All posts by Emily Rudolph

Internationally Published Writer & Content Producer. Collector of Adventures, Vinyl and Old Cameras. Tiny House Dweller. Lover of Craft Beer, Road Trips and Everything Outdoors.

REVIEW: Journey & Def Leppard Rock Phoenix for Ages 9-7-18

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PHOENIX Historic classic rock duo Journey and Def Leppard put on a massively vivacious performance Friday night at their sold-out stop at Talking Stick Resort Arena on the North American tour (2018). It’s been twelve long years since Def Leppard and Journey co-headlined a tour, with rumored signs of an aging sound. On the contrary though, this arena setting was more than fitting, as the show proved to be impressively larger than life.

Def Leppard

The crowd continued to pour in by the thousands even as Def Leppard took the stage, erupting in a phantasmal melting-pot of emotions from fans of all ages when their vocalist, Joe Elliott approached the crowd.

Def Leppard - Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt
Joe Elliott (Vocalist), Def Leppard
| Photographer: Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

With his hands held high, Elliott teased the rippling stadium, loosely conducting the opening instrumentals to “Rocket” with closeups of the band members flashing in-and-out of 2-D televisions seemingly stacked above and behind the stage. Def Leppard’s energy was as contagious as ever, coaxing fans along to hit after hit beneath blaring blankets of velvety light that morphed into everything from hypnotizing geometric patterns to a striking laser show.

Def Leppard - Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt
Joe Elliott (Vocalist), Def Leppard
| Photographer:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Each song seemed to ignite even more elation than the last. Fans sang along to every word of “Animal”, “Foolin’”, “When Love and Hate Collide”, and “Let’s Get Rocked” as the stage transformed again, almost magically, from a wall of vintage neon signs into thick rotating rays of foggy light before turning to a dim, red glow that illuminated the buzzing audience. Elliott could be seen thrusting the mic stand back and forth across the stage as the first few notes of “Armageddon It” rumbled out from beneath the speakers.

Def Leppard - Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt
Rick Savage (Bassist), Def Leppard
| Photographer:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Def Leppard’s current and longest-lasting lineup to date also includes Rick Savage (bassist), Rick Allen (drummer), Phil Collen (guitarist), and Vivian Campbell (guitarist); and like Elliott, none of them showed any signs of slowing down. Their British heavy metal style is as alive and well as ever, complete with leather and tight pants, sweat-glistening, guitar shreddin’, and an incredible one-armed drum solo.

Between nostalgic performances of the David Essex cover “Rock On”, “Two Steps Behind”, and “Man Enough”, Elliott introduced each member of the band while offering a small bit of history on each iconic track to follow. “We’ve been touring for 38 years,” he announced, speaking briefly on the group’s English background and how they got their start. “All we ever wanted was to make music.”

Def Leppard - Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt
Phil Collen (Guitarist), Def Leppard | Photographer: Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Without all the fancy high-tech showmanship, it would have been easy to forget that we were seeing Def Leppard 20 years post multi-platinum success of Hysteria and Pyromania – which ranked at #384 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2003. “Love Bites”, “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak”, and “Switch 625” were up next, each accompanied by its own light display and related imagery glowing boldly in the background.

Speaking of multi-platinum, Def Leppard definitely knew what they were doing when they saved “Hysteria” and “Pour Some Sugar On Me” for last, but not of course without the explosive encore we’d been dying for – “Rock of Ages” and “Photograph”. What more could a Def Leppard fan ask for, right?

Journey

After a refreshingly brief set change, it was time for Rock n’ Roll Hall-of-Famer, Journey, to steal the show with their own non-stop marathon of legendary greatest hits. Despite having been noted as “one of the world’s best-selling bands of all time” – No. 96 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time to be exact, Journey’s continued evolution has left some critics wondering how things could ever sound the same.

Arnel Pineda (Vocalist), Journey
| Photographer:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Current vocalist Arnel Pineda put those rumors to rest with a heart-wrenching opening performance of “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” from chart-topping album Frontiers (1983). Despite not being a man of many words, Pineda undeniably uplifted the crowd with his infectious, positive energy as he jumped, kicked, and bounced across the stage. The entire arena followed in suit, immediately pointing their phone flashlights and lighters to the sky and singing along to every word.

Pineda was overflowing with a spectacularly excitable stage presence, making sure to run the full perimeter of the platform while high-fiving everyone within reach during emotional renditions of “Only The Young”, “Escape” and “Stone In Love”. Meanwhile, psychedelic album art filled the towering screens surrounding the stage while flashes of bright white light spliced across the arena. Closeups of Neal Schon (lead guitarist), Ross Valory (bassist), Steve Smith (drummer) and Jonathan Cain (keyboardist) could also be seen rotating in and out, with big smiles on their faces.

Journey - Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt
Jonathan Cain (Keyboardist), Journey
| Photographer:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Each member boasted their own bit of personal wardrobe style as well. Cain could be seen with an old school Suns jersey peeking out from behind his jacket. Fans belted out the lyrics to the ever-popular tracks “Chain Reaction” and “Be Good To Yourself” before Pineda finally addressed the crowd. “How are you doing Phoenix?!”, he echoed. “Thanks for coming out and seeing us tonight!

Journey - Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt
Neal Schon (Guitarist), Journey
Photographer:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Schon stepped into the spotlight to set the mood with a smooth-and-sultry, otherworldly guitar solo before launching into “Lights” with Pineda once again. Time seemed to slip away as listeners lost themselves in the music, rocking out to “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’”, “Who’s Crying Now”, “Open Arms”, and “Ask The Lonely”, followed by “La Do Da”, and “Any Way You Want It”. From lovestruck couples to lonesome onlookers, it was clear why Journey’s music has achieved such timeless success.

Schon stepped forward once again to introduce “Wheel In The Sky”, a song he composed along with Robert Fleischman and Diane Valory – wife of bassist Ross Valory. He went on to say, “That’s when I realized we were family. We all love the same way. I’d like to dedicate this song to a man that just had a birthday recently, our vocalist, Mr. Arnel Pineda. And to the fans who stayed over the years.

As one might have guessed, Journey concluded the night with that one track that hits us all right in the feels – “Don’t Stop Believin’”, which crescendoed to a climax of strobing light, squealing guitar, and eruption of glittering white confetti that combusted into a weightless cloud drifting out over the audience. It was a feeling of total bliss and slight overstimulation, of not wanting the night to end, while also being so incredibly satisfied, overjoyed, impressed, and amazed. That’s the thing about bands like Def Leppard and Journey; they’ve not only carved out a place in our memories, but in the depths of our hearts as well.

Journey - Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt
Journey
| Photographer:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Pineda stepped forward to address the crowd for the last time,
Arizona, you are magic tonight.

Photo Gallery

Photographer: Mark Greenawalt

Journey & Def Leppard – Talking Stick Resort Arena 9-7-18

Flickr Album Gallery Powered By: WP Frank

Photography © Mark Greenawalt. All Rights Reserved

INTERVIEW: Greg Holden Talks About His Musical Progression, Inner Battles, & Upcoming Phoenix Show

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Greg Holden is a British singer-songwriter based in the United States. He is best known for his hit charity single “The Lost Boy”, and for co-writing “Home” — the 2012 debut single for American Idol-winner Phillip Phillips.


