Tag Archives: music festival

Usher, Janet Jackson, & Backstreet Boys to Headline ‘Lovers & Friends’ Festival 2024

Additional Performances by Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, Gwen Stefani, Nas, Alicia Keys, Nelly Furtado, Ludacris, Mary J. Blige and many more…

USHER, Janet Jackson and Backstreet Boys will lead the third edition of Lovers & Friends, returning to the Las Vegas Festival Grounds on Saturday, May 4, 2024. The powerhouse lineup will treat fans to performances from Lil WayneSnoop DoggGwen StefaniNasAlicia KeysNelly FurtadoLudacrisMary J. BligeCiaraTLCTimbaland and many more.

Special sets will include Lil Wayne, performing Tha Carter III in its entirety, and USHER performing Confessions, celebrating the album’s 20th anniversary. Sign up now for the festival SMS list at LoversAndFriendsFest.com to receive an access code for the presale that will begin Friday, January 26 at 10AM PT. A public on-sale will follow if any tickets remain.

'Lovers & Friends' Festival admat
‘Lovers & Friends’ Festival lineup

GA, GA+, VIP, and VIP Cabana tickets will be available, with layaway payment plans starting at $19.99 down.

VIP packages include preferred viewing areas, charging stations, a dedicated entry lane at the festival entrance, air-conditioned restrooms and more.

VIP Cabanas are available with exclusive viewing areas, featuring VIP service including food vouchers and select complimentary beverages, expedited entry and more.

Lovers & Friends has partnered with Jampack to offer hotel and ticket packages with exclusive amenities, including discount rates on select Las Vegas hotels. For the full list of available tickets, packages, and the amenities included in each, visit LoversAndFriendsFest.com.

Sign up for official Lovers & Friends SMS and email lists to be the first to receive new information.

Follow along on social media to stay in the loop for all festival announcements:

When We Were Young Announces 2024 Lineup Featuring over 50 Full-Album Live Performances & More

My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy to Headline with A Day to Remember, Jimmy Eat World, Pierce the Veil, The Used, Simple Plan and more!



When We Were Young will return for a third year to the Las Vegas Festival Grounds on October 19, 2024 with headliners My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy leading the massive lineup. In 2024, over 50 bands will each perform an album front-to-back with highlights including My Chemical Romance performing The Black ParadeA Day To Remember’s HomesickJimmy Eat World’s Bleed AmericanPierce The Veil’s Collide With The SkyThe Used’s In Love and DeathSimple Plan performing No Pads, No Helmets… Just Balls, Dashboard Confessional’s Dusk and SummerCoheed and Cambria’s Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, along with Nada Surf’s Let Go, in addition to rare reunions from Cobra Starship performing ¡Viva La Cobra! and Chiodos performing All’s Well That Ends Well and much more. View the entire lineup with dedicated album performances below.

Fans can sign up now for the festival SMS list at WhenWeWereYoungFestival.com to receive an access code for the presale that will begin Friday, November 17 at 10AM PT. Any remaining tickets following the presale will go on sale to the general public at 2PM PT. GA, GA+, VIP, and VIP Cabana Tickets will be available, with layaway payment plans starting at $19.99 down.

VIP packages include preferred viewing areas, charging stations, a dedicated entry lane at the festival entrance, air-conditioned restrooms, and more. VIP Cabanas are available with exclusive viewing areas, featuring VIP service including food vouchers and select complimentary beverages, expedited entry and more. When We Were Young has partnered with Jampack to offer hotel and ticket packages with exclusive amenities, including discount rates on select Las Vegas hotels. For the full list of available tickets, packages, and the amenities included in each, visit WhenWeWereYoungFestival.com.

Sign up for official When We Were Young SMS and email lists to be the first to receive new information on the WWWY website.

Follow along on social media to stay in the loop for all festival announcements: 

When We Were Young is produced by Live Nation and Redrock Entertainment.

REVIEW: The Darkness Envelops & Excites Fans at Marquee Theatre… Again (10-7-23)

Jump to Photo Galleries

Tempe, AZ — The Darkness returned to Arizona for a triumphant show as they celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut album Permission to Land, and the special reissue collection that was released the day prior to the show: Permission to Land…Again. They last graced the Marquee Theatre stage in March of 2022 on their “Motorheart” tour. This October 2023 show was the 4th date of the US leg of the world tour celebrating their debut, and they played a setlist full of their biggest hits from that album and beyond. The Comancheros, a country/southern rock band from Missouri, opened the show with an infectious energy that warmed up the crowd for the high-octane headliner.

The Comancheros

The Comancheros perform energetically at Marquee Theatre
The Comancheros
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

They began with their powerful song “Mississippi”, which electrified the room, and they followed up with a string of other hits, including “Long Hair”.

The Comancheros rock Marquee Theatre
The Comancheros
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

The band asked the audience if there were any beer drinkers and hellraisers in AZ while holding beer cans up in the air, then drank it up and kicked into their song titled “Beer Drinkers”.

The Comancheros raising beer at their Tempe concert
The Comancheros
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

They continuously engaged with the audience throughout their set and completed it  with the songs “We Own the Night,” “George Jones,” “Cowboy Song,” “Drum/Gun/Chariot,” “Shoot Me Down,” and “Bird/Time Machine”.

The Comancheros vocalist and guitarist Tanner Jones
Tanner Jones (Vocalist, Guitarist), The Comancheros
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

The Darkness

"Welcome to The Darkness" theatrical poster
“Welcome to The Darkness” theatrical poster

On October 2nd, just five days before this show, The Darkness announced the launch date of their feature-length documentary, Welcome to the Darkness, that adds to their extensive discography with seven studio albums since their start in the early 2000’s. The film will arrive in cinemas for one night only on November 9th, and will then be available on Blu-Ray and digital download on December 4th. 

The Darkness kicked off their set with a high-powered rendition of “Black Shuck.” Fans were immediately singing along and dancing fervently. The band followed that up with a string of their biggest hits, including “Get Your Hands Off My Woman,” “Growing on Me,” and “The Best of Me.”

The Darkness vocalist Justin Hawkins
Justin Hawkins (Vocalist, Guitarist), The Darkness
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Lead singer Justin Hawkins was in top form, delivering his vocals with power and precision. He showered the audience with guitar picks, ensuring the youngest fans got their concert memento by stretching and throwing as far as he could to get closer to them from the stage.

The Darkness frontman throwing a guitar pick to the crowd
Justin Hawkins (Vocalist, Guitarist), The Darkness
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

He had the crowd in the palm of his hand with his witty banter and stage presence. Guitarist Dan Hawkins, bassist Frankie Poullain, and drummer Rufus Taylor were also on fire, playing with some truly impressive musicianship.

The Darkness performing at Marquee Theatre
The Darkness
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

During their performance, the engagement with the audience was ongoing, including a sing-a-long with a member of the audience, also named Justin (with Hawkins grinning after the audience member shared his name). The frontman also saw a group of 4 British fans in attendance, all dressed up in Union Jack patterned suits, with their companion in a full American flag outfit, wearing a bald eagle head mask that got thrown onto the stage. The drummer put it on and wore it while playing an entire song, before throwing it back to the audience member that threw it to the stage.

