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REVIEW: Poppy Catches Phoenix in Her Interweb on Valentine’s Day at Crescent Ballroom 2-14-18

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PHOENIX – A rainy Valentine’s Day evening in Phoenix, Arizona – what a perfect night for one of the most bizarre acts to come through town. Moriah Rose Pereira, who goes by the name Poppy on the internet, is a multi-talented internet phenomenon. A young veteran in dancing, singing, acting, and creativity, Poppy was able to bring her peculiar act to the desert. Fans and onlookers of all shapes, sizes, and types gathered together at the Crescent Ballroom to see the internet come to life and behold the spectacle that is the Poppy.Computer Tour. It certainly did not disappoint.

What Exactly is Poppy?

Believed to be an android by many, a cult leader by some, and an all-around weirdo by “normies” on the internet, Poppy found massive notoriety over YouTube after releasing her infamous video “I’m Poppy,” which can be viewed here. Produced with the help of Titanic Sinclair, another well-known internet phenomenon, musician, and director, Poppy was quickly able to gain the attention of the modern world, mostly through her series of outlandish videos.

She eventually turned this YouTube sensation into an effective tool in the pursuit of her ultimate dream: becoming a pop star. In fact, Poppy even won a Streamy Award in late 2017 for “Breakthrough Artist.” However, it would likely be more apt to label her an anti-pop star, as her work seems to revolve around calling out the absurdities of contemporary popular culture, pop music, and fame in the modern world.

While Poppy originally claimed not to be in a cult a little over a year ago, with Titanic Sinclair vouching for the accuracy of this claim, the Poppy.Computer Tour seemed to prove otherwise. This humorous take on possibly spinning criticism on its own head and turned it into another powerful tool in their digital and cultural arsenals; Titanic Sinclair and Poppy seem to embrace this cultish mentality, and they certainly took it and ran with it.

This cultish theme led to some fabulously interesting and entertaining moments during the show; from the computer-rendered speech synthesis-style narration, to fans “drinking the Kool-Aid,” this cult-themed joke certainly balances itself on a thin line between satire and reality. Nonetheless, the screaming fans—aka “Poppy Seeds”—and fascinated observers did not seem to mind either way. After all, is this not the essence of modern popular culture? Undying fealty to those famous people all fans have sworn allegiance to.

Poppy.Computer Tour

The Poppy.Computer Tour is Poppy’s first time visiting real people as a musician, and it was originally planned to visit only 20 cities across North America, but likely due to its greater-than-expected success, the tour was expanded to include a stop in London, Tokyo, and 15 other stops in North America. Poppy and Titanic Sinclair planned this epic adventure in order to promote Poppy’s first official album, Poppy.Computer.

The most interesting aspect of this tour is that, with the exception of her Toronto show, there were no opening acts. Instead, Poppy substituted the time slot traditionally reserved for an opener for one of the characters off her YouTube channel – Charlotte the Mannequin. This same character also happens to be the main antagonist from Poppy’s new YouTube Red film, with a potential to become a series, titled I’m Poppy.

Poppy also traveled with two amazingly talented backup dancers, Alec and Jason. These two stole the spotlight during many points, yet they always made sure to give it back to Poppy when the time was right. They were their to support and augment her, after all, with their keytar dance moves, air drums, and even their own take on what looked like a Thousand Arms Dance. Complete with tutus, bleach blonde wigs, and face masks, they offered an unsettling yet oddly charming addition to the stage.

Charlotte the Mannequin

As fans eagerly awaited the unexpected, uncertainty swirled in the air. Would there be an opener? How would they start the show? What, exactly, was this going to be like? Those who knew Poppy from the internet likely had all sorts of wild ideas, and “Africa” by Toto was playing on loop as they contemplated the imminent future. As the song itself has become its own infamous meme, it seemed only fitting to fill the void of time while everyone waited for the show to start.

Charlotte Quin, or Charlotte the Mannequin, sat alone on the stage, aside a MacBook DJ setup and between two massive screens. She opened the show with a pre-selected audio set. While she isn’t the most animated character, she does have her very own YouTube channel where she occasionally copies Poppy’s ideas, makes her own versions of Poppy’s songs, and otherwise wreaks havoc on Poppy’s online presence. She also happens to have a diverse but excellent taste in music, sampling and playing songs of all genres and eras. There was certainly something for just about everyone in her playlist, and her transitions were seamless.

Songs and artists featured during this most interesting of opening DJ acts include: Daft Punk, Baha Men, Missy Elliot, N.W.A., Vanessa Carlton, TLC, Cake, Abba, Ke$ha, The B-52s, Of Montreal, Talking Heads, Madonna, Rihanna, LMFAO, Justin Bieber, Billy Joel, Britney Spears, Lou Bega’s Mambo No. 5, Jimmy Eat World, Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), Dr. Dre, Cyndi Lauper, Ed Sheeran, Nena’s (Original German) “99 Red Balloons”, and Miley Cyrus.

Throughout this playlist, symbols resembling every meme about the Illuminati played, mixed in with some of the visuals from Poppy’s videos—most notably, “This Birdcage” and “Where is Poppy?”, a video made in collaboration with entertainment company and internet phenomenon Super Deluxe. Strung throughout the set were also sound clips from various Poppy videos, most notably increasingly-frequent statements of “I’m Poppy.” Charlotte’s own statements of “Hello Internet and how she is going to be the “Queen of YouTube.” It also featured some sound clips of Poppy and Charlotte discussing the Bible, internet meme sensation Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That, and an old Blockbuster commercial.

Towards the end of Charlotte’s set, there was some banter between her and Poppy, ending with Poppy stating she was “Uncomfortable,” with Charlotte replying, “Uncomfortable? I’ll show you uncomfortable!” Poppy called for “Security!” As the final two songs played, the unusual opening act ended with the question, “Are you ready for Poppy?” playing over and over. They then played just about every ending theme ever, and random noises or themes, from things such as: The Simpsons, Castle Rock Entertainment, Windows ME, Viacom, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, and so on. It was hard to keep track of since they were only samples given in rapid succession, but the result was immensely entertaining.

Initiating

To capitalize on this hype, Titanic Sinclair came out on stage just before the show began. He presented what was most likely a delicious Poppy beverage (Kool-Aid) prior to sampling some himself. He then set down the pitcher and prepared the crowd for initiation. Warning messages popped up on the screens, and then fans were inducted into the Cult of Poppy over three different Programming Sequences, complete with all the necessary digital and broadcast noises to make it just weird enough. Titanic Sinclair proceeded to pour cups of the delicious Poppy beverage during this time.

With all the grace granted to an android, Poppy slowly and quietly proceeded on stage with her two gender-ambiguous backup dancers, taking her place center stage with her back facing the audience. Her fans were ravenous, but Poppy is the master of timing and patience. Once the appropriate time came, she began to perform her iconic song and first single from her new album, “I’m Poppy“. She followed this up with “Computer Boy,” the second single from her new album.

P O P P Y I’m Poppy!

A post shared by Sean Tingle (@music_seen) on

These backup dancers have the BEST job in the universe!

A post shared by Sean Tingle (@music_seen) on

Once “Computer Boy” concluded, Poppy played her video “Doritos Monster Energy Drink,” because when else is a perfect time?

She continued the weirdness by asking the audience, “Do you love me?” She then proceeded to hand out her delicious Poppy beverage, passing out Kool-Aid to a few people in the front row. Titanic Sinclair and the backup dancers also helped with cup distribution. It was a beautiful, if not strange, moment.