Genre: Rock, Singer-Songwriter
Hometown: Born in Aberdeen, Scotland and raised in England
Record Label: BMG
Twitter  | Facebook | Instagram

New Song “On The Run” Out Now

“With a fresh Mumford and Sons style, this New York based British singer-songwriter sings it straight from the heart.” – AXS


Q & A with Greg Holden, Singer-Songwriter

Flier for Butch Walker featuring Greg Holden at Crescent Ballroom on September 7, 2018
Get Tickets

During the small break from his fall tour, between his August 2 performance in London and the following tour date in Phoenix on September 7, Holden took the time to share his thoughts with journalist Emily Rudolph of Burning Hot Events:

Thank you for talking with us! According to your interview with People, you’ve had no intention of leaving New York. I’m curious… Are you currently living in LA after all? If so, can you tell us a bit about how you came to call Los Angeles home? 

Yes, it’s all very ironic I know. I came to LA two years ago with my tail between my legs. My reasoning was that 99% of the people I know and work with were already in Los Angeles, and I really was cutting off my nose to spite my face by not relocating. So I did. I don’t regret it, but I sure do miss New York. I’m not sure that Los Angeles is the right place for me, but I’ve been told by other ex-New Yorkers that it takes 3 years… So I’ll give it another year and then see what happens…

 

What inspired you to relocate from England to Brooklyn, NY?

Music essentially. All the artists that inspired me had all lived in New York in their 20’s, so I wanted to as well. Strangely it didn’t even feel like a crazy thing, quitting my job in London, selling all my shit, and moving to a different continent during a recession. I was just going with my gut, and I’m glad I did. Nearly ten years later I don’t regret a thing.

 

I’ve heard that it all started when you first picked up a guitar at age 18. I’d love for you to tell me more about that journey. What was your musical experience like growing up? What compelled you to begin writing your own music?

I wrote from the moment I started playing guitar. In the beginning I just wanted to write songs so I could get my repressed feelings out in the open. Naturally I started playing in punk and metal bands in my home town, which I did for a few years, before realising that I actually had a half decent voice, and a talent for lyrics too. I was wasting my time in bands. This was at the time when Damien Rice, John Mayer and Ray Lamontagne were the chart toppers, and so the logical next step was to become a solo singer-songwriter.  So I decided to move to Brighton, one of the big cities in the UK that was known for its music scene. After a couple of years I moved to London to really focus on getting “discovered,” and once I wasn’t discovered, I thought fuck it, I’m going to New York, I’ll get discovered there…

 

Could you share with our readers the events that led up to the forming of “Home”? What was the inspiration behind the concept?

The short version is, I had a friend that was going through a very difficult time and was chronically depressed. I was thrown into a co-writing session in Los Angeles on one of my first times there with a guy named Drew Pearson. We decided to write a song about my friend, and that song was “Home”. We wrote it in a couple our hours, easy peasy, and I walked out of the session completely unaware that I’d just written a song that would change my life, and for 6 months I didn’t really even think about it. Then, I got the call from American Idol and the rest is history I guess.

 

Do you feel your experiences with sophomore album, I Don’t Believe You (2011), influenced your later work on massive success, “Home”?

Not really, no. I mean I guess you could say that “Home” is just a more commercially accessible version of songs I’d written in the past, but I Don’t Believe You was quite a dark record, with very little hope. Whereas “Home” is quite the opposite.

 

Your sound has been described as “folk”, “rock”, and even “a fresh Mumford and Sons style”.’ How would you describe your sound to our readers?

I really have no idea to be honest. What even is a genre anymore?

 

What do you feel is the best track that you have produced so far? What does it mean to you?

Probably “The Lost Boy”, just because I recorded in my bedroom in Brooklyn, with one mic, and had no intention of anyone other than my manager hearing it. Somehow that version took on a life of its own and has now been heard by millions of people, a song that I poured my guts into. Since its release it has raised tens of thousands of dollars for charity, has been in the Billboard Charts, been a #1 single in Europe and been featured on major TV shows in the U.S. Still the same, shitty original version, mixed on Apple Headphones at my kitchen counter back in 2011. Despite its simplicity, I’m still more proud of that than anything else I’ve done.

 

Are there any parts of your story that you’d like to share on low points you’ve experienced and how you overcame them? 

I am always experiencing low points. Constantly. Somehow I always find a way out of the hole, but it never stops. That’s the problem when something you love so much, and something that is so reliant on your raw emotions becomes your day job. When I was younger, if I hated my day job, I just got a new one. I can’t do that now, I can’t just apply for new emotions, or new creative skills. The only way to overcome the negative sides of this journey, is to constantly remind myself of the positives, because there are a lot.

 

What do you do to handle doubts or frustrations when they come up?

I drink wine. Or, I look through my Instagram feed to remind myself that my life is absolutely unreal and I am incredibly fortunate. That doesn’t really handle the doubts, or frustrations, but it certainly puts things into perspective, which helps.

 

What advice would you give to someone in the industry who is struggling to move forward?

Don’t give up. The one thing I can guarantee is that if you do, you won’t make it. But, if you stay in the fight, there’s always a chance, even if it’s only a small one.

 

<strong>Greg Holden</strong>
Greg Holden

What have you been working on in 2018? What are you most looking forward to? 

I’ve been working on my mental state mostly, because without that I’m fucked. Musically though, I’ve been trying to refocus my attention on making something I love, and not on what I think other people want. That’s a difficult balance these days, but it’s important to give yourself what you need first, otherwise you can’t offer anything helpful or inspiring to anyone. I’m most looking forward to the last quarter of this year as I’m headed out on tour in the US in September with Butch Walker, then I’m headed down to South America in December to play some shows with my buddy Joshua Radin. Can’t complain about any of that.

 

If you had to summarize your journey to produce your latest single, ‘The Power Shift’ how would you describe it?

An existential crisis.

 

Beyond 2018, what is on the radar for Greg Holden? 

Staying happy, and staying inspired. The rest will come naturally.

 

Is there anything specific you’d like to mention about your upcoming performance in Phoenix?

I’m going to be stripping it all back to just me and my guitar, the way it began. Get your voices warmed up, as you’re going to be singing.

 

What can our readers do to support your music?

Listen, hopefully enjoy, and share.

Greg Holden is coming to Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix with Butch Walker on Friday, September 7, 2018: Get Tickets

 

REVIEW: OTEP Brings the Kult 45 Resistance to Mesa 8-6-18

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Mesa, AZ Award-winning performer, artist, and activist Otep Shamaya rallied fans at Club Red Tuesday night in an impassioned, politically-charged performance. Heavy metal veterans OTEP (the band) [an anagrammatic name derivative of the word “poet”] recently dropped their eighth full-length album entitled Kult 45 via Napalm Records. According to an exclusive interview with Blabbermouth.net, “This is OTEP like you’ve never heard them before.

