Tag Archives: Burning Hot Events

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’s New EP “Inevitable” is Down to Make Fans Feel Good

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Miss Krystle recently released her new EP Inevitable earlier this fall. As Arizona cools down from a particularly “Cruel Summer,” and as the US at large continues to struggle with obstacles across the board, Inevitable is a breath of fresh air ready to bring a second wind to all who listen. The Inevitable EP will be “on your mind and in your dreams… burning in your memory,” as it is truly “Unforgettable.”

Photo Credit: Tony Mandarich Creatives

Ever the inspiration, Miss Krystle continues utilizing all her passions and talents to their fullest potentials in all 6 tracks on the EP. She is a humanitarian, a philanthropist, an intellectual juggernaut, and a phenomenally talented musician; not only is the EP immensely entertaining, it is also incredibly uplifting and nurturing.
Miss Krystle had this to say about her new EP: “It was my mission to be impactful. We were going for in-your-face, this is how it is. We also wanted it to be empowering. I wanted to tell my fans that despite everything that has been going on socially and politically this year, you can find your power and your voice. I want them to remember to never give up. Lastly, I wanted to showcase my own vulnerability.” Throughout the entire album, these words certainly do ring true.

The Inevitable EP is a wild journey through many of the emotions, passions, experiences, and darkest thoughts that the human mind is capable of. The energy levels of the album are like a rollercoaster, with some songs pumping the listener up and getting them ready for a night on the town and others making the listener wonder if they should curl up on the couch with a comfortable blanket and a pint of their favorite ice cream. Miss Krystle has a one-of-a-kind style in her approach to music, but it fits in perfectly with other contemporary pop artists. Some of her new songs also seem like they’d easily find a place on a Dance Dance Revolution playlist, as they would be delightfully fun to dance along to. Others still would be perfect for someone’s first pick at karaoke.

Photo Credit: Shot by Jonny

Generally, pop music and similar genres are not known for their depth or insight, yet Miss Krystle easily marries popular culture, philosophy, and deep introspection in her musical work. During a preliminary listen, her songs sound as if they’d easily find a home in any club or on one’s favorite Top 40 radio station. Don’t be fooled, however—upon further inspection, the lyrics peel away, layer by layer, revealing a deep exploration into the human condition and how it impacts contemporary society.

Inevitable

From anthemic, affirmational title-track “Inevitable”, Miss Krystle explores themes of fitting in, watching the world around us, learning from our experiences, seeing the horrors of humanity and the world around us, yet still keeping calm and carrying on. 

She tackles the concept of how “they tell us how to fit in… tell us how to get by,” while still struggling to find our own identities in this mad world. While the song could be about so many different topics, from love to revolution, it instantly becomes a bright beacon in the night, guiding all who may feel lost.

Photo Credit: That Orko

In fact, out of all the songs on this EP, “Inevitable” itself may be the most exceptional and singularly profound track. Coming out at a time when many of us may feel utterly lost and hopeless, Miss Krystle reminds us to “rise for what matters, lasting until the end.” She needs us standing with her, united. This is a call to arms, not to fight what is wrong in this world, but rather to fight for the ability to support one another, to remind ourselves that we are all in this together. “We are, none of us, alone,” as ancient Chinese philosopher Fushumongu stated long ago.

As we’ve seen, time and again across this country, people are “taking it to the streets, not afraid to take a stand.” We do have strength in numbers, and we will fight. We have had enough. We’ve all woken up to this new day, and we “can’t give up on what we love.” Victory truly is inevitable. This song, like a mantra, shall inspire countless others to greatness in the coming days.

On top of any newfound courage in the realms of love and activism, Miss Krystle also calls us to come “together, woman and man.” This is truer now more than ever before. None of us can ignore the future, no matter how hard we try. Now, let’s get ready to “spark it up.”

Wild Like Fire

While the more insightful songs and verses from Miss Krystle’s new EP are absolutely striking, the album has a great mix of fun and fiery tracks as well. When “Wild Like Fire” comes on, it’s difficult to not instantly get pumped up. This song is a true energy boost, from the lyrics to the beat. “Welcome to the show.” Miss Krystle “can’t control it,” because she really is a pro. This song is great to drive to with the volume up, but it would also find a home in any club or, perhaps, bedroom. While Miss Krystle certainly has her own, unique style, fans of Kylie Minogue and similar artists may really enjoy “Wild Like Fire” and other songs off this EP.

