All posts by Nick Gonzaga

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

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Day 1 — October 26

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Nick Gonzaga
Photo Credit: Nick Gonzaga

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Nick Gonzaga
Photo Credit: Nick Gonzaga

 

Day 2  — October 27

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

Photo Credit: Nick Gonzaga
Photo Credit: Nick Gonzaga

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

Nick Gonzaga
Nick Gonzaga

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or so I thought.

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

 

Packing Up

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

REVIEW: Incubus, Jimmy Eat World, and Judah & The Lion Blow Away Ak-Chin Pavilion 8-12-17

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PHOENIX — It was a hot and humid evening on August 12th as the lines of cars slowly filled the parking lot of Ak-Chin Pavilion in Phoenix. Incubus was headlining the night’s show with special guests Jimmy Eat World.

Opening act Judah & The Lion was on stage first to warm up the crowd and promote their recent Folk Hop ‘N Roll Deluxe LP, released earlier this year on St. Patrick’s day. The Nashville-based band brought their own unique brand of genre-bending grooves to the valley before heading to Los Angeles for a show at the Hollywood Bowl on August 14th. Frontman Judah Akers is high energy, even running through the audience at one point and doling out high fives to the amused delight of concertgoers. This band definitely did their job setting the mood for the rest of the evening.

At approximately 7:42 PM, Jimmy Eat World took the stage to an uproar of applause as the lights lit up a sea of faces throughout the Pavilion with “Sure and Certain” as their opening song, followed by the title track of their 2001 album Bleed American. As the sun disappeared over the horizon, the purple clouds in the distance began to take a darker hue, with quick flashes of lightning bursts illuminating sky. This would foreshadow what would come later in the evening.

For the time being, everyone was worry-free and soaking up the nostalgia of seeing this amazing band again. It was even more special for the folks in attendance because Jimmy Eat World are one of the few mainstream bands from Arizona. Formed in Mesa back in 1993, the band has been a source of inspiration for many Arizona musicians for nearly two and a half decades. There are most likely a lot of people in the audience that saw them live in one of the famed and now closed Arizona music venues from the 90’s heyday before the band made it big. So many couples are singing along and embracing with the lyrics, “Sure and certain, wander ‘til we’re old”.

Lead vocalist and guitarist Jim Adkins eventually addresses the audience admitting “We’ve actually never played here before,” later adding, “It means a lot for us to be here playing music for you tonight”.

This was surprising news to many because the venue has been a staple for live music for the last 27 years. How could they not have played the pavilion before? When it had originally opened to the public in 1990 it was the Desert Sky Pavilion. In 1996 the name was changed to the Blockbuster Desert Sky Pavilion until 2001 when it was renamed the Cricket Pavilion, which it remained… Until it was again rebranded as the Cricket Wireless Pavilion. In 2010 it was renamed yet again as Ashley Furniture HomeStore Pavilion for 3 years until things came full circle and it once again retained the name Desert Sky Pavilion. That was short lived as the Ak-Chin Indian Community purchased the naming rights later that year and it has remained Ak-Chin Pavilion ever since.

There was a chilling performance of “Pass the Baby”, and the people swayed like blades of grass in a summer’s wind, back and forth to the beat. An entire field of people moving their bodies and mouths to the lyrics, reflecting the light off of their faces, brought to mind the sharpness of the lyrics as the wind stirred palms in the distance beneath a tapestry of ever-changing clouds growing more and more menacing. A little later. the mood lightens and the versatility of the evening begins to betray the current mood with an about-face.

I’m gonna need a lot of help with this one. Get those lights out!

As fans activated their cell phone flashlights, the entire of the pavilion transformed into a sea of dotted illumination reminiscent of stars dancing in the night sky. “Hear You Me” trickled out of the sound system for a beautiful performance that many there will not soon forget.

