All posts by Katie Silverman

REVIEW: Sedona’s Michelle Branch Returns to AZ to Serenade Fans at Crescent Ballroom 07-26-17

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PHOENIX — Even the intense July heat could not exhaust the bubbling excitement surrounding the sold out Crescent Ballroom last Wednesday night as fans of all ages poured into the venue, ready to watch Michelle Branch take the stage. It was almost as if the city itself knew that one of it’s own had come home. Once inside, people gathered in little bundles or nestled themselves in corners and around tables in the bar, loudly chattering with excitement for Michelle’s set to begin.

In the concert area, the opener HAERTS had just begun, guiding the audience into a mellow atmosphere that would last throughout their set. As the songs continued, it was apparent that the crowd was not going to do this band justice. Side conversation and constant movement drowned out the soulful lyrics vocalist Nini Fabi sang. However, the fans closest to the stage were completely entranced by her beautiful words, and could be seen swaying back and forth.

As soon as HAERTS took their leave from the stage, everyone in the room gathered close and waited in anticipation for Michelle to come on. She was met with rousing applause and cheers as she came from backstage, and without a word strapped on her guitar, and went right into her first song, “Last Night.” Like most of her set, the first song and the two that followed came from her brand new album Hopeless Romantic, which was released back in April of this year.

Michelle Branch - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Michelle Branch
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

People who listened to her music before know Michelle Branch to have more of a pop/country vibe to her music. However, this time she has completely revamped her musical style, and it showed as she went effortlessly from one song to the next, dancing around the stage or making subtle hand movements around the mic as she sang. The crowd was loving it, especially during the third song “You Get Me” when she suddenly exclaimed “Phoenix how you guys doing tonight?! It’s so good to be home, even if it is too hot to go outside!” This was met with loud, amused cheering. Along with their excitement came a moment of uncertainty however, as to how to respond to her new style of music. There were various people moving back and forth or clapping lightly to the beat. Some were even singing along or just cheering the entire time. It took until she played “All You Wanted” for the crowd to really get into it. She took a different approach to the old crowd favorite, slowing down the tempo and singing in a lower pitch, but that didn’t stop everyone in the room from singing along joyously to the lyrics they had come to know and love.

Once the thunderous applause died down from our first moment of nostalgia that evening, she took a moment to talk about her new album and the steps that it took her to produce it. After that she took a moment to introduce us to her “family from the road”, including her drummer and now fiance Patrick Carney who also happens to be the drummer for The Black Keys. When the introductions concluded, the lights dimmed as Michelle and her female band mates gathered around a microphone and prepared to “bring a little Nashville to Phoenix” with their rendition of “Leave the Pieces” from Michelle’s 2006 album Stand Still, Look Pretty, which she produced as part of the band The Wreckers.

She then continued our trip down memory lane with a slow tempoed, almost seductive version of “Game of Love,” written and produced with Santana. She rounded out this part of her set with the ever popular “Breathe” which produced the biggest crowd response of any song so far. Everyone was up and dancing, jumping up and down to the beat, and singing loudly to the words, threatening to drown her out completely. Even the band moved around the stage as they played, giving off the exact vibe expected to come from her show.

Wanting to bring the focus back to her current album, she finished out the show playing more upbeat songs, not stopping as she effortlessly navigated through “City”, “Fault Line” and “Living in a Lie.” The energy from these songs was enough to keep the crowd fully drawn in, even when she had to pause a time or two in between songs to tune her different guitars. She brought the set to a close with one last oldie but goodie “Are You Happy Now?” Following her flow from earlier on in the show, she slowed this one down as well, singing very closely to the mic while keeping her eyes closed. The vibe around the whole room was warm and satisfied as they gently swayed in unison to the lyrics in the dim lighting. She was met with a resounding applause as she stated a simple, “Thank you Phoenix”, and left the stage with her bad in tow.

Michelle Branch - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Michelle Branch
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

She didn’t make it far before the crowd exuberantly began yelling “Encore!!”. This went on for about a minute before Michelle and her band returned to the stage. She began by thanking Haerts for playing with her that evening, explaining, “I listened to Haerts a lot while writing this new album.”. Then, she went on to remind us one more time, “It is so nice to be home! I cannot believe I’m playing here again.”, giving us all a sense of pride to share our hometown with her.

The Birthday Massacre setlist Phoenix 7-26-17
Michelle Branch setlist
Crescent Ballroom 7-26-17
(Click to Enlarge)

She finished her set by singing two more old favorites; the soulful “Goodbye to You” and an unexpected solo version of “Everywhere.” Before starting her final song, she made a promise to the crowd that. “it won’t ever be this long ever again” in terms of her producing new music. Almost as if she didn’t want the show to end, she beautifully sang the lyrics of her biggest hit in a sensual, almost haunting manner, keeping the crowd entranced up until the last note.