Later on, Poppy also brought up the LOVE METER on the large screens, and her backup dancers hyped the audience up – everyone screamed, cheered, and clapped as loud as they could in order to fill the meter up. It turns out that the crowd does, in fact, love Poppy, as they were able to fill the meter up completely. What a way to spend Valentine’s Day!

Illuminati confirmed.

A post shared by Sean Tingle (@music_seen) on

Poppy performed many of her popular songs from the new album, including “Let’s Make a Video,” “Moshi Moshi,” “Interweb,” and “Bleach Blonde Baby.” The music videos, styles, and live performances are all uniquely performed and designed, and they are all quite reminiscent of Japanese Pop Music (J-Pop).

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu (KPP) especially comes to mind when exploring Poppy’s musical styles and approaches – especially her songs “PONPONPON,” “CANDY CANDY,” and “Invader Invader.” The latter two of these are especially reminiscent of Poppy’s live performance, particularly regarding her backup dancers; CANDY CANDY features what is likely a male impersonator of KPP, dancing behind her with a wig in her same hairstyle and a mask that is an anime version of her face. In Invader Invader, she has many gender-ambiguous backup dancers as well. There certainly seems to be a lot of inspiration here from J-Pop, making Poppy’s performance a great mix of American and Japanese pop music styles.

Another marriage between pop styles can be seen with French pop artist Yelle, who is also famous for her interesting approaches to music, live performances, and music videos. While the connections aren’t as clear as between Poppy and KPP, Yelle’s upbeat and interesting approaches to pop culture certainly are sights to behold. Yelle’s hit song “Ba$$in” is particularly apt, as well as “Comme Un Enfant,” “Safari Disco Club,” “Complètement fou,” and “Ici & Maintenant.” If anything, her unique dancing styles are certainly comparable to Poppy’s own take on dance, which was Poppy’s first love.

I’ve caught you in my interweb… I’ve caught you in my internet…

A post shared by Sean Tingle (@music_seen) on

In the middle of Poppy’s performance, she played her video “3:36 and followed it up with some live additions: “Should we end the show early?” The audience, of course, said no, and she replied, “Okay.” However, it would not have been much of a surprise if she had ended it early.

Throughout the show, Poppy made excellent eye contact with just about everyone in the crowd. She was excellent at engaging people in that way while still maintaining her android-like, robotic façade. At one point, she did go through the front row and gave high fives or held hands, briefly, with as many fans as she could. Her backup dancers also, at one point, took 2 phones from fans in the crowd and took some photos of Poppy from their perspectives on the stage. It is clear that Poppy and company are trying their best to maintain their fans’ loyalty and love.

As the end approached, Poppy asked, “Can I be your Valentine?” The crowd, of course, agreed with great enthusiasm. However, all was not perfect, as Charlotte had to make her final attempt of the night at overthrowing Poppy – her voice popped up over the speakers, as she had just been sitting there, quietly, on stage throughout Poppy’s performance.

Can I sing a song?” Charlotte asked.  “You’ve already had your turn,” Poppy replied. She then requested for the crowd to join her in chanting, “Bye bye, Charlotte!” Apparently, at some point, Charlotte’s head was removed, so it is clear the crowd was quite serious about quieting her pleas for fame and recognition.

Upload Complete

Poppy’s penultimate song for the show was her song, “Where’s My Microphone?” The audience, backup dancers, Titanic Sinclair, and Poppy all joined in on worrying about where Poppy’s microphone was, but everyone was quite relieved when she realized it was in her hands the whole time! “Oh, there it is!”

Finally, the time came for Poppy’s last song, “Software Upgrade.” She gave it her all, and her energy was quite infectious. Most in the crowd were having such a great time singing and dancing along, with a few wallflowers hanging around and enjoying their interesting Valentine’s Day adventure. Poppy finished the song by assuring everyone that she loved them prior to departing the stage as mysteriously as she had appeared, and the crowd chanted and screamed for an encore.

A beautiful finale with some Kyary Pamyu Pamyu vibes! That dancing! 😂💃🕺

A post shared by Sean Tingle (@music_seen) on

Unfortunately, that encore never came, and it ended up being an early evening for Poppy fans and Crescent Ballroom guests. Charlotte the Mannequin had played her set from about 8pm to 8:40pm, and Poppy performed from that point until 9:30pm. It was a short show, but it can be said this was certainly not the most traditional concert or musical experience anyway. While it would have been nice to see Poppy perform a couple of her original songs prior to the Poppy.Computer album, such as “Money or “Lowlife,” it was still an immensely surrealistic and enjoyable experience to see such an internet phenomenon in real life.

Overall, Valentine’s Day with Poppy at the Crescent Ballroom was an interesting yet amusing way to spend an evening, and it is clear Poppy will be going places. Her partnership with Titanic Sinclair has, so far, been wildly successful, and it will be interesting to see where they go and what they do next. If they do choose to come back to Phoenix, however, it might be best to visit another venue – Crescent Ballroom was a bit too small for her sold out show, and the stage is too low for everyone in the audience to see the screens fully. At times, it was even difficult to see the backup dancers or Poppy herself, which was disappointing during certain moments. This was a show one did not want to miss a moment of – so many small details were hidden throughout.

One thing is for certain, though – the lack of encore and the resuming of “Africa” by Toto at the end of the show was the greatest troll moment of all. Disappointing and unexpected, yes, but one cannot help to smile after such a thoroughly bizarre experience.

REVIEW: Lights Returns to Arizona Stronger Than Ever at Marquee Theatre 2-8-18

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TEMPE, AZ – Lights, along with special guests Chase Atlantic and DCF, illuminated Marquee Theatre last Thursday. This eclectic mix of musicians magnetized a diverse crowd to The Marquee’s doors, and together, the entire venue celebrated a night of pure joy and musical euphoria. Fans of all ages blissfully enjoyed the great sound, atmosphere, and company of each band, but Lights certainly shone brightest of all — fans were dazzled by their otherworldly sounds and gorgeous visuals on stage, and it is clear for any outside observer to understand why they command an army of such devoted fans.

For those who know and love Lights already, they’re aware that this is certainly not Lights’ first rodeo — they’ve been to Phoenix many times since 2008, but as lead singer Lights Valerie Poxleitner put it, they come back stronger every time. From The Nile to Warped Tour, Lights certainly know how to command a stage of any size and location, and their attention to detail certainly transfixes audiences on multiple levels. As Poxleitner is an artist in more ways than one, it is no surprise that Lights’ live performances are as much visual spectacle as they are aural extravaganza. It’s no wonder that Lights has recently received nominations for the Pop Album of the Year and Artist of the Year categories in the 2018 JUNO Awards.

DCF

The first performance of the evening was DCF, an artist who is a compelling example of contemporary pop, alternative, and indie music styles. His was a solo act, yet he projected enough energy and personality to decently command the entire stage and crowd. Concert-goers, in fact, were somewhat devastated when it came time for Prince DCF to exit the stage after an acoustic version of “Misery Business” by Paramore, letting out an audible sigh as he departed.

SCF - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
DCF
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved
Click for More DCF Photos

DCF’s interesting style, mix of genres, and unique take on what is considered pop music all went well with what could only have been a Napoleonic-era Royal Navy Admiral’s Coat. Together with his stylish hairstyle and glasses, DCF exudes confidence and mirth as he DJs, sings, cracks jokes, and finds any other way to entertain a crowd. His performance was certainly a great ice breaker for the evening, though it did end on a relatively anticlimactic note.

