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REVIEW: A Perfect Circle Finishes North American Tour “On a High Note” in Phoenix (11-20-18)

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PHOENIX — A Perfect Circle ended “on a high note” for the last date on the third leg of their headlining North American tour, to the city that frontman Maynard James Keenan thanked for being the “marijuana-stinking cherry” on top. Dark electronic duo Night Club and trip hop artist Tricky supported the band starting from October 20th, leading up to this night at Comerica Theatre. A PerfeBetct Circle delivered a performance that repeatedly went from smoldering to bellowing, and took the transfixed audience on an escape of commiseration through hard rock.

This year, A Perfect Circle released Eat the Elephant, which is their first album release in fourteen years, and their fourth studio album. Today, A Perfect Circle released a limited-edition 7” vinyl single featuring the latest single, “So Long, And Thanks for All the Fish”. Included on the release is a B-side, a cover of AC/DC’s “Dog Eat Dog”. It is available exclusively from the Record Store Day Black Friday event at select brick-and-mortar record stores.

The tone of their performance in Phoenix was first set with a dark stage as they invisibly began the instrumentals of the title-track of their latest album, “Eat the Elephant”.  Anyone who has previously experienced A Perfect Circle live may have come to expect a giant white sheet shrouding the stage front leading up to, and remaining through the entirety of, the first song, before dramatically dropping to the floor. However, the sheet was absent this time around. Each band member was gradually backlit by just a bit of light, one-by-one, until all appeared as nearly pure-black silhouettes.

A Perfect Circle - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Jeff Friedl (Drummer), A Perfect Circle
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega, Kataklizmic Design © All Rights Reserved
A Perfect Circle - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Greg Edwards (Touring Keyboardist), A Perfect Circle
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega, Kataklizmic Design © All Rights Reserved

Blue and white rays of light and rising smoke backed them, in front of a curtain displaying their logo, and they were surrounded by white panels that would feature visuals catered to each song throughout the night.

A Perfect Circle - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
A Perfect Circle at Comerica Theatre
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega, Kataklizmic Design © All Rights Reserved

True to character, Keenan remained even less visible than his bandmates for the entire performance, on a platform in the back of the stage. Sometimes he blended in with the darkness and visuals so well that one might question whether he had left the platform, seeing that he remained stationed upon a second glance.

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

When A Perfect Circle performed at Comerica Theatre in April of 2017, Keenan offered a few encouraging words. This time around, he almost seemed to be out of supportive messages.

Perhaps referencing the “despicable false claim”, in his words, made against Keenan earlier this year, he said, “Crazy, crazy, crazy, insane times we’re living in, wouldn’t you say? Insanity… People all mad at each other over a fuckin’ internet thing. It’s stupid… I’ve heard it said love is the answer… but because of all of the marijuana, I can’t remember the question.

However, substantial sentiments and motivational speeches may not be necessary every time, considering the volumes that the messages in their music speak, and how emotionally evoking the dynamics of the music are. As usual, A Perfect Circle performed with nearly album-quality sound. Often, elements of the songs that may go unheard when listening to recordings were clearly audible during this performance, bringing new life to the music and a deeper appreciation for the composition. Furthermore, hearing lyrics to new songs for the first time live, versus via studio recording, can cement a different impression of the song as the concert experience packs in the emotion emanating from the artist.

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

Eight of the songs performed this night were from Eat the Elephant. Lyrics that really strike a chord in relation to the status quo, religion, and the political climate are contained in their songs, such as the following from “The Doomed” from the new album:

What of the pious, the pure of heart, the peaceful?
What of the meek, the mourning, and the merciful?
What of the righteous? What of the charitable?
What of the truthful, the dutiful, the decent?

Doomed are the poor
Doomed are the peaceful
Doomed are the meek
Doomed are the merciful

For the word is now death
And the word is now without light
The new beatitude:
“Fuck the doomed, you’re on your own”

The lighting and visuals on the screens became increasingly dramatic, matching the intensity of the music throughout the night. They designed a setlist that felt narrative, which crescendoed and climaxed. Along with that, the colors shifted from cool and neutral, to bold and loud red, white, and black. Behind the band, the all-seeing eye displayed where their logo once appeared. The audience was united in a cathartic experience, as they let go and got lost in A Perfect Circle’s trademark indignation and disdain.

One fan in the audience was overheard saying, “I forgot how hard these guys rock!” and with unrestrained, unabashed love and respect for the band, he yelled louder than all around him.

“We’re gonna end on a high note here in Arizona. Off to Europe for about 3 weeks. So thank you very much for being the cherry on top. A marijuana-stinking cherry.”Maynard James Keenan

Before going into “Dog Eat Dog”, a tribute to the late Malcom Young of AC/DC, Keenan took a moment to introduce the band members. It was interesting to note the many other music projects all band members are a part of, emphasizing how much of a supergroup A Perfect Circle is. 

“Our rhythm section: from Beta Machine, Ashes Divide, Eagles of Death Metal, and Puscifer — Mr. Matt McJunkins, Mr. Jeff Friedl.” McJunkins (Bassist) is also a former touring member of Thirty Seconds to Mars.

A Perfect Circle - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Jeff Friedl (Drummer), A Perfect Circle
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega, Kataklizmic Design © All Rights Reserved

He continued, “Guitar & keyboards: from Autolux and Failure, Mr. Greg Edwards.” Edwards is filling in for James Iha, who is currently touring with Smashing Pumpkins. He was also a member of Lusk and Replicants in the past.

A Perfect Circle - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Matt McJunkins (Bassist) & Greg Edwards (Touring Keyboardist),
A Perfect Circle
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega, Kataklizmic Design © All Rights Reserved

“My partner-in-crime: Mr. Billy Howerdel,” he concluded. Howerdel (Lead Guitarist, Keyboardist, and Backup Vocalist) is also frontman of Ashes Divide.

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

Of course Keenan is also a member of multiple bands on top of A Perfect Circle, including Tool and Puscifer.

Some find the media policies for A Perfect Circle’s shows to be pretentious or mistreating to fans. Like a performance in a symphony hall, the band sends the message that it is a faux pas to raise up a phone in the air during theirs. Others feel that it not only preserves an important atmosphere that keeps integrity to the music and sets their performances to a different level than other rock concerts, but also actually appreciates their fans because the band wants to connect with them like they did in the days before smartphones. There were some in the crowd that could be overheard during the show actually expressing appreciation for the absence of cell phones in the air throughout the concert. The impression was that most, if not all, in attendance left satisfied and delighted.