Thank you again Phoenix”, were her parting words as she waved at everyone as she exited the stage, hugging people along the sides as she went. As the crowd left the concert area, there was a feeling of content in the air knowing that everyone got exactly what they wanted from this show, and that it will not be another decade before we welcome Michelle home once more.

REVIEW: Bayside Co-Headlining Show Has Low Vacancy at Marquee Theatre 4-21-17

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TEMPE, Ariz. — Tempe was bursting with anticipation Friday night as fans of co-headlining Bayside and Say Anything gathered early outside Marquee Theatre, pushing their way inside to claim their spot in the front row.There was a tangible buzz in the air as people of all ages lined up to be checked by security outside the theatre.

The air was crisp in my lungs as I walked rather quickly behind Burning Hot Events concert photographer Katherine towards Will Call to claim our press passes for the evening. As we arrived for Bayside in the nick of time following some transportation chaos, the opening band, Reggie and the Full Effect, had set a fast-paced tone for Bayside to take the stage after them. As the set change became evident, audience members rushed to claim their place before the stage, rumbling with shouts and claps in a flurry of excitement; and I hurriedly followed suit to find my place in the front corner near the security barrier.

As I quickly worked to get my things in order, I could feel the deep rumbling of the bass move from beneath my converse and slowly encompass the rest of me as the band did a quick warm up. The vast, dual-level concert area makes for great acoustics, which they used to their advantage as they dove into their set with the ever-popular “Already Gone.” The breakneck tempo of this A Day to Remember-esque song sent the crowd into a frenzy of cheers and metal hands as the band members danced around the stage to the opening chords.

Bayside - Photo Credit: Kataklizmic Design
Anthony Raneri (Lead Vocalist, Guitarist), Bayside
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design

What’s up Phoenix?! We came to sing with you and dance with you!,” vocalist Anthony Raneri shouted into his mic, attempting to rouse the crowd even more. This song comes from the band’s fifth album Killing Time, which was released back in February of 2011, and it was obvious why they chose to open with it. The exuberant crowd danced and sang along in unison, receiving copious opportunities to sing back the words they’ve come to know so well. Raneri made it known immediately to everyone there that the rest of this particular set was going to be filled with high energy and vivacious songs. And they did not disappoint.

Bayside - Photo Credit: Kataklizmic Design
Nick Ghanbarian (Bassist), Bayside
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design

This being my first time seeing Bayside live, I can honestly say I didn’t know what to expect, but the next 12 songs following the opener all had one thing in common: they were meant to make you move. Wanting to keep the electricity flowing, Raneri continued to captivate the crowd with other old favorites such as “Sick, Sick, Sick”, “Masterpiece”, and “Blame it on Bad Luck.”. Guitarist Jack O’Shea and bassist Nick Ghanbarian could be seen dancing around stage the entire performance, singing passionately as they moved fluidly from one song to the next.

They even included a few songs off of their new album Vacancy, and while it “isn’t a breakup album”, the songs were written to portray a very uncertain time in vocalist Raneli’s life. That doesn’t mean they have to sound that way, however, and as “Mary” followed hastily by “I’ve Been Dead All Along” were blasted through the speakers I was standing precariously close to, the frenzied tempo was enough to keep everyone moving.

Bayside - Photo Credit: Kataklizmic Design
Jack O’Shea (Lead Guitarist), Bayside
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design

While the set was primarily focused on the music as opposed to engaging the crowd, Raneli did pause about halfway through the set to discuss their new album. “CDs are expensive to make and even more expensive to buy” he stated matter-of- factly, and went on to inform the concert goers that the band has created a $5 version of their new album that is available for purchase now. The roar in response was deafening, and all the motivation Raneli needed to jump into the next set of fiery songs that would steadily keep the energy of the room at maximum level right up to the final song “Devotion and Desire” off their very first album.

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

As I left the Marquee that evening, I couldn’t help but notice how quickly I moved, or the extra spring in my step. This band had even found a way to keep the energy flowing through me, even after their set was over. They show true passion in their music on and off the stage, and gave me the motivation to be as fluid with my writing. This was admittedly my first time writing a concert review for Burning Hot Events, but I can easily say that if every show is like Bayside, I will definitely be back for more.    

PHOTO ALBUM
by Katherine Amy Vega

Bayside – Marquee Theatre 4-21-17

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