Chase Atlantic

Next up was Chase Atlantic, a wonderful group visiting all the way from Australia; they likely chased the Pacific in this case, but everyone at The Marquee was certainly happy to see them. They instantly took over the stage and crowd, carrying the momentum over from DCF and further building fans up for Lights later in the evening. Their high energy was contagious, and they also shared a unique take on contemporary music, just as DCF had done before them. It would be difficult to say exactly what they sound like, but all alternative musicians seem to be elusive when it comes to absolute definition.

Chase Atlantic - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
Mitchel Cave (Lead Singer), Chase Atlantic
Photo Credit:
Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved
Click for More Chase Atlantic Photos

Due to their eclectic mix of sounds, it was easy for everyone in the crowd to join in on the fun. Lead singer Mitchel Cave, who first got his big start on the world stage by performing on X-Factor Australia, must have chugged several energy drinks prior to coming out, because he was moving at the speed of light all over the stage. He also seemed to love having the audience join him in the adventure, jumping down to join them briefly, before hopping back up on stage to hype everyone up even further. Chase Atlantic was definitely a great act to follow DCF with, and these boys made the transition into Lights’ scintillating performance a flawless one.

LIGHTS

Though the performances of Chase Atlantic and DCF were fantastic, some fans simply could not contain their excitement for the main act of the evening — Lights; in fact, one young fan was spotted running all over The Marquee, seemingly unable to contain her excitement. It was clear this was likely not her first time seeing Lights, and her excitement proved to be quite the harbinger of the incredible musical and visual adventure ahead.

Lights came out on stage after quite the setup time, but the wait was certainly well worth it. Immediately, fans were greeted by lead vocalist Lights Valerie Poxleitner’s silhouette in front of a massive screen; the bright, neon lights behind her perfectly symbolized the band’s name, and the hype and tension felt throughout the crowd instantly reached a breaking point. The buildup to her full visual reveal was palpable, and her glamorous, vogue-like poses as she sang in her spectral, ethereal form brought out the best fashion week vibes. Finally, she emerged from the darkness and into the light to a feverish sea of fans.

Lights - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
Lights Valerie Poxleitner (Lead Vocalist), Lights
Photo Credit:
Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved
(Lights Photo Gallery Below)

We Were Here Tour – Issue One

Lights performed in 3 major acts throughout the evening. During the first act, Poxleitner kept the energy from Chase Atlantic going, with some of their most exciting, upbeat songs. During this portion of the show, she asked the audience if anyone here has seen them live before. There was a resounding, screaming yes, with the majority of hands within the crowd immediately shooting up as high as they could go. She continued, clearly pleased by this reaction, explaining that they love coming back to Phoenix, and that their first time here was at The Nile (Nile Theater) over in Mesa, AZ back in 2008, where they performed with Copeland. They’ve been back many times, including to Warped Tour, and she stated, “Year after year, we keep coming back stronger.” For fans who missed out on this tour, I think it is safe to assume that Lights will surely be back soon.

Lights - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
Lights Valerie Poxleitner (Lead Vocalist), Lights
Photo Credit:
Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved
(Lights Photo Gallery Below)

As the mood seemed to chill out a bit, Poxleitner began a new discussion: “I wrote this song when I was going through a shitty time. Who’s been through a shitty time?” The oddly enthusiastic screams from the crowd were certainly clear answer enough; “We’ve all been through shitty times. Do you know what helps get us through it? Friendship, a little bit of wine, and music.” The crowd loved this strategy, and prior to performing “Face Up,” Poxleitner gave them further inspiration: “Your weaknesses become your strengths.” This phrase would certainly make a great tattoo.

“Your weaknesses become your strengths” – Lights

We Were Here Tour – Issue Two

After “Face Up,” Lights retreated off stage for a brief respite. During this time, Poxleitner displayed some of her artwork on the huge screen on stage. Since she is an artist and illustrator, it only made sense — we got to see some of her characters and settings from her Skin & Earth comic series, synonymous with Lights’ new album of the same name, which currently has 6 issues out for purchase. The images and scenes shown were quite similar to the trailer for Skin & Earth, which can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/FnbL7ZE4hmo

Skin & Earth illustration at concert - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
Illustration on screen from Lights’ comic book series Skin & Earth
Photo Credit:
Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved
(Lights Photo Gallery Below)

During this phase of the performance, Lights returned to the stage with a more somber attitude. The setup had changed during this short intermission as well — suddenly, there was a piano with lots of candles on top, helping to relax the mood even further. It was time for some calm, more acoustic songs. Poxleitner was back on stage in a new outfit, sporting an acoustic guitar. It was a pleasant change of pace, and it certainly kept the vibes fresh for the evening. It also made the grand finale that much more powerful.

Lights - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
Lights Valerie Poxleitner (Lead Vocalist), Lights
Photo Credit:
Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved
(Lights Photo Gallery Below)

We Were Here Tour – Issue Three

After another quick break and some more stunning illustrations on the big screen, Lights was back on stage, and Poxleitner was sporting a third and final outfit. They brought back the high energy with a vengeance this time around, and Poxleitner joined the band with her own electric guitar. This guitar, she explained, represented her second character in her comic books, and it sported the beautiful Skin & Earth logo seen on stage, on the cover of her books, and all over her website and social media accounts — not to mention she also has it tattooed on her arm. She transitioned into her song “Running with the Boys” after this interesting discussion.

Lights - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
Lights Valerie Poxleitner (Lead Vocalist), Lights
Photo Credit:
Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved
(Lights Photo Gallery Below)

A highlight from this phase of the show was the video clips of Sailor Moon’s transformation and Street Fighter’s Chun Li pronouncing, “I am the strongest woman in the world!” playing in the background, which perfectly complemented the power behind Lights’ performance. Towards the end of this third act, Poxleitner brought up her song “We Were Here,” asking everyone, “When the song starts, do you hear waves or a storm?” The majority seemed to scream, “WAVES!” Poxleitner replied with, “Fuck. I always hear a storm.” She continued to discuss the music video for “We Were Here,” saying that she doesn’t recommend burning a bus, but that it was definitely a lot of fun: “Full disclosure — a pyrotech got to do it. But I got to throw the lighter.

Bonus Issue – The Encore

Once more unto the breach, Lights came back on stage for a quick encore. They weren’t off stage long, likely because the crowd’s chants, screams, and claps were so demanding. Poxleitner picked the mic back up and asked, “Do you guys wanna hear another song?” Everyone, of course, responded with a loud “YES!” She replied, “Alright, so be it, but you guys gotta dance, and you gotta sing,” and the crowd certainly complied. To reward fans, Poxleitner jumped down into the crowd for a bit to give most people up front the best high-fives ever before jumping back on stage for a special surprise for Poxleitner’s sister.

Poxleitner pulled out her phone near the very end of the show and told everyone that it was her sister’s birthday. She wanted to get a video of herself singing “Happy Birthday” with everyone in the audience, so the lights lit the house up, and everyone sang along while she recorded. “I’ve never done one of these before!” she exclaimed after. Her sister certainly got the best little gift from that moment.

Overall, the Phoenix stop of Lights’ We Were Here Tour was an exhilarating experience for everyone, and it was clear the entire band had just as great of a time as the crowd. In fact, Poxleitner may have had the most fun of all — she truly seems to love what she does, and this shines through in her incredible displays of creativity. From the life-sized cardboard cutouts of her comic book character illustrations out in the lobby to the strange vegan pizza box introduction to some synthy song intro tunes, her contagious enthusiasm spread throughout Marquee Theatre and well beyond. This went well with her aura of power her music, and she herself exudes, in addition to her uplifting spirit. She is an inspiration in many ways — a true Renaissance Woman.

