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PHOENIX — While Journey and Def Leppard were “on fire” at Talking Stick Resort Arena, Butch Walker and opener Greg Holden ignited their own explosive show at Crescent Ballroom just a little more than a mile away. As is often the case, Phoenix was the tour kickoff location of Walker and Holden’s tour, and they would thereafter embark on the 17-date “The Last Days of Summer Tour” (2018). While some dedicated fans had even flown in from out of state to see the show, no one was prepared for just how hype this show would get; apparently not even Walker himself, who likened coming out to perform again like getting back into your old prom clothes.
Greg Holden, who recently interviewed with us prior to the concert date, performed at acoustic set, which as you would expect, was chill and low-key. But while Holden generally presents a fairly serious demeanor overall, he cracked a number of smiles while engaging with the vocal crowd, and joking during stage banter.
Of course, many fans recognized his “claim to fame”; the infectious hit song “Home”, written by Holden and chosen by American Idol finalist Phillip Phillips. Solidarity and warmth were felt with a strong cheer from the audience as he reached the end of the heart-wrenching song “Boys in the Street”, about the strained relationship between a father and his gay son, and finally growing to acceptance.
Anyone unfamiliar with Butch Walker was in for quite a surprise when he and his live band took the stage, as the shift in energy was immediate and palpable. Walker is not a country artist. Despite a name that might suggest as much, and Butch Walker’s charming southern roots poking through his stage presence, the more dominant and effortless image and energy he exhibited conveyed his background of a music career in glam metal (SouthGang) and pop punk/post-grunge (Marvelous 3). Walker has 8 studio albums under his belt — the most recent being Stay Gold, which was released in August of 2016.
The 48-year-old, who shared his age with the crowd himself, seemed almost surprised, and definitely pumped, that as the night went on, his solid and seasoned musical prowess had no problem kicking into high gear. Not to be taken for granted or uncredited, Walker’s live band matched his enthusiasm and skill perfectly as they danced and jammed with a fury.
As his set was coming to a close, his performance climaxed after a medley of magnificent covers of David Bowie that couldn’t have felt like more of a worthy tribute, which segued into Walker’s “Hot Girls in Good Moods”. With his shining sense of humor, he began a drawn-out activity amidst the crowd that built anticipation and inspired nearly all, save for the wallflowers on the bleachers in the back of the venue, to participate and, “GO CRAZY!” Confetti and streamers popped out over the thrilled concertgoers.
The duality between Walker and Holden’s performances indeed complemented each other perfectly, and the show was unforgettably dynamic and downright mind-blowing. We highly recommend picking yourself up and heading out to this show in a city near you, because it is so worth it.
PHOENIX —SHE is a dark horror comedy film that was produced in the Valley by Gravel Road Production and lead actress Hannah McKay; it will premiere on July 5, 2018 at a private screening at Filmbar. The 90-minute film has already stirred some controversy, having been described as a jarring film about female empowerment. The plotline involves an Airbnb owner, who uses her sexuality to manipulate her male guest into doing her evil bidding.
(Viewer discretion is advised – some scenes may not be suitable for all audiences.)
Q & A with Film Writer/Director Will Goldstein
SHE’s Writer and Director, Will Goldstein, spoke with Burning Hot Events about the film and it’s impact:
What is your background in filmmaking?
I’ve been making films since I was a teenager. I studied film production as an undergrad at U of A, then got a Masters at USC. Since then I’ve directed or produced a handful of indies that you can find on Amazon.
Your IMDB profile shows credits dating back to 2010 – How long have you been doing it?
The first short films I made that actually got shown publicly were screened as early as 2010, so that IMDB timeline makes sense.
What inspired the plotline for this film?
My original goal was to write a horror movie that took place in one location, and had a dynamic female lead. When I set out to write, the sexual assault scandals had been all over the news and I think that subconsciously influenced the tone and narrative arc of the film, and it became less of a horror movie and more of an outrageously over-the-top dark, dark comedy.
In your opinion, what are some films that would be favorites of someone who would enjoy SHE?