Fatal Malady - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
Clinton Rackley (Vocalist), Fatal Malady
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

Along with Kult 45’s highly anticipated release, OTEP announced a headline tour, to tease their newest work of art; beginning at The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 5th, and ending in Ventura, California on August, 18th 2018. Tour-mates include Dropout Kings, an AZ-based nu-metal band on the rise (who just released a burning hot new album called “AudioDope” this past Friday), and European progressive rock band Ragdoll Sunday. First to take the stage was anime-themed punk rock band Usagi (formerly Unagi Usagi), followed by progressive metal group CharonIncentive a band heavily influenced by iconic black and death metal styles, and groove metal band Fatal Malady, whose skull-faced aesthetic captivated the now overflowing trickle of bodies entering through the back of the venue.

View Photo Albums: 
Fatal Malady & Ragdoll Sunday

Dropout Kings - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
Dropout Kings |
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

Following a supercharged performance by Dropout Kings, audience members began to chant in unison, “OTEP! OTEP! OTEP!” Drummer Justin Kier could be seen jetting on and off the stage, while crew members worked diligently to set the scene. Illuminated only by sporadic flares of light, Kier stepped forward to address the crowd, breaking the ice with a little marijuana-related humor before being joined by bandmates Ari “The Spartan” Mihalopoulos on guitar, and bassist Andrew Barnes. With time to spare, Kier went on to talk about a new, lesser known project in collaboration with Phoenix’s own hard rock female-fronted foursome Doll Skin, which they’ve aptly named “PETO”, once again utilizing OTEP’s iconic anagram, only this time – backwards. The trio commenced with an ear-splitting rendition of Slayer’s “Raining Blood”, immediately provoking a mosh pit nearly the size of the entire room.

OTEP

Creepy baby doll holding a sign reading "Where are the children?" - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

After the music faded and fans had settled into standing-room-only once again, Shamaya exploded onto the platform between two vertically-balanced rifles, adorned with severed baby heads, faux weapons, LGBT symbolism, the U.S. flag, and a variety of other props yet to be revealed. Hanging delicately beneath the deceased infant’s haunting yellow eyes was a crooked sign that read, “Where are the children?” It’s no coincidence Shamaya’s performances have been dubbed “a two-decade invasion of the senses” and it’s clear she has no intention of dulling that edge now.

“We want to empower people,” Shamaya says of Kult 45. “This album wasn’t written to only wake people up, it’s meant to carbonate people with the hope and confidence that they can make a difference.”

Are you ready to riot?!”, Shamaya asked the crowd, growling into the mic with intensity while being met with a reverberating wave of hoots, screams, and howls.

OTEP - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
Otep Shamaya (Vocalist), OTEP |
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

Beneath a beer-soaked haze of golden strobe lights, attendees raged along to political anthems “To The Gallows” (during which Shamaya fiercely spun a hangman’s noose from the end of her mic), “Battle Ready”, and “Lords of War”, succeeded by what is arguably one of OTEP’s most iconic tracks to date, “Crooked Spoons”. Shamaya playfully pulled from her rifling of props for each new track, punching her fist in the air as a bloody, severed pig head was tossed out from behind the stage.

OTEP - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
Otep Shamaya (Vocalist), OTEP |
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

Fans roared along to every word of “Blood Pigs” and “Apex Predator”, off OTEP’s earlier albums Sevas Tra (2012) and Hydra (2013), erupting with raw emotion and appreciation for the purpose embedded in each verse. OTEP is a band that’s known for it’s ultra-loyal fanbase, but the reasoning behind that is something so much deeper than fame or catchy music. Shamaya’s ability to continually utilize OTEP’s music as a vessel for societal change through a variety of synchronized creative mediums is seriously impactful and evidently similar to that of legendary musical influencers like Woodie Guthrie, Bob Dylan or Zach de la Rocha of Rage Against The Machine.

OTEP - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
Ari “The Spartan” Mihalopoulos (Guitarist), OTEP |
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

OTEP went on to make their stance on mass shootings known with newly released track “Shelter In Place”, during which Shamaya aimed a presumably plastic, silver pistol at one of the severed doll heads while chanting with the room, “enough is enough!” Shamaya did go on to clarify her stance however, noting that “guns don’t kill people; people kill people,” before moving into “Zero” off the group’s 2016 album Generation Doom, which was followed-up by a couple of surprise tracks from the group’s self-titled poetry EP Wurd Becomes Flesh  originally released in 2005, one year prior to OTEP’s infamous addition to Ozzfest (2004).

OTEP - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
OTEP |
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

The audience rippled with excitement as Shamaya waved her rainbow flag high. OTEP moved to close the night with staple track “Equal Rights, Equal Lefts”, prior to transitioning into an anger-charged protest, which peaked to the opening notes of “Wake Up” by Rage Against The Machine; a cover included as the second-to-last track on Kult 45.

OTEP - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
Otep Shamaya (Vocalist), OTEP |
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

In one final call to action, OTEP ignited fans with an ear-splitting performance “Confrontation” from The Ascension (2007). The props did not end there though; Shamaya had one final trick up her sleeve – a fake severed Trump head. Almost in a single motion, Shamaya plunged the barrel of one of the rifles into the base of Trump’s rubbery neck, twirling him around until the two were facing eye-to-eye, spitting in the mock President’s face before a final punch which sent Trump’s spitclad face soaring out of view.

OTEP - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
Otep Shamaya (Vocalist), OTEP |
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

It was a night of disruption, a night of rage, empowerment, catharsis, emotion and unity. It’s obvious that Kult 45 was intended as more of a social catalyst – a statement piece that simultaneously disrupts and unifies. This is an album that gets people to look; each track furiously spotlights a variety of recurring social issues in the forefront of the United States’ current political landscape. Regardless of whether or not you agree with their stance, OTEP is making one thing exceptionally clear: “Art is resistance. Art aloows us to fight back without violence.”

“This is why we rally, this is why we march, and this is why I write. Because when I look back someday I want to know that I did everything in my power as an artist, activist and citizen.”Otep Shamaya

PHOTO ALBUM

by Katherine Amy Vega
(View separate Fatal Malady, Ragdoll Sunday, & OTEP photo albums)

OTEP, Dropout Kings, Ragdoll Sunday, Fatal Malady, CharonIncentive, & Usagi – Club Red 8-7-18

Flickr Album Gallery Powered By: WP Frank

© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved.

REVIEW: Judas Priest Ignites Phoenix Fans With Legendary World Tour 4-24-18

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PHOENIX — Heavy metal legends Judas Priest drenched Phoenix fans in a fast-paced scintillation of velvety-strobing lights, squealing guitar riffs and the ear-splitting vocal prowess of leather-clad vicar Rob Halford, whose voice could be heard echoing through the streets of downtown outside Comerica Theatre. Priest announced English heavy metal pioneer Saxon and hard rock group Black Star Riders as openers for the U.S. leg of their 2018 “Firepower World Tour” earlier this year. Saxon is renowned for their influence on archetypal acts like Slayer, Metallica and Mötley Crüe and are noted for selling more than 23 million albums worldwide. Black Star Riders was formed in 2012 as “the next step in the evolution” of hard rock band Thin Lizzy. Their third and most recent album, Heavy Fire, reached #6 on the UK album charts in 2017.