Shortly afterward, Jim sang, “If you’re listening…

His Fender Telecaster began to sing the beginning riff of “Sweetness”, and it was evident how many people were immediately transported to another place in time. They’re bobbing their heads stuffing laundry into dryclean safe bags at Delia’s cleaners. They’re skating to station 13 at Sonic Drive-Thru. A girl is scanning Eddie Bauer jackets at Target overnight for inventory while mouthing the words. The guy at the front counter is stocking parts at Autozone. The aforementioned couple is at prom again. A few of them are crying. This was a time when they were happiest. Back when mom and dad were still alive and all they had to worry about was homework. They’re all conscious that the year is 2017… But they’re all in another time. Some are in 2001. Some 2003. Some in 2005.

What’s refreshing is that there were also teenagers in the audience, all that same age as the older crowd when these beloved songs were released. This music has somehow transcended time as these few but long years have passed.

“The Middle” ended Jimmy’s set. Once again, the mood was notched up to a positive crescendo.

Incubus hit the stage after a lengthy intermission and wasted no time getting started. Amongst rolling thunder, Brandon Boyd asked, “So how you guys doin’?!

The audience is echoing a cacophony of applause as Incubus opens with “Quicksand”, executing masterful precision. That would end up being a theme for the evening between the three bands. With the exception of Judah And The Lion, Jimmy Eat World and Incubus are veterans in their own right. This is one of thousands of shows these bands have played and their abilities haven’t diminished in the slightest after twenty plus years of touring year in and year out. Each and every song sounds studio- quality, with the perfect charm of the inequitous distribution of sound in a live setting. Everything sounds fresh, which is a true indication of each band’s maturity, and an excellent high water mark to distinguish their respective careers.

When the beginning of “I Wish You Were Here” began, people got quiet. It seemed like everyone within a mile radius is singing along loudly to the lyrics. Once again, the phones were out and that same illusion of stars dancing across the seats was visible, to the delight of observers. As they wrapped this song up, they closed it out with the intro Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”, to the same lyrical zealousness of the few who knew the lyrics.

The clouds got closer and were nearly directly overhead when Incubus began “Stellar”, which elicited audible reactions of delight. Brandon Boyd is flawless in his recitation. At 41 years of age, he’s still very much an attractive man as well as a fantastic vocalist, but now with the age and wisdom of a distinguished older gentleman. Co-founder Mike Einzeiger is still ever the lead guitar slinger, hitting every melodic scale and harmonic with deft accuracy. The original drummer Jose Pasillas nailed the beats with the impeccable timing of a metronome. It would be criminal to discount the beautiful bounce of Ben Kenney’s bass, and the power of DJ Kilmore’s scratch. On this night they were in rare form as a unit and in tight unison. By the time they played “Drive”, there was a definite shift in the atmosphere.

The wind was now slightly oppressive and cups are blowing across the isles. The good vibes were still there but the weather really began to become more pronounced. The sprinkling began with “Pantomime”, to the dismay of the audience, and just as the band was finishing up “Sick Sad Little World” it began to pour significantly. It actually came in sideways toward the stage. As the song concluded, Boyd remarked nervously “We’ll be right back guys, I promise… We’ll be back”, as they exited view. Moments later a promoter or employee with the pavilion appears and explains that they’ll do everything they can while staff cover the electrical equipment from the elements. “We’re here for your safety.

Giant thunderbolt and lightning (very very frightening). The crowd went wild and cheered with the revelry of a rebel yell. Masses poured out of the grass and into the stands for cover. Many beneath the ramada begin sprinting for the gates. By all appearances it looked as though this show was over. The parking lot was in shambles. Cars were scrambling toward the exit. The stack turning left at 83rd ave and Monte Vista began to congest as the downpour continued onto the policemen stopping traffic in opposite ways to assist those fleeing the venue.

…But Boyd kept good on his promise.

When the rainfall began to calm, Incubus DID come back with “Nice To Know You” and finished the show with “Warning” to close out the evening for good. Any other band could have ended the concert right then and there when conditions became dangerous and half the audience left. They must have done it just for those few fans that stayed. It was truly a rare sign of integrity to match the humbleness of Jimmy Eat World; both bands being the measure of ethics and class to the very fullest. It was a remarkable show; one that can be easily recounted for years to come for anyone who was fortunate enough to be there. Like a Strawberry Cheesecake Shake from Sonic.