Ah, cool question. The film that inspired me the most is a bizarre Greek movie called Dogtooth, though fans of that film are few and far between. It’s a lot to stomach. A more mainstream comp might be Kill Bill, if it was directed by the Coen bros. And that’s on SHE’s ‘best’ day.
What do you think makes this film different from others in the same genre?
I’ve been personally struggling with the film’s genre. I think that’s what makes it so unique, though. It’s an amalgam of a few genres.
How long did it take to write the script?
About 3 weeks.
What style of cinematography was utilized for this film?
It’s a very raw, verite style. A good comparison visually might be the films of Kathryn Bigelow.
Some would describe the Phoenix filmmaking scene as a desert. Why do you think that filmmaking has been underrepresented in our arts & culture scenes?
There’s a ridiculous amount of filmmaking talent in Phoenix. The issue is, in my opinion, that these artists don’t have a significant mouthpiece in the local media. For instance, azcentral only employs film reviewers that review theatrical fare. There’s no appointed person in a position to cover local productions.
How has the film provided opportunities for local talent, and in what ways do you think the film will help the production communities in Phoenix in the future?
This film was made entirely by local talent, excluding the sound editor. The producers, actresses, actors, and crew are all Phoenicians. I’m hoping that, with this film, which will definitely play as controversial to a variety of audiences, we’re able to galvanize the media to take a more active look at local film productions.
Why did you choose Filmbar for the premiere?
Filmbar is the best. It’s the indie film hub of the community. They have a ravenous spirit for the weird and avant garde. And our film is definitely that.
What importance do you think a venue like Filmbar plays in our society?
Indie theaters like Filmbar are so few and far between outside of major cities like LA and NY, and that’s unfortunate because they’re so necessary as a distributing outlet for artists that are taking chances and making challenging films that aren’t afraid of alienation at the cost of vanity.
Will the audience have the opportunity to meet you and/or the cast at the premiere?
Local band Jane N’ The Jungle provided the title track for the film. Will they be doing anything for the premiere?
They’ll be in attendance.
In the past, you worked with the band when you created their music videos for “Wild Side” and “Killed Someone”. What made you feel that JNTJ would be a good fit for the film’s soundtrack?
JNTJ are genius at disguising contentious subject matter as fist pumping, radio friendly anthems. I think that’s really brilliant in a subversive way, and that’s primarily why I think they’re a great fit. Subversion.
In the current climate of the entertainment industry with the #metoo movement, and recent killings that have been tied to self-proclaimed “incels” (involuntary celibates), some individuals and groups believe that women use their sexuality as a weapon. In the renaissance era, paintings were made of women having relations with demons and animals because female sexuality was so heavily feared. Can you explain how you think the film is progressive in terms of female empowerment? And how do you think viewing the film would impact someone who shares those viewpoints on female sexuality?
I think everyone is going to have differing opinions on this front, and part of the construction of this film is to incite a reaction, whether positive or negative. Without giving anything away, I will say that the film subverts the traditional sociological role of ‘agency,’ as it’s respective to gender.
To your second question, I honestly can’t say. I can’t purport to know how anyone will react specifically, but we’ll find out soon enough.
The lead character is shown to be calling the male guest (Troy) a “pussy” on multiple occasions. Does the film shed light on the topic of toxic masculinity?
I think it does. I was aiming for a meaner, satirical display of toxic masculinity.
Can you tell us more about what other/related controversy has been triggered by the film?
I can tell you that it involves subject matter that will have some people heading for the doors.
Do you feel that controversy can bring about anything positive?
Absolutely. In the jaded world we live in, I think controversy has to be stoked to even start a debate.
Would SHE pass the Bechdel test?
Actually, it would. Barely. But it would.
It’s admirable that Hannah McKay both served as a producer, and lead actress of the film. How did McKay initially become involved in SHE, and what lead to her to wearing both hats in the production?
I would say it’s more than admirable. The role of producer is demanding enough itself. If you add to that a leading role, with a character that has pages of dialogue that not only has to be memorized, but delivered so precisely take after take for hours a day, I don’t think ‘admirable’ is the most apt term. Maybe ‘superhuman.’ I dare any actress or actor to try to pour themselves out emotionally for 6 hours straight while simultaneously worrying about the status of film permits, actor’s schedules, and whether or not lunch will be prepared in time.