In their announcement, Judas Priest also noted that thrash metal icon Megadeth would step in as the supporting act for the European leg of “Firepower”. As if that wasn’t enough, Judas Priest will also be appearing alongside Ozzy Osbourne on his farewell tour later this summer before co-headlining a tour with the infamous Deep Purple later this year.

Judas Priest’s 18th studio album Firepower’s explosive energy has shocked Priest fans, skyrocketing it to success and ranking the album at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart — the band’s highest-charting album in the United States to date.

With so much musical history under one roof, there were moments where the night truly felt like a spiritual experience. Black Star Riders took the crowd by storm early-on boasting a youthful stage presence, which positively intermingled with Thin Lizzy’s time-honored style.

Black Star Riders - Photography: Mark Greenawalt
Black Star Riders
Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

After a minimal set-change, Saxon followed quickly thereafter, bringing the house down with a mix of heavy-handed hits and highlights from their latest album Thunderbolt, which was released in February of 2018 under producer Andy Sneap who also joined Judas Priest on the “Firepower World Tour” to support Glenn Tipton, following Priest’s announcement that Tipton’s unfortunate battle with Parkinson’s had progressed to a level at which he cannot currently tour (Feb. 2018).

Saxon - Photography: Mark Greenawalt
Peter “Biff” Byford (Vocalist), Saxon
Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Among the audience were obvious diehard fans of all ages, including everything from seriously skilled air-guitarists energetically moving up and down the aisles, to children and families, headbanging all-together beneath an incredible display of vibrant, ever-changing lights which moved in-time to the note of each new song. One little girl, about 4 years old with tiny blonde pigtails, stood atop an empty seat with her father behind her, rocking out with every ounce of movement she had — proving once again that heavy metal music has a timeless quality to it that continues to bring together people of all ages and walks of life, challenging the status quo.

Judas Priest - Photography: Mark Greenawalt
Rob Halford (Vocalist), Judas Priest
Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

During the night’s first hidden set-change, a curtain displaying an impossible trident waved gently beneath the dimmed lights as red-orange flames swirled in the background. As the opening notes to Priest’s latest title track rumbled out across the crowd, the curtain shot upward to reveal Halford draped in gold from his suit pants to his tassel-adorned jacket. Sneap (Guitarist), Richie Faulkner (Guitarist), Ian Hill (Bassist) and Scott Travis (Percussionist) followed close behind, taking their place on stage among an illusion of pyrotechnic projections which were fitting alongside towering castle-like structures, topped off with a symbolic devil’s tuning fork which mirrored itself across the stage.

Judas Priest - Photography: Mark Greenawalt

Halford then transitioned into tracks “Running Wild”, “Grinder”, “Sinner” and “The Ripper” from albums Killing Machine, British Steel, Sin After Sin and Sad Wings of Destiny before turning attention back on to their latest album for “Lightning Strike” which highlights Firepower’s eclectic mix of classic Judas Priest sound, and something quite a bit different — a savage expansion on Halford’s incredible vocal talent (at 66 years old) also reminiscent of old school Iron Maiden or Motörhead.

Next-up on the night’s setlist were “Bloodstone” (Album: Screaming for Vengeance), “Saints in Hell” (Album: Stained Class), “Turbo Lover” (Album: Turbo) and”Freewheel Burning” (Album: Defenders of the Faith), each of which was signaled by a change in Halford’s eclectic collection of hell-bent-for-leather type jackets, each song rivaled by the energy of the last.

Halford stepped center-stage to address the crowd, “Thank you all for for coming out and keeping your heavy metal faith tonight. And thank you for supporting evilness, evilness… Because evil never dies!”

Judas Priest - Photography: Mark Greenawalt
Richie Faulkner (Guitarist), Judas Priest
Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Fans rejoiced in a sea of chants and fist-bumps, singing along to new crowd favorite, “Evil Never Dies” also off Priest’s latest album, before moving onto unbelievable performances of “Some Heads Are Gonna Roll” and the ever-anticipated “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin”, succeeded by an intermittent recording of “The Hellion”, during which Halford and his bandmates momentarily disappeared backstage. Despite having already put on a thrilling hour-plus performance, Priest emerged once more for a staggering finale.

Seconds after the closing notes of “Electric Eye” (also off of Album: Screaming for Vengeance), Halford shot across the stage on a black-and-chrome chopper while clips from the 1978 track’s music video faded on and offscreen above. Halford passionately belted out the lyrics to“Hell Bent for Leather” from atop the bike, before closing the evening with a powerful performance of “Painkiller”. Halford had one last surprise up his leather-studded sleeve an earth-shattering encore. Fans were elated to see 70-year-old Tipton take the stage for three ultra-nostalgic and goosebump-worthy renditions of “Metal Gods”, “Breaking the Law”, and “Living After Midnight”.

After completing an astonishing 19-track setlist, it was clear that Halford and his bandmates show no signs of slowing down. Judas Priest proved to their fans once again that even after 40 years, they continue to ignite the fire.

Photo Gallery

Photographer: Mark Greenawalt

Judas Priest – Comerica Theatre 4-24-18

Flickr Album Gallery Powered By: WP Frank

Photography © Mark Greenawalt. All Rights Reserved

REVIEW: In This Moment Thrills Phoenix Fans With ‘Ritual’ Style Performance 4-16-18

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PHOENIX — Amidst their “The Witching Hour” tour, shock rock quintet In This Moment had fans spellbound during a thrilling visually-charged performance at historically-located venue The Van Buren. Openers on the bill included The Word Alive  — a metalcore group from Phoenix who’s most recent album Deceiver reached No. 97 on the Billboard 200 (2010), and fellow AZ-based nu metal band Ded, who’s been on the rise since the release of their wildly successful debut track “FMFY” in 2016. Audience members were elated to hear that In This Moment had offered both opening groups the option to extend their setlist for the night, in celebration of the obvious outpouring of support from local fans.

After a vigorous crowd sing-along to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” ferocious frontwoman Maria Brink dawned the stage through a storm of purple-red smoke, spookily cloaked in all-black attire which was somewhat reminiscent of Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars.

In This Moment - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
Maria Brink (Vocalist), In This Moment
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved.

As Brink positioned herself center-stage, horror-esque slivers from In This Moment’s music video for title track “Blood” spliced on and off on a large overhanging screen. Current members Chris Howorth (Lead Guitarist & Founding Member), Travis Johnson (Bass Guitarist), Randy Weitzel (Rhythm Guitarist) and Kent Diimmel (Percussionist) followed close behind her also dressed to shock and impress in true gothic metal fashion.

The group transitioned into a haunting yet brutal performance of “Blood”, which was seamlessly followed by “River of Fire” from In This Moment’s latest album, Ritual (2017). In between these first two songs, Brink seductively shed her dark ceremonial garb for a ghostly white dress that shimmered beneath the spotlights.

In This Moment - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
Maria Brink (Vocalist), In This Moment
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved.

With a mix of fire and wind enveloping her silhouette, Brink immediately dominated the stage with her display of unique showmanship and incredible ability to personify her lyrics through purpose-driven theatrics. Her gruff throaty screams and eerily dazzling vocals are a fitting accompaniment for the band’s vehemently aggressive rhythms, sludgy guitar and relentlessly rhapsodic percussion.