Thank you #Phoenix that felt amazing ⚡️

A post shared by Incubus (@incubusofficial) on

INTERVIEW: Talking With ‘Original As Fuck’ Clothing Creator, Presley Woodall

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Original As Fuck apparel logo with buttons
Original As Fuck

Presley Woodall is an independent artist and screen printer in the valley. Originally from Indiana with roots in New Mexico and Illinois, her brand Original As Fuck is definitely garnering some attention amongst other regulars on Phoenix’s local scene. With her uncensored drive and tenacity, it’s not only a passion for her. It’s also a message. I recently sat down with Presley on a scorching Friday afternoon in South Central Phoenix over a cold 40 of Mickey’s to pick her brain about what that message is and what keeps her hungry.

When did you establish O.A.F.?

It’s been about two years since I started screen printing. As far as it being my artistic name? Since high school.

How did you get the nickname?

There was a substitute teacher. You know what “O.A.F.” means, right? It’s like a lazy bastard, and I was pretty lazy in High School. So he called me that once, so I looked it up and I liked it.

Presley Woodall, Original As Fuck
Presley Woodall, Original As Fuck

When did you decide to incorporate the Old English into your logo? That’s probably my favorite part of it.

I know! Me too. I try to make sure it’s in all of my drawings. I’ve just always loved old english. It’s just my style. The Old English “O.A.F.” with “Original As Fuck” underneath it was my first shirt.

So when did you move to Phoenix?
Well I grew up in Albuquerque, but I was born in Indiana. We moved to Albuquerque when I was like a year old so I don’t…

You don’t remember any of it?
No. Not at all. But then I moved here to Phoenix like right after I turned twenty-one.

How old are you now?

I’ll be 27 next month.

You seem older than that because I feel like you were closer to my age. Like you seem to have your shit together more than most.

Yeah I kinda get that a lot.

What inspired you to get into fashion?

It’s more just getting into screen printing. When I got into screen printing I just loved the process of actually doing it, so I guess I wouldn’t even say I’m into fashion really. Like I love 90’s fashion, but I’m not designing tee shirts or sweaters or anything like that. It’s more just the screen printing that I like.

Presley Woodall, Original As Fuck apparel
Presley Woodall, Original As Fuck

So do you just come up with an idea, sketch it then decide what you’re going to put that on? Do you just kinda say ‘Ok, I’m going to put this on a shirt, and then on some buttons?’

No, I try to put all of my designs on a shirt. There’s only so much I can do because I don’t have a dope ass studio with like a 6 press machine like I did out in Illinois. So I just have a single press, which means I can’t do all these crazy colors or stuff like that. Like right now I’m in the middle of finding a good paper to use. It’s kind of just about where I’m at, the connection I have at the moment.

So would you say that your process is constantly evolving?

Oh yeah, especially from moving. I had a good connection out in Illinois for everything. Being out here I’ve had a hard time getting people to commit to whatever it is that we’re getting together, for like doing a new vinyl for me, or burning a new screen or whatever. Not a lot of people come through on time. That’s when I’m kind of like, “Peace”, and I’m on to the next; because I don’t fuck around as far as that goes.

It’s definitely hard to find good help.

Yeah. And when everything comes out of your pocket, you have to be super wise about all of your decisions.

As far as what you’re doing now, do you have a mentor? Is someone teaching you this? Who do you look up to in the industry?

My friend Berto. He’s the reason I moved to Illinois, so he was the one who taught me how to screen print. I had followed his brand for a long time, so he was the one I wanted to teach me. I didn’t know the process even though I had worked at an art supply store for a couple years and sold the material for it. So he’s been like my number one fan through this whole screen printing process so from the beginning of O.A.F. and making it into a brand.

How long did it take you to decide that this is what you wanted to do?

Literally the day I learned how to screen print.