Lights - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
Lights Valerie Poxleitner (Lead Vocalist), Lights
Photo Credit:
Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved
(Lights Photo Gallery Below)

Prior to heading out for the evening, Poxleitner explained that Lights is part of Plus 1, a movement and organization that ensures $1 from every ticket sold for participating shows and artists goes to causes they believe in. Lights decided on GRID Alternatives, an organization that helps to bring solar power to places across the states. Poxleitner closed by stating we all need to “protect this little planet that we have… it’s all we got.” They left the stage to resounding cheers of joy, leaving everyone to their evenings with a little positive thinking and a lot of great memories.

PHOTO ALBUM

by Katherine Amy Vega

Lights – Marquee Theatre 2-8-18

Flickr Album Gallery Powered By: Weblizar

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

REVIEW: Stabbing Westward’s 30th Reunion at Club Red, ft. Swindy, Amnestic, There Is No Us and Paranova 1-12-18

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Mesa, Ariz. — Stabbing Westward has been rocking out for more than 30 years, but the energy they brought to the intimate Club Red was dynamic, like they were fledglings on their first tour. They brought 90s rock nostalgia to the crowd gathered inside the dark brick walls of the venue after their 14 year hiatus. This performance was part of their 30th Reunion show, which featured local openers; Paranova, There Is No Us, Amnestic and Swindy, who all performed with stamina and grit to wow the crowd.

Stabbing Westward

Stabbing Westward keyboardist Walter Flakus and drummer Johnny Haro prepared for their set by carrying up multiple 12-packs of Coronas to the stage, and vocalist Christopher Hall walked out on stage during the sound check to record footage of the excited crowd for social media.

Photography: Russ Broty © All Rights Reserved.

When Stabbing Westward took the stage, the crowd’s energy rose even more, with Hall embracing the space of the stage to engage the crowd during the opening song, “Drugstore.” During the second song, “Falls Apart,” guitarist Mark Eliopulos was playing so aggressively, pushing his guitar against the mic stand like a capo, that he broke his bottom E-string. When Hall asked him if he needed a break to replace it, Eliopulos replied, “…it was the one at the bottom, you know, the one no one uses,” and he played the rest of the show on only five strings.

Stabbing Westward - Photography: Russ Broty
Carlton Bost (Bassist), Stabbing Westward (View Band Photo Album)
Photography:
Russ Broty © All Rights Reserved

They played “Lies” and “Nothing” off their 1994 Ungod album; “What Do I Have To Do?” and “Shame” off their 1996 album Wither, Blister, Burn & Peel; “Sometimes It Hurts” and “Save Yourself” off the 1998 Darkest Days album, in addition to six other songs from their expansive career. In between the songs, Hall poked fun at himself and his bandmates telling the crowd “old people” jokes and attributing it to their current lifestyle. However, with the way Hall strutted his stuff all over the stage and jumped down into the crowd, one could have guessed him only 25-years-old. Hall closed out the show with a proper drop-mic after announcing to the crowd, “We are Stabbing Westward bitches! Good night!

Stabbing Westward - Photography: Russ Broty
Christopher Hall (Vocalist), Stabbing Westward (View Band Photo Album)
Photography: Russ Broty © All Rights Reserved

Prior to headliner act Stabbing Westward, four local bands played opening sets to amp up the crowd. Each band brought diversity to the stage with their original songs and performance styles filled with vigor and moxie. The bands provided an eclectic, yet complimentary sampling of folk goth, industrial, metal and alt-rock styles.

Swindy

Swindy was on first playing their ethereal folk goth and industrial-rock inspired songs. They started out with “Synergy” followed by the electro-tech “iBegin,” and a new song, “Animal.”

Lead vocalist Randall Swindell’s stage presence oozed sex appeal in his black, wet-look tee shirt and ripped, black denim skinny jeans, and even more when he stopped playing guitar mid-song to run his hands through his cheek-length blond hair.

Swindy - Photography: Russ Broty
Randall Swindell (Vocalist, Guitarist), Swindy (View Band Photo Album)
Photography:
Russ Broty © All Rights Reserved

During the show, it was announced that this would be vocalist Alyson Precie’s last show for a while as she recently enlisted in the Navy. Her strong voice and harmonizing vocals will be missed. Swindy also consists of members Tamara Jenney on keyboard, Mike Jenney on bass, and drummer Steven Escalante.

Swindy - Photography: Russ Broty
Alyson Precie (Vocalist), Swindy (View Band Photo Album)
Photography:
Russ Broty © All Rights Reserved.

Swindell’s passion really came through with the song “Reflection,” as he opened his arms to metaphorically embrace the crowd and pull them in. They finished the set with “Just Don’t Like It,” and “Ignite My Love” from their self-titled EP Swindy.

Amnestic

Amnestic took the stage with their industrial electro-hard rock, which they self-describe as “angry robot noises.” Vocalist Brook Thomas’ growlesque screams set the tone for a post-apocalyptic robot revolt. Amnestic comprises two other members, keyboardist Sarah Elizabeth and guitarist Aaron Coldblood. The dark stage and bold red lighting cast a demonic glow over the band intensifying the message of their music. The trio played “Harbringer,” “Desensitization,” “Discipline,” and “Absent Affect” from their current album Future; as well as “Nervous System” from their album Real Bad Day.

Amnestic - Photography: Russ Broty
Amnestic (View Band Photo Album)
Photography:
Russ Broty © All Rights Reserved

There Is No Us

The third band to play, There Is No Us, came at the crowd no holds barred with their opening song, “Chemical Murder,” followed up by “Farewell to Humanity,” which is interspersed with snippets from tragic news broadcasts. Vocalist Jim Louvau’s aggressive vocals are a good representation of the societal angst reflected in their political lyrics.

There Is No Us - Photography: Russ Broty
Jim Lovau (Vocalist) & Andy Gerold (Guitarist), There Is No Us (View Band Photo Album)
Photography:
Russ Broty © All Rights Reserved

The five person band consists of Andy Gerold (former guitarist for Marilyn Manson) and Jared Bakin on guitar, Eddie Lopez on bass and PHEET on drums. They played “Kings & Queens,” and  “Angels Face with Devils Hands,” which Louvau described as a love song. Louvau finished out the set screaming at the crowd to throw their fists in the air for “In Violence We Trust,” getting the crowd pumped for the headlining band.

Paranova

Right before Stabbing Westward, Paranova took the stage. Vocalist Owen Doheny walked on with an instrument one does not usually see at a rock or metal concert, a saxophone. They opened with the song “Lazarus,” and guitarist Dylan Ewing executed a flawless guitar solo. The band followed with “Hyperhollow” and “Sanctuary.” Bass player Erin Sperduti’s intense bass lines and drummer Logan Dolezal’s punchy drumming really bring their sound full circle.

Paranova - Photography: Russ Broty
Owen Doheny (Vocalist), Paranova (View Band Photo Album)
Photography:
Russ Broty © All Rights Reserved

The band covered NIN’s “March of the Pigs,” then finished out with their original songs “Enfilade,” and “Headline.” During the last song, Doheny pulled out the sax and gave it a short-lived appearance playing it for 15 seconds right at the end of the song. All songs, except the cover of NIN’s “March of the Pigs,” are on their album Hyperhollow.