Fans of The Darkness in British and US themed costumes at Marquee Theatre
Fans of English rock band The Darkness donning British and US themed costumes at Marquee Theatre concert
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

They closed out their set with a rousing performance of their signature song, “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”. The crowd went wild, with smartphones raised from almost everyone in attendance, prompting Justin Hawkins to stop and playfully ask the audience to ‘place themselves in their place, and to not record the performance’ before starting back up and, delighting the audience with a fantastic show, giving it his all. 

Justin Hawkins of The Darkness doing a headstand in front of their drum kit
Justin Hawkins (Vocalist, Guitarist), The Darkness
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

For their encore, they emotionally played “I Love You 5 Times” before the vocalist announced they had one song remaining, and with a mischievous grin stating, “but is a pretty f***ing long song.” The Darkness closed the set with “Love on the Rocks with No Ice”. The shower of guitar picks continued as the band did their goodbyes, with no pick left behind. 

Justin Hawkins smiling widely as he plays the guitar, with Frankie Poullain playing bass in the background
Justin Hawkins (Vocalist, Guitarist) & Frankie Poullain (Bassist), The Darkness
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Overall, The Darkness put on an incredible show at Marquee Theatre. They played a setlist full of their biggest hits and deepest cuts, and they delivered a performance that was both energetic and entertaining. If you have the chance to see them on this tour, you will be lucky to witness one of the best live bands in the world, with (at the time of publication of this article) just 9 more dates left for the US leg, and 36 upcoming world tour dates before coming back to the US in 2024 for the Monsters of Rock cruise festival in Miami, Florida. 

If you’re a fan of rock music, then you need to see The Darkness live, and they’re sure to put on a show that you’ll never forget. Make sure to catch a screening of their feature documentary on November 9th, or look for it on Blu-Ray on on its December 4th release date.

View Setlist

Photo Galleries

Photographer: Rodrigo Izquierdo

View Separately: The Darkness* | The Comancheros

*includes additional photos

The Darkness & The Comancheros – Marquee Theatre 10-7-23

Photography © Reagle Photography
All Rights Reserved

When We Were Young Adds Third Date To Highly Anticipated Festival


The When We Were Young Festival has announced a third date has been added to the highly anticipated fest, taking place on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022 at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds.

The festival will feature the same lineup on all three dates, with the exception of Alex G replacing Wolf Alice on Saturday, October 29th and La Dispute will not be performing on the newly added date.

The full lineup for October 29th includes:

My Chemical Romance, Paramore, AFI, The Used, Bring Me The Horizon, Taking Back Sunday, Dashboard Confessional, Alkaline Trio, Manchester Orchestra,  A Day To Remember, Pierce The Veil, I Prevail, The Story So Far, Dance Gavin Dance, The All American Rejects, Boys Like Girls, Car Seat Headrest, Sleeping With Sirens, Knocked Loose, JXDN, Avril Lavigne, Motionless in White, Black Veil Brides, Ice Nine Kills, Senses Fail, Bayside, Mom Jeans, Mayday Parade, The Maine, Neck Deep, Silverstein, Palaye Royale, Bright Eyes, Poppy, Nessa Barrett, Wolf Alice, Acceptance, Story of the Year, Atreyu, PVRIS, Saosin, Glassjaw, Lilhuddy, TV Girl, The Starting Line, Thursday, Anberlin, Jimmy Eat World, 3OH!3, State Champs, Four Year Strong, We The Kings, The Wonder Years, Royal & The Serpent, The Ready Set, Kittie, Hawthorne Heights, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, The Garden, Horrorpops, Meet Me At The Altar, The Linda Lindas, Prentiss and Alex G.  

There will be a presale beginning Monday, Jan. 31 at 10am PT for fans who sign up for early access to passes online at WhenWeWereYoungFestival.com. Following the presale, any remaining tickets still available will go on sale to the general public beginning Monday, Jan. 31 at 2 pm PT. 

General Admission tickets start at $224.99, GA+ tickets start at $399.99 and VIP tickets start at $499.99. VIP cabanas will also be available to purchase for guests 21 years of age and older. 

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“When We Were Young” Emo Music Festival Sells Out, Adds Second DatE

Due to overwhelming demand, a second date has been added to the When We Were Young Festival at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022. Tickets for the new date are on sale now.

The festival will run the majority of the day, from 11am to 12am. There will be multiple stages of varying sizes placed around the festival grounds with several bands performing at the same time. The length of set times will vary. Opening acts will have shorter set lengths while headlining performances can range up to an hour or more. 

Full lineup details including set times and performances by stage will be released closer to the festival. 

The festival will feature the same lineup on both dates, which includes:

  • My Chemical Romance
  • Paramore
  • AFI
  • The Used
  • Bring Me The Horizon
  • Taking Back Sunday
  • Dashboard Confessional
  • Alkaline Trio
  • Manchester Orchestra
  • A Day To Remember
  • Pierce The Veil
  • I Prevail
  • The Story So Far
  • Dance Gavin Dance
  • The All-American Rejects
  • Boys Like Girls
  • Car Seat Headrest
  • Sleeping With Sirens
  • Knocked Loose
  • JXDN
  • Avril Lavigne
  • Motionless in White
  • Black Veil Brides
  • Ice Nine Kills
  • Senses Fail
  • Bayside
  • Mom Jeans
  • Mayday Parade
  • The Maine
  • Neck Deep
  • Silverstein
  • Palaye Royale
  • Bright Eyes
  • Poppy
  • Nessa Barrett
  • Wolf Alice
  • Acceptance
  • Story of the Year
  • Atreyu
  • Saosin
  • Glassjaw
  • Lilhuddy
  • TV Girl
  • The Starting Line
  • Thursday
  • Anberlin
  • Jimmy Eat World
  • 3OH!3
  • State Champs
  • Four Year Strong
  • We The Kings
  • The Wonder Years
  • Royal & The Serpent
  • The Ready Set
  • Kittie
  • Hawthorne Heights
  • The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
  • The Garden
  • Horrorpops
  • Meet Me At The Altar
  • The Linda Lindas
  • Prentiss

General Admission tickets start at $224.99, GA+ tickets start at $399.99 and VIP tickets start at $499.99. VIP cabanas will also be available to purchase for guests 21 years of age and older. 

When We Were Young lineup - Sold Out

What health & safety protocols will be implemented for the festival?

The safety of fans, artists and staff is thoroughly planned for among event organizers and in coordination with local authorities.

They will follow all guidelines as set forth by the city of Las Vegas and state of Nevada at the time of the festival. Preventative health measures (e.g. proof of negative COVID-19 test or full COVID-19 vaccination, etc.) may be required for this show. Details of any necessary measures will be communicated as early as possible and will be shared on the event/venue website and social media channels.