I met Hannah on the set of JNTJ’s “Killed Someone” video shoot. She played the lead in that video. She’d had no prior acting experience. I thought she had a natural, honest demeanor on camera, and that’s such an unbelievably difficult trait to come across, so I asked her if she’d be potentially interested in acting in a film. Luckily, she was.
Did McKay have a lot of input on how her character, Jane, was portrayed?
When you’re working with actors, you’re collaborating. The script version of the character takes on a new form in a new body, and together you try to make this new entity as honest as it can be. So of course that requires an open mind, suggestions, and encouragement.
How did the actresses and actors influence the final product?
Funny you ask that. I think the actresses and actors are the reason this film evolved from a horror into a dark comedy. And it’s so much better because of that.
Are there any opportunities left for local artists to be involved with SHE?
Definitely. I would love to work with a variety of local musicians on the soundtrack. JNTJ did a cover song that works perfectly in the film, and I’d love to get other local acts on the team if there are any willing to collaborate.
What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to someone that dreams to be a writer and/or director?
Learn all the “rules,” and then do whatever you can to break them.
What is your favorite inspirational quote?
“I’ll rebel against powers and principalities, all the time. Always, I will.”
– Paul Thomas Anderson
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about SHE?
Don’t watch it.
Phoenix band Jane N’ The Jungle does incendiary title track for brash indie film SHE
Popular local PHX band Jane N’ The Jungle is expanding their repertoire to film soundtracks, covering Aloe Blacc’s “The Man” as the title track for the contentious local indie flick, SHE, that has been stirring debate here in the Valley. The song was selected by the film’s director and frequent JNTJ collaborator, Will Goldstein.
“The original song is sung by a man, with male-dominated lyrics. When we perform it, the song takes on an opposing point of view,” says Jordan White, the band’s front-woman.
At a time when sexism has been a featured topic during the #metoo movement, the irony of a woman performing such a male-centric song is intended to spark discussion about a male-dominated culture that undermines female power. The raw, stripped down performance by Jane N’ The Jungle, has a haunting grit that embodies the controversial film.
Scottsdale, AZ – For 9 out of 10 years strong, a very special show has been held annually at Pub Rock – a venue formerly named Chasers Bar. A staple in the Industrial/Gothic community, Mustache Massacre is an event that brings together both new and well-known faces alike, for a night that reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously. It’s a free concert with one caveat… you’re only getting in free if you have a mustache.
“Grow it, glue it, draw it, clip it, tape it, make it…So, trim your sister’s armpit hair, shave a dead muskrat, or steal the president’s toupee. ‘Cuz we don’t care where you get the hair, as long as it’s there!…CAN YOUR FACE HANDLE IT?!!!”
The 10th Annual Mustache Massacre (& Wa’s 40th Birthday Bash) featured entertainment by Ikonoklast, 80*D, Goth Brooks, Camel Enamel, Family Secret, and DJs //SHE// & Zander. With these 5 bands bringing industrial, goth, punk, metal, and even a little bit country, 2 DJs, a crowd of characters that weren’t afraid to dance and mosh, a photo booth run by Burning Hot Events, and even a mustache contest, it made for a long, hard, and nutty night.
“Get yo’ bad-ass mo’-fro’ pho-togged to show your grand kids what a freakin’ weirdo you were!”
Check out all of the shots from the photo booth HERE!
Must be hands-free (attached to your face somehow)
No finger mustaches! (drawing on finger and placing to face)
5 o’clock shadow does not count (add some roughage to that stubble!)
The more outrageous, the better! (get creative, there is a contest!)
The mustache contest was after Goth Brooks’ set. Participants stood on stage, and the winner was chosen by an audience vote.
1st place – Mustache Messiah ($50 plus band merch) 2nd place – Bristle Baron ($25 plus band merch)
Since Burning Hot Events reviewed Jane N’ The Jungle’s“Shake Me Out” music video in June 2016, immediately following our photo shoot of their music video premiere show, the band has grown by leaps and bounds. It is evident that Jane N’ The Jungle has tenaciously pursued the growth of their visibility, and the quality of their media and productions shows they are not cutting corners. The band is standing out both in image, and in sound, and they just recently released their latest music video, for the track “Wild Side”.