Following the climax of the performance with four ferocious songs, A Perfect Circle closed out the concert with “Delicious” from the new album. It had the fitting mood of the falling action of the storyline, lyrically segueing into a resolution of sorts:

How inconvenient and unexpected and harrowing for you,
as consequences tend to be
For the rest of us,
so delicious to witness your dread.
Poetic justice consummate.

During these times, it is interesting to see swathes of artists such as A Perfect Circle, Cake, Otep, Eminem, Taylor Swift, and many more, using their platforms to speak out against or oppose President Donald Trump and the Republican Party. While some feel that entertainers should “stay in their lane” in topics such as these, it is undeniable that they historically have significant ability to influence the public, for better or for worse. With the success of their world tour, and the large attendance of a concert on a Tuesday night, it is evident that there are a significant number of people that aren’t repelled by their political leanings. In the current political climate, A Perfect Circle’s brooding music serves as an outlet, a beacon of intellect and sanity, and a unifier for like-minded fans that are equally frustrated, angry, and despairing.

While it would be unlikely that Keenan and his band would skip playing his home-state, Arizonans were undoubtedly grateful that they had the opportunity to experience A Perfect Circle live after getting some fresh music from them. Keenan stated in a June 2018 interview that “there should be” more albums in the future. Though Eat the Elephant has proven worth the wait, hopefully it will not be another fourteen years before the next release. Hopefully fans can be treated to another tour in support of the next release, or at least more Arizona shows.

Considering the solid quality and atmosphere of their live performance, the sizable setlist, the supportive experience, and love of their intense music, any fan that may hesitate to make the investment in a concert ticket can rest assured this one is worth it. A Perfect Circle’s show in Phoenix was not a buzzkill.

REVIEW: Christina Aguilera Fights Turbulence, Comes Through for Phoenix 10-29-18

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PHOENIX – Christina Aguilera brought her Liberation tour to Comerica Theatre on October 29, 2018. This is the first tour for Aguilera since her “Back to Basics” tour in 2007. The last time she had a show in Arizona was on February 28, 2007, at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale — now renamed Gila River Arena. There have been quite a few bumps for Aguilera on the Liberation tour; two dates were postponed due to illness, and one postponed due to production-related safety concerns at the venue.

Big Boi opened for Aguilera, also known as Antwan André Patton. Big Boi is an American rapper, songwriter, record producer, and actor. He’s best known for being a member of Outkast, an American hip hop duo, alongside André 3000. With Outkast, he produced six studio albums. In July 2010, Big Boi’s solo debut Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty was released. Hip-hop didn’t seem to be everyone’s go-to genre in the audience, but there were clusters of fans that got up to dance to the beat. Toward the end of their set Patton addressed the crowd, “Welcome to the Liberation tour. Where it gets louder after every song!

It was rumored that Aguilera was to take the stage at 9:15 pm, but that time came and went. The crowd grew restless around 10:00 pm, and some randomly cheered in hopes of making Aguilera appear, while others did the wave to keep their energy alive. Fans were talking amongst each other, concerned that Aguilera wouldn’t show at all. Seventy-five minutes passed by and the crowd booed.

Finally, “5 minutes” popped up on the screen that hid the stage. It switched to a giant face of a clock, with the hands turning counter-clockwise as it counted down the minutes. The concert began with images of Aguilera holding various timepieces. Fans stood when a video played, showing Aguilera in a red dress and a flowered crown, and a little girl wearing the same, wandering through a house as if Aguilera was chasing her past self.

The screen went black, and the word “Liberation” appeared in bold white letters. A dancer came on stage, smelling flowers and then dropping them as she danced, before suddenly running off stage. Then, the word “Searching” displayed on the screen. As the lights brightened, Aguilera stood tall on an elevated stage. The screen and background were of clouds, making Aguilera seem like she was in the sky as she sang the opening lines of “Maria” from her 2018 studio album, Liberation.

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Aguilera had a perfect mix of old and new songs in her setlist. The second song was “Genie in a Bottle” from her first studio album self-titled, Christina Aguilera. That lead track from the album was a trendy pop and R&B song in 1999. It peaked atop the Billboard Hot 100, and among other charts in twenty other countries. It has sold over seven million copies, making it one of the best-selling singles in the world. During the song, images of past albums appeared on the starry background as her dancers twirled red umbrellas around her. Aguilera wore a robe reminiscent of Disney’s Mulan, from which her debut single “Reflection” came.

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Throughout the show, Aguilera would have videos play before she sang her well-known songs. During the song “Dirrty”, from her 2002 studio album Stripped, Aguilera wore a red and black leather outfit much like the assless chaps she wore in the “Dirrty” music video. On one sleeve was “2018” and on the other sleeve was “XTINA”. Her dancers wore black assless chaps as they backed her up during the song.

Embed from Getty Images

Aguilera finally addressed the crowd and explained why she was so late coming on stage.

“I’m here you guys. I climbed and scratched my way here. I had two planes both have mechanical failures and that’s freaking scary shit. I’m sorry. I was like ahhh, what! I was so freaking scared. So the third plane (third time is the charm), the third one came through and I was able to get here on time to be here with you guys, but I made it, I made it to the stage tonight, but it took a little longer. Lord in Heaven. That played some scary stuff on my nerves, and you know, I get some bad anxiety sometimes. That was not fun today. You know, I’m going to unleash some of that on stage tonight. Get it out of my system.”

She laughed and continued, “But it feels so good to be back here after so long and getting to be in some beautiful theaters, oh I’ve never done that before. It’s just so beautiful, so intimate, so wonderful to see you all up close, and personal. It’s just so amazing after all this time. It means so much my loyal, amazing fighters.”

She patted herself on the chest, adding, “I’m not going to cry tonight, but you guys have brought me to tears before. This love has meant so much to me. It really has, you guys. Allowed me to raise my family and be there for my kids because being a hands-on mom is important to me. But also being on this stage, because you know this has been in my life since I was seven. We got some old stuff, older stuff you might remember and we have some new stuff. So let’s see if you guys remember this one.” Aguilera then started to sing lines to “What a Girl Wants” from her self-titled album.