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REVIEW: Splashes Of Beauty — Celebrating 9 Years Of Hot Local Music At The 2018 Apache Lake Music Festival (Oct. 26 & 27)

Day 1 — October 26

Roosevelt, AZ — As the pavement came to an abrupt halt on Apache Trail, it became apparent to me that my Mustang probably wasn’t the best choice of transportation for my journey to the Apache Lake Music Festival. This would be my first trip to the annual event celebrating it’s ninth anniversary in 2018. Every year, hundreds of attendees brave the treacherous cliffside dirt road winding through the mountains over single lane bridges to get to the Apache Lake Marina. The drive is excessively bumpy and requires near constant brake pressure during the 10 mile descent through the second half of the journey.

I arrived late Friday morning around 9:45 am. Pulling up to the venue was a relief, considering I was still physically shaking from fishtailing around a hairpin corner mere feet from an impossibly high loft on the mountain just minutes before my arrival.  Being my first time, I wasn’t really sure where to go or what to expect.

Photo Credit: Nick Gonzaga
Apache Lake Marina
Photo Credit:
Nick Gonzaga

After scouting the least densely populated area of the beach, I settled on a spot atop the boat ramp. In the parking lot, a house boat sat atop the pavement overlooking the beach. It didn’t appear as though it was placed there recently, making it seem almost perfectly normal. I couldn’t tell if it was a prop at first or if someone lived there full time. It was definitely occupied so I figured it was probably the safest place to park. I began the endless back-and-forth walk from my car to the site to set up my tent and fill it with my belongings. Blankets, pillows, snacks, pot, pillows, backpack, microphone, laptop, more pot, more pillows, chapstick, mandolin…

Photo Credit: Nick Gonzaga
Photo Credit: Nick Gonzaga

As I finished setting up my tent and dumping my gear into the unzipped opening, I heard the sound system up the hill come to life on the main stage. Cell service is almost completely devoid in the area due to its remote location, so I couldn’t pull up the schedule online to see who the first act was. I decided to drop what I was doing, to trek up the hill to try to find a program or flier with a lineup and check out the first act. This would become a theme throughout the weekend; the back-and-forth up and down the thigh-murdering hill, to and from the main stage.

Apache Lake Music Festival 2018 Poster - Photo Credit: Nick Gonzaga
Apache Lake Music Festival 2018 Poster
Photo Credit:
Nick Gonzaga
Click to Enlarge

Several groans later and I was back at the venue, heading down the short hallway from the entrance toward the sound system outside the rear doors. Haley Green was checking sound. The engineers were adjusting levels. All of the usual warm-ups were in play as more familiar faces began to appear.

Sara Robinson was on the patio of the cantina sitting across from Tempe music legend, a hatless Paul “PC” Cardone. She arrived early in the morning after heading out at 11:00 PM the night before, recounting a veritable Murphy’s Law of road trips along the way. After chatting a bit, Sara and I made plans to meet later before her performance to gift my plus one ticket to a friend of hers who couldn’t afford to come.

Sitting just a few feet away was the ever-present and always friendly Ryan Edmonds, longtime doorman at the legendary Sail Inn of Tempe and Cactus Jacks in Ahwatukee. After catching up a bit, the thirst was too much to bear. I badly needed a four-dollar gallon of water, and the convenience store was more than happy to oblige. I soon realized I forgot my phone at my campsite and headed back to drop off the water and grab some Fig Newtons.

Back at my campsite, I retrieved my cell phone and began rearranging my sleeping gear for maximum comfort. I figured this was the perfect time to smoke that J that had been burning a hole in my pocket, so I sat on the edge of the boat ramp and lit up. It was an absolutely serene day. Seventy-four degrees and not a cloud in the sky. The lake was stunning. After I finished medicating, I did the dumbest thing possible in that situation… I laid down. The temptation to sprawl on my bevy of pillows was simply too much to ignore.

Haley Green - Photo Credit: Joel Ekdahl
Haley Green
Joel Ekdahl, Orange Grove
© All Rights Reserved

As I lay on my back staring up at the silhouette of mesquite branches, I began to drift off to the sound of Haley’s docile tones with the sun kissing my cheeks and the breeze bouncing off the cool water of Apache lake, wafting through the mesh of my borrowed palace. There were drum circles in the distance, dogs barking and people laughing. I never quite lost consciousness, but I was in that in-between phase of sleep when something stirred me to my senses. The most beautiful voice started to fill my tent. I immediately bolted upright, put my shoes on and once again, trekked up the hill.

House of Stairs is a Jazz collective from Phoenix. Vocalist and looping artist Holly Pyle has the voice of an angel, reminiscent of the late Cranberries songbird Delores O’Riordan. The soulful vibe of their music is befitting of the environment. The keys danced through the criminally small crowd witnessing this performance, but drew even more attendees in from the parking lot. Soon, a handful of people were swaying in front of the stage. Call it the “medicine”, but I was absolutely transfixed. Before long, their set was over, and I’m convinced it was far too short. It also seemed too early on the first day of the festival to put a group of this calibre on stage as there wasn’t quite a large enough audience yet to appreciate their brilliance.

House of Stairs - Photo Credit: Joel Ekdahl
Holly Pyle (Vocalist), House of Stairs
Joel Ekdahl, Orange Grove
© All Rights Reserved

Soon after they left the stage, The Edisons were up next checking sound, and I abandoned any attempt at taking halfway decent photos with my iPhone. From my distant place at the lone picnic table, I spotted Joel Ekdahl of Manic Monkeys and Exploding Oranges at stage right taking photos. I was relieved to find shade in the VIP area backstage, but more importantly, FREE WATER. The Edisons performance was equally as impressive as House of Stairs. Indie Synth Rock becomes my flavor of the day.

The Edisons - Photo Credit: Nick Gonzaga
The Edisons
Photo Credit:
Nick Gonzaga

I eventually went back at the tent, attempting to make spotty communication with my festival host, Banter lead vocalist Kim Capria. Ali A and The Agency were killing it in the background as I cursed Verizon because my service was worse in the building than it was on the beach. Kim left Tempe with lead guitarist (and one of Burning Hot Events’ music journalists) Brandon Biallas around 1:00 in the afternoon, and I was growing a bit concerned. This was when I learned there were two routes one could take to Apache Lake. The shorter treacherous route or the longer, safer route. They had chosen the latter. Once we had established that they would be arriving shortly, I thought it would probably be a good idea to be there to greet them when they arrived. So again, it was up that damn hill.

Seriously, how did Brandon Biallas get System of a Down for his first concert review?! Dude can write, so check him out.

At this point, it was close to 4:00 PM. Playing inside at the cantina was the perpetually shoeless Tommie Victor, sliding his socked toe across the synth board that compels his guitar toward the ethereal. I met Tommie at a Future Loves Past show at Yucca Tap Room years ago when I was in the midst of creating a cartoon with an animator friend of mine. I had a character I was developing at the time and I thought he would be the perfect voice for it. The cartoon fell flat, but I was glad I added Tommie on Facebook. He’s truly a talented artist, albeit a little eccentric. This is a guy that really does move in whatever the direction the wind is blowing. Tommie has also performed on my radio show “Gonz After Curfew” twice, and we’re anxious to get him back in the studio again for a third appearance. The Banter trio was scheduled to play at 4:30, and still no sign of Kim. At about ten after, I finally get a text, “Here!”