Our interview with Jordan White taps into not only what has helped her band Jane N’ The Jungle to transcend the boundaries of Arizona, but also the personal experiences and growth process for White and her bandmates…
Jane N’ The Jungle has certainly become a recognizable name and sound in the Phoenix music market. Yet, some fans may not realize your growing base outside of your hometown. What do you think has been key for your reach outside of your local area?
Social media has been the biggest part of our growing fanbase outside of our hometown. We’ve been getting radio spins nationally, and our music videos featured on music television channels in the US and Canada that have also helped with our growing fanbase. Spotify is another great way fans have been able to listen to our music and connect through related artists they like.
This current music video “Wild Side” was partially filmed at the Whiskey A Go Go. Was that the first time you had played there?
I played at the Whisky A Go Go twice before with another band I formed out in LA. This was the first time Jane N’ The Junkgle has taken the stage at the legendary venue and opened for The Iron Maidens. It was a blast!!
Was the vision for its charm and neon character of humor thought about as the song was written, or did the vision come about afterwards for the video?
The humor came after writing the song trying to lighten the vibe and keep it fun. We released “Killed Someone” a few months before that, [which] has a very heavy message relating to sexual abuse before the #metoo went viral. We wanted the next video to be lighthearted.
Where does inspiration come from for your songwriting? How personal is it?
Songwriting is my therapy. The words spill out of my mind like a journal and it’s very personal. I appreciate Brian for all his patience during the writing process. I have song melodies constantly going through my head pretty much all the time, so it’s nice trying to focus and narrow down on one thought and theme. I oftentimes don’t even notice I’m singing and humming at work, or at the store, or even when I speak with people; I have songs running in my head it’s hard to shut it out. Maybe one day that will stop, but for now it’s always been my musical inspiration for songwriting with words spilling from my gut at the very moment. Brian has his own inspirations, and with that combined, [it] has formed our music.
Every band has a ‘formula’, so to speak, that they follow in creating their music. Is Jane N The Jungle’s songwriting process lyrics-first, or second?
Our writing process is very organic, and lyrics typically happen the same time as the music, both inspired by the story we are trying to tell musically and lyrically. We have songs that have been written [in] all different ways. When there’s an idea or a spark, you go with it.
The band seems very comfortable on stage and with performing. Was it always that way for each band member, or has being up front in the spotlight taken time to adjust to?
I had horrible stage fright as a child. It took me years to not freeze up and turn ghostly white. I was extremely shy. Overcoming that obstacle inspired my passion for performance. It takes time developing chemistry with each musician on stage. Performance is a very personal space, and the more connected you are with each other and the music the easier it becomes.
The directive the band has taken is really key to success nowadays in the industry – releasing singles with a music video. How many have you done so in 2017, and how has the pace been to keep up with?
We’ve released 4 music videos this year. It’s been a lot of fun working on each one. If you make the work about the music, it quickly doesn’t feel like work, and that has helped with the quick pace of our videos. Music is number one.
Can you give us a glimpse into Jane N The Jungle and 2018?
We are currently working on preproduction for our upcoming EP and can’t wait to share some of the details soon!
PHOENIX — While genre-bending musician & DJ Bonobo was electrifying The Van Buren downtown, The Rebel Lounge was being taken over by post-hardcore, indie, and alternative rock. On the bill were co-headlining classic Drive-Thru Records artists The Movielife & The Early November, along with Racquet Club, & locals Daylight Heist.
Phoenix was the first night that Racquet Club joined this tour, and they will continue through to the last show on October 14. Racquet Club features members of Knapsack, The Jealous Sound, and Samiam. They released their debut self-titled album on September 29, just 4 days before this Phoenix show. Fans of local legends The Format, whose lead vocalist was Nate Ruess, may have recognized vocalist Blair Shehan from The Jealous Sound when they performed together in 2003 along with Limbeck and The Like.
