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 — Historic classic rock duo Journey and Def Leppard put on a massively vivacious performance Friday night at their sold-out stop at Talking Stick Resort Arena on the North American tour (2018). It’s been twelve long years since Def Leppard and Journey co-headlined a tour, with rumored signs of an aging sound. On the contrary though, this arena setting was more than fitting, as the show proved to be impressively larger than life.
The crowd continued to pour in by the thousands even as Def Leppard took the stage, erupting in a phantasmal melting-pot of emotions from fans of all ages when their vocalist, Joe Elliott approached the crowd.
With his hands held high, Elliott teased the rippling stadium, loosely conducting the opening instrumentals to “Rocket” with closeups of the band members flashing in-and-out of 2-D televisions seemingly stacked above and behind the stage. Def Leppard’s energy was as contagious as ever, coaxing fans along to hit after hit beneath blaring blankets of velvety light that morphed into everything from hypnotizing geometric patterns to a striking laser show.
Each song seemed to ignite even more elation than the last. Fans sang along to every word of “Animal”, “Foolin’”, “When Love and Hate Collide”, and “Let’s Get Rocked” as the stage transformed again, almost magically, from a wall of vintage neon signs into thick rotating rays of foggy light before turning to a dim, red glow that illuminated the buzzing audience. Elliott could be seen thrusting the mic stand back and forth across the stage as the first few notes of “Armageddon It” rumbled out from beneath the speakers.
Def Leppard’s current and longest-lasting lineup to date also includes Rick Savage (bassist), Rick Allen (drummer), Phil Collen (guitarist), and Vivian Campbell (guitarist); and like Elliott, none of them showed any signs of slowing down. Their British heavy metal style is as alive and well as ever, complete with leather and tight pants, sweat-glistening, guitar shreddin’, and an incredible one-armed drum solo.
Between nostalgic performances of the David Essex cover “Rock On”, “Two Steps Behind”, and “Man Enough”, Elliott introduced each member of the band while offering a small bit of history on each iconic track to follow. “We’ve been touring for 38 years,” he announced, speaking briefly on the group’s English background and how they got their start. “All we ever wanted was to make music.”
Without all the fancy high-tech showmanship, it would have been easy to forget that we were seeing Def Leppard 20 years post multi-platinum success of Hysteria and Pyromania – which ranked at #384 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2003. “Love Bites”, “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak”, and “Switch 625” were up next, each accompanied by its own light display and related imagery glowing boldly in the background.
Speaking of multi-platinum, Def Leppard definitely knew what they were doing when they saved “Hysteria” and “Pour Some Sugar On Me” for last, but not of course without the explosive encore we’d been dying for – “Rock of Ages” and “Photograph”. What more could a Def Leppard fan ask for, right?
After a refreshingly brief set change, it was time for Rock n’ Roll Hall-of-Famer, Journey, to steal the show with their own non-stop marathon of legendary greatest hits. Despite having been noted as “one of the world’s best-selling bands of all time” – No. 96 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time to be exact, Journey’s continued evolution has left some critics wondering how things could ever sound the same.
Current vocalist Arnel Pineda put those rumors to rest with a heart-wrenching opening performance of “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” from chart-topping album Frontiers(1983). Despite not being a man of many words, Pineda undeniably uplifted the crowd with his infectious, positive energy as he jumped, kicked, and bounced across the stage. The entire arena followed in suit, immediately pointing their phone flashlights and lighters to the sky and singing along to every word.
Pineda was overflowing with a spectacularly excitable stage presence, making sure to run the full perimeter of the platform while high-fiving everyone within reach during emotional renditions of “Only The Young”, “Escape” and “Stone In Love”. Meanwhile, psychedelic album art filled the towering screens surrounding the stage while flashes of bright white light spliced across the arena. Closeups of Neal Schon (lead guitarist), Ross Valory (bassist), Steve Smith (drummer) and Jonathan Cain (keyboardist) could also be seen rotating in and out, with big smiles on their faces.
Each member boasted their own bit of personal wardrobe style as well. Cain could be seen with an old school Suns jersey peeking out from behind his jacket. Fans belted out the lyrics to the ever-popular tracks “Chain Reaction” and “Be Good To Yourself” before Pineda finally addressed the crowd. “How are you doing Phoenix?!”, he echoed. “Thanks for coming out and seeing us tonight!
Schon stepped into the spotlight to set the mood with a smooth-and-sultry, otherworldly guitar solo before launching into “Lights” with Pineda once again. Time seemed to slip away as listeners lost themselves in the music, rocking out to “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’”, “Who’s Crying Now”, “Open Arms”, and “Ask The Lonely”, followed by “La Do Da”, and “Any Way You Want It”. From lovestruck couples to lonesome onlookers, it was clear why Journey’s music has achieved such timeless success.