Kim and Brandon walked in at exactly 4:15, just 15 minutes shy of their performance. They were still awaiting drummer Spencer Ferrarin. We hugged our hellos and mutually bitched about the journey, and before I know it, Spencer materializes and is pretty much ready to go. Bassist Miles Tippet sat out the trio performance, but was milling about the grounds somewhere. The Banter’s set was fantastic. Kim was on point and the boys were in tune. “This is probably my favorite performance ever,” she tells the crowded bar. After they finish up, we made plans to go down to my tent and move it to their campsite. Luckily, it wasn’t that far at all.

Banter - Photo Credit: Nick Gonzaga
Kim Capria (Vocalist/Guitarist), Banter
Photo Credit:
Nick Gonzaga

I was relieved that the tent I borrowed basically folds up into a compact log, making it easier to carry down to the beach. I was a little disappointed though. The Sugar Thieves were on and I really wanted to see them, but it was getting dark and we didn’t have much daylight left. My late father was a fan of theirs before I was. He introduced me to their music at Blues Blast one year. Although he passed away a couple of years ago, I still try to make it to as many of their shows as I can. I could still hear Mikey’s growl echoing through our shanty town as we worked feverishly to unload trunks and inflate blow-up mattresses, so it wasn’t a total bummer. After a brief rest and quick change, we were back up the hill again for The Woodworks.

The Woodworks - Photo Credit: Nick Gonzaga
Meghan “Solo” Lounsbury (Vocalist/Guitarist), The Woodworks
Photo Credit:
Nick Gonzaga

Lead shredder and belter Meghan “Solo” Lounsbury was in the VIP area getting ready to take the stage. I drank more free water and suddenly noticed a prop staring at me. It was a giant baby’s face with a traffic light for a torso, on a pair of mannequin legs. It’s perfect. The Woodworks are one of the more unique staples in the music scene, bringing only the crunchiest of grooves. Solo dressed Cleopatra-esque, complete with Egyptian headdress. To open the show, the band brought up Future Exes guitarist and solo artist in his own right, Page the Village Idiot, kicking things off with his own personal brand of weird. If you’ve never seen him, you’re definitely missing out. This was around the time that things got a little hazy.

Page the Village Idiot - Photo Credit: Nick Gonzaga
Page the Village Idiot
Photo Credit:
Nick Gonzaga

“These uh mah shoes,
and thissa mah hat…” 
– Page Davis


The day had been long, the hikes longer. I was exhausted. I stayed for the entire incredible performance but I don’t remember how or when I got back to camp. I vaguely remember an Adam climbing the walls of the indoor stage, but I don’t recall if it was during The Psychedelephants. What I do recall was that they played an amazing set in that hot room wearing long sleeves. Spencer beat the drums like they owed him money, and Miles left enough sweat on the stage to put out a fire. Danger Paul kept the rhythm, and Calin Gross shredded faces.

At some point, we were all just kind of “there” again, sitting in a circle on the beach. By that time, Miles had also materialized. He began plucking his acoustic bass as Brandon strummed away on my mandolin, and it progressed into a full on jam session with Kim singing the lyrics of a song I’ve never heard before. Throughout the night, there were conversations on topics ranging from individual band performances to our preferences of dying by falling off a cliff versus being eaten alive.

A random kayaker, who stumbled upon the festival and got too drunk to paddle back to where he launched, slept next to the fire that Scott and Max started with his help. The stars never looked brighter and campfire never smelled so good. Out on the lake, the swaying beacon of an anchored sailboat cast a singular blue glow as the inhabitants hooted and whistled to beachwalkers in the moonlight. Everything seemed perfect. This is exactly the spirit this festival seeks to inspire. The same laughter, chatter and spontaneous acoustic jam sessions from my nap earlier echoed through the night from the other campsites across the marina as we all sporadically fell asleep to the water lapping at the shores under the vast sky.

Photo Credit: Nick Gonzaga
Photo Credit: Nick Gonzaga


Day 2  — October 27

I slept in the next morning. I didn’t wake up until close to 10:00 AM. Anyone who knows me, knows that this is highly unusual. I’m a restless sleeper and an early riser. I felt so at peace out there that I kind of just let my surroundings awaken me. Kim made bratwursts for breakfast on a borrowed camping stove and served up cold brew coffee with almond milk for anyone who needed it. After two full cups, I made the two dollar sacrifice at the convenience store for a third cup of coffee with plenty of powdered creamer and sugar.

Photo Credit: Nick Gonzaga
Photo Credit: Nick Gonzaga

Back at camp there were more jokes, jams, philosophies on life and chocolate salty balls — as a journalist, I think it’s important to note that Brandon put them in his mouth. I was told they were delicious. Apparently they were made of oatmeal but I never got an opportunity to confirm. Spencer reemerged and declared that he still hadn’t gone to sleep. We laughed some more and basically spent an exorbitant amount of time just being lazy. One of my favorite things about these weekend-long events is how amazed everyone is to see one another the next morning.

Nick Gonzaga
Nick Gonzaga

“Dude, oh my god! You were soooo out of it last night, man…”

Photo Credit:Nick Gonzaga
Brandon Biallas, Spencer Ferrarin, and Calin Gross
Photo Credit:
Nick Gonzaga

Once I had regained my motivation, I made a point to trek back up to see Future Exes. Something that isn’t immediately apparent to many festival attendees is that a lot of the staff is comprised of volunteers; some of those volunteers are actually band members. Roni Marie is the lead vocalist of Future Exes, and one of the lead event volunteers and organizers. Throughout the entire weekend Roni was omnipresent, sporting the yellow vest and walkie talkie. She’s one of the people making sure all of the gears are turning and everything runs smoothly.

Future Exes is always a great band to see. Page is an amazing guitarist, and Roni is one of the most sultry singers in the community. After the festival, she tells me, “There’s much more [work] behind the scenes before, during, and after the event that most people don’t see… We are all for sure proud of this year’s event and our music community as a whole. There’s so much love!”  Their daylight performance on day two was as awesome as it always is. During one tune, Roni stepped off the stage into the arms of PC in one of the more memorable moments of the festival. These are all people that absolutely love and care for one another and it shows.

Future Exes - Photo Credit: Nick Gonzaga
Roni Marie (Vocalist), Future Exes; and Paul “PC” Cardone
Photo Credit:
Nick Gonzaga

After finishing their set, the band welcomed Hyperbella up to the stage, and as ashamed as I am to admit it, this is yet another band that I have totally overlooked. Like House of Stairs, they’re soulful, funky, and sophisticated all rolled into one. Vocalist and guitarist Cassidy Bates strokes her Gibson Firebird like a feline extension of her arm. Her harmony with Carly Bates on the keyboard is heart-melting, and it doesn’t hurt that they’re both insanely beautiful women. All swooning aside, drummer Marcus Leatham and bassist Brenden McBride (also of Wyves) are no slouches either. As a whole, they’re tight and in sync with an almost Bobby Caldwell-like essence, and they absolutely left me wanting more. I spoke briefly with Cassidy after their performance and she couldn’t have been more humble. Don’t make the same mistake I did with this band. Do NOT sleep on them. They’re one hundred percent worth whatever the cover is at the door if you can catch them.