The Early November
The Early November played their debut album, The Room’s Too Cold, in it’s entirety, to the delight of the crowd that sang 3/4 of the songs. The band took a break from 2007 to 2011, and has been active up until the present, with their fifth studio album Fifteen Years released in January of this year. The Early November performed as part of the Taste of Chaos line-up at Comerica Theatre in July of 2016; alongside Saosin, Taking Back Sunday, & Dashboard Confessional. (View our review & photos here.)
The Movielife released their first new album in 14 years, Cities in Search of A Heart, on September 22. Their 2014 reunion was a dream come true for fans who didn’t expect their return 11 years after their 2003 break-up, those who never had a chance to see them before, and for Phoenix fans who didn’t expect the band to play outside of New York.
Daylight Heist, who were on after The Movielife, are the official resident DJs of EmoNightPHX, which has been taking place at The Rebel Lounge, but will next be at The Van Buren on October 21. You can check them out, along with out all-emo cover band Hands Down, and other special guests (TBA) that night. Some of the special guest DJs that EmoNightPHX has had this year include: Buddy Neilsen of Senses Fail (9/27), Ryan Key of Yellowcard (7/20), and JT Woodruff of Hawthorne Heights (6/22).
PHOENIX — With an Arizona summer solar-powered surge of ambition, Tempe-based Alternative HipHop artist DaDadoh started recording the 6-track You Can’t Rap Forever in June of this year. In only four months between then and the release show, he worked with a perfectionistic fervor to re-work and refine his songs that had already proven popular. Regardless of unwavering confidence in the songs he’s written, DaDadoh honed his insatiable appetite for challenging himself to accomplish beyond what he thought feasible before. In fact, he mixed and mastered the album, and performed all of the songs including all of the instrumentals, himself. The result was reaching the same kind of new heights as an artist that he is regularly helping other artists achieve as a music producer with his record label TVLiFE Entertainment.
Although You Can’t Rap Forever is a cohesive addition to DaDadoh’s discography, the release brings a fresh sound that comes with his growth and evolution as an artist and a person. Lyrically, he continues to cleverly inject commentary into his verses, using music as his platform to have a voice in matters. Steering away from his cocky, comedic, and sex-saturated themes of the 2016 release Radical, he takes a more sober tone, and channels angst into his music. The new release is both melodic, and infused with punk rock. The album feels sincere and intense – like it’s made of his very soul. Get ready to get f*cked up when you dive in.
You can buy You Can’t Rap Forever on Bandcamp as a digital download only, or with a physical copy in CD format:Here
While DaDadoh is a charismatic (and somewhat-eccentric) staple in the Phoenix local music scene, he isn’t one to boast; despite the fact that one might consider him a hiphop-flavored renaissance man. If you’re not familiar with his projects and you’re reading this now, it might have taken some online sleuthing to discover that on top of his solo project and music production, he also hosts “Before The Show: The Podcast,” and is a member of bands including Exxxtra Crispy and Militia Joan Hart. And during the four months leading up to the EP release, he helped local musicians even further by recruiting 3 live band members – now known as The P.o.C. – Andy Warpigs (Guitar & Vocals), Jimmie Lewis (Bass), and Daviid Giiron (Drums).
The more you learn about DaDadoh, the more you come to understand that he passionately pours 100% into his artistic projects, and how important the community is to him. Although this release show was his time to shine, his gratitude for his new bandmates, and all of the fans and media people swarming around The Trunk Space venue, was no secret; nor was their willingness and enthusiasm to support his release show – and THAT reciprocal community is what Burning Hot Events is all about.
Scottsdale, Ariz. — Think About It, an alt rock band from Mesa, AZ, brought soul and energy to Scottsdale’s The Rogue Bar late on a Thursday night. Headlining a show with supporting acts Wurmfur, M. Crane, Dwarf, and Brother Cousin; they topped off an evening of impressive performances in Rogue Bar’s intimate atmosphere. Brother Cousin filled in last-minute for the original opener in the line-up, FutureSpeak.