Aguilera sang songs from her past in order, explaining her career. After “What a Girl Wants” she moved to sing some of “Come On Over Baby (All I Want is You)” and addressed the crowd again. Aguilera said, “It’s the show I have right before Halloween too. That’s extra fun. We actually have a Halloween treat for you later. I love Halloween. It’s kinda like Christmas, so it’s insane. And I see some costumes tonight, that’s really cool. Yes. So after, umm, after ‘What a Girl Wants’ and after ‘Come On Over’ I was tired of playing by everybody else’s, you know, the label and suits’ rules, and I had things I wanted to say. It came a time when, you know, my sophomore album I wrote a record called Stripped. — Which just had its sixteenth birthday and it was a very special record for me because, you know, it was the first time I got to tell my stories, talk about some of my pain and struggles and that’s really important, you know, I think that makes the best people and sometimes builds the best character. And I thank you guys for sharing your stories with me; it really inspires me as well and there’s no shame in coming from hard places at all. It means you’re a strong person.

This next song I wrote for the album, there’s quite a few of them, but you know, about standing your ground and in face of adversity or someone says you can’t do something. This song was never a single, but sometimes those are the best ones to me. And I still get a lot of requests for this. This one, you know, no matter what people say, no matter what people tell you what you can’t do. You gotta keep doing you. This one is called ‘Keep On Singin’ My Song,’ sing along if you know it.”

Embed from Getty Images

During the songs “Deserve” and “Accelerate”, both from the Liberation album, Aguilera and her dancers wore S&M-styled outfits and mimed an occult-like ritual at a long table with candles that they danced on. One male dancer had on a spiked mask, and the other a pig’s head. The female dancers had different masks covering their faces. Aguilera wore a bondage headpiece that went from the top of her head and down her nose with a bejeweled black top, fishnets, and a thin black skirt. After “Deserve” a quote appeared on the back screen. It read: “‘If you’re going through hell, keep going…’ –X’cess”. During the song “Accelerate”, Aguilera introduced her dancers, who each had their own moment to showcase their skill on the table in the center of the stage.

For “Lady Marmalade” (a LaBelle song famously covered by Aguilera, P!nk, Mya, and Lil’ Kim for the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack) Aguilera wore a white coat, and her dancers matched as they circled around her with ivory fans in their hands. A video of a close-up of Aguilera in red played on the backdrop.

Aguilera’s next songs were “Ain’t No Other Man” from her 2006 Back to Basics album, “Say Something” by Great Big World, “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World” a James Brown cover, and “Fighter” from her Stripped album. Following each video, Aguilera would change her outfit to fit the mood of the song.

Embed from Getty Images

After “Fighter”, the videos stopped working. Aguilera came out with a mic in hand. “Sorry,” she told the crowd. She looked behind her to her band. “Are you ready for me?” She laughed, “Sorry. I know. I’m ready for you and you’re ready for me.” The crowd cheered for her. “Thank you very much,” she said, with a big smile. “I told them to cut to a certain video and it’s not playing right now and I’m upset about it. So I’m sorry. Oh well. The show goes on and I’m here. It’s been an insane day.”

A fan in the crowd yelled “I love you” and she replied, “I love you too. That’s why I’m here, but not without some anxiety. I’m kind of a nervous flier, but it’s Halloween so it’s a special time. Thank you guys for coming out tonight. And your patience for the last ten freaking years. Thank you so much. But my soul was suffering, my soul was hurting and it sometimes takes us a while to figure it out, and I was scared of having children. ‘How am I going to juggle this?’ And also for them not to feel like they are living in my shadow and stuff like that.

Honestly, it’s been such a great experience, and to feel your love and give this to my children as an experience as well. Show them what mama does for a living and what I do for the love. It brought them into this world. Thank you so much for giving me an opportunity to get back on the stage. This is for all of you guys. For all my fighters. It’s a weird night, but whatever. So this song is appropriate.” Aguilera than started singing “Beautiful”, and fans sang along waving their hands or phones in the air.

Embed from Getty Images

Aguilera ended the show by bringing a fan onto the stage to share her story. The woman talked about how Aguilera inspired her to be herself and how Aguilera’s music helped when life was dark after addiction and coming out as gay. She has since found a woman who is like a mother to her and is eleven years sober. She told Aguilera that, due to the addiction, she couldn’t remember Aguilera’s concert she last attended back in 2007, and she always thanks Aguilera or adds a song lyric in her grad papers. Aguilera was clearly touched and hugged the ladies, saying, “Thank you” and “I hope you remember this concert.” The last song of the night was “Let There Be Love”. The back screens turned over and became rainbow lights, while everyone on stage danced like it was a celebration.

The concert ended just a little past midnight, with delighted but tired fans pouring out of the venue. Despite the delay, video problems, and the bass being too loud to the point of sometimes cringing in pain, most fans left happy to see Aguilera on stage after all these years. She’s a fighter and she’s a pop music legacy not to be missed.

Featured Photo (top) by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Live Nation

REVIEW: Goo Goo Dolls Celebrate 20 Years With a Sold Out Show at The Van Buren (9-30-18)

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PHOENIX — The Valley of the Sun was transported back in time to the halcyon 90’s Sunday night as Goo Goo Dolls kicked off their “Dizzy Up the Girl” Anniversary Tour at The Van Buren. The four-time platinum certified album contains thirteen songs, four of which made it into the top 40. As the tour name suggests, Dizzy Up The Girl was the primary focus of the show, taking up the entirety of the first of two sets from the band, being played from beginning to end. It certainly did not feel like two decades had passed since its release, as thick crowds of people covered every square inch of the venue for this sold out show.

There was a tangible current of excitement in the air, and people were becoming antsy and murmuring to one another about their impatience for this much anticipated show to start. Each time a new melody would boom from the speakers, or a guitar was tweaked backstage, the excitement could be felt as it was mistaken for the beginning of the show.

The lights dim and the stage goes dark. A melody begins to play as lights begin to dance in unison to the music across the platform, engulfing the instruments in various colors as vocalist Johnny Rzeznik, bassist Robby Takac, and current touring members: guitarist Brad Fernquist, keyboardist Jim McGorman, and drummer Craig Macintyre moved slowly towards them. A sea of light from cell phones rose up from the crowd to capture the initial moments of the show. As each found their way to their place on stage they wasted no time heading straight into the opening chords of the albums first song “Dizzy.”

Goo Goo Dolls - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Johnny Rzeznik (Vocalist/Guitarist), Goo Goo Dolls
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

Following an intense performance of the first song, they effortlessly flowed into the following song on the album which also happens to be the second most popular song, coming in at #9 on Billboard’s Top 100 Pop list from 1992-2012. The beginning notes of Slide glided out of the speakers and it was like a fire had been lit inside the venue. Screams and cheers rang out as Rzeznik sang the words that any true Goo Goo Dolls fan would know. Goo Goo Dolls exuded a palpable “rockstar” energy. At points during the song, the audience was so jazzed up and into the music that they began to drown out the band with their singing. Not wanting to be outdone, this caused a chain reaction of events as the five progressed powerfully through the next seven songs on the album without any breaks in between.