In Closing

The entire show was a high energy rock fest for the mid-size Club Red. Each opening band brought their original style and sound to the stage to work up the anticipation for Stabbing Westward’s performance. Thirty years together, they know how to put on one hell of a show. They’ve kept fans satiated, and gained new fans, as The Dreaming for 17 years. It’s unknown how long the guys will continue to tour as Stabbing Westward since their 2016 reunion kicked off, but it was a pleasure to have them back in Arizona playing the 90s rock that made them famous.

Photo Gallery

Photographer: Russ Broty

Stabbing Westward, Swindy, Amnestic, There Is No Us, Paranova – Club Red 1-12-18

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Photography © Looking at You Too
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REVIEW: Lindsey Stirling Spreads Christmas Cheer with “Warmer in the Winter” Tour Finale in Phoenix 12-23-17

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PHOENIX — It was nearly Christmas Eve as Lindsey Stirling’s fans gathered at Comerica Theatre. Donning their Santa caps and winter scarves, they fell down the rabbit hole that is the visually stunning show on the Warmer in the Winter tour. The last show on Stirling’s tour landed here, in her hometown of Phoenix, and fans couldn’t be happier to welcome her back home for the holidays. Stirling has recently competed on “Dancing with the Stars”, and her dance partner Mark Ballus was opening for her on the tour with his band Alexander Jean. It was the last show on her tour, and she didn’t slow down for one second, inspiring the audience to follow their dreams, break boundaries and defy industry.

Lindsey Stirling - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Lindsey Stirling
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

Stirling emerged from a curtained archway, sparkling in ruffles of metallic purple, silver and gold playing “All I Want for Christmas”. Surrounding her were snow-covered illuminated houses, straight from a children’s book.  She was joined by her four dancers, and together they ignited the audience with their smiles and choreography.

Lindsey Stirling - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Lindsey Stirling
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

For the next number, snowflakes swirled in the background as the notes to “Frosty the Snowman” and “Let it Snow” were merged.  The dancers twirled with black umbrellas that sprinkled snow as they glided across the stage.  The Christmas spirit was alive and swelling inside the theatre as Stirling performed “Warmer in the Winter”, in which she both sang and played violin, and the classic fiddle song “I Saw Three Ships.” Visions of the ocean and pirates flickered on the screen as dancers appeared in plaid skirts with bouncing steps.

Lindsey Stirling - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Lindsey Stirling
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

After a short musical break, Stirling reemerged in a stunning sheer dress adorned with sparkling silver sequins. She and her bandmates sat down on the floor toward the front of the stage for a special treat.  Stirling had laid out “instruments” for them all to play: two kazoos, a toy piano and a tiny violin.  She told the crowd that she had an advantage because her instrument wasn’t a toy, it was the violin that most children start playing on at the age of 5. She laughed, saying “this one’s name is Pickles” as she held the tiny violin in the air.  Together the group serenaded the crowd with a medley of tunes starting with “Jingle Bells”, merging into the Harry Potter theme, and winding down with a saucy “Santa Baby”.

Lindsey Stirling - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Lindsey Stirling
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved
Lindsey Stirling - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Lindsey Stirling
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

At the end of the group’s medley, the pianist Kit challenged Stirling to play “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” on the tiny violin, claiming “it’s what the audience is really wondering.” And she smiled, rising to the challenge as she played about 20 seconds of the fast-paced classic fiddle song. The crowd erupted in cheers as they quickly cleared the little instruments from the stage.

The first few notes of “Crystalize” fell over the crowd, mesmerizing them as Stirling elegantly danced across the stage in a mist, with slivers of light casting eerily beautiful shadows over her. The audience listened as if under a spell, being broken only by Stirling herself, as she addressed the crowd before her next number. She spoke powerful words about her own experiences with anorexia and self-esteem.  She reminded the crowd, as they listened to the next song, to remember that even if they don’t see the beauty in themselves “someone sees the beauty in you.” She then went on to perform “Hallelujah” with the curtain closed and only her guitarist to accompany her. The curtains then opened as dancers joined her on stage to perform “Angels We Have Heard on High”, wearing swaths of white fabric that draped and swirled around them as though they were angels themselves.

Lindsey Stirling - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Lindsey Stirling
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

For the last part of the show, Stirling emerged once again in a different costume; a shining pink strapless dress, with her iconic marching band hat, with white feathers reaching towards the sky. The show pulsed with excitement as lights and sound were pushed to an impressive high. After a stunning rendition of “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy”, Stirling went right into “The Grinch”, where her dancers flowed across the stage in red sequins. They held giant red feather fans. At one point covered Stirling, who emerged from the fans in shorts after shedding her ruffled skirt, ready to dance about on the stage. They continued with “Carol of the Bells” as the stage lights flickered with the beat, a visual feast for the eyes and ears.

Lindsey Stirling - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Lindsey Stirling
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

Before the last number, Stirling addressed the audience one more time and shared her family tradition of wearing matching PJs every year. “Christmas C’mon”, with a track of vocals by Becky G, rang through the theatre, as lights and dancers in matching pajamas spum around the stage.  Once finished they left the stage, but the audience waited, clapping and yelling. Stirling reappeared to the ample applause of the crowd and shared a very personal story. She said while she usually likes to leave a crowd with a big number so she can read on their instagram that they just “went to a violin concert and got their face melted off.” This time, however,  she was going to close on a more personal note. She shared the story of the loss of her father last year around this time, and that this song was very dear to her. She asked the audience to remember those they loved and hold them close, and played “Silent Night” to close out the night.

The “Warmer in the Winter” Tour was like a traveling snow globe, shaken up with a wonderland of lights, sounds, and dancing. Stirling touched hearts with her words and music, and spread smiles with her jokes and shining personality. As people poured from the theatre that night, they were ready to celebrate not just Christmas, but their family, friends and loved ones and everything that they held dear.

PHOTO ALBUM

by Katherine Amy Vega

Lindsey Stirling – Comerica Theatre 12-23-17

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All Content © Kataklizmic Design
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REVIEW: Lita Ford Brings 80s Glam Metal to BLK Live 12-16-17

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Scottsdale, Ariz.Lita Ford and her band performed their last show of 2017 in Scottsdale at BLK Live on Saturday, December 16. Closing out the night after two opening acts, Dead West and Shadow and the Thrill.

Ford still has it,
because she never lost it.

Lita Ford - Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt, Burning Hot Events
Lita Ford (Vocalist, Guitarist)
Photo Credit:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Dressed to impress and complement her polished red guitar, Ford took the stage like a rock and roll queen of hearts in her silver studded, red and white ensemble. Ford sported a red velour coat with ruffled bell sleeves and a glorious train. Underneath was a red and white bustier with studs and matching flare jeans. The ruffles and bows were a gorgeous juxtaposition to her aggressively shredding metal guitar riffs in her opening song, “Gotta Let Go.”

Ford and her band followed with songs; “Larger Than Life,” “Relentless,” “Living like a Runaway,” “The Bitch is Back” (written by Sir Elton John and Bernie Taupin), “Hungry for Your Sex,” and “Play with Fire” from her Dangerous Curves album.

To amp up the energy on stage, Ford invited Micki Free, a friend of Ford’s since age 18, onstage to play guest guitar for “Can’t Catch Me”, a song co-written by the late Lemmy Kilmister from Motörhead. During this song, Ford’s drummer, Bobby Rock, relished being the center of attention; pausing to take a video of the crowd, and take a selfie from the stage during his drum solo. Bass player Marty O’Brien and lead guitarist Patrick Kennison, not wanting to be outdone, stood back-to-back playing their instruments above their heads.