Original As Fuck pins
Original As Fuck pins

No shit… That quick, huh?

Yeah. I knew I wanted to do something with it, I just didn’t know what. I was always making art and other crafty things, and I know how to sew, so I made zip-up bags and just other random stuff like that. So I knew I would do something, but the screen printing and tee shirts that became the bigger picture rather than my crafts.

So you thought to yourself, “I’m gonna put this on a shirt”.

Yeah and other people saying, “you should put this on a shirt”. That’s what pushes me to get into this thing.

That actually brings me to my next question. How do you feel about the valley as a market? Has Phoenix been good to you?

Yeah I’ve gotten a lot of feedback. There’s been a lot of people who have wanted to do interviews with me too and…

You told  them to fuck off because you knew you would be sitting down with Burning Hot Events?

Haha, no I still did it. I’ve knocked out a couple of interviews on podcasts and they went pretty well. I’ve met some really cool people. I do first Fridays downtown and the people from Public Image, Kim and Daryll, they hit me up when I first moved out here. I was really promoting myself.

I’ve seen your pics on Facebook before a couple First Fridays, and I’ve loved seeing your stuff. You made some really dope candles that I absolutely loved.

I always try to include new stuff like that. I might make candles every time I go but they’re all going to be completely different candles every single time. Same with the designs. I’m always trying to have something new to bring. I just recently got a promotion at work so that’s what my focus has been for the last 2 to 3 months. I haven’t really done much. I’ve made art but not really any crafts. I haven’t been to First Friday in like 3 months.

I made a cartoon with a buddy of mine. It was a lot of work but we ended up making about 6 episodes but we never made another one because we both got jobs about the same time.

I know! It’s hard to do both no matter what it is. It’s tough and it’s hard to stay motivated. I’ve definitely struggled that in the past from time to time but it’s like they say, “If you want it badly, you’ll do it”. That’s what’s gotten me this far.

Original As Fuck apparel
Original As Fuck apparel

So what keeps you hungry? What keeps you driven and doing what you do?

Ever since I was little, I just felt I needed to be somebody that made some kind of difference. I’m not saying I want to be some crazy celebrity superstar or anything like that. I just want to be someone to send out a cool message and help people that way. The “Original” in my logo has a lot of meaning behind that.

That’s what actually drew me to it in the first place. Not only is it a brand for you but it’s also a message. Like, “I’m original as fuck, and fuck whatever you’re doing.

Right and it’s really rare for people in our society to have that kind of view. There are so many people telling you what to do and what to say and what to look like and you see it on social media being shoved down everyone’s throats and it’s shitty. It’s super shitty. The younger generation eats that shit up. I don’t have to have a 19 year old niece to know that, I just see it everywhere. Nobody knows themselves and you can tell. Because they are so focused on trying to look this way and how to be accepted… It’s just really sad to me because I think life is just being you and figuring things out. I think that’s a really big accomplishment.

Presley Woodall, Original As Fuck
Presley Woodall, Original As Fuck

I agree. I feel like you have a stubborn tenacity to lead rather than follow.

That would be going against everything I believe in. Nobody is original these days, I mean, it’s fucking 2017. There’s so much art out there that everyone gets ideas from different people and stuff but yes, I try to keep my style as original as possible.

It’s very obvious looking at your art that you have a love for hip hop. Old School. What was your first exposure to Hip Hop?

I’m the youngest of five. My older sister babysat us a lot when my mom had to work. She always played all of the good shit. I remember listening to it in my carseat. Like I didn’t know what they were talking about, it was just literally music to my ears, ya know? That along with the other stuff my dad played, and the stuff that my mom played. He was more into rock. Tom Petty and Joe Walsh.

It’s actually an entire genre called “dad music”.

Right! It has it’s own Pandora station haha

Notable successes? Failures?