Photo Credit: Tony Mandarich Creatives

Better Than You Think

On top of Miss Krystle’s self-assuredness and self-knowledge of her more primal urges and experiences, she also covers those more intimate feelings that often accompany physical connections between lovers. “Better Than You Think” is a love ballad of sorts, reminiscent of a modern Shakespearean sonnet in its lyrics. The symbolism and imagery in this song are quite powerful, from “collecting stars like fireflies, I’ve never felt this much alive, living the life before we die, and we return back to the sky,” to “baby the altitude is fine, on this journey, you and I, watching auroras hypnotize, getting lost deeper in your eyes.” The romantic notions in this song would melt even the coldest of hearts.

Photo Credit: Larry Alan

As much as many of us know that the only person we can truly rely on in this universe is ourselves, Miss Krystle explores feelings most of us have felt before. She shows a serene vulnerability, acknowledging the dangers but also the securities that can come out of relying on another beautiful soul for sustenance. Someone else to share this journey, and the wonders of the universe, with, as she serenades us with “and if I burn up on reentry, I knew you’d want to be here with me, you knew that one last kiss could save me, floating with you for eternity… everything’s good as long as you’re here with me.” Miss Krystle takes us on an odyssey to space, giving us “galactic goosebumps everyplace” as we cruise “on highway milky way.”

Just as Miss Krystle explores these elements of our humanness, she also explores how the best intimate relationships involve two souls coming together, knowing more about each other than they may let on. Indeed, Miss Krystle shows that she knows us better than we think that she knows us, as our human experiences are similar to one another despite their singularity. In fact, through her work, Miss Krystle may also reveal how she may know herself better than she thinks that she knows herself.

Erase You

While many of us can relate to the feelings Miss Krystle explores in “Better Than You Think”, some of us may have unfortunately experienced some emotions and experiences that are quite antithetical to that beauty. “Erase You” is a song that explores the darker side of love, when we find ourselves in a relationship that ends up being something we were not quite expecting. Still, Miss Krystle’s penchant for self-examination and metacognition still shines through brightly in the lyrics. “I never understood your distance, I thought I got it right, but now you’re gone and I’m alone.” Anyone who has been through something like this can empathize with how painful this situation is.

Miss Krystle counters this betrayal with self-empowerment, starting the song with a vigorous mantra: “You’re in the presence of a Goddess, but you forgot to bow, and now I got my eyes up on the blade I’ll use to take you out.” She continues with some conflicting lines later in the song, showing the sort of infighting and uncertainty our spirits must endure in terrible times such as this treachery of love. As she struggles with these feelings, she shares her efforts to forget: “You can hand it over, no more staying sober, I drink it away to erase you. I need to escape what you put me through. I drink it away to erase you.”

Photo Credit: Tony Mandarich Creatives

While coming to terms with reality and coping mechanisms, Miss Krystle also explains some positive strategies for her situation: “So you thought you’d be a martyr, and leave me with your sin, but little did you know, I gave it up before your words began… I’m glad you’re gone and I’m alone, so I can go and live my life.” While all is fair and love and war, this war takes no prisoners, and the cost is high.

Despite Miss Krystle’s best efforts, she is only human, and the song ends with more of this battle still to be fought. “If I could just wake up with you next to me, everything would be just how I need it to be. I don’t want to feel all this pain, don’t want to be alone. I need you to feel the same, and get your arms back around me.” These heart-wrenching lyrics make it apparent that there are no happy endings in the real world, but we all have the power to make it through as stronger versions of who we used to be.

Anything

From the second “Anything” begins playing, it is difficult to not imagine it being played while a model walks down the runway, or while a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race lip syncs for her life. The beat really gets the blood flowing, and it is great to drive or work out to. It’s nearly impossible to not feel sexy and powerful while “Anything” plays, so “why you actin’ so shy?” Miss Krystle shows us something that will make our hearts bleed, so we “best be getting ready” because she’s gonna get us rockin’ steady. While it may be hard to focus, Miss Krystle helps us learn to “live it up.”

Relevant

The song “Relevant” was saved for the end of the EP, and for good reason. “Relevant” is rife with self-awareness and introspection, and it is clear this song is very personal for Miss Krystle. However, it also serves as a reminder to the rest of us to let go of where we began “and be reborn in the wake of it.” These lyrics are quite relevant to the theme of symbolic rebirth, and it is also quite fitting for Phoenix, Arizona.