Schon stepped forward once again to introduce “Wheel In The Sky”, a song he composed along with Robert Fleischman and Diane Valory – wife of bassist Ross Valory. He went on to say, “That’s when I realized we were family. We all love the same way. I’d like to dedicate this song to a man that just had a birthday recently, our vocalist, Mr. Arnel Pineda. And to the fans who stayed over the years.”
As one might have guessed, Journey concluded the night with that one track that hits us all right in the feels – “Don’t Stop Believin’”, which crescendoed to a climax of strobing light, squealing guitar, and eruption of glittering white confetti that combusted into a weightless cloud drifting out over the audience. It was a feeling of total bliss and slight overstimulation, of not wanting the night to end, while also being so incredibly satisfied, overjoyed, impressed, and amazed. That’s the thing about bands like Def Leppard and Journey; they’ve not only carved out a place in our memories, but in the depths of our hearts as well.
Pineda stepped forward to address the crowd for the last time,
“Arizona, you are magic tonight.”
PHOENIX – Scorpions brought the third stop of the North American leg of their “Crazy World Tour” to sizzling Phoenix, with special guests Queensrÿche opening the night. Last year, Scorpions were supposed to “sting” (or delight) fans, but their lead singer Klaus Meine had a laryngitis diagnosis, and was advised by doctors not to sing, resulting in a cancellation of the rest of their tour. The band apologized for missing Arizona last year, and made up for it with their amazing sixteen-song set list.
Queensrÿche did a phenomenal job of starting the show and warming up the audience. For those unfamiliar with Queensrÿche, they are an American heavy metal band from Bellevue, Washington. The band was formed in 1980, and originated as Cross+Fire, which was renamed to The Mob, and finally to Queensrÿche. The band has sold over six million albums in the United States and over twenty million albums around the world. They kicked off the show with the song “Best I Can” from their 1990 album, Empire.
The lead singer Todd La Torre banged his head to the beat, greeted the crowd, and invited all to sing along to “Empire.” Many people stood up and sang along with the band, throwing their fists up into the air. La Torre expressed his appreciation, saying, “We are happy and honored to play for you. Thanks to Scorpions for having us. This song has been on our set for a while. Sing along if you know it. This is ‘Guardian’.” Later, La Torre referenced the band’s history, saying, “Who is an old school Queensrÿche fan? You know how we got our name. Here’s ‘Queen of the Reich’.” They wrapped up their nine-song set list with the song, “Eyes of a Stranger” from their 1988 album, Operation: Mindcrime.
As the roadies prepared the stage for Scorpions, a giant black banner went up with the logo of the “Crazy World Tour”. It proudly overlooked a nearly sold out show. When the banner dropped, a video of a helicopter going over a bright city at night began to play. The helicopter clipped the arm off of the statue of Scorpions’ “Crazy World Tour” logo, a spaceman.
As the video played, fans whistled and cheered. The video segued into the performance, with visuals that gave appearance of the band’s black silhouettes jumping out of the helicopter. The lights over the crowd were blinding as Scorpions took the stage, immediately going into the song, “Going Out with a Bang,” from their 2015 album, Return to Forever. The backing screen proudly displayed “Scorpions” in Titanic-sized letters behind the legendary band. Nearly everyone in the audience stood up and rocked out. Lead singer Meine addressed the crowd before the third song, “Come on, Phoenix. I want to hear you!”
As the song “Make It Real” played, the entire screen behind the band displayed an American flag waving, with the silhouettes of the band jamming out. After five songs in, Scorpions did a 70s throwback with a mashup of songs, “Top of the Bill”, “Steamrock Fever”, “Speedy’s Coming”, and “Catch Your Train”. During the entire throwback, the screen was tie-dyed, and the name “Scorpions” flashed on and off the screen in multiple colors. It was almost dizzying to see the graphics move. The side screens were also incorporated, making it appear there were three of Meine in different colors as he sang, while the crowd indulged in a drug-like music high.
As “Send Me an Angel” from their 1990 album, Crazy World, began to sway the audience, Meine said, “I know you know the words. You can sing by heart. ‘Send Me an Angel’. Come on Phoenix. I want to see your hands in the air.” All over the venue, arms went up into the air, and some people held up drinks, their phones, and more sparsely, lighters in the air. Couples grew closer, even attempting to slow dance while standing in their row.
Scorpions played Motörhead’s title-track “Overkill” from the 1979 album, to honor the late English musician and singer-songwriter Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister who passed away in December of 2015. In honor of the singer, fans rose up their metal horns, and the primary LED screen flashed with a compilation of images of Lemmy throughout the song. After the touching tribute song, the drum stage began to rise as drummer Mikkey Dee, former member of Motörhead, rocked out on a drum solo.
As he murdered the drums and sent a shockwave of sound around the venue, cover art from all of the albums Scorpions have released in their music career fifty-three years slowly appeared on screen, one-by-one. A total of eighteen studio albums are currently under their belts.