Micki Free & Lita Ford - Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt, Burning Hot Events
Micki Free (Guitarist)  & Lita Ford (Vocalist, Guitarist)
Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Ford followed up the intensity that was “Can’t Catch Me” with two slower-paced metal ballads, “Falling In and Out of Love,” co-written by Nikki Six of Mötley Crüe, and the somberly romantic “If I Close My Eyes Forever,” originally performed by Ozzy Osbourne, in which Kennison performed in his stead.

To bring the energy back, Ford played the title track “Out for Blood” off her first album. This album was her first release after The Runaways disbanded, and the song speaks to how Ford’s personal style developed in the 80s glam metal scene.

Ford went out with a bang, playing two great hits, “Cherry Bomb” on the original guitar she used when performing with The Runaways; and “Kiss Me Deadly” off her 1988 album Lita, using a pearl white, multi-neck guitar.

Patrick Kennison (Lead Guitarist), Lita Ford (Vocalist, Guitarist), & Marty O'Brien (Bassist) - Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt
Patrick Kennison (Lead Guitarist), Lita Ford (Vocalist, Guitarist), & Marty O’Brien (Bassist)
Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Opening bands were Dead West and Shadow and the Thrill. Both acts complemented the musical style and energy of Ford’s performance.

Dead West - Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt
Matt Peterson (Guitarist), Vinny Sky (Vocalist), & Connor Sutton (Lead Guitarist), Dead West
Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Dead West is an Arizona local band formed in 2014 that performs in a mash-up style of what can only be described as cowboy metal and blues-rock. They played a lineup of original songs, and debut their newest song “Helldorado!”

Shadow and the Thrill - Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt
Tony Cardenas-Montana (Vocalist, Guitarist), Shadow and the Thrill
Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Shadow and the Thrill played original songs with a mix of classic to modern covers such as “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals and “Crazy” by Cee Lo Green. Their sound is a mash-up of blues, metal, and classic rock.

The lead singer, Tony Cardenas-Montana, has roots in Arizona. He talked fondly of visiting his grandparents who resided in Bisbee. He then played his original song, “Tombstone Shuffle” as homage to the Wild West town he would visit as a child.

All three bands performed a high-energy show from start to finish. Ford said she plans to perform another show in Arizona come 2018. No dates have been announced, but our guess is she will be back sooner rather than later!

Photo Gallery

Photographer: Mark Greenawalt

Lita Ford – BLK Live 12-16-17

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Photography © Mark Greenawalt. All Rights Reserved

REVIEW: Breaking the Sound Barrier with Arch Enemy and Trivium at Marquee Theatre 12-1-17

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PHOENIX —  In the brisk evening air of December 1st, fans waited outside the Marquee Theatre in eager anticipation.  It was Friday night and fans were ready to throw their weekday woes away and get ready to listen to the raw sounds awaiting them.  On tonight’s agenda: long established metal bands Arch Enemy and Trivium.

Fit for an Autopsy - Photo Credit: Dale Hurt
Joe Badolato (Vocalist), Fit for an Autopsy
Photo Credit: Dale Hurt © All Rights Reserved

Fit for an Autopsy & While She Sleeps

The night opened with New Jersey’s Fit for an Autopsy whose bass lines seemed to tremble right through the floor into your very breath.  The stage splashed with red and blue light as they worked up the crowd. Next up was While She Sleeps, all the way from Sheffield, England.  Lead vocalist Lawrence Taylor was a whirlwind of energy headbanging and even crowd surfing. Calling to the audience, he challenged them to “meet him” by crowd surfing all the way to the pit. Needless to say, many met his challenge. Taylor was all over the stage, even standing atop the drum set.  After their set, the crowd was definitely ready for Arch Enemy.

While She Sleeps - Photo Credit: Dale Hurt
Lawrence Taylor (Vocalist), While She Sleeps
Photo Credit: Dale Hurt © All Rights Reserved

Arch Enemy

As equipment was set up and sound checks were made, more and more people crowded into the room, shouldering and squeezing into their own perfect spot.  A backdrop reflecting hell itself stared back at the audience, with twisted demons and a red glowing reflection.  As the music started, a laser show of lights flooded the stage and members of the Swedish band Arch Enemy descended.  Vocalist Alissa White-Gluz dominated the stage with her powerful voice and energy.  She was a force to behold in her skeletal ripped bodysuit and wild blue hair.  Alongside her, guitarists Michael Amott and Jeff Loomis did amazing fingerwork and left the crowd screaming after their amazing guitar duo.  

Arch Enemy - Photo Credit: Dale Hurt
Angela Gossow (Vocalist), Arch Enemy
Photo Credit: Dale Hurt © All Rights Reserved

Arch Enemy promoted their new album Will to Power, showcasing some amazing songs such as “The World is Yours” and “The Eagle Flies Alone.”  In one moment, Alissa called to the audience, before the song “Will to Power”, to shine a light – and her will was done as the audience swayed their phones in the air.  She closed off the set with one of her favorite songs, “Payday.”  It’s safe to assume many who came to see Trivium that night left an Arch Enemy fan as well.  

Arch Enemy - Photo Credit: Dale Hurt
Jeff Loomis (Guitarist), Arch Enemy
Photo Credit: Dale Hurt © All Rights Reserved

Trivium

After a short break for set changes, Trivium was about to take the stage.  In the dim lights, the audience got so excitedly impatient that they started chanting the band’s name: “Trivium!… Trivium!…” Their chants were met with red and white flashing lights, and Trivium took the stage.  The backdrop was the same as the cover of their new album, The Sin and the Sentence.  Blanketing the wall was solid black with clean gold lines and iconic images, a great reflection of the band.

Trivium - Photo Credit: Dale Hurt
Matt Heafy (Vocalist), Trivium
Photo Credit: Dale Hurt © All Rights Reserved

Lead vocalist Matt Heafy’s passionate and clean vocals were accented by the raw enraged voices of guitarist Corey Beaulieu and bassist Paolo Gregoletto.  While Trivium’s sound has changed over the years, the audience was in full agreement that they sounded amazing! Many fans sang along with the lyrics, Heafy’s clear and thought provoking words making this an easy task.  Songs like “The Heart from Your Hate” and “The Sin and the Sentence” are surprisingly addictive, with their fast paced melodies and powerful lyrics.   

Paolo Gregoletto (Bassist), Trivium
Photo Credit: Dale Hurt © All Rights Reserved

In Closing

The show was five straight hours of metal. There is something about metal that is cathartic, raw, and enticing; this show was no exception. Arch Enemy and Trivium helped take the week’s stress, ball it up, grind it into the ground and just let loose in the music, allowing everyone to start their weekend refreshed.   

Photo Gallery

Photographer: Dale Hurt

Trivium, Arch Enemy, & More – Marquee Theatre 12-1-17

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Photography © Dale Hurt. All Rights Reserved

VIDEO INTERVIEW & REVIEW: Phoenix Got Lost in Nostalgia at The Maine’s Hometown Show 11-22-17

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PHOENIX — Visibly and audibly enthusiastic for their homecoming, and impressed by the new The Van Buren music venue, The Maine put on a show that was both charged and endearing for their close-knit fans. They are a great example of a local band that made it big, not changing who they are and their beliefs in the ever-evolving industry. The five-piece band native to Tempe, consisting of John O’Callaghan (Lead Vocalist/Guitarist), Kennedy Brock (Guitarist), Pat Kirch (Drummer),  Jared Monaco (Guitarist), and Garrett Nickelsen (Bassist), rocked out with a packed crowd Wednesday night. Following opening bands Night Riots and DREAMERS, they tore it up with their two newest albums Lovely Little Lonely (2017) and American Candy (2015) in full, back-to-back.