Hyperbella - Photo Credit: Nick Gonzaga
Cassidy Hilgers (Vocalist/Guitarist), Hyperbella
Photo Credit:
Nick Gonzaga

Back at the cantina, another performance from Tommie Victor with a fantastic cover of Megadeth’s “Symphony of Destruction” for an appreciative audience. Joel Ekdahl took a break from his camera to play an acoustic set shortly before the Banter’s second performance of the weekend. Kim wore her Kill Bill jumpsuit and several people remarked “She really does look like Uma Thurman!” With exhaustion once again creeping in and increasing pain crawling up my legs, I wandered back outside to the mainstage as the sun was disappearing on the horizon to catch the next act.

Banter - Photo Credit: Nick Gonzaga
Banter, feat. Calin Gross of The Psychedelephants on Slide Guitar Photo Credit: Nick Gonzaga

Wyves has just come off the release of their second studio album R U OK? Cory Gloden, guitarist for Dry River Yacht Club, is ever the frontman, pumping the tired and inebriated full of newfound energy. This is the point where I completely gave up moving for awhile, and take a seat backstage to watch them absolutely murder it. Not only do they sound amazing, but they have so much style. These guys are legit rock stars. Looking over to my right, I saw that Page had the same idea and was looking worn out in a seat of his own. I attempted to take a photo of him before he pointed to my lens and asked “Are you watching me melt?’ with a hearty laugh.

Wyves - Photo Credit: Nick Gonzaga
Nick Sterling (Guitarist/Vocalist), Wyves
Photo Credit:
Nick Gonzaga

During one of their last songs, I suddenly realized just how full my bladder was and I slowly made my way indoors to the mensroom. Upon opening the door, another man rushed past me and I was hit with a wall of odor that stung my nostrils. Guys were covering their eyes at the urinals and making faces like children who had just bitten into a lemon for the first time. It literally smelled like piss and vinegar. I noped right around into the other direction and took my chances outside in the wild. The smell was so bad I had to pee in the bushes. When I returned, Wyves had sadly finished up and Banana Gun was now lugging their gear onstage. From a laughable distance I saw the familiar glow of an afro and I knew that Marc Norman had arrived.

Banana Gun is one of those bands that makes it impossible not to embarrass yourself because you can’t resist the urge to dance. Their most recent album Dance Monkey Down in Faux Town is phenomenal. It’s also available on vinyl. Seriously, go buy it. I had to pick one up in person at a sweltering show at Yucca Tap Room this summer to get mine. You can order it directly from their website, so you have no excuse. Kevin’s dreads hang ankle length and swing like whips across the stage at times. Kyle’s sax punctuates every song like an exclamation point. This band is seriously just too good. From the first notes of their set, the whole place is up and jumping once again but the soles of my feet are getting the better of me and I remain seated.

Banana Gun - Photo Credit: Nick Gonzaga
Kevin Lloyd (Vocalist/Guitarist), Banana Gun
Photo Credit:
Nick Gonzaga

A few of us regrouped and decide to headed back down to camp. I knew in my heart that there was just no way I would be able to make it back up once we settled back down at the beach. I was so thoroughly sore. The moment I laid down on the army cot in the center of camp, I knew it was over and started to drift off, but something awoke me as I was on the cusp of my slumber. It was the sound of heaving. I had no idea where it was coming from until I decided to go investigate. Standing next to our campfire was the same kayaker who had crashed at our site the night before. He brought a friend who had apparently partaken in way too much of the festival.

When things settled down and I was sure our new stowaway was ok, I went back up the hill for the closing of the festival, because nobody wants to watch another guy puke up pot brownies. I just couldn’t bring myself to miss out on the closing acts. Xixa (pronounces “Tsitsa”, not “Sheesha”) from Tucson did an amazing job, but I feel bad that I was too exhausted to truly appreciate it. I went into the cantina to catch Marc’s show, only to find out that it didn’t last long and I had missed it. From there, I waited for Page to close out the bar, but he never showed. I went into the next room to the indoor stage to try to catch Japhy’s Decent, but it was so crowded and hot that I gave up and went back to my tent for good.

Or so I thought.

The one we called “Tiffany” half of the time woke us all up when she got back to camp, trying to get anyone she could to come to the hotel party with her. After pretending to be Brandon by throwing my voice in the dark for some time, I finally relented and accompanied her to the party. I’m glad I did. It was really an amazing thing to see such a group of artists sitting around, playing music with each other, talking about life and the creative process. Drum and guitar notes bounced off the canyon walls like a symphony, settling on the water. I was very lucky to be there, and to be welcomed by a truly loving collective of independent artists. I’m not sure how long I stayed, but it was long enough to smoke a joint with these beautiful souls and get back in bed shortly before 4:00 AM.


Packing Up

The very next morning I was stirred from my sleep once again, but this time by the most beautiful smell known to man. As I unzipped my tent and poked my head out, our camp mate Alisha asked if I wanted a piece of bacon. “Yeah, I need a piece of water too,” I replied. With her dreads in a tower atop her head, she peeled a couple of pieces of the sweet pork flesh off of her plate and handed them to me. I ate them with my bare hands. Soon, everyone began to exit their tents like Who people in Whoville on Christmas morning. Bacon had saved us all.

My initial plan was to pack it all up get on the road post haste, but once again, we were having such a great time talking and recounting the weekend that my sense of urgency to leave had faded, if it was ever there at all. I overheard someone say, “I feel like Marc Norman looks. My inner Norman is strong.” Calin played slide guitar on an old, painted acoustic that sat untouched for much of the weekend, Miles was at the shore teaching Tracy how to skip stones, and Spencer packed bowls and passed them around. My heart was impossibly full.


“No, but that was the right motion! You almost got it.” – Miles Tippet


As all good things, the Apache Lake Music festival had to come to an end, and as much as we lamented, it was time to leave. Something I neglected to think about is just how hard it is to get dirt out of a tent. It’s like trying to get a pick out of an acoustic guitar. After making one more sweep of our campsite for trash, we were in our cars and I was following Kim’s car out of the the marina. I decided to give the long route out a shot since the short way in was so nerve racking. For the most part it remained wide enough for two lanes, save for a bridge. After reaching the Roosevelt Dam and getting back on the main highway, we made a quick pit stop at an IGA grocery store to use the restroom and clean our windshield. Getting out of the car was physically painful. My thighs were on fire. Standing and walking have never been so difficult.

Shortly after our collective relief, were back on the road. Once we made the left turn onto highway 87 toward Mesa, I immediately burned out and left Kim and Brandon in my rearview mirror. My need for a shower was far too great to further soak in anymore scenery. From the Bush Highway to Usery Pass, I was soon back on the 202 southbound, heading toward my home in Gilbert, reliving the sights and the sounds I had consumed that only the Apache Lake Music Festival can deliver.