In typical concert fashion, the best known songs were saved for last. “Big City Nights”, from their 1984 album Love at First Sting, got everyone up and jamming. Cities were displayed, as if the audience was taking a cruise through the heart of each big city. One city was Tokyo, which is actually the city that inspired the song. Scorpions stepped off the stage for a brief minute before coming back for the encore. The last two songs were “No One Like You” from their 1982 album, Blackout, and “Rock You Like a Hurricane” from the album, Love at First Sting. Before going into “No One Like You,” Meine teased fans by singing the first line of the song “Arizona” from their album, Blackout, and then praised the fans, “Phoenix, there is no one like you!”
The drums were amazing, the lights were blinding, the colors on the screen were hypnotizing, and the 70s mashup was a trip. — One might wonder what the show would have been like on an acid trip, while it’s no doubt that some long-time fans know exactly what that would be like. Scorpions, with special guests Queensrÿche, performed with great ferocity that resonated throughout the crowd and Comerica Theatre. This tour is a unique experience that’s worth every penny, and a must-see for every diehard classic rock fan.
Scorpions did not disappoint in Phoenix. They brought the house down and left fans of all ages happy to see this classic rock band. After the final song, the band waved to fans and gave out drumsticks and guitar picks. One lucky fan got a piece of autographed merch. Scorpions gathered in the middle of the stage, standing side-by-side, to wave at fans, and Meine closed out the night saying, “Goodnight Arizona. We love you!”
PHOENIX — Saboten Con is an annual Japanese-themed pop-culture convention held in Phoenix, Arizona and organized by Monkey Paw Entertainment. “Saboten Con is the largest anime convention in Arizona with attendance reaching 6,745 (unique) / 20,983 (turnstile) for the 2015 event.” (Source: SabotenCon.com)
This year, Saboten Con took place at Sheraton Downtown Phoenix for four long days — August 31 – September 3. The convention brings us all that you would expect and more with masquerades, raves, fashion shows, panels, workshops, contests, meet-and-greets, shopping, gaming, live music, maid and anime cafes, and of course loads of cosplay… just to name some of the main staples.
Here’s just a small sample of what you can expect from the grand, jam-packed event that caters to a vast array of fandoms, with a gallery of highlights by Andrea Stoica. Mark your calendar for Labor Day weekend next year!
Mesa, AZ — Award-winning performer, artist, and activist Otep Shamaya rallied fans at Club Red Tuesday night in an impassioned, politically-charged performance. Heavy metal veterans OTEP (the band) [an anagrammatic name derivative of the word “poet”] recently dropped their eighth full-length album entitled Kult 45 via Napalm Records. According to an exclusive interview with Blabbermouth.net, “This is OTEP like you’ve never heard them before.”
Along with Kult 45’s highly anticipated release, OTEP announced a headline tour, to tease their newest work of art; beginning at The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 5th, and ending in Ventura, California on August, 18th 2018. Tour-mates include Dropout Kings, an AZ-based nu-metal band on the rise (who just released a burning hot new album called “AudioDope” this past Friday), and European progressive rock band Ragdoll Sunday. First to take the stage was anime-themed punk rock band Usagi (formerly Unagi Usagi), followed by progressive metal group CharonIncentive — a band heavily influenced by iconic black and death metal styles, and groove metal band Fatal Malady, whose skull-faced aesthetic captivated the now overflowing trickle of bodies entering through the back of the venue.
Following a supercharged performance by Dropout Kings, audience members began to chant in unison, “OTEP! OTEP! OTEP!” Drummer Justin Kier could be seen jetting on and off the stage, while crew members worked diligently to set the scene. Illuminated only by sporadic flares of light, Kier stepped forward to address the crowd, breaking the ice with a little marijuana-related humor before being joined by bandmates Ari “The Spartan” Mihalopoulos on guitar, and bassist Andrew Barnes. With time to spare, Kier went on to talk about a new, lesser known project in collaboration with Phoenix’s own hard rock female-fronted foursome Doll Skin, which they’ve aptly named “PETO”, once again utilizing OTEP’s iconic anagram, only this time – backwards. The trio commenced with an ear-splitting rendition of Slayer’s “Raining Blood”, immediately provoking a mosh pit nearly the size of the entire room.
After the music faded and fans had settled into standing-room-only once again, Shamaya exploded onto the platform between two vertically-balanced rifles, adorned with severed baby heads, faux weapons, LGBT symbolism, the U.S. flag, and a variety of other props yet to be revealed. Hanging delicately beneath the deceased infant’s haunting yellow eyes was a crooked sign that read, “Where are the children?” It’s no coincidence Shamaya’s performances have been dubbed “a two-decade invasion of the senses” and it’s clear she has no intention of dulling that edge now.
“We want to empower people,” Shamaya says of Kult 45. “This album wasn’t written to only wake people up, it’s meant to carbonate people with the hope and confidence that they can make a difference.”
“Are you ready to riot?!”, Shamaya asked the crowd, growling into the mic with intensity while being met with a reverberating wave of hoots, screams, and howls.