Night Riots

Night Riots - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Nick Fotinakes (Guitarist), Night Riots
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved.
Click to view band photo album.

The show began with alternative rock band Night Riots, who got the crowd excited with the powerful voice of lead singer Travis Hawley.  During their set, the band played “Free Fallin” as a tribute to the late Tom Petty. Hawley said, “Holy sh*t that sounds good,” after the crowd sang the words “free fallin”.

The band engaged the crowd and hyped them up for the rest of the show. At one point in the band’s set, a person in the crowd was seen clapping with their shoe, which had neon lights at the bottom. Such innovation! It really added to the unique atmosphere of the show, which seemed to say that for one night, surrounded by strangers, everyone could be themselves and not care what anyone thinks. (View Photo Album)

DREAMERS

DREAMERS - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Nick Wold (Vocalist/Guitarist), DREAMERS
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved.
Click to view band photo album.

Rock trio DREAMERS came on next, and the crowd exuded excitement as they danced and sang along. The band brought their name to life on stage as Nick Wold (Vocalist/Guitarist), had a dream catcher hung on his mic stand. They performed their hits “Painkiller” and “Sweet Disaster” to an eager crowd that danced and sang along. They also covered “Zombie” by the Cranberries, which segued into their own song “Drugs”.

Night Riots and DREAMERS were the perfect opening acts. Their energy and the way they commanded the stage, captivated the audience, making it an all-around solid line-up. They amped up the crowd and proved that you never want to miss the openers at shows. Night Riots’ stage presence showcased a seasoned band, while DREAMERS proved a rock trio can be just as compelling on stage as a traditional band setup. (View Photo Album)

The Van Buren did not seem full at the beginning of the show. However, as The Maine’s set approached, the venue began to fill up and one could feel the anticipation for the hometown success-story.

The Maine

The Maine started off with “Don’t Come Down” from their latest album Lovely Little Lonely, and their all white suits fit the aesthetic of the album. Hit singles “Bad Behavior” and “Black Butterflies and DéJà Vu” were played with immense reactions from the crowd.

The Maine - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
The Maine
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

This album portrays a sense of “oneness,” and that was felt in the room. It came off as if The Maine put everything they had into making that album for anyone who has felt different or alone. For a period of time, while they played through every track of the album, it appeared that everyone in the room felt the words being sung as if they were sung for them.

During “How Do You Feel,” the line, “You are alive, but are you living?,” was met with the crowd singing back passionately as they jumped along to the beat of the song.

Amidst the first half of the set, O’Callaghan said, “Thanks for letting us make this album right here.” Passion exuded from the band, and it was evident how much The Maine cares about their music and fans.

After finishing Lovely Little Lonely, there was a brief intermission, and before the band came back on, a man in a Christmas suit came out to declare that American Candy was next. When the band came back on stage, they surprised fans by having changed into dark blue jackets to fit the aesthetic of American Candy.

 “24 Floors” and “(Un)Lost” have a similar vibe to the songs off of Lovely Little Lonely. The lyrics seemed to be aimed at those going through a tough time. They give off a feeling that in the end, everything will turn out fine.

During this portion of the set, the band’s heavier sound became prominent, with songs such as the album’s title track “American Candy,” as well as the song “Diet Soda Society.”

While gazing out into the crowd in the beginning half of the second album O’Callaghan proclaimed to the audience, “I want to remember this one, I don’t want to remember Anaheim.”

The Maine - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
John O’Callaghan (Lead Vocalist/Guitarist), The Maine
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

This show had a special feeling to it, where the fans and the band had a connection that could be felt. The Maine and their fans have a one-of-a-kind relationship, and every lyric sung, felt personal, as if directed to everyone individually and collectively.

O’Callaghan reminded the crowd, “Remember to tell the people that you love, that you f****ing love them.” He also thanked the fans on behalf of the band for, “making us feel less lonely.”

The Maine - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Pat Kirch (Drummer), The Maine
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

A highlight for the show was during “Am I Pretty” when O’Callaghan got the crowd to crouch to the floor. The crowd was together in this moment and listened carefully to O’Callaghan’s words. It’s moving to watch as a band can get a room full of strangers to bond with their words and music.

The Maine - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Garrett Nickelsen (Bassist), The Maine
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

The show ended perfectly with the ever-nostalgic “Another Night On Mars”.  The lyrics, “this one goes out to my closest friends, the ones who make me feel less alien,” showcase the importance of friendship and how friends allow us to be ourselves.

With friends like ours, anywhere is home,” insinuates that everyone in the room that night, was each other’s friends, and that you don’t physically have to be at home to feel “home”.

The Maine is one of those bands that if you listen to them live, it sounds just like the album. They truly are a talented band, with a unique relationship with their fans. After each show, they make the effort to meet their fans and give them the meet-and-greet experience for FREE.

The Maine - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
John O’Callaghan (Lead Vocalist/Guitarist), The Maine
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

The Maine has been a band for 10 years now, and in that decade, they have grown, and made sure their fans were on the journey alongside with them. With this special relationship with their supporters, and their devotion to their music, it seems The Maine will definitely be around for a long time – and Burning Hot Events is proud to call them part of Phoenix’s artistic community! Check out our interview with them to find out about their Modern Nostalgia Tour, growing up in the band, their band culture and MORE!

PHOTO ALBUM

by Katherine Amy Vega

The Maine – The Van Buren 11-22-17

Flickr Album Gallery Powered By: Weblizar

All Content © Kataklizmic Design.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

REVIEW: Miss Krystle Showcases New EP At Intimate Private Studio 11-11-17

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PHOENIXPop recording artist Miss Krystle has just released the six-song EP Inevitable as the follow up to her successful Woman In Motion CD. This night was a showcase of the new songs along with an offering of music from her first three studio CDs. The intimate VIP party was held in a controlled private studio called the Premier Room at Premier Studios on Indian School Road. Guests arrived in anticipation of the live show and explored the venue and the well-stocked merchandise booth while networking with friends and industry associates.

Miss Krystle lit up the room at 8:30pm when she hit the stage dressed all in black; a dramatic contrast to her signature fiery red mane. The set started with “Right Movement” a collaboration with KJ Swaka (Pendulum and Destroit) and “Take Me Home” which was produced by Zion Brock. The hard-hitting electronica tracks are brought to life by the solid rhythm section of That Orko on bass and Brent Hensley on drums.  This music transcends labels of pop or electronic dance music.  It is edgy and in-your-face, but it is uniquely Miss Krystle. With lyrics like, “I’m a wolf, not a sheep,” she has no regrets in blazing new trails forging her own sound.

Miss Krystle - Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt
Miss Krystle
Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved.

Miss Krystle commands the stage and pours her soul into each line. The fans in the audience are under her spell and sing along with the next two songs from Woman In Motion; “Dukes Up” and “Pressure”. The high energy has been non-stop and her performance has been an aerobic workout, but still the vocals are spot on.  From assertive lines of angst to soft soaring notes she is matching the studio versions of the songs note for note.