Dizzy Up the Girl album cover

While talking about the anniversary of the album, Rzeznik tells the audience about the iconic girl on the album cover, saying that everyone wants to know who she is. Thinking there would be an intricate story involved, he surprises everyone by saying they have no idea who she is, other than the assistant of the photographer despite casting models for the shoot. Even without a great story, the crowd loved it and snapped right back into their trance as they sang their hearts out from song to song, dancing with the strangers next to them and thrusting their drinks and hands in the air. This was the general reaction throughout their set, with a vibrant light show and dozens of black latex balloons floating around during another hit single, “Black Balloon.” Set one was brought to a close at the conclusion of the last song on the album, “Hate This Place.”

Goo Goo Dolls - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Brad Fernquist (Guitarist) & John Rzeznik (Vocalist/Guitarist),
Goo Goo Dolls
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

“Thank you! Hang on a sec, we’ll be right back,” Rzeznik said as the band left the stage for a short intermission. Before long, the musicians were back on stage ready to keep the party going for the second part of their set. Already having played thirteen songs, the band proceeded to double the experience and play thirteen more for set two, entitled “Deep Cuts”. Fans went down several paths of memory lane while the band played some of their biggest hits outside of their most popular album. “Better Days”, “Can’t Let It Go”, and “Two Days in February” were all played with acoustic guitar, evoking a range of emotions from their followers.

Goo Goo Dolls - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Robby Takac (Bassist), Goo Goo Dolls
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

The remainder of the show was more amped up, wanting to bring the audience back to full volume before they ended with a two-song encore including “Big Machine” and a mindblowing performance of “Flat Top”. Right before that, though, Takac addressed the audience a final time with a simple “Thank you guys for coming out to celebrate with us tonight. Truly truly truly means a lot,” no doubt with mutual feelings in the hearts of fans. As the show ended after 26 songs, people could be overheard talking all around about how wonderful the show was and how much it meant to them to be there for it. For over twenty years the Goo Goo Dolls have brought several beautiful songs to life, and if this tour has anything to say about them, no amount of time can weaken the love their fans have for them, or their music.

PHOTO ALBUM

by Katherine Amy Vega

Goo Goo Dolls – The Van Buren 9-30-18

Flickr Album Gallery Powered By: WP Frank

© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved.

REVIEW: Death Cab for Cutie Fans in Phoenix Are Left Thankful for Today (9-29-18)

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PHOENIX — For the fourth stop of their Fall 2018 tour, Death Cab for Cutie returned to Phoenix to promote their ninth album, Thank You for Today. In the first album since 2015, the band comes back strong in their signature indie pop songwriting and foggy vocals. The band has already released three singles since the August 2018 album release date, building anticipation for their tour. Death Cab for Cutie added two new members to the band after the departure of guitarist and producer Chris Walla. The two new members, guitarist Dave Depper and keyboardist Zac Rae, seem to bring a new cohesive energy to the band, which made for a polished and low-key performance at the sold out music venue in Phoenix.

Charly Bliss - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Eva Hendricks (Vocalist/Guitarist), Charly Bliss
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved.

When the show started at 8:00PM, opening power-pop band Charly Bliss welcomed the crowd. Lead vocalist Eva Hendricks bounced around the stage, swinging the white fringe from her short shorts. Her spunky attitude infused the crowd with energy, starting off the night with a positive jolt of indie pop rock, reminiscent of the early 2000s.

Charly Bliss - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Eva Hendricks (Vocalist/Guitarist), Charly Bliss
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved.

Joining her on stage was guitarist/vocalist Spencer Fox, drummer Sam Hendricks, and bassist/vocalist Dan Shure. At the end of their set, they generously thanked the audience and anticipation crescendoed for the main act, Death Cab for Cutie. Charly Bliss’ debut full-length album, Guppy, was released in April of 2017.

As the stage washed with ambient purple light, the four members of Death Cab for Cutie took the stage clad in  black.

Death Cab for Cutie - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Death Cab for Cutie |
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

Lead vocalist Ben Gibbard jumped right into their new song “I Dreamt We Spoke Again”, washing the audience in his unique melancholy vocals. Guitarist/vocalist Depper complemented Ben’s voice in creating a beautiful harmony, while drummer Jason McGerr, bassist Nick Harmer, and keyboardist Rae rounded out the sound; making for a solid performance that reflected the band’s years of refinement.

Death Cab for Cutie - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Zac Rae (Keyboardist/Guitarist/Vocalist), Death Cab for Cutie
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

Without pause, they began “Summer Years”, and then picked up the pace with the following song, “The Ghosts of Beverly Drive.” After the third song, Gibbard addressed the audience, introducing the band and briefly thanking those in attendance.

After a few more new songs, they went into “Gold Rush,” the fresh-sounding first single released from their new album. Recognizing the song from heavy rotation, the crowd erupted in cheers and voices rising up in unison. Reactions were similarly enthusiastic when the well-known notes of “Title and Registration” from  Transatlanticism reached their ears.

Death Cab for Cutie - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Ben Gibbard (Vocalist/Guitarist/Pianist), Death Cab for Cutie
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

The next few songs were a mix from earlier albums, including “Company Calls,” “No Sunlight,” and “What Sarah Said.” The chill vibes of their show would make for a great date night, or an escape from the work week. Gibbard occasionally dances about the stage facing the drummer and side stepping to the beat. While their performance was strong and their live sound comparable to their albums in every sense, the band’s minimal audience interaction and dependance on old songs might cause a loss of interest in newer listeners. There seemed to be a lack of connection that was sorely needed between the band and the audience. All members could benefit from some storytelling. Their lyrics are so beautiful and meaningful, the audience would surely love to hear some stories behind writing them.

A piano was rolled onto the stage for, “I Will Possess your Heart,” and Gibbard temporarily switched his guitar for the keys. The following song, “Autumn Love”, includes some beautiful lyrics such as, “If there’s no beacon tonight to guide me, I’ll finally break the shackles of direction and let the headlights lead me anywhere that they wanna go.” The depth of their latest album was described in a Facebook post on the date of release, which refers to it as “a record that reflects upon and asks questions of the past”, and “also a record about the future. Looking forwards and backwards simultaneously, from summer to autumn.”

Death Cab for Cutie - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Dave Depper (Guitar/Keys/Vocals), Death Cab for Cutie
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

As they finished out the set they finally addressed the audience once again, giving a big thank you to Charly Bliss for being a great opening band. Of course they had to play one of their biggest hits, “Soul Meets Body”, and the crowd went wild, nearly everyone singing along. At the end of the song, Gibbard triumphantly held his guitar up in the air like a trophy. The last song, “Marching Bands of Manhattan”, left the audience still wanting more, cheering into the emptiness as the stage went black.

