’ve made, but I genuinely like the old shit better,” Carrabba said at one point. Dashboard Confessional’s set also included “The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most,” from the album of the same name, “Am I Missing,” “Don’t Wait,” “The Best Deceptions,” and “Screaming Infidelities.” Carrabba also covered “Fix You” by Coldplay before wrapping up with “Stolen” from Dusk and Summer.
When Carrabba returned to the stage for Dashboard Confessional’s encore performance, he had one last message he wanted to impart to concert-goers. “I just want to point out one thing. All lives matter. Things have gotten crazy out of hand,” he continued “There isn’t a color of life that doesn’t matter. It’s all fantastic. It’s all beautiful. So can we all just try to take care of each other?” With that, Carrabba closed out the show on a high note, with “Hands Down,” a song about “the best day of his life.”
PHOTO ALBUM by Katherine Vega (Click images above for separate band albums with additional photos.)
PHOENIX — Haley Reinhart played at the Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix on Thursday as part of her latest tour to promote her new album, Better, which hit record stores on April 29 of this year. The show opened with melodic vocals and soft acoustic guitar tunes from Miller James followed by a hybrid mix of soul and R&B songs by Jacob Luttrell who’s also Reinhart’s keyboardist. By the time Reinhart took the stage, the intimate venue was packed.
Reinhart started the night with “Talkin’ About” from her new album. “It’s a party in here tonight. I can feel it,” she said before continuing with “Behave.” With little persuasion, Reinhart had the room swaying and clapping to the beat. Reinhart followed it up with “Keep Coming Back” from her 2012 debut album, Listen Up!
Reinhart and the band had a great energy together. When the song didn’t end, Reinhart turned to Luttrell, “You just don’t want to quit this one, do you?” she smiled, then got the audience to dance with her while the band just kept jamming. “We’re having so much fun with you guys that we’re just making stuff up,” Reinhart laughed when the song finally ended. Afterward, she sang “Wasted Tears,” dedicating it to all the ladies in the house.
“It was so nice to meet a lot of you earlier,” Reinhart said during the concert. The former American Idol star seemed to genuinely enjoy engaging with her audience. She even held a meet and greet session with fans before the show. “She was really down-to-earth,” one delighted fan commented about the experience. When she finally sang the title track of her new album, “Better,” she changed opening lyrics to “Now I’m right where I want to be, out on the road to Arizona.” At one point, she brought a hula-hoop up onto the stage that had been given to her by a fan and hula-hooped while the band played.
Before singing “Love Is Worth Fighting For,” Reinhart spoke to the audience about having the courage to chase their dreams, something that you could say Reinhart has spent her whole life doing. “Channel whatever you’re feeling in life and follow that,” she told concert-goers. Despite being dropped by major record label Interscope Records in 2012 after the disappointing reception of her debut album, Reinhart has continued to pursue her musical career. Since then, she has expanded her agreement with her music publisher, Ole, and in March of 2016, Reinhart also signed with ICM Partners.
The playful and fun mood of the show lasted the whole night. When the room started to get uncomfortably warm, Reinhart and the band spontaneously broke into an interpretation of Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” for a couple minutes at one concert-goer’s suggestion. Reinhart also covered “Black Hole Sun” in her unique jazzy style, performing it as a duet with Luttrell. After singing “Bad Light,” a delighted Reinhart accepted a flower from a fan at the front of the stage and placed it in her hair. “If it falls out, just know that it falls out with love,” she said while she secured the purple daisy in her hair.
Other songs Reinhart performed included “Good or Bad,” “Check Please,” and “I Belong to You.” “It was like I was entranced,” Reinhart said of writing “I Belong to You.” “I felt all the kinds of emotions you feel when you’re falling in love,” she said before delivering a passionate performance of the new track. She finished with “My Cake,” ending the song by introducing the band, each with their own solo.
When Reinhart returned to the stage for an encore, she gave concert-goers just what they had been waiting for. “I have a question for you. Have you ever seen an Extra gum commercial that made you cry?” she asked before singing her cover of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Reinhart initially recorded the cover for a Wrigley’s Extra gum commercial, which exploded on YouTube, garnering over seven million YouTube views and more than 78 million Facebook views within a week of its digital release. By the time the song ended, there was hardly a dry eye in the house.
Fortunately, Reinhart didn’t end the night with sniffles. “We’ve got one more song for you, and it’s kind of important too. We live on a beautiful planet, don’t we?” Reinhart asked. “It’s up to all of us to protect it. We’re all in this together,” she said before singing, “Listen.” The upbeat rhythm had the room dancing and swaying one last time before the night was over. Afterward, Reinhart stood arm in arm with the rest of the band on the stage and bowed to thunderous applause.
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.
[Setlist] #1 So in This Hour #2 Cold War #3 Of Men and Angels #4 Do You Feel #5 Save #6 Circa ’46 #7 Same Air #8 UNI #9 Roses #10 Break It Out #11 Help Me Out #12 Brat Pack #13 FL, CA #14 Walls –Encore– #14 Hills and Valleys #15 Around the Clock #16 200,000 #17 Never Knew #18 Cross My Heart #19 Hanginaround (Cover) #20 Revival #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.