There’s been a lot, even with just screen printing. Just little things. I don’t know how many tee shirts because screen printing is messy as fuck and I’m still not really that great at it. I just… Try to wing it as much as I can. It’s hard to learn new apps to do my digital art. And then you have to vectorize and pay for THIS program and… I’m still failing and I’m going to be failing even if I become “something big”, we’ll say. I think that just doing it in the first place and having the balls to get into it and do it and keep doing it even though I may not be able to afford some stuff right now.

And Successes?

I feel like I’ve come a long way just doing it myself. I feel like I’ve come farther than some people that have had a helping hand throughout the whole entire process. But that’s like you said earlier, ya know? I’m hungry. I’m hungry for getting this message out and seeing if more and more people will relate to it.

And how do you handle those failures or setbacks?

I have to smoke a bowl or I have to have a beer… Go for a drive? I don’t know. Do another piece of art because that’s what calms me.

Original As Fuck apparel
Original As Fuck apparel

So what’s next for O.A.F.?

I would like to get more into the designing of my clothing. I’m really into the 90’s style so I would definitely love to bring out some kind of cool color-blocked sweaters, tee shirts, and bucket hats; and anything else 90’s related. I would just want to design them. It’s just the point of doing a business plan and pitching my idea to some of these manufacturers and making the next big move.

Let’s say that you come to these manufacturers and that money is no object. What is your ultimate goal for O.A.F.? What are your aspirations?

I just want to have it out there for as many people as possible. I’m a private person and I’m not going to let it stop me from my brand becoming something big. I definitely put myself in uncomfortable situations. Not that I’m uncomfortable at the moment, but you wouldn’t find me being this open with anybody right now. I don’t care to tell anybody anything, even with my brand, so I would like for it be something as big as it can be but I’m not going to compare myself to any of the brands that are huge right now. I just want it to be as big as it can be without me personally being out there in the shine. I don’t want people to look at me before they look at what I have to offer, my message and my art.

Presley Woodall, Original As Fuck founder & designer
Presley Woodall, Original As Fuck

Example?

I was talking to this girl one time and I telling her pretty much everything I’m telling you… And she says, “Oh! And you’re pretty so that’ll help!” And I was like, “fuck that”, I don’t want people to look at what I look like. I have a lot to offer other than what the fuck I look like. I hate to think that people look at that first before they look at the other shit that really matters.

So in the grand scheme of things, how would you feel about seeing O.A.F. merchandise at Target?

That would be cool. That would be way cool.

It would probably barely sell…
I know, dude! I’d have to change the name.

“Mommy, I’m original as fuck!”

Yeah, I would definitely have to get them to NOT put the name on it unless the world just dropped some acid and tried to be open-minded fuckin people about the name. I don’t know what the fuck has to happen. I’m just pushing it as I go. It’s just my journey. I’m not in any rush to become something. I’m just pushing it as much as I want, when I want. That’s just the way it’s going to be until whatever comes.

Original As Fuck apparel
Original As Fuck apparel

So, we’re getting to the fun part of the interview now…

Oh, what?!

Top 5 artists and songs. Your deserted island mixtape. If you were going to die…These are the songs you want to hear. What’s your flavor?

That’s like when somebody asks me what my favorite color is. It’s almost impossible to answer, being an artist and loving music so much. Like am I going to die if I don’t answer this?

It can be less than 5 if you want.

Well…

How about just artists? Because songs? That’s tough.

Ok, fine. Just artists.

I’m a really big Tom Petty fan for a lot of reasons. Mainly because it just brings back to childhood memories and there’s a song for every fucking situation.

Original As Fuck caps
Original As Fuck caps

I think “American Girl” is the quintessential American rock and roll song. You just think cheeseburgers, muscle cars, and electric guitars.

Mine was “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”. I knew every word to that song at a young age even though I didn’t really even know what it was about until, obviously, I started smoking.

So Tom Petty. Who else?

Pharside. Definitely Pharside.

Pharside is fuckin dope.

Probably TLC as well. They’re females so I gotta give them props.

I still remember the first time I saw “Creep” when I was 9 years old. I’ll never forget those silk pajamas.