Photo Credit: Tony Mandarich Creatives

Miss Krystle also reminds us to “feel at home in the place” we’re in, and to “never mind the storm.” Our dreams will keep us warm. We all struggle to become relevant while traversing our own paths through this life, and “we constantly test our innocence.” Likely pulling from her own experiences, she reminds us of the ultimate cost of giving parts of ourselves away in order to reach our goals: “May our broken halos serve as evidence; pieces of our souls for percentages.” As she states proudly, “I’m holding on to me.” We all may get a little lost on the way, but we must always remember who we are and where we came from.

Continuing this philosophical journey through personal trials and tribulations, Miss Krystle explores how “we all wanna be somebody,” but in the end, “all we really need is somebody… down to make us feel we’re relevant now.” Perhaps that somebody is a lover, a family member, or a friend; that somebody may even be ourselves, especially when the path becomes increasingly treacherous, or when the storm becomes too tempestuous. To quote Miss Krystle, “At the end of the day, all we are really looking for is someone to make us feel like we matter. My message is that the only person who should make you feel relevant and loved is ultimately you.”

Closing Thoughts

Don’t forget, “we make our own strength, we make our own peace,” and we really are so strong. “We can do this.” We are all a part of history, but Miss Krystle and her new EP Inevitable have certainly found a comfortable home in modern popular culture. As we all enjoy these 6 sublime songs, we also wait with bated breath for future releases from Miss Krystle. Hers is a flame we do not want to go out, as she brings a lot of light to this oft dark world.

Photo Credit: Tony Mandarich Creatives

(Top featured photo by Tony Mandarich Creatives)

 

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

Flickr Album Gallery Powered By: Weblizar

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

#iwokeupbadass – Katherine Amy Vega, Kataklizmic Design | Web Series Episode 5

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Katherine Amy Vega of Kataklizmic Design provides services to artists, especially musicians, and opportunities to freelancers and entrepreneurs.

Watch #iwokeupbadass episode 5 to see how she became a media powerhouse, where her ambitions are leading her, and how her dream is building an artistic community! Katherine is also the Concert Photographer, Owner and Manager of Burning Hot Events.

#iwokeupbadass is a web series featuring the everyday movers and shakers who aim to create and change the world. Brought to you by Endless Dream Pictures, LLC.

PHOTOS: Lindsey Stirling – Comerica Theatre 11-12-16

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PHOENIX — Lindsey Stirling, the awe-inspiring dancing violinist, brought her Brave Enough Tour to Comerica Theatre last night. Hailing from Gilbert, Arizona, it’s no surprise that the venue posted low ticket warnings on social media, and a horde of fans came out to see her live.

High production light shows and other grand visual effects are a staple of her concerts, and they make for a truly magical experience. Watching her spirit take flight when she does what she was meant to do, and fought to succeed, sends chills through your body. Lindsey Stirling is a strong inspiration and encouragement for her fans, especially in Arizona, to aspire for great things and persevere.

PHOTO ALBUM
by Katherine Amy Vega

Lindsey Stirling – Comerica Theatre 11-12-16

Flickr Album Gallery Powered By: Weblizar

All Content © Kataklizmic Design.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. NO STEALING

PHOTOS: Diarrhea Planet – Valley Bar 11-9-16

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PHOTO ALBUM
by Katherine Amy Vega

Diarrhea Planet – Valley Bar 11-9-16

Flickr Album Gallery Powered By: Weblizar

All Content © Kataklizmic Design.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. NO STEALING

REVIEW: Phoenix Rises Again for CHVRCHES’ Highly-Anticipated Return 10-6-2016

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TEMPE, Ariz. — Fans of Scottish synthpop / indietronica band CHVRCHES have been saving their tickets since the April show, when Martin Doherty charismatically fronted three songs before the trio had to cut their performance short unexpectedly. The group returned with an overwhelming response this past Thursday, selling out their second show at Tempe’s Marquee Theatre within six months. Frontwoman Lauren Mayberry announced last minute openers Thursday afternoon, adding local indie-electronic duo MRCH to the lineup.