At the end of this introductory frenzy, there is a catharsis. The band exits the stage and Miss Krystle is left alone with keyboard and a spotlight.  This is where we learn that Miss Krystle is more than a pretty face with rock star vocals as she demonstrates her classical training on piano and delivers some of her original songwriting. The three-song solo “acoustic” set starts off with her song “I Don’t Cry” from the Run CD. This song has a beautiful music video where she performs in elegant body paint and has over 200,000 views. The crowd cheers as she begins singing. Next up is “Relevant”; the first song played from the new EP.  In an interview with The Arizona Republic, Miss Krystle described the message of this song saying “The only person who should make you feel relevant and loved is ultimately you.” The studio version of the song has a sonically big production that conveys the emotional message, but ironically this stripped down piano/vocal version may have emoted even more heartfelt emotion. The third song in the set was a totally unexpected cover of “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys. This brought a smile to everyone’s face and it seemed to be a true expression of love to some lucky person in the room.

Miss Krystle - Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt
Miss Krystle
Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved.

The band returned to the stage and the energy again cranked up for two more songs from the new EP, “Inevitable” and “Wild Like Fire.”  Miss Krystle has been very prolific at self-producing high quality music videos and her latest is for the song “Inevitable.” In an industry where record deals seem to have lost their teeth, she has been successfully gaining celebrity through self-promotion and a lot of hard work. Her new songs are collaborations with her musical partner, That Orko, who has helped to elevate her production sound and inspired her to write songs that she says are some of her “best music to date.”

Miss Krystle - Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt
Miss Krystle
Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved.

Miss Krystle isn’t relying on sex appeal to connect with her audience, but she definitely isn’t trying to hide it either. There is a seductiveness to her moves that matches the message in “Focused All Night” from Woman In Motion. She strips one layer of black and eventually focuses on each person in the room, one at a time, making eye contact and making a personal connection.  One can envision her doing this same performance on a national stage with backup dancers, lights and pyrotechnics, a 10-piece band, and a stadium crowd. Although her surroundings were much more reserved, her performance proved that she is ready for prime time.

The 14-song set culminated in trio of covers that kept in sync with the high energy of the evening with “Lap Dance” by NERD, “Breath” by The Prodigy, and an homage to Beyonce with “Crazy In Love” that had everyone moving. Lastly, it was back to an original for the final song of the night which was “Unforgettable”…literally and figuratively. This song’s haunting melody is addictive and complements the lyrical intent to never fade into anonymity,  “Burning in your memory you know I’m unforgettable…On your mind and in your dreams I’m a part of history.” The band left it all on the stage and there was no holding back to put on a fantastic show.

Miss Krystle - Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt
Miss Krystle
Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved.

This was a VIP experience so everyone had their chance to meet the band, take selfies, and get their CDs, prints, and t-shirts autographed. The venue was a perfect place for a band showcase and the sound was appropriately loud while remaining clear.  The only annoyance was the automated lighting chase that wasn’t synched to the music and each scene was monochromatic. Other than that, the space was a perfect venue to promote the new EP from Miss Krystle. Look out for her next music video release for the song “Relevant” coming soon to her bustling Youtube channel.

PHOTO ALBUM

Photographer: Mark Greenawalt

Miss Krystle – Premiere Studios 11-11-17

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Photography © Mark Greenawalt. All Rights Reserved

REVIEW: Thrice and Circa Survive Make the Earth Shake in Tempe 11-5-17

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TEMPE, Ariz.On November 5th the Marquee Theatre was bustling with life as fans waited outside its doors. Originally the Thrice and Circa Survive co-headlining show was to be at Mesa Amphitheatre, but a few weeks prior the show was moved to the Marquee. Due to the venue change, there was some chaos in the beginning. There were long lines at the box office as everything was sorted out after hopping venues, and fans were worried they weren’t going to make it inside on time.

The two openers took the stage to entertain fans and help wash away their frustration. The first band was Balance and Composure, who are an American alternative rock band from Doylestown, Pennsylvania. The second band was Chon, an American rock band from San Diego, California. People were calming down and enjoying some beers with friends. As house music played between sets, people happily chatted about how excited they were. Some reflected on past Thrice shows.

Circa Survive, an American rock band also from Doylestown, Philadelphia, took the stage and they were greeted with cheers. Anthony Green led the band with their first song of the night, “Lustration.” For an hour they serenaded the crowd with a sixteen song setlist.

Circa Survive - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Anthony Green (Vocalist) & Colin Frangicetto (Guitarist), Circa Survive
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

The changeover between headliners was thirty minutes, enough time to go to the patio for a smoke break or grab another drink. As it grew closer to showtime, people filled back inside. The crowd reached all the way to the back almost spilling into the lobby. The entire venue went dark as Thrice, an American rock band from Irvine, California, stepped on stage. They went straight into playing “The Earth Will Shake” from their fourth studio album Vheissu. The lights flooded the stage, red-then-blue, as Dustin Kensrue sang while strumming his guitar. The crowd cheered and put their arms up in the air, and all the chaos from before disappeared. Fans in the front of the stage were jumping up and down, and a guy with a blue Mohawk was the first to crowd surf. The rest of the crowd sang along and headbanged. One guy up in the balcony was full-on headbanging with everything he had.

Thrice - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Dustin Kensrue (Vocalist, Guitarist), Thrice
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

The next song, “The Window” was calmer. As the blue lights filled the room, people swayed and put their phones up to record or take pictures. After the song finished, Kensrue spoke to the crowd, “Thank you so much. We are Thrice,” before going into “The Artist in the Ambulance”. Fans clapped along, the entire vibe of the place was pure excitement.

Thrice - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Eddie Breckenridge (Bassist), Thrice
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

During “Hurricane”, the light on stage turned to a yellow hue. The song is from their latest studio album To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere and peaked on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs chart in August 2017 at number 24. The fans once again threw up their hands; the white lights on stage highlighted all the arms in the air. A woman next to me was crying; her boyfriend had his arms wrapped around her waist.

Thrice - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Thrice with crowdsurfer
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

The whole night people were jumping and singing. In front of the stage, people continued to crowd surf and at one time people were throwing around a shoe. The bass and drums were so powerful it hit your body like a wave of sound, almost feeling like a second heartbeat.

Before starting “Firebreather”, Kensrue said, “Ten years ago we put out a four disc album representing the four elements: Fire, Water, Earth, and Air. Super nerdy I know. We wanted to tour with vinyls, but didn’t get them out on time. They should be out soon.” Kensrue was referring to their fifth studio album The Alchemy Index Vols. I & II. As Kensrue sang, three girls next to me started their own little dance circle, one was even twerking. At the same time, a guy up by the front of the stage was crowd surfing with his crutches.

Teppei Teranishi (Guitarist, Keyboardist), Thrice Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

Kensrue mentioned they just added “Red Telephone” to their setlist from their seventh studio album Beggars. The lights bled to red as a mix of drums, guitars, and bass began the song. Before playing their final song of the night, “The Long Defeat”, Teppei Teranishi (Guitarist) addressed the screaming crowd, “We love you guys.” Kensure added, “This is our last song of the night. We will have no encore due to this show being a co-headline, makes it awkward.” In total, Thrice had a sixteen song setlist.

Thrice - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Dustin Kensrue (Vocalist, Guitarist), Thrice
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

Even though the night started out a bit rocky, it ended on a high note. Everyone left happy and Tempe is ready to rock out with Thrice and Circa Survive again in the future.

PHOTO ALBUM

by Katherine Amy Vega

Thrice – Marquee Theatre 11-5-17

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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No Stealing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PHOTO ALBUM

by Katherine Amy Vega

Nothing More – The Van Buren 10-25-17

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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No Stealing