Dude, I’m going to be that for halloween! I’ve been trying to do that with my sister for the longest time but I think this year we’re going to do it because we found our third musketeer. We all gotta be TLC. I don’t give a fuck what you guys had planned. It’s an easy fucking costume, it’s comfortable and we’re just gonna do this. I’m gonna be Left Eye. I already called it and I called it long ago.

Original As Fuck pins
Original As Fuck pins

So Tom Petty, TLC, Pharside… And who else?

Led Zeppelin.

Ok so… What is a Led Zeppelin song that just hits you?

“When The Levee Breaks”

So we’re at 4 now.
I’m having a hard time because I think I stopped liking music since about 1997.

If it’s less than 5 that’s cool too. Obviously Hip Hop is your preferred genre. What comes second after that?

Classic Rock for sure.  I ran into my dad at a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert once!

You can follow Presley’s O.A.F. page on Facebook and on Instagram for updates on First Friday appearances and new merchandise. And make sure to contribute to the Patreon to ensure that  Burning Hot Events and Kataklizmic Design can continue to bring you more amazing content!

REVIEW: A Perfect Circle Illuminates The Valley After Dark With Articulately Barbed Musical Oration 4-10-17

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PHOENIX — It’s around 7:30 PM on a Tuesday night and the streets are busy on 4th Ave and Washington. The throngs of people milling around are desperately searching for the end of the impossibly long line that will eventually lead them to the entrance they are only feet away from at the moment. The lights from the large electronic marquee reads “A Perfect Circle TONIGHT!” and casts a glow on the faces passing below. For many standing there on that night, this was a long anticipated show.

Oh my god, she just left her fuckin boyfriend back there!”, I heard a woman blurt out as I sat on a bench next to the box office at Comerica Theater. With lines stretching around the corner for several blocks, people of all different backgrounds are shuffling slowly past me toward the entrance gates. There are goth teens, soccer moms, bikers and hipsters all standing together in line. They’re chatting excitedly, talking about the last time they had seen the band perform and even dancing to Sublime’s “Wrong Way” as the sky gets darker.

I prepared myself for what would be the second time I would see A Perfect Circle since Lollapalooza 2003–the year they released their second album Thirteenth Step. In the nearly 14 years since that show, they’ve come a long way. Although the lineup has changed slightly, lead vocalist Maynard James Keenan of Tool-fame and lead guitarist Billy Howerdel have remained the central force of the band since its inception. Current bassist Matt McJunkins, who joined in 2010, has played with the likes of Thirty Seconds to Mars, Maynard James Keenan side band Puscifer and The Beta Machine, a band he formed with current APC drummer Jeff Friedl. McJunkins was also the touring bassist for Eagles of Death Metal during the Le Bataclan attack in Paris, France on November 13th, 2015. The audience was attacked by terrorists wielding automatic rifles, grenades and suicide vests, killing 89 fans including the band’s merchandise vendor. Rounding out the group is former Smashing Pumpkins alumnus and founding member James Iha on rhythm guitar, a superstar in his own right.

As the line seemed to shorten to a visible end, I took my place to be screened by security. It was a relatively short process. I got through the entrance within maybe 5 minutes of entering the line and spotted another long line snaking up the stairs to the second floor balcony. A friend remarked, “That’s the line for merchandise.” After purchasing my respective Cola and water bottles, I finally found my assigned seat just moments before the house lights come down and the uprising of applause and whistles begin. Smoke begins to seep from across the foot of the stage and everyone in attendance knows that this rocket is about to blast off.

A Perfect Circle - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Billy Howerdel (Guitarist), A Perfect Circle
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

The first notes of “The Package” begin to trickle melodically from the speakers behind a hazy white cloth that encompasses the entirety of the stage. Hidden beyond the opaque white veil, the band members’ silhouettes can be seen in various distorted sizes dancing as the lights produce their shadows. With little silence to buffer, each of the beginning three pieces all vaguely kind of bleed into the other. This first medley, The Package, The Hollow, and The Noose perfectly set the tone for the remainder of the show.