MRCH - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Mickey Pangburn, MRCH © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

MRCH took the stage at 8 p.m sharp, greeting fans through a haze of vibrant blue-green lights. “We are very excited to be here!” vocalist Mickey announced. “My last time at the Marquee was to see Bone Thugs-N-Harmony,” she added through smiles. Mickey radiated an energy similar to that of Debbie Harry while energetically serenading the audience with romantic, electronically-infused vocals — although the synth and percussion were a bit overpowering, making the quality of her performance difficult to hear at times. Towards the end of their set, MRCH won over the crowd with an effervescent performance of Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass,’ showcasing Mickey’s unique, vintage pop sound.

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

CHVRCHES wasted no time getting started, drenching the audience in a mesmerizing, strobe-like display of geometric white light and signature esoteric beats. The crowd erupted as silhouettes of Iain Cook, Martin and Lauren marched across the stage, kicking off their performance with a throwback to the April show  — “Never Ending Circles,” the first track from their latest album Every Open Eye. The group immediately engaged listeners with a few fast-tempo favorites and of course, Iain’s electrifying dance moves behind the keyboard.

CHVRCHES - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Iain Cook, CHVRCHES © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

As the audience sang along Lauren’s voice cut in, “We return to the scene of the crime!” The audience responded in applause once again. “Thank you for coming back to see CHVRCHES! I know many of you came to see us many months ago, but things didn’t go as planned,” she continued, struggling to untangle a mic cord at her feet. “Much like this,” she joked. “But this  — this I can deal with.”

She went on to give an electrifying performance before handing the mic over to bandmate Martin for “High Enough To Carry You Over” and “Under The Tide,” a nostalgic selection considering the band’s courageous performance last April, in which they continued without Lauren in order to satisfy their fans. Lauren did re-appear at the end of their shortened set during the April show, fighting extreme illness in order to give fans one final song.

The band’s dedication to their fans was not lost on the people of Phoenix. Lauren’s hypnotic stage presence combined with an impeccable sixteen track set list Thursday night colluded seamlessly with the crowd’s energy, truly making this heightened performance one for the books. CHVRCHES left the stage on a high note, leaving the audience excited and hungry for more. Spectators spottily chanted “One more song! One more song,” lingering to see if the band might continue.

CHVRCHES - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Lauren Mayberry, CHVRCHES © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

Suddenly Lauren took the stage once again, stepping forward to address the crowd. “I’m not trying to make you guys jealous,” she said coyly, “but I am going to see Beyonce tomorrow and I’ve got to make it all the way back to the east coast. So, we are going to play you a couple more songs.” The crowd exploded in ecstasy once again, vibrating the floor of the venue as they began to fist pump along to “Afterglow.”

At this point, the group had now performed more than double their set list from last April, and continued to pour their souls into each track making for an unforgettable display of commitment to their fans. Lauren paused, holding Martin’s drumsticks in a crisscross formation above her head as the crowd roared, begging to hear the final song of the night. CHVRCHES then concluded things with their timeless hit, “The Mother We Share” from album The Bones of What You Believe, drawing on the communal energy exhibited during the April show one last time.

Their show Thursday night was more than high enough to carry us over. In fact, we think it’s safe to say this was one of CHVRCHES’ most impressive performances to date.

PHOTO ALBUM
by Katherine Amy Vega

CHVRCHES & MRCH – Marquee Theatre 10-6-16

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Photography by Katherine Amy Vega, © Kataklizmic Design
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REVIEW: Blink-182 Goes ‘Overboard’ for Phoenix 9-24-16

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PHOENIX — With the word “FUCK” emblazoned in flames behind them, Blink-182 opened their set to a packed house at the Ak-Chin Pavilion on Saturday, Sept. 24. Despite steep ticket prices, the long-awaited return of the pop-punk headliner, along with openers All Time Low and A Day to Remember, brought fans out in droves. And they didn’t disappoint. Even after 24 years, Blink-182 was able to bring the same energy and bawdiness fans have come to expect.

Blink-182 - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Mark Hoppus, Blink-182 © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

The set opened with “Feeling This” from Blink’s self-titled album, followed by “What’s My Age Again?” “Family Reunion” and “The Rock Show.” Finally, they gave the audience a taste of their new release, California, with the song “Cynical.”

Since hitting record stores in July, California has already topped the Billboard 200, making it Blink’s first number-one album since their 2001 success, Take Off Your Pants and Jacket. It was also their first album produced by John Feldmann whose past production work has included albums for Good Charlotte, The Used, All Time Low, and 5 Seconds of Summer.