Apache Lake Music Festival - Photo Credit: Nick Gonzaga
Apache Lake Music Festival | Photo Credit: Nick Gonzaga

91X Presents BeerX in San Diego – With Slightly Stoopid, Stick Figure, Pepper, Fishbone & More

Festival Features Extensive Craft Beer Selection
Highlighting Some Of Southern California’s Best Breweries


The fourth annual 91X Presents BeerX is set for Saturday, June 23, once again returning to San Diego, CA’s picturesque Waterfront Park. This year’s BeerX brings Slightly Stoopid‘s “School’s Out For Summer Tour” to their hometown. The 2018 BeerX music lineup features ​Slightly StoopidStick Figure, Pepper, Fishbone (original lineup), Ethan Tucker Band​ and MarujahBeerX will offer complimentary craft beer tastings for those 21 and up, with an extensive craft beer lineup highlighting some of Southern California’s top breweries, as well as local food selections.

Tickets for 91X Presents BeerX go on sale Friday, April 6 at 10:00 AM PT at www.BeerXSanDiego.com

Note: All tickets for those 21+ include craft beer tasting until 4:00 PM and access to live music.

Slightly Stoopid kick off their School’s Out For Summer 2018 Tour (with special guests Stick Figure and Pepper) in June and are excited to headline 91X Presents BeerX.

Slightly Stoopid’s Miles Doughty said, “Stoked to be playing 91X’s BeerX this year! School’s out for Summer, so bring on the music, good beers and blue skies at Waterfront Park. Hometown hangout, butawatchout!

There’s no such thing as a bad beer, just some taste better than others, ha! Can’t wait to taste ‘em all and rock with our SD Ohana,” said Pepper’s Yesod Williams. 

Norwood Fisher, bass player and founding member of Fishbone, said, “I’m filled with gratitude that life’s course has brought us to the reunification of the classic Fishbone lineup! We all recognize that there was a time when it seemed so unlikely that we’d reach this point, and that fuels a personal excitement when we’re hitting the stage. It’s ultra-appropriate that we’re reconnecting with our friends at 91X91X was there for us at the earliest stages of our career, and it’s bad ass that we can party with them now! Now, add to that the fact that the good homies Slightly Stoopid are topping the bill!?!? Sounds like some hell-raising is in order for sure!

91X Program Director Garett Michaels said, “Last year’s BeerX was so great, I wasn’t sure we’d be able to come up with an artist lineup that would compare. But, I think we may have topped it, and I couldn’t be more stoked about what we’ve curated. There’s nothing better than a summer day next to San Diego Bay, with great music, tasty food, and an incredible group of participating breweries. I can’t wait for June 23rd to arrive.  See you at Waterfront Park!

Festival co-producer Cameron Collins of Brew Ha Ha Productions said, “BeerX took San Diego by storm last year with an amazing lineup of bands and an impressive list of breweries from San Diego and beyond! This year, we have assembled even more incredible breweries who will be showcasing their absolute BEST at BeerX! San Diego is famous around the world for its beer and this festival is a perfect representation of what San Diego and Southern California have to offer!

The initial list of breweries for 91X Presents BeerX includes:

Abnormal Beer Co.Avery BrewingArtifex Brewing, Faction BrewingFour Sons BrewingNovo Brazil BrewingPizza Port BrewingSka BrewingStone BrewingThree Weavers BrewingThr3e Punk AlesUnsung Brewing, and Wild Barrel Brewing Co., with many more to be announced.

2017 BeerX Photos courtesy of 91X
2017 BeerX Photos courtesy of 91X

During VIP and early entry tastings (from Noon – 4:00 PM), and general admission tastings (from 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM), 91X Presents BeerX attendees 21+ will have the chance to sample over 100 craft beers from some of Southern California’s top breweries. Throughout the day and evening, local food trucks and pop-up restaurants will be onsite selling a variety of delicious and unique food options. Craft beer and other libations will be available for purchase at concession stands as well.

Tickets for BeerX start at the following prices (plus fees):

  • ​$35 Concert Ticket (entry @ 4:00 PM)
  • $49 Craft Beer Tasting + Concert Ticket (21+, entry @1:00 PM)
  • $129.50 ​VIP Lounge + Early Entry Pass (Includes Early Entry @ Noon For Craft Beer Tasting + Concert Ticket)
  • $229.50 Stand On Stage Viewing + VIP Lounge + Early Entry Pass (Includes Early Entry @ Noon For Craft Beer Tasting + Concert Ticket)

Last year’s tickets were sold out, with 8,500 in attendance, so patrons are encouraged buy early to save and guarantee a ticket to the show. Also, tune in to 91X for special offers.

91X Presents BeerX is produced by premier music festival production company Synergy Global Entertainment (SGE) and Orange County, California’s most successful and respected craft beer festival producer, Brew Ha Ha ProductionsBeerX sponsors include Avery, Sycuan, and Wienerschnitzel, with more to be announced.

Waterfront Park is located at 1600 Pacific Highway in San Diego, near North San Diego Bay. 91X Presents BeerX will have a convenient drop off area for ride sharing and taxis, and the Green Line to San Diego’s Santa Fe Depot train station is just three blocks from Waterfront Park.

Media partners include San Diego’s iconic alternative radio station 91X, Z90.3 (XHTZ-FM) and Magic 92.5 (XHRM-FM).

The festival producers encourage attendees to drink responsibly.

For more information on 91X Presents BeerX, visit:

Website  |  Facebook  |  Instagram  |  Twitter  |  Hashtag: #beerxsd

REVIEW: Bleachers, Bishop Briggs, New Politics, and Others Rock Mesa for Dia De Los ALT! 9-22-17

MESA — As the first day of fall descended upon the Phoenix metro area, locals were preparing for a much-anticipated event hosted by local alternative radio station ALT AZ 93.3, featuring many wonderful bands and headlined by Bleachers. While it was maybe a little long for a concert, and a little short for a music festival, it was just the perfect length of time for music fans attending the Dia De Los ALT music festival in Mesa Amphitheatre on Friday, September 22, 2017. Luckily, the weather this year also seemed to participate, with a lower-than-average high of 86 degrees. A beautiful afternoon of music entertained a slowly-growing crowd, preparing them for a fantastic night of great alternative bands and temperatures in the 70s. What a wonderful way to welcome these musicians to the Valley of the Sun.

Dia De Los ALT may have been headlined by Bleachers, but 5 other incredible bands also blessed Mesa Amphitheatre with their presence – and their tunes. The lineup included local band Rival Coast, Los Angeles/Seattle band Tangerine, Los Angeles-based Sir Sly, the Copenhagen/New York musical sensation New Politics, and finally the London (by way of Los Angeles) queen of alternative, Bishop Briggs. Each band brought their unique style and sound to the festival, showing how truly diverse and interesting alternative music can be. This was also reflected by those in attendance – Dia De Los ALT was a wonderful way for all types to come together and enjoy beautiful music and a fantastic time.

Rival Coast

First up was Rival Coast, a young yet capable local Phoenix band. The festival started at 4pm, and with the recent venue change and rush hour traffic in Phoenix, the venue was just starting to gain a sizeable number of attendees. While Rival Coast are still just getting started, they just recently released their first EP – Red Lights. These young men may have only recently graduated from high school, but their talent and love for music are both crystal clear. Since they have all been friends since childhood, it was also easy to see that they love playing music with one another.