A Perfect Circle - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
A Perfect Circle
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

It was then that Keenan finally addressed the crowd, explaining that this was their first show since their three show Vegas tour kickoff at the Palms Resort and Casino Pearl Concert Theater. “Normally we try to do this first so we don’t make a bunch of fuckin’ mistakes and then you guys judge us…”

“And now a song about anal sex!”

Keenan playfully muses into the mic as the band launches into “Weak and Powerless”, another track from Thirteenth Step, their 2003 sophomore masterpiece, followed by “Rose” from their debut album Mer De Noms. As the show goes on I feel as though I’m transported to a time when I first started listening to a group whose lead singer sounded like that guy from Tool. It would be months after first being introduced to this new band until I would find out who it was behind those vocals, and would ultimately turn me on to Tool after hearing A Perfect Circle, and not the other way around.

A Perfect Circle - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Maynard James Keenan (Vocalist), A Perfect Circle
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Deslgn. All Rights Reserved

Keenan has been an eccentric figure in both his professional and personal life. Army veteran, musician, winemaker and entrepreneur; he is one of the most eclectic artists ever grace a stage. With a residence in Jerome, Arizona near his Merkin vineyard in Cornville, where he produces his Caduceus Cellars blends of wine; Keenan has single-handedly raised the profile of Arizona wine nationally and internationally to break it out of mediocrity and make it a truly respectable region in the wine world… But that’s another story. We’re here to talk about the music.

(But seriously, watch the documentary Blood Into Wine)

A Perfect Circle - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Billy Howerdel (Guitarist), A Perfect Circle
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Deslgn. All Rights Reserved

The fourth movement and majority of the body of the show begins with a cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine” from 2004’s eMOTIVe album, in a style that one could only expect from A Perfect Circle. It’s brooding and not without the quintessential melancholy that only APC can produce. Truly a beautiful cover. As I ruminated on that thought, I scanned the crowd behind me. Not a single sarcastic smirk. The audience seemed to think it was as beautiful as I did. The show continues with several more amazing tracks from previous albums and including their incredible cover of Depeche Mode’s “People are People”. Keenan prefaces this performance with a few words to the audience regarding forgiveness.

“It’s those moments that forgiveness is the only thing that’s gonna get you through it, so, forgive each other, forgive yourself. Move to the light.”

For some people it was an emotional experience. I saw a woman across the aisle from my section wiping tears from her eyes during that particular track. It was evident that it meant something to her that only she understood. This band holds a special power that allows them to tap into the listener’s psyche. The feeling and raw emotion they emote entrances these fans with melodious distortion and precision combined with Keenan’s articulately barbed lyrical style. A Perfect Circle masterfully ends the main body of the show with “Blue” and Keenan once again addresses the masses before introducing all the players to their venerate fans.

A Perfect Circle - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Billy Howerdel (Guitarist) & Maynard James Keenan (Vocalist), A Perfect Circle
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

The final medley of the concert is comprised of two tracks from Thirteenth Step, and a new song they debuted in Las Vegas during the first dates of the tour. Keenan describes the first song, “The Outsider,” as song “sung from the perspective of an asshole who has no compassion, so think of the whole album as being parts in a play and this is the Rodney Dangerfield… Being a dick.”

“So anyway, look out for each other. Don’t be a dick”

At this point, James Iha is introduced and expresses his distaste with the desert.

“The sand, it permeates my clothes. I don’t like it.”

A Perfect Circle setlist
Comerica Theatre 4-10-17
(Click to Enlarge)

The monologue goes on a little longer and almost seems necessary to lift the crowd back up from getting too cathartic and deep. It’s certainly a fun interlude as the final trio of pieces signals the beginning of the end of the show. By the close of “Feathers”, the final song and A Perfect Circle’s newest unreleased track, everyone is on their feet and cheering as Keenan speaks one last “Thank you”, and the band gives their final humble bows amid the silken forest of pillars amongst them and walks off stage.