However, what was perhaps most notable to long-time Blink fans was the absence of founding band member Tom DeLonge, who was replaced by Alkaline Trio lead vocalist and guitarist Matt Skiba at the start of 2015. The change came after DeLonge decided (for the second time in the band’s history) to take an indefinite hiatus from the group.

His announcement was a match in the powder keg of turmoil that had been brewing after DeLonge’s work with Angels & Airwaves and other projects were cited as the cause of long delays to recording a new Blink-182 album. But with Skiba in the band as a ready and willing partner, it looks like Blink-182 has finally put an end to the false starts and opened a new chapter.

Blink-182 - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Matt Skiba, Blink-182 © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

If Phoenix fans had any reservations about Skiba, there was certainly no evidence of it Saturday night. During one of several “audience participation” segments, Mark Hoppus told concert-goers, “Oh Phoenix, you’re in for a fucking treat now. This is ‘Sing Along with Matt.'” He paused, looked back at the crowd sternly, then repeated more seriously, “I said, this is ‘Sing Along with Matt.'”

Without hesitation, the entire venue erupted into a cacophonous choir and joined Skiba in singing “Reckless Abandon.” Then after playing “Kings of the Weekend,” Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker jammed together for a moment to loud cheers and applause, clearly having a good time. “You’re welcome because that was me and Travis time right there,” Hoppus said.

Blink-182 - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Travis Barker, Blink-182 © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

“We’re switching out the set a little bit tonight,” Hoppus announced at one point. “Just for you… Fuck all the other cities we’re going to,” he joked. Then during the part of the set when Blink would normally play “Not Now,” they gave concert-goers an unexpected treat and played “Man Overboard” instead. “Just for you, Phoenix!”

The show was rife with special effects, from fountain fireworks flowing from the rafters at the end of “Down,” to plumes of flames shooting up from the back of the stage during “Bored to Death.” During “Dumpweed,” several blow-up dolls were passed out to the audience and bounced around like beach balls. And later, the group turned off all the lights and played “Happy Holidays, You Bastard” to the light of thousands of mobile phones.

Blink-182 - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Mark Hoppus, Blink-182 © Kataklizmic Design.
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

“You guys having fun? Not anymore. Not. Any. More. This next song is fucking sad,” Hoppus told concert-goers before playing “Stay Together for the Kids.” He joked that the song was so sad, it was practically emo, comparing it to what would result if Jimmy Eat World and The Used had a baby. He also dedicated “I Miss You” to all the ladies.

[Setlist]
#1 Feeling This
#2 What’s My Age Again?
#3 Family Reunion
#4 The Rock Show
#5 Cynical
#6 First Date
#7 Down
#8 I Miss You
#9 Bored to Death
#10 Built This Pool
#11 Dumpweed
#12 Stay Together for the Kids
#13 Reckless Abandon
#14 San Diego
#15 Man Overboard (replaced “Not Now” on printed setlist)
#16 Violence
#17 Kings of the Weekend
#18 Happy Holidays, You Bastard
#19 Dysentery Gary
#20 Los Angeles
-Encore-
#21 Carousel
#22 All the Small Things
#23 Brohemian Rhapsody
#24 Dammit

But it was Blink-182’s encore that really hit it out of the park. Skiba and Hoppus returned to the stage with neon pink and white guitars and played “Carousel” to more fireworks. They followed it up with “All the Small Things,” turning a kiss cam on the audience. Then they rounded it out with “Brohemian Rhapsody” and “Damnit,” which ended with thick plumes of confetti spewing from either side of the stage onto the audience. And even when everyone had cleared the stage, Hoppus still came back one more time and gave concert-goers a short drum-solo to wrap up a wild night.

PHOTO ALBUM
by Katherine Amy Vega

Blink-182 Ak-Chin Pavilion 9-24-16

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Photography by Katherine Amy Vega, © Kataklizmic Design
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. NO STEALING

PHOTOS: We, Beloved – Shady Park 5-28-16

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Photos of We, Beloved performing at Shady Park in Tempe, Arizona on May 28, 2016. We, Beloved was the first opening band for Jane N’ The Jungle at their music video premiere and concert.  (Check out our photo albums of second opener Korbe in the Moment, and headliner Jane N’ The Jungle!)

We, Beloved – Shady Park 5-28-16

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Photography by Katherine Vega, © Kataklizmic Design
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. NO STEALING