The band’s Facebook page bio describes their sound’s unique blend: “Think About It combines the diverse influences of a rock & soul singer, a blues rock guitarist, a punk bassist, and a metalcore & pop-punk drummer to bring you a unique blend of passion-fueled alternative rock and roll you won’t hear anywhere else.“
The full personal investment of heart into the music from frontman Lee Taggart is visible in his stage presence. Think About It’s intentions are quite clear, as they close out their bio with, “If you’re not thinking about it, you’re not thinking.”
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Gothic rock band The Birthday Massacre, along with supporting acts Army of the Universe and Sumo Cyco, brought their 2017 North American tour to Pub Rock on the verge of releasing their seventh full-length studio album Under Your Spell. The Scottsdale stop was the 15th of 27 tour dates. With a whopping 20-song setlist and tireless energy, The Birthday Massacre brought their signature animated and dark stage presence to a packed crowd on a Monday night.
Fronted by Sever (formerly solo artist Skye Sweetnam), punk metal band Sumo Cyco from Ontario opened the show. Their 2nd album, Opus Mar, was released recently on March 31, 2017. The charismatic front-woman with teal hair, matching bustier, high-waisted shorts, and fishnet stockings easily caught the attention of The Birthday Massacre’s fans. Sumo Cyco’s song “Danger” well-represents the image of the band and it’s lead singer, with lyrics like, “If you want it, we’ll give you danger“, and “I’m young and feisty, so tongue me and try me“. At one point, Sever rode on the shoulders of the guitarist Matt Drake amongst the crowd. With her sex-appeal and aggressive movements, and the band’s lively performance, they drew in crowd and left them pleased.
The next band to play before the headliner took the stage was an Italian industrial band named Army of the Universe. Vocalist Lord K is also the lead singer of the band Kult of the Skull God. The audience was visibly impressed with the power that the band brought to the stage. Lord K took the stage with ferocity and cocky mannerisms; yelling and thrusting his mic into the faces of audience members, raising up and pumping the mic stand above his head, dripping with sweat and shirtless by the end of the set. While DJ, producer, and band co-founder Trebla primarily focused intently on his synthesizers and laptops; guitarist Davide Tavecchia and drummer Giuseppe Amato wildly played their instruments with their hair flying like they were caught in a storm while donning big smiles and roaring facial expressions. It was clear that the band members were having a blast, which made them equally fun to experience.
Army of the Universe was a fitting choice to set the mood and round-out the audience appeal following Sumo Cyco, with the style of The Birthday Massacre somewhat being a combination of that of the two openers.
The Birthday Massacre’s new album was funded through PledgeMusic, with full-album downloads being sent out on June 1st exclusively to pledgers in advance of the June 9th release. When they hit the stage, they kicked off their set with the first track of the new album, “One”, with instant force.
The Ontario-based band was formed in 1999, and their well-seasoned prowess is clearly evident in their performance. Their fanbase at the venue that night was also a mature crowd, who interacted with the band like loyal, long-time friends. Front-woman Chibi engages with the audience, grabbing hands and emoting delightfully vicious facial expressions throughout the night; while the rest of the band also contorts their faces, violently headbangs, pounds on and swings their instruments around. With such a dynamic, The Birthday Massacre is a band that it would feel off to experience with a substantial distance from the stage; so it’s just as well that Pub Rock has no barricade between the crowd and the stage.
The next two songs the band played were “Red Stars” and “Looking Glass”, the first and second singles from their 2007 album, Walking With Strangers. “Red Stars” is a personal favorite due to it’s raging power-chords. Following, were a couple more songs from their new release, “All of Nothing” and “Counterpane”. Then, a few songs from the Superstition album; “Destroyer”, “Divide”, and “Superstition”.
“Lovers End” from the 2004 Violet album came next, followed by “Happy Birthday” and “Video Kid”. These two songs were originally from 2002’s Nothing and Nowhere, and then appeared again on the Violet album. They next played the new album’s title track “Under Your Spell”, and then “No Tomorrow”.