In This Moment - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
Chris Howorth (Guitarist), In This Moment
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

Although In This Moment’s 2017 album is in fact less sexualized than albums in previous years, Brink’s outlook on the highly-debated topic remains the same. The singer changed from costume to extraordinary costume throughout the show reappearing on-stage in everything from skin-tight bodysuits and ritual garb, to Krueger-like talons, a top hat, and faceless creature masks. Backup dancers morphed from demons and witches to twinning alter-egos as the show’s storyline evolved before our eyes, exquisitely interpreting the lines of each song. Brink seduced the crowd with ease, gripping the audience with infectious performances of “Adrenalize”, “Roots” and “Burn”, which preceded a chilling vocal performance of ballad “Lay Your Gun Down.”

After an official band introduction, Brink disappeared from the stage leaving Howorth, Johnson, Weitzel and Diimmel in the spotlight for a savage Metallica tribute beginning with the opening instrumentals to “For Whom The Bell Tolls” and leading into a monster drum solo harnessing the chunky classic rock vibes that we all crave.

In This Moment - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
Kent Diimmel (Drummer), In This Moment
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

Next, Brink stepped center stage once again beneath a large crescent-shaped entryway, which appeared as two halves of a glowing moon, altar-style. The opening scene from “Black Wedding” featuring Rob Halford (of Judas Priest) strobed in and out to church music, teasing the energized duet between Brink and Ded frontman Joe Cotela which was to follow. The night finished strong with blazing performances of fan favorites “Big Bad Wolf”, a cover of Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight”, “Sick Like Me”, and “Oh Lord” which had fans raging.

In This Moment - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
Maria Brink (Vocalist), In This Moment & Joe Cotella (Vocalist), Ded
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved.

However, there was still one song yet to be desired. Audience members roared as Brink stepped out from behind the curtain for one final song this time wearing the infamous blood-smeared dunce hat as featured in “Whore”, which Brink described to Steppin’ Out Magazine as “an empowering, beautiful song for women.” On-stage, as oversized balloons began bouncing across the crowd, she went on to explain that “Whore” is about reclaiming control of what hurts us and rising above it:

I was told that I would amount to absolute shit”, she told the crowd. “That I would become nothing at all. So, you see this next song, this last song is about rising above other people’s expectations, all of these ideas about who and what we should be. This song is about taking other people’s hate and turning it into something powerful and liberating within. So tonight, ladies and gentlemen, if I can inspire just that, turning hate into love, then I am proud to say to you Phoenix tonight, I will be your whore!

The song’s title “Whore” is actually an acronym created by Brink to further communicate its underlying purpose:

Women Honoring One Another Rising Eternally


It seems that with their most recent album, Brink and her bandmates have finally perfected the delicate balance between their sultry sex appeal and crust punk approach to the ideals of empowerment and strength embedded in their music. “The Witching Hour” tour is more than an unforgettable performance; it’s a wakeup call. We truly cannot wait for more.

PHOTO ALBUM

by Katherine Amy Vega

In This Moment – The Van Buren 4-16-18

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© Kataklizmic Design.
All Rights Reserved.

REVIEW: ANTI-MELODY by American Standards Gets Real About Grief, Loss, & Suicide

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Phoenix-based hardcore punk-infused metal band American Standards is known for their “piss and vinegar” sound, boasting a well-crafted amalgamation of heavy-handed, technical instrumentals, and brutal yet poetic lyrics that confront societal divides such as corporate greed, media corruption, loss, materialism and personal struggle. Presumably due to their focus on DIY ethics, the group attracted a devoted following in response to their leadership of what has come to be known as the “guerrilla punk” movement in Phoenix. Think of the gritty, raw basement shows we all know and love, except this time American Standards would be there to distribute self-produced compilation CDs as a method of raising money for local causes and charities. Pretty rad, isn’t it?

Online you’ll find American Standards listed as “chaos-driven noise punk” also noting themselves as self-proclaimed “purveyors of fine noise” and “Voted Least Likely to Succeed in 2011″ – the year the band was formed. Don’t let their humor fool you though, the message packaged within the chaos tells something of a deeper story. The group has since been recognized in the form of a regular presence on local radio stations like 98KUPD, RadioPhoenix and TheBlaze in addition to sharing the stage with acts like Atreyu, Comeback Kid, Norma Jean, Every Time I Die and many more.

American Standards’ most recent album “ANTI-MELODY” (which premiered in Revolver Magazine, Alternative Press and Lambgoat) is the group’s fourth release, delving into topics that are undeniably more personal than ever before for its members while simultaneously continuing to deliver on what the band has always been known for: pungent commentary on societal divides and anti-consumerism. This time around however, the development of this album is a distinct reflection of American Standard’s ability to focus through times of struggle while baring it all despite battles with depression after the loss of founding guitarist Cody Conrad to suicide, followed shortly after by the loss of the vocalist Brandon Kellum’s father to cancer.

What would have broken so many other bands transmuted into a powerful point of resonance for American Standards, empowering them to produce an album that not only cuts deep, but holds true to the spirit of the band’s fiercely integral essence.

The Tracks

Writers Block Party

“Writer’s Block Party” might at first sound like pandemonium to an unfocused ear, but with closer listen you’ll quickly discover a lyrical contrast that highlights societal pressures imposed on those who desire success or any place in the limelight. The song immediately portrays the immense impact of these pressures through the band’s eyes; “dancing around like we’re marionettes, a stutter in our step, a cadence in our breath, to the unimpressed…”

This is an opening number that comes out swinging, keeping things hyped while immediately addressing the lyrical heart of the matter which made it an ideal choice for a single. And despite seeking an “easy fix” it’s clear things weren’t so simple as the song goes on to say, “I gave up my heart to find a soul… The clouds came in and the lights went out. We were guided by the roar.”

The metaphorical nature of their lyric choices leave much to interpretation and making space for further connection with their ever-growing fan base, but it can be speculated that this track alludes to the many struggles of avoiding corporate sponsorship in the music industry and beyond. This line in particular encapsulates the track well:

“Remove the spine and the heart. Safe bet, mindset. And claim what’s left as art.”

Carpe Diem, Tomorrow

Although brief in content, the technical aspect of  instrumentals included in “Carpe Diem, Tomorrow” are placed well as both a striking opener and stout interludes that highlight a wake-up call just beneath the surface:

“Concrete minds cannot change. Don’t stand still, keep moving. You’ll become what you say you hate.”

Encouraging fans to seize the day, this track utilizes the concept of time to motivate listeners and warn them of the consequences of stagnancy in life. Audibly this track has an underlying rhythm that is a bit similar to that of System of A Down, Throw Down, or Tool; while offering unique lead guitar, which in contrast offers similarities to bands like From First to Last, Trivium, and Hatebreed.

Church Burner

“Church Burner” starts off with an eerie chorus which repeats throughout, but not before laying down some seriously chunky guitar riffs that bring a daunting undertone. The lead guitar and bass notes are undeniably the highlight here, although this is the first sing-scream track to be found on ANTI-MELODY which is to be noted as well.

Lyrically this track is beautiful in the simplicity of its resounding metaphor while still managing to communicate the intensified angst that American Standards fans long for.