Beneath a beer-soaked haze of golden strobe lights, attendees raged along to political anthems “To The Gallows” (during which Shamaya fiercely spun a hangman’s noose from the end of her mic), “Battle Ready”, and “Lords of War”, succeeded by what is arguably one of OTEP’s most iconic tracks to date, “Crooked Spoons”. Shamaya playfully pulled from her rifling of props for each new track, punching her fist in the air as a bloody, severed pig head was tossed out from behind the stage.
Fans roared along to every word of “Blood Pigs” and “Apex Predator”, off OTEP’s earlier albums Sevas Tra (2012) and Hydra (2013), erupting with raw emotion and appreciation for the purpose embedded in each verse. OTEP is a band that’s known for it’s ultra-loyal fanbase, but the reasoning behind that is something so much deeper than fame or catchy music. Shamaya’s ability to continually utilize OTEP’s music as a vessel for societal change through a variety of synchronized creative mediums is seriously impactful and evidently similar to that of legendary musical influencers like Woodie Guthrie, Bob Dylan or Zach de la Rocha of Rage Against The Machine.
OTEP went on to make their stance on mass shootings known with newly released track “Shelter In Place”, during which Shamaya aimed a presumably plastic, silver pistol at one of the severed doll heads while chanting with the room, “enough is enough!” Shamaya did go on to clarify her stance however, noting that “guns don’t kill people; people kill people,” before moving into “Zero” off the group’s 2016 album Generation Doom, which was followed-up by a couple of surprise tracks from the group’s self-titled poetry EP Wurd Becomes Flesh— originally released in 2005, one year prior to OTEP’s infamous addition to Ozzfest (2004).
The audience rippled with excitement as Shamaya waved her rainbow flag high. OTEP moved to close the night with staple track “Equal Rights, Equal Lefts”, prior to transitioning into an anger-charged protest, which peaked to the opening notes of “Wake Up” by Rage Against The Machine; a cover included as the second-to-last track on Kult 45.
In one final call to action, OTEP ignited fans with an ear-splitting performance “Confrontation” from The Ascension (2007). The props did not end there though; Shamaya had one final trick up her sleeve – a fake severed Trump head. Almost in a single motion, Shamaya plunged the barrel of one of the rifles into the base of Trump’s rubbery neck, twirling him around until the two were facing eye-to-eye, spitting in the mock President’s face before a final punch which sent Trump’s spitclad face soaring out of view.
It was a night of disruption, a night of rage, empowerment, catharsis, emotion and unity. It’s obvious that Kult 45 was intended as more of a social catalyst – a statement piece that simultaneously disrupts and unifies. This is an album that gets people to look; each track furiously spotlights a variety of recurring social issues in the forefront of the United States’ current political landscape. Regardless of whether or not you agree with their stance, OTEP is making one thing exceptionally clear: “Art is resistance. Art aloows us to fight back without violence.”
“This is why we rally, this is why we march, and this is why I write. Because when I look back someday I want to know that I did everything in my power as an artist, activist and citizen.” – Otep Shamaya
PHOENIX — If there was any doubt in your mind that Shania Twain could ever make a comeback after being out of the limelight for over a decade, rest assured, she’s back. There are over 18,000 seats in Talking Stick Arena, and it was filled to capacity. The roar of the crowd made them oblivious to microburst thunderstorm hovering overhead outside. Their focus was on the stage waiting for their queen of “country pop” to appear. Queen’s “We Will Rock You” was pounding through the PA, foreshadowing the next surprise. The music stopped and the lights went down, but there was no one on stage. The We-Will-Rock-You beat filled the room again as a spot light landed on a second stage in the middle of the arena, where drummer Elijah Wood flailed her blond hair along with her drumsticks. The sleight of hand continued then as Twain magically appeared, coming down the steps at the back of the arena, greeting her majesty’s minions as she crossed the distance to the stage.
As she found her way to center stage wearing a black shimmering long dress, she asked, “Are you ready Phoenix?” Behind her was a projection screen that must have been more than 5-stories tall, so that even those in the nosebleed seats could see her up close. Twain kicked off the show with “Life’s About To Get Good”, the first single from her new album entitled Now.
The projection screen was retracted to reveal a truly impressive and dynamic stage set of larger-than-life video cubes. Throughout the song, the show’s cast began to populate the stage, starting with the backup singers and dancers. The musicians were introduced during the second song, “Come On Over” from her third album of the same name, released in 1997. This was the album that cemented her in country music history by going 18x platinum, and scoring three number 1 singles.
The video cubes doubled as riser platforms and Twain climbed the stairs to tower over the stage floor as she sang “Up!” Her vocals were flawless all night, and it was amazing how she replicated the recordings that were so familiar to our collective memories. Her signature sound, especially in the lower registers, was especially showcased when the energy level dropped for an intimate moment singing the heartfelt “Poor Me”. The song is a reminder of the tumultuous relationship with her ex-husband that seemed to hover like a cloud over her career, but her burgeoning success and musical independence should eventually overshadow that storyline.