It only took a few minutes before Gibbard returned, playing an acoustic version of their hit “I’ll Follow You Into the Dark.” It was at this moment that Gibbard opened up to the crowd with some cheerful banter, and he asked the audience to sing the second verse of the song. Afterwards, the rest of the band joined Gibbard on stage and played not one more, but three more songs: “Your Hurricane”, “Crooked Teeth”, and they finished the night with “Transatlanticism”.

With a generous 24-song setlist, Death Cab for Cutie brought a unique and beautiful energy to The Van Buren, and a recording-quality sound. The title of Thank You for Today no doubt resonated with die-hard Death Cab for Cutie fans.

PHOTO ALBUM

by Katherine Amy Vega

Death Cab For Cutie & Charly Bliss – The Van Buren 9-29-18

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© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved.

REVIEW: Mommy’s Little Monsters, Second Generations, & New Beginnings: Social Distortion Fall 2018 Tour Launches in the Valley of the Sun (9-10-18)

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Tempe, Ariz. — Social Distortion are no strangers to touring, and after a one and a half months long summer tour and 8 weeks of recuperation, they were back at it again and kicking off their Fall 2018 tour to a sold out Monday at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe. Known for bringing along with them some promising new talent to get the crowd revved up before they make their grand entrance, this tour is no different. Accompanying the band for their September shows is Justin Townes Earle, as well as Valley Queen, to be followed by Will Hoge and Pony Bradshaw for the month of October.

Half an hour before the theater doors were set to open, and the parking lot was nearly full. With hopes of snagging a great vantage point, several generations of Social D fans braved the 100 degree heat while standing in line, donning their page boy caps, Black Kat Kustoms shirts, tattoos, and multi-colored hair.

The Los Angeles-based group Valley Queen were the first to take the stage, giving fans a sampling of songs from their recently released debut album, Supergiant.

Valley Queen - Photo Credit: Rodrigo Izquierdo
Natalie Carol (Vocalist), Valley Queen
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

The four-piece group, with an excellent energy and apparent cohesiveness, seemed to truly enjoy what they do. With a voice reminiscent of Sinead O’Connor and a carefree flit about the stage, front-woman Natalie Carol lit up the room with an unparalleled vibrance. Not long into their second song, amidst the sound of Shawn Morones’ slide guitar and Neil Wogensen’s energetic bass licks in alignment with Mike DeLuccia’s drumbeats, Natalie broke a string for the very first time on a guitar she stated she’d had for over 6 years and chalked it up as an omen of great things to come.

Next up was singer/songwriter Justin Townes Earle, who connected with the audience on a level that few musicians are known to do. With a smirk and eye contact with the folks up front, he touched on the motivation behind each song he’d written before he performed it.

Justin Townes Earle - Photo Credit: Rodrigo Izquierdo
Justin Townes Earle
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Accompanying him were bassist Mike Luzecky from Denton, TX, and drummer Bill Campbell from Brooklyn, NY, who had only met that day and had one rehearsal prior to playing together — not that anyone would be able to tell, however, which is a true testament to their talents. It is apparent that this second generation music star is definitely forging his own successful path in the industry; from the fun, upbeat “Champagne Corolla” and “Short Hair Woman”, off of his most recent album Kids in the Street, to the deeply genuine “White Gardenias”, from his album titled Single Mothers. “White Gardenias” was preceded by a shout out to Billie Holiday and all others affected by the opioid epidemic.

The roadies took to the stage to ensure everything was perfectly set as the crowd inched closer to the front in anticipation of Social Distortion’s arrival. Impatient fans gained some visual stimulation from strategically placed items around the stage, like signs that said “funeral, no parking” and “inmates stand here,” as well as boxing gloves, a RCA dog statue, and mannequin parts with lingerie.

Photo Credit: Rodrigo Izquierdo
Social Distortion stage props
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Without a warning, the band swiftly took to the stage and went right into their opening song, “Reach For The Sky”, followed by “Highway 101” and “Don’t Take Me For Granted”, all from the 2004 album Sex, Love, and Rock ‘n’ Roll. The seemingly endless sea of rowdy fans swayed as Mike Ness, Jonny Wickersham, Brent Harding, and David Hidalgo, Jr. entertained with seamless precision, as Social D is known to do.

Social Distortion - Photo Credit: Rodrigo Izquierdo
Mike Ness (Vocalist, Guitarist), Social Distortion
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Preceding the 12th and final song of the set, frontman Ness opened up in a heartfelt monologue about having written the next song in 1994 about racism and dedicated “Don’t Drag Me Down” to the Chicanos in the audience.

No show is complete without an encore performance, and Social Distortion did not disappoint. After their flawless performance of “Angel’s Wings”, Ness explained his friends’ unfavorable reactions years ago when he told them he was going to record a Johnny Cash song. He said they all asked, “Why?” to which he quipped, “because it’s cool and I want to,” and asserted that Johnny Cash deserves to be back on the top where he belongs. The crowd roared as the band finished up with a double dose of Cash with “Folsom Prison Blues” and “Ring of Fire”.

Social Distortion - Photo Credit: Rodrigo Izquierdo
Social Distortion
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Though Ness did mention that he doesn’t know a whole lot of places that Social Distortion could sell out on a Monday night, it seems evident that with the fervor of the fans filing in to see them perform live, it’s bound to happen more often than he may think.

Photo Album

Photographer: Rodrigo Izquierdo

Social Distortion, Justin Townes Earle, & Valley Queen – Marquee Theatre 9-10-018

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Photography © Reagle Photography
All Rights Reserved

REVIEW: Butch Walker & Greg Holden Celebrate The Last Days of Summer, Starting at Crescent Ballroom 9-7-18

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PHOENIX — While Journey and Def Leppard were “on fire” at Talking Stick Resort Arena, Butch Walker and opener Greg Holden ignited their own explosive show at Crescent Ballroom just a little more than a mile away. As is often the case, Phoenix was the tour kickoff location of Walker and Holden’s tour, and they would thereafter embark on the 17-date “The Last Days of Summer Tour” (2018). While some dedicated fans had even flown in from out of state to see the show, no one was prepared for just how hype this show would get; apparently not even Walker himself, who likened coming out to perform again like getting back into your old prom clothes.