Iha throws several handfuls of guitar picks into the front rows and the band disappears, never to be seen again by those hoping for an encore. Those dreams were dashed when the house lights immediately hit like a blast of reality and signaled that it was indeed time to go. I sauntered out into the streets and walked down Jefferson toward Squid Ink to wait for my Uber, and savored the sights and sounds I had just beheld.

PHOTO ALBUM
by Katherine Amy Vega

A Perfect Circle – Comerica Theatre 4-10-17

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REVIEW: Space Punk Zombies From The Future, Quantum Colossus, Shred Faces At The Yucca Tap 3-3-17

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TEMPE, Ariz. — It’s ten o’clock on a Friday night at Yucca Tap Room, and the crowd is starting to trickle in at a greater volume as drum and guitar duo Face The Flames is finishing up their set. It’s a good mix and seems like the typical Yucca crowd. There’s a diverse array of people ranging from crust punks to cow punks and garage punks. The band up next was not one that I was familiar with at all, but my curiosity won the night. Quantum Colossus is a local self-described “Sci-Fi driven Punk/Sludgecore” band, and I’ve been tapped to come out tonight and check them out. So here I sat against the wall watching fans mill around in Bad Religion hoodies and Everything Dead tees, sipping cold Pabst and warm Jack. As Quantum began setting up I ducked outside for a quick smoke before they start tuning.

There was a slight change in scheduling because one of the bands had to cancel. As I sat on the curb speed smoking, I overheard the reason. Apparently one of the guys from the band was arrested the previous night and the other members only found out hours before the show. That sounds pretty damn punk to me. I sauntered back in after stomping out my Camel butt, and reclaimed my seat against the wall just as the show is about to begin, and I resumed people watching. I felt out of place. It’s been awhile since I’ve been to Yucca. The last show I attended here was Future Loves Past with The Sugar Thieves, and this was by far a stark contrast in demographic.

Suddenly, as if a light had been switched on, the show had officially begun. No hello, no introduction, just thrash. I immediately noticed that bass player Andikrist bears a slight resemblance to a young Gary Oldman, which made me think of Batman’s Commissioner Gordon a la Sid and Nancy. As the intro lead into the meat of the first cut, the group had pretty much fully meshed. They sound great. The bass tone is very Godsmack. Deep and clear. Guitarist Kelvin Yazzie is an absolute shredder. The red Schecter SGR he’s playing has a bright tone that compliments the bass so well that I could have sworn it was a Paul Reed Smith. Drummer Mike Driscoll is on point and in time pounding out the heartbeat of the entire band as Yazzie begins a blistering solo that left me thoroughly impressed as well as checking to see if my ear drums were still in tact. Lead vocalist Geoff Lane seems to be a very hands-on kind of guy. He seems more comfortable in the crowd during the set than he does on stage, even going so far as hugging several fans during the set.

The band dedicates “Naked Ape” to legendary vocalist Ronnie James Dio, incorporating an intro that seemed to me reminiscent of “Holy Diver” with plenty of crowd participation. Throughout the rest of Quantum’s time on the stage they shared banter amongst themselves and with the crowd. They were genuinely having fun up there. Their Grand Finale for the evening is “War of the Currents” and Quantum gives it the full beans. The band expertly maintains an impressive ebb and flow to their sound, alternating from slow and brooding into hard and fast with surprising precision. Punk is not my personal genre of preference but these guys are by no means amateurs. The YouTube videos I watched of Quantum Colossus online before coming to the show actually didn’t do the band justice all and I’m pleasantly surprised. They sound far superior live.

If I had even one criticism of the show, it would be that the vocals were difficult to decipher, but that’s to be expected and not necessarily a bad thing. It’s punk. It’s meant to be abrasive. At face value, Quantum Colossus is a pretty talented group of guys who seem to really enjoy what they’re doing on stage. The show had a fun-loving vibe and it was evident that their audience thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Even though this was a free event for a relatively obscure local band, I drove away thinking I would have gladly paid to see that show. Thanks for showing me a good time, fellas!