Like a slow wave, everyone had taken their seats during the calm moment of the show. That all changed when the dueling fiddles began “Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)”. Hands were in the air and everyone was singing along (some more in tune than others). That ended the proverbial Act 1, led to a set change, and Twain’s first costume change.
In the video for “That Don’t Impress Me Much”, you may remember that she wore a sexy leopard print outfit (boots, hooded long jacket, long flared pants, and a little top that revealed her midriff). Well, that was nearly 20 years ago so she didn’t wear that, but she did pay homage with a leopard print dress with a flowing cape-like night robe.
The setlist included 7 songs from the Now album. Next up was “Let’s Kiss and Make Up”, which was reminiscent of her earlier material, and had a calypso feel. The song seemed well-received, and as the end faded, Twain was lowered into a trap door in the stage. A brief drum solo culminated into that We-Will-Rock-You beat again and the crowd was getting revved up. When the guitar riff started though, it was apparent that this was actually an Any-Man-Of-Mine beat.
Costume change number 2 produced Shania Twain in a black cowboy hat, a black leather jacket, a black dress with sheer sides and candy apple red boots. “Any Man of Mine” segued into her breakthrough hit, “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?” The dancers two-stepped with mannequins made of spring coils that wore red cowboy hats and comically bounced to the music. “Honey I’m Home” continued the country music vibes.
With such a string of hits there is no question that Shania Twain is a gifted songwriter. The focus of the next two songs shifted from staged theatrics, to melody and lyrics, with “I’m Alright”and “Soldier” from the Now album. The first was a masterclass in weaving in and out of minor and major keys, and the second, a lyrical tribute to our troops that tugs at the heartstrings. She sang “Soldier” while suspended in the air, riding on a open acoustic guitar case, floating across the venue to the center stage by the soundboard.
This was a very special moment, and it gave the folks in the back a chance to be “up front” and see her next costume change into a white dress with a ruffled low-cut collar, a sheer black robe, and white boots inspired by ancient Rome. The great songwriting continued with her number one song “You’re Still The One”. She went back up above the crowd with her magic flying guitar case, but this time she took an acoustic along which reminded everyone that she plays guitar too. This performance was beautiful and moving.
Two lucky fans were picked from audience once Twain landed her flying trapeze, and were escorted with her up on stage for some light conversation and a once-in-a-lifetime selfie. This part of the show was a bit awkward, but we were soon back to the music and mischief as the Sun’s gorilla mascot came out and lifted Twain onto the piano as she broke into the song “More Fun”, another song from Now that hints of Beatlesque influences.
An amazing blue laser show filled the arena as the music began for “From This Moment On”. A video of an ever-evolving lotus flower played on the screen, while Twain emoted the lyrics, alone on the stage. It was like the best karaoke version ever without the band on stage, but it would have been even more fantastic if Bryan White would have been there to duet with her — no such luck. Another costume change had her in a glimmering black catsuit with a flowing black overcoat.
That was the end of the slow stuff, and the stage set became more robust as the video cubes would rise and fall and become characters in the show. Lasers and illuminated costumes for the dancers added to the festival of light as Twain belted out “I’m Gonna Getcha Good!”
Swiss singer/songwriter Bastian Baker was the opening act for the show, and Twain invited him back to the stage to sing the duet “Party for Two” with her, and then he stuck around to play guitar on “Swingin’ With My Eyes Closed”.
Twain removed her top layer and strutted around in her catsuit that looked like a superhero outfit and showed off her figure. She turned on the sex appeal with “(If You’re Not In It For Love) I’m Outta Here”, and ended it with a bang of graffiti canons that poured over the audience and left them in suspense for an encore. Panning around the arena, everyone was out of their seats and it didn’t seem they could get any louder…but they did.
Da-Da Da Da-Da Da-Da
Those seven notes that kicked off the anthem for women and lead into the line, “Let’s go girls,” produced 10,000 primal screams from fans. “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” did not disappoint. This was the last costume change, and it gave an appreciated nod to the video with all-black thigh high boots, long-sleeve gloves, a choker, and of course a short skirt. Like the massive eruption at the end of a fireworks display, this song left no holds barred as the lasers, video screens, dancers, musicians, and Shania Twain left it all out on the stage.
PHOENIX – Covet, touring with special guests and friends HOLY FAWN and Vasudeva, bloomed in a magnificent way at The Rebel Lounge and shared their sublime sounds during the hottest period of the unrelenting desert summer. Luckily, nobody was a pile of goo by the time the show started.
This esoteric collection of musicians was a sight to behold, sharing a fascinating mix of influences from genres such as post-rock, math rock, ambient music, alternative rock, indie rock, experimental sounds, and many more. While stage banter and lyrics may have been at a minimum, fans certainly have a lot to talk about after witnessing this stunning bouquet of musical aptitude.