Greg Holden

Greg Holden - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega, Kataklizmic Design
Greg Holden
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

Greg Holden, who recently interviewed with us prior to the concert date, performed at acoustic set, which as you would expect, was chill and low-key. But while Holden generally presents a fairly serious demeanor overall, he cracked a number of smiles while engaging with the vocal crowd, and joking during stage banter.

Greg Holden - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega, Kataklizmic Design
Greg Holden
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

Of course, many fans recognized his “claim to fame”; the infectious hit song “Home”, written by Holden and chosen by American Idol finalist Phillip Phillips. Solidarity and warmth were felt with a strong cheer from the audience as he reached the end of the heart-wrenching song “Boys in the Street”, about the strained relationship between a father and his gay son, and finally growing to acceptance.

Holden’s “On the Run” was actually produced by headliner Butch Walker, who has an impressive list of work as a producer; including the likes of Katy Perry, Panic! At The Disco, Weezer, Pink, Fall Out Boy, The Maine, and many more.

Butch Walker

Anyone unfamiliar with Butch Walker was in for quite a surprise when he and his live band took the stage, as the shift in energy was immediate and palpable. Walker is not a country artist. Despite a name that might suggest as much, and Butch Walker’s charming southern roots poking through his stage presence, the more dominant and effortless image and energy he exhibited conveyed his background of a music career in glam metal (SouthGang) and pop punk/post-grunge (Marvelous 3). Walker has 8 studio albums under his belt — the most recent being Stay Gold, which was released in August of 2016.

Butch Walker - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega, Kataklizmic Design
Butch Walker
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

The 48-year-old, who shared his age with the crowd himself, seemed almost surprised, and definitely pumped, that as the night went on, his solid and seasoned musical prowess had no problem kicking into high gear. Not to be taken for granted or uncredited, Walker’s live band matched his enthusiasm and skill perfectly as they danced and jammed with a fury.

Butch Walker - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega, Kataklizmic Design
Butch Walker
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

As his set was coming to a close, his performance climaxed after a medley of magnificent covers of David Bowie that couldn’t have felt like more of a worthy tribute, which segued into Walker’s “Hot Girls in Good Moods”. With his shining sense of humor, he began a drawn-out activity amidst the crowd that built anticipation and inspired nearly all, save for the wallflowers on the bleachers in the back of the venue, to participate and, “GO CRAZY!” Confetti and streamers popped out over the thrilled concertgoers.

The duality between Walker and Holden’s performances indeed complemented each other perfectly, and the show was unforgettably dynamic and downright mind-blowing. We highly recommend picking yourself up and heading out to this show in a city near you, because it is so worth it.

PHOTO ALBUM

by Katherine Amy Vega
(View separate Butch Walker & Greg Holden photo albums)

Butch Walker & Greg Holden – Crescent Ballroom 9-7-18

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© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved.

REVIEW: Journey & Def Leppard Rock Phoenix for Ages 9-7-18

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PHOENIX Historic classic rock duo Journey and Def Leppard put on a massively vivacious performance Friday night at their sold-out stop at Talking Stick Resort Arena on the North American tour (2018). It’s been twelve long years since Def Leppard and Journey co-headlined a tour, with rumored signs of an aging sound. On the contrary though, this arena setting was more than fitting, as the show proved to be impressively larger than life.

Def Leppard

The crowd continued to pour in by the thousands even as Def Leppard took the stage, erupting in a phantasmal melting-pot of emotions from fans of all ages when their vocalist, Joe Elliott approached the crowd.

Def Leppard - Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt
Joe Elliott (Vocalist), Def Leppard
| Photographer: Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

With his hands held high, Elliott teased the rippling stadium, loosely conducting the opening instrumentals to “Rocket” with closeups of the band members flashing in-and-out of 2-D televisions seemingly stacked above and behind the stage. Def Leppard’s energy was as contagious as ever, coaxing fans along to hit after hit beneath blaring blankets of velvety light that morphed into everything from hypnotizing geometric patterns to a striking laser show.

Def Leppard - Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt
Joe Elliott (Vocalist), Def Leppard
| Photographer:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Each song seemed to ignite even more elation than the last. Fans sang along to every word of “Animal”, “Foolin’”, “When Love and Hate Collide”, and “Let’s Get Rocked” as the stage transformed again, almost magically, from a wall of vintage neon signs into thick rotating rays of foggy light before turning to a dim, red glow that illuminated the buzzing audience. Elliott could be seen thrusting the mic stand back and forth across the stage as the first few notes of “Armageddon It” rumbled out from beneath the speakers.

Def Leppard - Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt
Rick Savage (Bassist), Def Leppard
| Photographer:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Def Leppard’s current and longest-lasting lineup to date also includes Rick Savage (bassist), Rick Allen (drummer), Phil Collen (guitarist), and Vivian Campbell (guitarist); and like Elliott, none of them showed any signs of slowing down. Their British heavy metal style is as alive and well as ever, complete with leather and tight pants, sweat-glistening, guitar shreddin’, and an incredible one-armed drum solo.

Between nostalgic performances of the David Essex cover “Rock On”, “Two Steps Behind”, and “Man Enough”, Elliott introduced each member of the band while offering a small bit of history on each iconic track to follow. “We’ve been touring for 38 years,” he announced, speaking briefly on the group’s English background and how they got their start. “All we ever wanted was to make music.”

Def Leppard - Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt
Phil Collen (Guitarist), Def Leppard | Photographer: Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Without all the fancy high-tech showmanship, it would have been easy to forget that we were seeing Def Leppard 20 years post multi-platinum success of Hysteria and Pyromania – which ranked at #384 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2003. “Love Bites”, “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak”, and “Switch 625” were up next, each accompanied by its own light display and related imagery glowing boldly in the background.

Speaking of multi-platinum, Def Leppard definitely knew what they were doing when they saved “Hysteria” and “Pour Some Sugar On Me” for last, but not of course without the explosive encore we’d been dying for – “Rock of Ages” and “Photograph”. What more could a Def Leppard fan ask for, right?

Journey

After a refreshingly brief set change, it was time for Rock n’ Roll Hall-of-Famer, Journey, to steal the show with their own non-stop marathon of legendary greatest hits. Despite having been noted as “one of the world’s best-selling bands of all time” – No. 96 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time to be exact, Journey’s continued evolution has left some critics wondering how things could ever sound the same.

Arnel Pineda (Vocalist), Journey
| Photographer:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Current vocalist Arnel Pineda put those rumors to rest with a heart-wrenching opening performance of “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” from chart-topping album Frontiers (1983). Despite not being a man of many words, Pineda undeniably uplifted the crowd with his infectious, positive energy as he jumped, kicked, and bounced across the stage. The entire arena followed in suit, immediately pointing their phone flashlights and lighters to the sky and singing along to every word.