“An extremist in boldface type. We’re all people, but compassion doesn’t sell. And there’s no time for independent thought. There are no divisions outside the ones that we create.”

While chaos and hardcore don’t exactly scream “empowerment”, American Standards is clever in the execution of their message. They scatter calls to action throughout each song and foreshadowing for what is to come if the previously mentioned social obstacles aren’t addressed in a way that keeps things moving, so-to-speak. The lyrics go on to say:

“Tear down the walls and build a bridge… We don’t want another title to tell us who we are.”

Bartenders Without Wings

“Bartenders Without Wings” slows things down a bit, sounding more like a classic punk ballad that explores a struggle between man and self. The energy of this track is especially solemn, suggesting the song may be addressing the unexpected loss of founding guitarist Cody Conrad as well as Kellum’s father. “Bartenders Without Wings” also spotlights some inarguable similarities to the sound of now infamous As I Lay Dying.

According to Kellum, ANTI-MELODY is the result of “what started as social commentary on the growing divide in our society” but then became much more personal due to the loss of Conrad and Kellum’s father amidst recording; this track communicated that effortlessly.

Kellum went on to say that the band “went back in to re-record much of the album and in a lot of ways used it as therapy to cope with the experiences.”

Danger Music #9

“Danger Music #9” is a smashing reminder of the dreadful state of conglomerate corporate takeover and a return to the classic American Standards sound, fueled by the pain and grief that lurked in the shadows for these four bandmates at the time. It can be inferred from the lyrics that they are not simply addressing a grandiose idea of anti-consumerism, but more specifically an issue with the intentions and treatments of our healthcare system. Though often choosing to communicate through lyrics that are poetic and/or satirical in nature, “Danger Music #9” takes an unprocessed approach to its confrontation of western culture particularly medicine, making the lyrics that much more savage in nature.

“You make a beautiful statistic, diamond eyes. Giving incentives to move these units. Prescribe more illness. And we’ll become the money they count behind closed doors. A half a million dead. A third of us next.”

Cancer Eater

The title may have tipped you off as to what this track is about. The tragic loss of Kellum’s father is uttered through every verse of “Cancer Eater”, tearing from word to word with an energy unmatched by any other song on the album. Instrumentally, “Cancer Eater” is equally as brutal, once again highlighting lead and bass guitar.

Lyrically, however, this track has got to be the most poetic:

“We’re taken hostage by the ones we love, that leave us behind. I can’t be as tough as nails, with this paper skin. And organs that fail. But life moves on, and I’ll go on too… I lived like him. I’ll die like him. Remember me, remember.”

Broken Culture

“Broken Culture” is self explanatory in its purpose, erupting with energy right from the start with strategically coalesced vocals and a true hardcore sound that are again unique in their likeness to other tracks on the album if you listen close. Themes of anger, fear and isolation resurface once again, but this time with a more somber tone in wake of its preceding track “Cancer Eater”.

“We had more guns than bullets so, we made pistols with our hands. Where’s the good; there’s evil we must fear. So, pull the trigger and pray the rounds land.”

Chicago Overcoat

“Chicago Overcoat” takes all the energy from the seven songs before itself and delivers that consolidated energy as one swift punch in the ear drums before ending on a beautiful piano note. The track is in itself, a crescendo of all-encompassing instrumentals accompanied by a dominating vocal performance by Kellum.
“Chicago Overcoat” starts off with the focus on bass and drums as opposed to vocals and lead guitar, making for a pleasantly unrefined, and super-sludgy combo. And yet, there is a tone of desperate release, resentment, and determination to rise above through and through.

In Closing

ANTI-MELODY took things to the next level for American Standards, allowing fans to get to know the individuals behind these powerful words that leave us feeling a little less misunderstood and a little more at home in the world.

Ever-brutal. And ever-poetic.

It seems, although incredibly tragic, the struggles that American Standards experienced during the making of ANTI-MELODY created a vacuum of emotion yielding an outcome no fans could have predicted. We’re looking forward to seeing where this intimate breakthrough takes them, and eager to listen in as they continue to evolve.


ANTI-MELODY is available now on iTunes, Google Music, Amazon and Spotify or you can pick it up along with exclusive merchandise through the
American Standards Bandcamp page.

BANDCAMP | ITUNESAMAZON | GOOGLE MUSICSPOTIFY | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | YOUTUBE | INSTAGRAM

REVIEW: Nothing More Lets ‘Em Burn at The Van Buren in Phoenix 10-25-17

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PHOENIX — Nothing More put on an explosive performance in Phoenix Wednesday night at the city’s eye-catching new venue, The Van Buren; named in honor of the historic Martin Van Buren. Once inside, it was a pretty swanky setup: grandiose crystal chandeliers dripping from the ceiling, marble double-sided bars wrapping around the room and on the back wall, an enormous, technicolored mural of the Sonoran Desert surrounded the stage — a fitting theme considering the band was formed out of San Antonio, TX. Interestingly, Nothing More frontman Jonny Hawkins is actually an Arizona native. This is a fact he shares with drummer Ben Anderson who is known for his presence in local success story Digital Summer.

Nothing More - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Ben Anderson (Drummer) – Nothing More
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

After stirring performances by Hell or Highwater, My Ticket Home, and Palisades, it was obvious the crowd’s anticipation was at its peak. All eyes were on the stage as the lights dimmed and the introduction to “Christ Copyright” rumbled out from beneath Anderson’s drum set. In a flash of white light, Hawkins entered the stage rocking his classic barefoot, shirtless style while yelling, “What’s up Phoenix?!”, as the remainder of the band stepped on stage behind him. A haze of blue and red light filled the room as the band moved right into meteoric performances of “Let ‘Em Burn”, “Mr. MTV”, “Don’t Stop”, and “Ripping Me Apart”; kicking things off with a mixture of heavy-handed tracks from Nothing More’s fourth and fifth studio albums, Nothing More and The Stories We Tell Ourselves.

The Stories We Tell Ourselves was an immediate favorite among fans after its release in mid-September of this year, coming in at 15 on the Billboard 200. And rightfully so, as the band’s live stage presence is both wildly unapologetic and deeply emotional.

Their set featured a variety of face-melting solos by each of the band’s highly talented members, but after their hit single “Go To War”, Hawkins and lead guitarist Mark Vollelunga decided to slow things down a bit. Midway through the night, the duo came together for a heart-wrenching acoustic performance of track “Just Say When”, which moved some neighboring fans and myself to tears. It’s a song that Hawkins said “almost didn’t make it onto the record” because they thought it might be “too sappy“. As is the case with many classic emo-toned favorites, the sad love story of the troubled rock star hit us right in the feels.

As “Just Say When” came to an impassioned end, the remaining members of Nothing More took the stage once again, throwing themselves into songs “I’ll Be Okay”, “Here’s To The Heartache”, and “Do You Really Want It”. Fans visibly rejoiced as bassist Daniel Oliver strapped his instrument into the infamous “Bassinator” while Vollelunga and Hawkins aggressively plucked and tapped along the fingerboard. They were, presumably, pumping up the audience for a prolific performance of profoundly personal track “Jenny”, the third single off Nothing More’s self-titled album which spotlights Hawkins’ sister’s struggle with mental illness — a topic that hits hard for many of the band’s listeners.