Kicking off the evening was local band HOLY FAWN, self-described as “four creatures making loud heavy pretty noises.” They certainly lived up to their description, as the noises varied from gentle electric sounds to earth-shattering riffs and screams. They were also the only band of the evening to feature some vocals in their songs, but for the most part, they fit right in with a heavy focus on unique instrumentals.
HOLY FAWN began their set with some ambient music playing over a dark stage covered in laser lights. The darkness and the soothing sounds made for some great ambiance, but soon it was time to rock. Without really announcing themselves, HOLY FAWN made their way to the stage from the merch booth area — not a long walk at all in the cozy, intimate Rebel Lounge. One member said “alright, let’s do this,” as they prepared for the show.
As HOLY FAWN began to play along with the ambient music, their energy slowly rose until climaxing with some epic, loud sounds. The vocals were hard to discern in The Rebel Lounge, but the music was still enjoyable. It was all about the instruments, with some screaming thrown in every once in a while for good measure.
Vasudeva took the stage shortly after HOLY FAWN, and they brought a different sound to the room. Their approach is purely instrumental, and each band member can play their instruments brilliantly. Watching all three of them on stage is a beautiful sight, and it is clear they love playing music together. Not only is their music beautiful and enjoyable, but so is their presence on stage. Their commitment to the craft is hypnotic.
Vasudeva spent most of their time on stage rocking out and sharing their captivating sounds with the crowd, but they were sure to add a quick “thank you” after each song was over. They were also sure to throw in a few other tidbits, such as “this is dope,” “this is so cool,” and “righteous.” They were also sure to thank Covet for asking them to go on tour together. Vasudeva said, “Our friends Covet are on after us. Give it up for them! We’ve been touring with them for about a week now. Wish it was longer.”
Each member of Vasudeva was really into the music and the performance, and they finished their set with an energizing finale. While many people may have come to The Rebel Lounge to see Covet, Vasudeva certainly gave them their money’s worth. The crowd was prepped for more scintillating instrumental music, but it was clear that everyone had immensely enjoyed the show so far. Unfortunately for Vasudeva fans, merch was sparse; as they said, “we’ve been on tour for a while, so we’re running low on merch. We have 2 records left. It’s crazy.” That didn’t stop people from rushing to buy things later, though.
At long last, it was time to effloresce. Similar to how HOLY FAWN began, there was ambient music playing — a prologue to the epic odyssey that was about to commence. Covet took the stage by gentle storm, with David Adamiak coming out to join the ambient music and add some bass currents to the mix. Shortly after that, Yvette Young and Forrest Rice joined him on stage to a ton of applause.
As Covet says, they are “just 3 people making music” — this is the best way to describe their performance on stage. Rather than one person taking center stage, with the others supporting them, Covet is a group of musicians who somehow share the spotlight evenly. What could easily devolve into a discordant mix of conflicting instrumentals becomes a truly majestic melody.
Rice, the drummer, truly rocked The Rebel Lounge into oblivion. His performance was spectacular, and by the look on his face, he loved every second of it. He gave the music so much energy, and his massive smile could pierce even the darkest of sorrows. Meanwhile, Young was in the zone, hyper-focused on plucking the strings on her collection of beautiful, unique guitars. Tying it all together was Adamiak, traipsing around the stage with his bass guitar, really getting into the music and the moment.
Young has made waves in recent years with her unique style of playing the guitar, and she has also recently been featured in a few interesting articles that reveal some insights into her artistic powers. While she plays many instruments, the way she plucks the guitar strings is quite unique; the sounds this technique creates are fascinating and entrancing. Not only does this show off her sheer mastery of guitar, but her immense creativity as well. It is no wonder she has been called a true “Renaissance woman” by many.
Adamiak brought his own creative spin to the show as well. While he merrily wandered all over stage, he made sure to engage with the audience whenever possible. If he didn’t make eye contact with every single person in The Rebel Lounge, it must have been close! He also seemed to have a great time making silly faces at people, as well as jumping out at the crowd from time to time to really rock out. At the end of the show, he made sure to dispense plenty of high fives to those at the front, too! Rice ran up to join him in the high fiving at that point, so there was plenty of love to go around.
Covet had such a pleasant presence on stage and infected the entire crowd with their joy. Along with spreading the music love, they also shared some beautiful stories and useful information. They referred to HOLY FAWN and Vasudeva as their “ultra homies,” told a story about the importance of staying hydrated, and thanked the audience profusely for joining them that evening. As Adamiak said, “thanks for staying out so late with us, on a Sunday night of all nights.” He repeated similar sentiments at the end of the show.
At the end of the show, Covet performed “Howl” from their new album effloresce, which just came out on July 13th; this song is a great way to send a crowd on their way, as it is full of phenomenal energy truly worthy of a grand finale. After, Adamiak said “you guys make us really happy” and mentioned they’d all be by the merch later if anyone wanted to say hi. However, the crowd chanted “one more song” for a brief timeafter they had left the stage, so the grand finale wasn’t so final after all.