Pineda was overflowing with a spectacularly excitable stage presence, making sure to run the full perimeter of the platform while high-fiving everyone within reach during emotional renditions of “Only The Young”, “Escape” and “Stone In Love”. Meanwhile, psychedelic album art filled the towering screens surrounding the stage while flashes of bright white light spliced across the arena. Closeups of Neal Schon (lead guitarist), Ross Valory (bassist), Steve Smith (drummer) and Jonathan Cain (keyboardist) could also be seen rotating in and out, with big smiles on their faces.

Journey - Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt
Jonathan Cain (Keyboardist), Journey
| Photographer:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Each member boasted their own bit of personal wardrobe style as well. Cain could be seen with an old school Suns jersey peeking out from behind his jacket. Fans belted out the lyrics to the ever-popular tracks “Chain Reaction” and “Be Good To Yourself” before Pineda finally addressed the crowd. “How are you doing Phoenix?!”, he echoed. “Thanks for coming out and seeing us tonight!

Journey - Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt
Neal Schon (Guitarist), Journey
Photographer:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Schon stepped into the spotlight to set the mood with a smooth-and-sultry, otherworldly guitar solo before launching into “Lights” with Pineda once again. Time seemed to slip away as listeners lost themselves in the music, rocking out to “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’”, “Who’s Crying Now”, “Open Arms”, and “Ask The Lonely”, followed by “La Do Da”, and “Any Way You Want It”. From lovestruck couples to lonesome onlookers, it was clear why Journey’s music has achieved such timeless success.

Schon stepped forward once again to introduce “Wheel In The Sky”, a song he composed along with Robert Fleischman and Diane Valory – wife of bassist Ross Valory. He went on to say, “That’s when I realized we were family. We all love the same way. I’d like to dedicate this song to a man that just had a birthday recently, our vocalist, Mr. Arnel Pineda. And to the fans who stayed over the years.

As one might have guessed, Journey concluded the night with that one track that hits us all right in the feels – “Don’t Stop Believin’”, which crescendoed to a climax of strobing light, squealing guitar, and eruption of glittering white confetti that combusted into a weightless cloud drifting out over the audience. It was a feeling of total bliss and slight overstimulation, of not wanting the night to end, while also being so incredibly satisfied, overjoyed, impressed, and amazed. That’s the thing about bands like Def Leppard and Journey; they’ve not only carved out a place in our memories, but in the depths of our hearts as well.

Journey - Photo Credit: Mark Greenawalt
Journey
| Photographer:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Pineda stepped forward to address the crowd for the last time,
Arizona, you are magic tonight.

Photo Gallery

Photographer: Mark Greenawalt

Journey & Def Leppard – Talking Stick Resort Arena 9-7-18

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Photography © Mark Greenawalt. All Rights Reserved

REVIEW: Covet Blossoms on Stage at The Rebel Lounge in Phoenix 7-22-18

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PHOENIX – Covet, touring with special guests and friends HOLY FAWN and Vasudeva, bloomed in a magnificent way at The Rebel Lounge and shared their sublime sounds during the hottest period of the unrelenting desert summer. Luckily, nobody was a pile of goo by the time the show started.

This esoteric collection of musicians was a sight to behold, sharing a fascinating mix of influences from genres such as post-rock, math rock, ambient music, alternative rock, indie rock, experimental sounds, and many more. While stage banter and lyrics may have been at a minimum, fans certainly have a lot to talk about after witnessing this stunning bouquet of musical aptitude.

HOLY FAWN

Kicking off the evening was local band HOLY FAWN, self-described as “four creatures making loud heavy pretty noises.” They certainly lived up to their description, as the noises varied from gentle electric sounds to earth-shattering riffs and screams. They were also the only band of the evening to feature some vocals in their songs, but for the most part, they fit right in with a heavy focus on unique instrumentals.

HOLY FAWN - Photography: Rodrigo Izquierdo
HOLY FAWN
Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved.

HOLY FAWN began their set with some ambient music playing over a dark stage covered in laser lights. The darkness and the soothing sounds made for some great ambiance, but soon it was time to rock. Without really announcing themselves, HOLY FAWN made their way to the stage from the merch booth area — not a long walk at all in the cozy, intimate Rebel Lounge. One member said “alright, let’s do this,” as they prepared for the show.

As HOLY FAWN began to play along with the ambient music, their energy slowly rose until climaxing with some epic, loud sounds. The vocals were hard to discern in The Rebel Lounge, but the music was still enjoyable. It was all about the instruments, with some screaming thrown in every once in a while for good measure.

Vasudeva

Vasudeva took the stage shortly after HOLY FAWN, and they brought a different sound to the room. Their approach is purely instrumental, and each band member can play their instruments brilliantly. Watching all three of them on stage is a beautiful sight, and it is clear they love playing music together. Not only is their music beautiful and enjoyable, but so is their presence on stage. Their commitment to the craft is hypnotic.

Vasudeva - Photography: Rodrigo Izquierdo
Vasudeva
Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved.

Vasudeva spent most of their time on stage rocking out and sharing their captivating sounds with the crowd, but they were sure to add a quick “thank you” after each song was over. They were also sure to throw in a few other tidbits, such as “this is dope,” “this is so cool,” and “righteous.” They were also sure to thank Covet for asking them to go on tour together. Vasudeva said, “Our friends Covet are on after us. Give it up for them! We’ve been touring with them for about a week now. Wish it was longer.”

Each member of Vasudeva was really into the music and the performance, and they finished their set with an energizing finale. While many people may have come to The Rebel Lounge to see Covet, Vasudeva certainly gave them their money’s worth. The crowd was prepped for more scintillating instrumental music, but it was clear that everyone had immensely enjoyed the show so far. Unfortunately for Vasudeva fans, merch was sparse; as they said, “we’ve been on tour for a while, so we’re running low on merch. We have 2 records left. It’s crazy.” That didn’t stop people from rushing to buy things later, though.

Covet

At long last, it was time to effloresce. Similar to how HOLY FAWN began, there was ambient music playing — a prologue to the epic odyssey that was about to commence. Covet took the stage by gentle storm, with David Adamiak coming out to join the ambient music and add some bass currents to the mix. Shortly after that, Yvette Young and Forrest Rice joined him on stage to a ton of applause.

Covet - Photography: Rodrigo Izquierdo
Covet
Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved.