Nothing More - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
 Jonny Hawkins (Vocalist), Daniel Oliver (Bassist), & Mark Vollelunga (Guitarist) – Nothing More, playing The Bassinator
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

Just as we sang along to the closing lyrics of “This Is The Time”, Hawkins stepped forward to address the crowd for one of the last times that evening. “Well it’s that time of the night; it’s our last song. Who has seen us before? [Cheers] Who has never seen us before? [Cheers] We are a band that does not give encores because one: they’re fake, and two: they’re fake. We’re just going to play our last song instead, and give it all we’ve got.

Nothing More - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
 Mark Vollelunga (Guitarist) – Nothing More
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

And just like that, Hawkins was back at it again, flinging his water bottle into the crowd and jumping all over the stage as he and his band mates poured their souls into iconic track “Salem – Burn The Witch”, standing atop their latest mega-futuristic, one-man-band machine – a 400-pound, 14-foot tall instrument. The members of Nothing More dubbed it as “The Scorpion Tail” in an interview with local radio station 98 KUPD earlier this week. The crowd went absolutely insane for it, cheering Hawkins on as he not only drummed with his feet, but sang as well. Even employees of the venue gathered to watch in awe, some with their fists thrust into the air.

Nothing More - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
 Jonny Hawkins (Vocalist) – Nothing More, on The Scorpion Tail
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

To say this performance was “impressive” would be to sell it short. Nothing More swept us off our feet yet again, and Phoenix will absolutely be back for more.

Nothing More - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
 Nothing More
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

PHOTO ALBUM

by Katherine Amy Vega

Nothing More – The Van Buren 10-25-17

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All Content © Kataklizmic Design.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No Stealing

REVIEW: Infected Mushroom Proves Phoenix is Becoming Insane at Monarch Theatre 10-21-17

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PhoenixInfected Mushroom’s tenth studio album Return To The Sauce had fans rushing the streets of downtown Phoenix Friday night to secure a spot inside Monarch Theatre for a special DJ set. One-of-a-kind beats could be felt vibrating out of the dance club as Israeli psychedelic trance duo, Amit “Duvdev” Duvdevani and Erez Eisen (referred to as mega-revolutionaries and twice-ranked as the world’s “10 Best DJ’s” by UK’s DJ Magazine) took command of the room. The evening kicked off with notable openers Binary Hertz, Astony, and Avitas; a perfect cocktail of chunky beats and futuristic electronica to foreshadow what was yet to come.

Binary Hertz
Photography: Russ Broty, Photo Editor: Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Lime green and royal blue lights gushed in flashing motions above the entranced crowd as mysterious, three-dimensional psychedelia circumvolved on screen behind the stage. Their infamous visuals are actually known as a mark of transformation for the group, as they first introduced fans to this unique art in 2013 during their “FungusAmongUs Tour”, featuring three-dimensional figures that appear to collapse in on themselves as the music rises and falls. The hypnotizing display serves as the perfect backdrop for Infected Mushroom’s “psy-trippy synthetic rhythms”, having been dubbed by Relentless Beats as both “enigmatic” and “always trippy.”

Infected Mushroom
Photography: Ken Kendall, Photo Editor: Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

The vibe of the night was pure ecstasy. People danced with everything they had in them, grinning from ear to ear the whole time adorned in multi-colored glow sticks, varying Infected Mushroom gear, and glazed looks of general intoxication. The set was a solid two-hour fusion of fan favorites mixed with the full Return To The Sauce album, a dance party to top all dance parties. Curiously, the song titles of the most notable tracks from the evening seemed to perfectly foreshadow the audience’s spirit along the way.

Infected Mushroom - Photo Credit: Ken Kendall
Infected Mushroom
Photography: Ken Kendall, Photo Editor: Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Although it was easy to get lost between one track and the next, it was clear Duvdev and Eisen knew exactly what the people of Phoenix wanted. They started things off with an electrified mash-up of “Return To The Sauce” followed soon after by “Flamingo” and “See Me Now.” As the opening notes to “Becoming Insane” tumbled out of the speakers, the crowd’s energy was on the verge of bubbling over. Bartenders thrust water hoses into the air in tandem, cutting through the dampened air with splices of icy water, sending everybody into a craze of complete euphoria. Senses dimmed and the beats took over; all that mattered was the music.

Infected Mushroom - Photo Credit: Ken Kendall
Infected Mushroom
Photography: Ken Kendall, Photo Editor: Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

It was the raw innovation behind Infected Mushroom at work, enrapturing the crowd and never holding back, passionately compelling the audience to mirror their energy with every ounce of being until the set’s closing. Together, we danced furiously through the remaining tracks of Return To The Sauce, erupting louder and louder each time at surprise mixes of tracks like “Special Place”, System of a Down’s “B.Y.O.B.”, and “Deeply Disturbed”. By the night’s end it felt a bit like all of us had left something much needed behind on that dance floor. And that “something” speaks to the magic that is Infected Mushroom: Two producers who invented an entire subgenre of trance music; two creatives who have been captivating listeners for over a decade. Whether it was sweat and spilled drinks or something a bit more meaningful “saucy” doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Infected Mushroom & Binary Hertz - Phoenix, AZ
Infected Mushroom & Binary Hertz in Phoenix
(Left-to-Right: Amit “Duvdev” Duvdevani, Sam Norris, Jeremy Miller, and Erez Eisen)

PHOTO ALBUM

Binary Hertz Photos: Russ Broty | Infected Mushroom Photos: Ken Kendall
Photo Editor: Katherine Amy Vega

Binary Hertz & Infected Mushroom – Monarch Theatre 10-21-17

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Photography © All Rights Reserved

PHOTOS: Ikonoklast Hosts SINister Fetish Party & Concert at Joe’s Grotto 7-15-17

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PHOENIX — With two stages to alternate between, Joe’s Grotto music venue has always been a favorite local spot for deliciously gritty punk & metal shows, and unusual performances. This made it an obvious venue of choice for a “sexy fetish party” like SINister  – calling out for Phoenix fans to rock out as their wildest, freaky selves. Amongst murky shadows of dimly lit stages and strobing rainbow LEDs, a true sense of community could be felt as this unique local scene came together to support a myriad of eye-catching, emerging artists.

Lucky for you, Burning Hot Events was on the scene to capture fans and performers alike. Our photo booth was hosted by our event photographer Mat Montgomery, who donned his very best sexy maid outfit – complete with a matching wig and frosty makeup perfection.

Photo Booth

View Photo Album

(Click Arrows to Scroll Images)

SINister Photo Booth - Joe's Grotto 7-15-17
SINister Photo Booth - Joe's Grotto 7-15-17

Organized as a birthday celebration for Ikonoklast vocalist, Jonah Foree, the night boasted a hard-hitting lineup including musical acts on the main stage like Scar Eater, Amensic, S.L.U.T. (Satanic League of Underground Techno), and of course Ikonoklast. Agents of LUST heated things up during the sets of both S.L.U.T. and Ikonoklast, sending arches of electrified metal sparks onto the dancers and into the crowd below.