They came back on stage, and Adamiak said “y’all are a bunch of sweethearts, thank you.” As he was letting his hair down, he added, “we’re gonna do one that doesn’t require hair ties.” Then, “on a very serious note,” he introduced the song “Ares” as their actual final song for the evening. While not quite as thunderous as “Howl,” it is still a superb way to end a show.
When the show was over, Covet, Vasudeva, and HOLY FAWN were all hanging around the merch area waiting to greet fans, sign merch, and say some farewells. For fans of HOLY FAWN, the farewell isn’t so long either — earlier in the show, Adamiak also added that HOLY FAWN will be having an album release at The Rebel Lounge on September 21st, so mark that one on your calendar!
Photos by Rodrigo Izquierdo
Covet, Vasudeva, & HOLY FAWN – The Rebel Lounge 7-22-18
PHOENIX – Dorothy took the stage at the Crescent Ballroom last Sunday night, infusing the summer air with earthy incense and the vibes of psychedelic hard rock. The band, originally from Los Angeles, is currently on their “Freedom Tour 2018,” promoting their second album, 28 Days in the Valley. Dorothy is named after front woman and vocal powerhouse Dorothy Martin. Her vocal style can be compared closest to Grace Slick, but her energetic stage presence can be compared to Janis Joplin.
When Dorothy took the stage, all that could be seen was their faintly lit silhouettes. In the dark, with her back to the audience, Martin lit a huge incense stick to fill the ballroom with its sweet aroma. She held on to it, waiving the incense over the stage as the flame grew and the band started the intro to the song “White Butterfly.” The band was then illuminated by the stage lights.
Martin was decked out in black lace bell bottoms and a burgundy, burnout velvet, kimono jacket; she had a mat placed at the base of her microphone to protect her feet as she performed barefoot. Fans that pointed at the stage kept the band cool, and blew Martin’s hair away from her face, adding to her carefree appearance.
As the band smoothly transitioned into their second song, “Naked Eye,” Martin picked up her tambourine. She played while the incense and fog machines worked overtime, pouring a thick haze around the band, and transporting the audience to what felt like Dorothy’s basement jam session in the 1970s.
During “Ain’t Our Time to Die,” the quiet cymbals mixed with Martin’s vibrato really mirrored Janis Joplin’s vocal style as she exclaimed, “You’ve got to believe baby, it ain’t our time to die!”
Dorothy performed many tracks off their first album, ROCKISDEAD; such as “Raise Hell,” “Down To The Bottom,” and rock anthem “Wicked Ones.” In the middle of performing “Wicked Ones,” Martin left the stage, and guitarists Nick Perri and Leroy Wulfmeier rocked out, taking the audience on an auditory journey down the rabbit hole as the stage lights flashed pink, purple, and blue.
When they played their tenth song of the night, “Who Do You Love?”, Martin dropped to her knees and reached her arms to the ceiling while bellowing the song’s lyrics, “Hey I’m your reason for lying! Hey, I’m your reason for dying! Hey, I’m your reason to live! Who do you love when your love’s a-run dry?”
Dorothy filled their 90-minute set with soulful vocals, gritty guitar playing, and all original songs off both of their full albums. Martin’s easy-going and genuine personality was apparent as she spoke to the crowd like friends. She jokingly said that if she wasn’t out performing, she’d just be at home with her cat watching X-files. At the end of the show she hugged her mic stand while smiling into the crowd, almost as if she were trying to metaphorically hug the audience for showing her band love.
For Dorothy’s final song, everyone left the stage, aside from Martin and Wulfmeier. Wulfmeier, in his Homburg hat and perfect mustache, sidled up to Martin and they performed an acoustic rendition of the love song, “Shelter.” Martin finalized the night by yelling to the crowd, “Go make love to your wife!”
Opening Act: Charming Liars
Charming Liars, a London-based band that relocated to Los Angeles in 2013, opened the set for Dorothy. This is their fifth time performing in Arizona, according to guitarist Karnig Manoukian.
Charming Liars’ set was filled with punchy, punctuated drums and dreamy guitar chords, which was pronounced in “Insomnia,” “Outta My Head,” and “Closer.” Their style leans toward very danceable, club-like rock songs. Vocalist Kiliyan Maguire has strong vocals and the ability to produce an amazing falsetto. His passion and energy got the crowd excited, especially when they played new material such as the song “Time to Start,” which was only the fourth time it has been performed by them, according to Maguire. The Charming Liars website states that the band had been endorsed by Sir Elton John when he featured their songs on his Apple Music “Rocket Hour” radio show.
The phenomenal performances of both bands at Crescent Ballroom that night showcased their original music, thought provoking lyrics, and solidified their potential to rise up to the top. And, if there was one message conveyed through the music that evening, a message we can apply to everyday living, it must be; love fiercely, but take no shit.
Catch both bands on the “Freedom Tour 2018” until August 26.