Each band member totally rocked the stage and entertained a small yet enthusiastic crowd. They only had the spotlight for 20 minutes, but they made ample use of the time they were allotted. They have likely gained at least a few new fans after their stellaalr performance. They are energetic and enthusiastic, and they pair fantastic vocals with excellent instrumentals. The highlight of their performance was definitely their last song, “Shiver,” a portentous yet spirited tune with a fun, memorable chorus. It was certainly a great choice with which to end their brief performance.


After a brief break and a word from some of the ALT AZ hosts who thanked everyone for coming out early, the next band – Tangerine – was introduced. They started with great energy, fun vibes, and a very chill stage presence. Their music is considered alternative pop, and they certainly have a unique sound. The band consists of two sisters, Marika and Miro, and their best friend Toby. It was easy to tell how close they are to one another, and this made their performance a seriously enjoyable experience.

Tangerine has been making music for quite a while, but they have yet to release a full album. They do have singles and EPs out, however, and their latest song ”Sly Moon” was released last month. Other highlights from the show include the songs “Sunset,” “Girls Like Us,” and “Nothing Better.” They seriously brought out some fun and chill vibes for the growing crowd near the stage as others found seating in the shade around Mesa Amphitheatre; attendees were throwing beach balls around, eating some snacks, enjoying some beverages, or getting some free face painting done with various Sugar Skull themes. Their music perfectly complimented the easy-going nature of the festival. Prior to playing their last song, they threw in a wonderful comment: “We love Phoenix so much! This is our second time here.” It was great to have them visit again – Phoenix loves you too, Tangerine!

Sir Sly

Between shows, ALT AZ played some select songs from Bleachers, New Politics, and Bishop Briggs to hype up the valley for their performances later in the evening. However, Sir Sly was on next. Sir Sly dominated the stage with their interesting music and fantastic stage presence, bringing the energy levels of the festival up a few notches. The synth music was out in full force, and the bass was certainly bumping. There were some tinges of 80s music in there, but this was certainly a unique musical experience. Landon, the vocalist, concentrated all of his energy into moving around the stage and sharing his fantastic vocals with the crowd. Most importantly, he shared his smooth dance moves with the audience, with a PBR in hand. That man can move!

Sir Sly recently released a new album – Don’t You Worry, Honey – and played a few of these new songs during their set. The best part was that the band members are very close to one another, and Landon said it was wonderful to create this new music with his best friends, Jason and Hayden. He also shared that “it’s good to be back once again,” as their very first show outside of California was here in Phoenix; it obviously holds a special place in their hearts, so being back was a truly special experience for everyone that night.

It was clear Sir Sly loved performing their music, and some highlights were new songs “Altar” and “Change.” The songs were full of fun, yet sometimes sardonic and cutting lyrics and backed up with lots of bass, guitar, drums, and synth. They also employed some voice filters to interesting effect during songs. The highlight of their performance, however, was when they played the song “&Run” just as the sun began to set over Mesa; they sang the lyrics, “Heavy as a setting sun…” and “I’ll run into the setting sun…” at the perfect moment. This truly made their presence at the show truly unforgettable.

During another brief break, as dusk set itself upon the Phoenix metro area, more people began to arrive to the Mesa Amphitheatre. The temperature was dipping into the 70s, and people were getting excited for New Politics coming on next. People were grabbing more beers and cocktails, more people were getting some face painting done, lots of people were finding spots to sit down or hang out with one another, and entire families were enjoying one another’s company; in fact, there was one family with small children playing with one of the many beach balls floating around the amphitheater. One young boy had ear protection on and a shirt that read, “HERE TO ROCK.” I’m sure he wasn’t alone!

A beautiful evening and a very happy crowd. #altaz #diadelosalt #altaz933 @altaz933 @newpoliticsrock

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New Politics

Just as twilight was setting in, New Politics came on at about 6:30pm. They were the first to have a dramatic entrance onto the stage, and dramatic it was – they played some epic background music while the band members came on stage one at a time. First up was the drummer, Louis Vecchio, followed by guitarist Søren Hansen, and finally, lead vocalist David Boyd. The crowd was screaming, and they did not waste any time getting into things. They started the show with a huge bang, rocking out pretty hard and getting the crowd jumping. Now that it was getting dark, it was time for some fantastic lighting, and New Politics’ light show definitely delivered.

New Politics was great at getting the crowd involved, and everyone certainly loved the attention and engagement. They discussed how it was great to be back in Phoenix, how they have a new album coming out next month (Lost In Translation), and sang one of their new songs, “CIA.” During this song, David threw his hat off to really get into the mood of rocking out and moving all over stage with his ridiculous yet entertaining dance moves while sporting his bright red microphone. He even told the audience he hoped they had their dancing shoes on so they could join him. During the show, they played some of their greatest hits, such as: “West End Kids,” “One of Us,” and “Just Like Me.” They also played a new song, “Color Green,” while illuminating the entire stage in green lighting (of course).

Not only did New Politics play some amazing songs, but they also brought a message of hope and love. They thanked ALT AZ for having them and bringing everyone together, citing them as the main reason they were all there that evening. They also praised ALT AZ for spreading music and love, how they love alternative music because it is truly the best. Continuing on this theme, they also discussed how, when we all have each other, through all the bad stuff like hurricanes and earthquakes, we’re here for each other; “All it is is just a lot of good people listening to music and sharing love.” This is when they started singing “One of Us,” which was perfect timing.

The most beautiful moment of New Politics’ performance was when they busted out the ukulele sang “Fall Into These Arms,” at which point a little girl popped up on her parents’ shoulders towards the front of the crowd. In the middle of the song, David pointed out to her and said, “I LIKE YOU!” The little girl was overjoyed, but that wasn’t the end of this beautiful moment. David also, quite literally, fell into those arms by gently diving into the crowd. The excitement levels of the crowd were off the charts by this point, and it was such a wonderful moment where everyone truly was brought together by some beautiful music.

Sadly, at about 7:15pm, New Politics’ time was up. Before parting ways, they announced that Bleachers were coming up later, but first, the “most beautiful woman in alternative rock” was coming on – Bishop Briggs. They then got together at the front of the stage, bowed to the audience, and threw some guitar picks and drumsticks into the crowd for a few delighted fans to catch. After that, they were off, and after another short break consisting of an awkward word from the show’s sponsors, Bishop Briggs took the stage.

Bishop Briggs

First on the stage were Bishop Briggs’ band members, and the lighting was quite dark. They started playing music, and after a few moments, Bishop Briggs herself jumped out on stage with incredible energy. Dark purple lighting flooded the stage, but right at the perfect moment, the big 93.3 ALT AZ banner in the back was lit up in bright red right as Bishop Briggs started singing the first lyrics of her first song of the night.  It may have been a bit difficult to see anything on stage, but what stood out were her signature dual hair buns and jumpsuit – a black Adidas tracksuit that evening, with bright white iconic stripes down the sides. This was just the outfit she needed, because not only was she singing, she was also running! This made the show feel a bit like a high energy workout routine, but it certainly made the audience move and jump too.