Chibi exudes such confidence and comfort on stage, it is inspirational and it garners respect. Event when forgetting some of the lyrics, she simply burst into laughter, which caused guitarist Rainbow to crack up too. It was very endearing as they continued through the song, unable to hold back more laughter between them. Temporary mic issues didn’t snuff out the fire of her enthusiasm either. During “Lovers End”, Chibi grabbed a fan’s phone that was recording video, and walked around stage singing into it.
Continuing to give a full-discography sampler, the next two songs performed were “Leaving Tonight” and “Alibis” from Hide and Seek, which was released in 2012. Lastly, from the 2010 Pins and Needles album, “Pins and Needs” and “In the Dark”.
Almost immediately after the band exited the stage before returning for the encore, the enthusiastic fans started chanting, “Ten more songs! Ten more songs!”. While they didn’t get their 10, they seemed to be satiated with the long set and an intense finale, which included “Blue”, “I Think We’re Alone Now”, and “Broken”.
PHOENIX —The No Doubt & AFI hybrid Dreamcar drove into Crescent Ballroom and put on a colorful show! This band was everything fans expected of the union of Davey Havok & the No Doubt instrumentalists, and more! With a new single named “Kill for Candy”, this band of legends is solid and refreshing new ear candy that fans would kill for!
Tucson, Ariz. — The Paper Kites rolled into town from San Diego to perform at the intimate Club Congress inside of the historic Hotel Congress. The 7 year old band of an indie folk-rock genre hails from Melbourne, Australia. The band supported headliner Passenger for this North American tour, however Tucson received the special treat of a show headlined by The Paper Kites.
Opening the night was local songwriter Jess Matsen, who chilled his way through his mellow acoustic set while some in the crowd chattered directly in front of him. In between songs, Matsen spoke to the crowd, stating that he hadn’t anticipated such a large turnout. Despite the noise, there were some attendees that clearly appreciated his performance, and shouted up front to ask for his name. Matsen released The Killing of Our Kind Ofin November of last year, and has also performed with local groups Dream Sick & J.R.M.
The Paper Kites directly followed Matsen with a sound that one fan was overheard describing as “ethereal”, and they brought passersby into the venue with their notable sound. The band’s harmonies are entrancing, particularly their signature duets between lead vocalist Sam Bentley and keyboardist/guitarist Christina Lacy.
In between songs, Bentley took the opportunity to chat with the crowd, commenting that the intimate venue was like playing a house show… except not, because it’s much fancier. He also joked about wishing he could take one of the cacti home, that he saw during the drive to Tucson from California. After he broke out his harmonica, he mused that everyone always gets excited about the instrument.
The venue afforded him the opportunity to interact with the crowd in a way not possible on the other dates of the tour in which they performed grand theaters such as The Wiltern in Los Angeles and Fox Theater in Oakland, CA.
With the lighting that Club Congress offers, it was pleasant to be able to observe every band member clearly. The least visible being bassist/synth player (synthist?) Sam Rasmussen, who was tucked in the back right corner behind the other musicians and instruments.
With impressive mastery of their musicianship and sound, there was nary a difference in sound between hearing The Paper Kites live and listening to one of their albums.
Amidst their set, following the song “Too Late”, came the most intimate segment of all. Bentley asked that the lights be turned off, and the room was then lit only by the faint glow of the exit signs. The next two songs were a unique and meditative period of visual deprivation. The first song in the darkness was “A Silent Cause”, which was fitting considering how silent the crowd felt obligated to become with the lights out.
The second song in the darkness was “Bloom”, which instead had the audience united in a beautiful chorus. Usually while the unison sing-a-longs at concerts are touching, tone-deaf vocals shout-sang by fans are commonplace. (It doesn’t matter, because it’s about the experience and showing love to the artists.) But The Paper Kites’ fans in Tucson have surprisingly good singing voices, as they fell into a delightful harmony.
Before the encore, the band played “Electric Indigo”, followed by “Featherstone” to close the show. Afterward, the band was so kind as to meet fans, autograph merch, and take group photos outside. It was not just a small concert, but truly an experience to be in attendance at The Paper Kites’ gig in Tucson, with such a personal connection both during and after their performance. No doubt fans were grateful for the rare opportunity before the band heads back to Australia.