PHOENIX — Burning Hot Events brought back our horribly delightful photo booth to the 2nd annual SINister: A Sexy Fetish Party (21 +) at Joe’s Grotto, featuring two stages of entertainment including live bands, sideshow, burlesque & more. As always, the rambunctious crowd from the goth & fetish community were eager to pose for the camera!
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PHOENIX — The Melvins concluded the spring portion of their ambitious two-part 2018 tour schedule to promote the April 20th release of their album, Pinkus Abortion Technician, at The Crescent Ballroom on Thursday, May 31. Los Angeles-based rock band All Souls warmed up concertgoers with songs from their newly released self-titled album.
Rockers of all ages flooded the intimate venue to experience the heavy, experimental sounds of one of the most influential and notable grunge/sludge metal bands to pave the way for the likes of Nirvana and Pearl Jam. The drinks flowed and the smell from the food being run from the kitchen to Cocina 10 permeated the venue as All Souls hit the stage.
After a quick introduction, they jumped right into the music with their melodic, guitar-heavy sound that ranges from deep and dark, to grunge, to downright ethereal. All Souls, comprised of Drummer Tony Tornay, (formerly of Fatso Jetson), bassist Meg Castellanos and guitarist/vocalist Antonio Aguilar (both formerly of Totimoshi) as well as guitarist Erik Trammell (formerly of Brothers Collateral) proved that, though they’ve only been together for 3 years, they’ve uncovered a winning combination of musical talent to generate a polished sound worth listening to on repeat. At then end of their set, Trammell thanked the Melvins for a “blissful” five week tour together to which Meg added that it also included a broken foot. This concluded the band’s stint with the Melvins, who take a small break and then tackle another ambitious 5-week tour schedule to include four nights in Canada.
Following All Souls’ performance was the anxiously awaited Melvins who planned to take listeners on a musical trip through their discography that spans 34 years. Their newest creation to add to their collection is Pinkus Abortion Technician, which pays homage to the likes of The Beatles and The James Gang. The album brings bassist Jeff Pinkus from the Butthole Surfers back on a collaboration once again to create a whole new sound along with fellow bassist, Steven Shane McDonald, who joined the band in 2015. The Melvins have toured with two drummers and also with two lead guitars, but having two basses is a first. Being the experimental musicians they are and willing to take a chance, they brought forth a sound rarely experienced. The walls reverberated with what felt like a collective heartbeat, a depth of sound that had audience members moving their heads in unison.
The band came out to experimental pedal and guitar sounds that primed the audience for the journey they were about to embark on for the next few hours.The musical journey began with visceral and gritty “Sesame Street Meat” off their 23rd studio album from 2014, Hold It In, on which bassist Jeff Pinkus collaborated. Drummer Dale Crover was immediately seated and fitted with his over-the-ear mic, while outgoing bassist McDonald dazzled with a series of high kicks. Bassist Jeff Pinkus took stage right, where he remained the majority of the evening deeply engrossed in his music and showing an occasional glimmer when his guitar hit the light just right. Guitarist and lead vocalist Buzz Osborne restlessly moved about the stage as though energy were traveling through him in a higher capacity than he could possibly emit. Next stop was 25 years in the past with “At A Crawl”, followed by a zig zag to “Kicking Machine” from 2008’s Nude With Boots, which brought the crowd to a higher level of excitement when a mosh pit ensued. Next were two covers: David Bowie’s “Saviour Machine” sung by Steve McDonald and Red Kross’ “What They Say” which had all-hands-on-deck vocally.
Buzz Osborne took front and center once again with “Anaconda” off of their 1991 album, Bullhead. Next up, Buzz got into character over dead silence and sauntered up to the mic with a smirk to tell everyone, “Well… well… well, I’ll be moooving down to Floriduh,” to kick off the Butthole Surfers’ “Moving to Florida” with a mix of their new song “Stop Moving to Florida” off Pinkus Abortion Technician.
Other notable mentions are McDonald’s long locks blowing in the wind of the fan off on stage left, his Superman move of pulling his blazer open to show his sparkly “punk rock” written across his chest, and one cannot forget the slower tempo of “Don’t Forget to Breathe” off of the new album, with credits for writing going completely to Pinkus.
The Melvins ended their energy-fueled, seventeen-song setlist by taking fans all the way back to the beginning with “Eye Flys” from their debut album Gluey Porch Treatments. Drummer Dale Crover’s elbows were moving at seemingly lightning speed, reminding everyone why he was worthy of a shout out during Nirvana’s 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction.
As the crescendo of the last notes of the night filled the room, shook the ground, and flooded the ears of each fortunate audience member, Crover stood up and dropped his drumsticks to a crowd of sated fans who uproariously applauded. Drenched with sweat and playing with the same amount of gusto as the first moment they set foot on stage, it was evident that the Melvins have the masterful talent of a band that has been around for 34 years and the ambition to put on a show for their fans like a band that is just up and coming.