The first song Bishop Briggs played was “Dark Side,” containing the lyrics “Welcome to my dark side, it’s gonna be a long night;” perhaps that’s why the stage was so dark during her show! Regardless, the intense beats and maximum bass were perfect accompaniments to her high-energy lyrics and her almost-non-stop jogging and jumping around the stage. What also stood out was her massive smile the entire time, and it was easy to tell she was truly enjoying her time up on stage. She also had a unique style of inserting a little scream into the perfect moments in her lyrics and just talking to the crowd, with such moments like “How is everybody DOING?!” followed by an enthusiastic “GOOD!!!

Her music was loud, aggressive, and entertaining, and there were even guests staying in the nearby Marriott hotel who came to their windows to look down at the amphitheatre to see what all the commotion was about. Hopefully they enjoyed their free view of the show! The crowd definitely did – everyone seemed to be jumping up and down, dancing, and singing along with Bishop Briggs’ songs. To show her appreciation for everyone, she stated that she was “so honored to be in this lineup. It’s great to be alive in this little bubble we have going on here.” On that note, she ended her show with her wildly famous hit single, “River.” The crowd went wild!

During another short break, it was easy to feel the anticipation in the air; clearly, there were many people at Dia De Los ALT who were there to see Bleachers. During this break, one could hear the final calls of the Lemonade man, who had been shouting all evening: “Lemonade, Lemonade, like Grandma… made!” Attendees had grown accustomed to him and his impressive set of lungs, particularly those who had been in the amphitheater since the doors opened at 3pm. During this time, technicians took down the huge 93.3 ALT AZ banner and replaced it with the new stuff for Bleachers’ elaborate stage setup.


Finally, at about 8:50pm, the moment many had been waiting for had arrived. Bleachers came out on stage to the screams, shouts, and claps of the audience. They started out with the fact that they are from New Jersey and that they have never headlined in this part of the world before, so this was a very special night for them. They also continued to hilariously decide if it was okay for them to call everyone “Phoenix” since they were in Mesa, and they asked if that was offensive. They decided, “f*ck it, we’ve never headlined in Arizona before. All of AZ is here tonight!

Their high-energy, anthemic songs uplifted and roused the crowd; their music was coupled with one of the best light shows possible, which added a new level to the experience and pumped the crowd up even more. Their songs encourage people to sing along in many ways, compounded by the fact that four out of five of the band members pipe in from time to time to sing along with Jack Antonoff. Not only that, but Jack frequently encouraged the crowd to sing along with shouts like “SING IT LOUD!” and “holy sh*t, you guys don’t f*ck around!

After a few of their songs, Jack ripped off his jacket; things were getting serious now. They also had a huge surprise for everyone that night – Jack announced they had a birthday in Bleachers very recently. The crowd cheered a bit, but to his displeasure, not loud enough: “Come on, you can do better than that! Do you guys not give a sh*t?! There was a birthday, like, a WEEK ago!” The cheering got much louder at this point, to which he shouted, “That’s more like it!” At this point, everyone sang happy birthday together with the band to one of its drummers, Mike Riddleberger. Jack then brought out a cake and handed it to the crowd, stating “You all can share it.

Jack then followed the birthday celebration up with how he knows Bleachers hasn’t been to Arizona enough, but he considers Phoenix a home away from home; it meant a lot for them to be there at Dia De Los ALT. After a few more songs, Jack punctuated the show with another little personal story. He first made the crowd get quiet, and then he made bass guitarist and keyboardist Mikey Hart stop all background music. Everyone then listened to how quiet it was outside in Mesa, and then Jack had Mikey start playing a low, humming sound. He then went on to explain how he loved Yaz (Yazoo) when he was young, and he heard this beautiful yet sad synth humming sound in the song “Only You.”

He became obsessed with that sound, and he bought the type of synth Yaz used to make it. He would play it all night long in his bedroom, which inspired him to write the lyrics to the songs that would one day become Bleachers. He wanted to make sad sounds, sad lyrics, and sad stories sound beautiful. He then stated that it would “sound something like this,” and then the other sounds of the beginning of their massively popular song “Rollercoaster” began to play. The crowd instantly screamed and cheered; this was truly one of the greatest build-up moments, and the crowd loved it. They were hanging off Bleachers’ every note, every lyric, and every word. Of course, Jack inspired the audience to sing it with him, and they most definitely sang along.

Since Jack has been a part of many beautiful moments in recent alternative music history, including being a part of the band Fun., they just had to include a slowed down version of “Carry On.” The crowd enjoyed this lull in the hype, sang along, and swayed solemnly. This more somber moment was followed up by additional slower songs, such as “Foreign Girls.” After this point, Jack discussed how they were excited to be touring with Bishop Briggs again in November, and they asked, “How are we doing on time? Someone give me a sign… I don’t want to f*ck this up.” Someone in the audience jokingly announced that it was over, to which Jack replied, “Oh, that’s it? Okay, I guess we’re done then!” However, they were far from done.

Jack next shouted out to the audience, “We’ve gotta keep it moving!” and inspired the crowd to pick up the pace once more. Next up was the song “You’re Still a Mystery,” which certainly brought the energy back again. After this, it was time to introduce the band, which was a significant moment in the show. They did a musical introduction to each member, along with a fun fact about each. Some even got to do a sort of musical solo after being announced.

Some exceptional moments were when the audience found out that Sean Hutchinson lived in Phoenix for a few years. We also learned how Mike Riddleberger is the “original Jersey hipster;” apparently, he started the entire movement! Finally, Mikey Hart was introduced, and the crowd learned he has a brother who lives in Phoenix. Mikey then treated the audience to a wickedly awesome saxophone solo, which was met with raucous applause.

Bleachers ended the evening strong, with two high-energy songs: “I Wanna Get Better” and “Don’t Take the Money.” While the crowd desperately wanted an encore, time was unfortunately up, and the festival had to come to an end. The guests staying at the adjacent Marriott were likely relieved, at least!

Closing Thoughts

All in all, despite the last-minute venue change from Fear Farm on the west side of the valley over to the Mesa Amphitheatre, Dia De Los ALT was a raging success! Citizens of the Phoenix metro area truly did come together to share love and music, and it was wonderful to see so many people of all ages and types enjoying these bands and the beautiful fall weather together. With any luck, the Phoenix area will continue to enjoy beautiful weather from here on out, and it would be great for all the bands from the Dia De Los ALT lineup to return and play in Phoenix again soon. After all, many of them seem to love Phoenix, and many of them did throw Phoenix into their lyrics as frequently as possible!

That's a wrap! What a great show! 😁😁😁 Good night! #altaz #diadelosalt #altaz933 @altaz933 @bleachersmusic

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

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

Viva PHX 2017 Lineup Flyer
Click to Enlarge

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

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

gettin pumped for this tour guys 💪🏽

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

Photo Album

Photographer: Katherine Amy Vega

Zombie Prom: Jimmy Eat World & Good Charlotte

Photography © Katherine Amy Vega, Kataklizmic Design
All Rights Reserved.