The party also featured DJ Beautiful John, live body painting by El Spawk, and burlesque & fetish performances by Pain Proof Punks on the second stage. The performers on the second stage included Little Jae Sinclair, Lexi Locket, Katara Fox, Crystal Frost, Dr. Copperchops, Miss Wonderland, and Luna Sky.

Performer Photos

View Band Photo Albums: S.L.U.T. | Amnestic | Scar Eater | Ikonoklast

Photos by Katherine Amy Vega

SINister Fetish Party & Concert – Joe’s Grotto 7-15-17

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REVIEW: Sundressed Supercharges Fans with LP Release at The Rebel Lounge 03-06-17

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PHOENIX Sundressed put on one hell of an LP release show Thursday night at The Rebel Lounge in Phoenix. I’d been anticipating the event since first hearing lead vocalist, Trevor Hedges during an unexpected acoustic performance at the Dashboard Confessional concert earlier this year. Many of you will remember the story of Chris Carrabba welcoming Hedges to the stage after Dashboard Confessional’s hit track “Stolen,” a display of vocal dexterity which was undoubtedly reminiscent of groups like Taking Back Sunday, The Starting Line, 30 Seconds to Mars, The Used and – you guessed it, Dashboard Confessional.

This was my first experience at The Rebel Lounge. I entered through a dark, narrow hallway plastered with peeling posters which wound around to the front of the merch tables where some pinback buttons featuring a colorful portrait of Sundressed guitarist, Forest Walldorf caught my eye. R&B singer-songwriter Trent (Trenton Clark) had just taken the stage and the room was filling fast. I settled in near the bar, notebook in-hand and listened closely as robust, velvety beats tingled beneath my feet.

The Rebel Lounge is an intimate venue, the kind of place that takes me back to the days of punk rock “thrash parties” in my friend’s garage. It’s a bit gritty, on the smaller side, and full of heart. Trent’s sultry, electrified beats caught me by surprise at first. I hadn’t expected to hear anything other than emo or alt-rock tonight. As Trent’s euphoric vocals melted in and out of the speakers I began to notice a slight resemblance to neo R&B duo Trak Joy, who were credited in recent years for stretching the boundaries of contemporary rhythm and blues with their “newly minted sound.” Trent’s was a quick set, but one charged with a unique, soulful intensity – lyrically focused on stories of love, sex and addiction.

Lexi Salazar (vocalist), Eclipses for Eyes - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Lexi Salazar (vocalist), Eclipses for Eyes
© Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

After a quick changeover, alternative rock band Eclipses for Eyes took the stage with an instant authority that almost seemed to rival frontwoman Lexi Salazar’s petite stature. The moment Salazar’s voice met our ears, Lacey Sturm was at our lips.

Look, our photographer Katherine said holding out her arm,I’ve got goosebumps!

Besides displaying obvious audible similarities to alternative mega-powerhouse Flyleaf; Eclipses for Eyes is a group that commands the stage with an unstoppable energy, and one rooted in authenticity. In a 2014 interview with RiffYou.com the band was quoted saying,

Our music and lyrics are honest and personal, which is something that we find is normally neglected in most modern music.

Lexi Salazar (vocalist), Eclipses for Eyes - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Lexi Salazar (vocalist), Eclipses for Eyes © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

The band’s stellar five-piece performance of “Left of You” from the upcoming Polaris EP affirmed that for us on Thursday, and it would seem for other Phoenix fans as well. With the crowd’s energy on overdrive, expectations were high. It was an appropriate transition for Phoenix-based emo rock trio, Way Under who kicked things off with some hardcore vocals and fast-paced guitar, playing through a series of tracks off their latest EP Alone and first solo release, The Way Under EP.

This is going to be our last show for a long time,” vocalist, Aaron Villeda announced before kicking off their next song. Although some of the audience seemed eager for the main event of the evening, Way Under kept the pit jumping as anticipation continued to build.

The final opener of the night was indie rock group Saddles who boasts an unusual culmination of electronic beats, indie pop, experimental synth pop and classic emo rock. Their somewhat subdued vocals seemed to vibrate along the higher-pitched guitar notes giving the whole thing a Muse-like feel. As the set went on however, I found Saddles to be far more reminiscent live of Yellowcard or Dashboard Confessional with a variety of unique instrumentals beneath.

Between sets, fans flooded the bar to refill drinks or head to the patio for a smoke while others secured a spot close to the stage. About fifteen minutes passed before Sundressed’s vocalist Trevor Hedges finally stepped forward in a sea of fluorescent pink light to briefly thank everyone for coming out, almost immediately switching over to the opening lyrics for their latest single “A Little Less Put Together” off Sundressed’s most recent album under the same name. The crowd erupted, surrounding the stage from every angle while forming a sizable circle pit front and center. It was obvious Sundressed was what fans had been waiting for.

Hey, we’re releasing a record,” Hedges said playfully,let’s go fuckin’ nuts!

Sundressed - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Sundressed © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

I immediately recognized the next track from my Spotify playlist earlier that day. I always listen to bands while driving around on the day of a review to get pumped up, but today I’d been singing along – loudly. It was “Beck & Call” off their EP The Same Condition which according to the band, “touches on darker territory” involving heartbreak, depression, toxic relationships and “balancing intensely personal stories with universally relatable truths.

Trevor Hedges (vocalist), Sundressed - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Trevor Hedges (vocalist), Sundressed © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

The night’s energy was at its peak. I even saw a few people hanging from the rafters, which was precarious considering the risk of a foot-to-head collision with a crowd surfer below. (Katherine actually had a crowd surfer land head-first on her camera a few songs later! Thankfully, the camera survived.) It was the kind of free-spirited, no fucks given, rock show vibe fans live for and Phoenix was eating it up. Even the bartenders were jamming while mixing drinks, commenting on the quality of the music.

Trevor Hedges (vocalist), Sundressed - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Trevor Hedges (vocalist), Sundressed © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

Next up was “Mill Ave and Broadway” off of their latest album which featured a fusion of ska-punk sound with a surprise trumpet breakdown. It was magic. The band continued to play through their latest album, leaving only a few songs to be discovered in order to make room for crowd favorites like “Ordinary Day” and “Good As You.” Although Sundressed’s set was packed with freshly released tracks it felt oddly familiar, as if we were rocking out to all our old favorites.

Mosh Pit, Crowdsurfing - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Mosh Pit and Crowd Surfing with Sundressed © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

Sundressed LP Release Setlist
Sundressed LP Release Setlist
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As the release party came to an end, Hedges said they had one more for us, a newly released track entitled “Something Good.” Hedges also said of it “this song means everything to me.” It was the perfect finale to a supercharged performance, but not without a surprise encore featuring a cover of Saves the Day’s “At Your Funeral” – during which Hedges was lowered into the crowd while the stage was swallowed by energetic fans singing along. It was an all-around phenomenal performance. And also a reminder of the impact that local music can and does continue to have on our community. We are certainly curious to see where this group is headed next, but one thing is for sure – this won’t be the last you’ve heard of Sundressed.

PHOTO ALBUM
by Katherine Amy Vega

Sundressed & Eclipses For Eyes – The Rebel Lounge 3-16-17

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