As Covet says, they are “just 3 people making music” — this is the best way to describe their performance on stage. Rather than one person taking center stage, with the others supporting them, Covet is a group of musicians who somehow share the spotlight evenly. What could easily devolve into a discordant mix of conflicting instrumentals becomes a truly majestic melody.

Covet - Photography: Rodrigo Izquierdo
Forrest Rice (Drummer), Covet
Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved.

Rice, the drummer, truly rocked The Rebel Lounge into oblivion. His performance was spectacular, and by the look on his face, he loved every second of it. He gave the music so much energy, and his massive smile could pierce even the darkest of sorrows. Meanwhile, Young was in the zone, hyper-focused on plucking the strings on her collection of beautiful, unique guitars. Tying it all together was Adamiak, traipsing around the stage with his bass guitar, really getting into the music and the moment.

Covet - Photography: Rodrigo Izquierdo
Yvette Young (Guitarist), Covet
Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved.

Young has made waves in recent years with her unique style of playing the guitar, and she has also recently been featured in a few interesting articles that reveal some insights into her artistic powers. While she plays many instruments, the way she plucks the guitar strings is quite unique; the sounds this technique creates are fascinating and entrancing. Not only does this show off her sheer mastery of guitar, but her immense creativity as well. It is no wonder she has been called a true “Renaissance woman” by many. 

Covet - Photography: Rodrigo Izquierdo
David Adamiak (Bassist), Covet
Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved.

Adamiak brought his own creative spin to the show as well. While he merrily wandered all over stage, he made sure to engage with the audience whenever possible. If he didn’t make eye contact with every single person in The Rebel Lounge, it must have been close! He also seemed to have a great time making silly faces at people, as well as jumping out at the crowd from time to time to really rock out. At the end of the show, he made sure to dispense plenty of high fives to those at the front, too! Rice ran up to join him in the high fiving at that point, so there was plenty of love to go around.

Covet had such a pleasant presence on stage and infected the entire crowd with their joy. Along with spreading the music love, they also shared some beautiful stories and useful information. They referred to HOLY FAWN and Vasudeva as their “ultra homies,” told a story about the importance of staying hydrated, and thanked the audience profusely for joining them that evening. As Adamiak said, “thanks for staying out so late with us, on a Sunday night of all nights.” He repeated similar sentiments at the end of the show.

effloresce - Album Cover

At the end of the show, Covet performed “Howl” from their new album effloresce, which just came out on July 13th; this song is a great way to send a crowd on their way, as it is full of phenomenal energy truly worthy of a grand finale. After, Adamiak said “you guys make us really happy” and mentioned they’d all be by the merch later if anyone wanted to say hi. However, the crowd chanted “one more song” for a brief time after they had left the stage, so the grand finale wasn’t so final after all.

They came back on stage, and Adamiak said “y’all are a bunch of sweethearts, thank you.” As he was letting his hair down, he added, “we’re gonna do one that doesn’t require hair ties.” Then, “on a very serious note,” he introduced the song “Ares” as their actual final song for the evening. While not quite as thunderous as “Howl,” it is still a superb way to end a show.

When the show was over, Covet, Vasudeva, and HOLY FAWN were all hanging around the merch area waiting to greet fans, sign merch, and say some farewells. For fans of HOLY FAWN, the farewell isn’t so long either — earlier in the show, Adamiak also added that HOLY FAWN will be having an album release at The Rebel Lounge on September 21st, so mark that one on your calendar!

Photo Album

Photos by Rodrigo Izquierdo

Covet, Vasudeva, & HOLY FAWN – The Rebel Lounge 7-22-18

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Photography © Reagle Photography
All Rights Reserved

REVIEW: Dorothy’s Phoenix Show – A Flawless Night in the Valley 7-15-18

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PHOENIX –  Dorothy took the stage at the Crescent Ballroom last Sunday night, infusing the summer air with earthy incense and the vibes of psychedelic hard rock. The band, originally from Los Angeles, is currently on their “Freedom Tour 2018,” promoting their second album, 28 Days in the Valley. Dorothy is named after front woman and vocal powerhouse Dorothy Martin. Her vocal style can be compared closest to Grace Slick, but her energetic stage presence can be compared to Janis Joplin.

When Dorothy took the stage, all that could be seen was their faintly lit silhouettes. In the dark, with her back to the audience, Martin lit a huge incense stick to fill the ballroom with its sweet aroma. She held on to it, waiving the incense over the stage as the flame grew and the band started the intro to the song “White Butterfly.” The band was then illuminated by the stage lights.

Dorothy - Photography: Mark Greenawalt
Dorothy Martin (Vocalist), Dorothy
Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved.

Martin was decked out in black lace bell bottoms and a burgundy, burnout velvet, kimono jacket; she had a mat placed at the base of her microphone to protect her feet as she performed barefoot. Fans that pointed at the stage kept the band cool, and blew Martin’s hair away from her face, adding to her carefree appearance.

Dorothy - Photography: Mark Greenawalt
Dorothy Martin (Vocalist), Dorothy
Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved.

As the band smoothly transitioned into their second song, “Naked Eye,” Martin picked up her tambourine. She played while the incense and fog machines worked overtime, pouring a thick haze around the band, and transporting the audience to what felt like Dorothy’s basement jam session in the 1970s.

During “Ain’t Our Time to Die,” the quiet cymbals mixed with Martin’s vibrato really mirrored Janis Joplin’s vocal style as she exclaimed, “You’ve got to believe baby, it ain’t our time to die!”

Dorothy performed many tracks off their first album, ROCKISDEAD; such as “Raise Hell,” “Down To The Bottom,” and rock anthem “Wicked Ones.” In the middle of performing “Wicked Ones,” Martin left the stage, and guitarists Nick Perri and Leroy Wulfmeier rocked out, taking the audience on an auditory journey down the rabbit hole as the stage lights flashed pink, purple, and blue.

Dorothy - Photography: Mark Greenawalt
Dorothy
Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved.

When they played their tenth song of the night, “Who Do You Love?”, Martin dropped to her knees and reached her arms to the ceiling while bellowing the song’s lyrics, “Hey I’m your reason for lying! Hey, I’m your reason for dying! Hey, I’m your reason to live! Who do you love when your love’s a-run dry?”

Dorothy filled their 90-minute set with soulful vocals, gritty guitar playing, and all original songs off both of their full albums. Martin’s easy-going and genuine personality was apparent as she spoke to the crowd like friends. She jokingly said that if she wasn’t out performing, she’d just be at home with her cat watching X-files. At the end of the show she hugged her mic stand while smiling into the crowd, almost as if she were trying to metaphorically hug the audience for showing her band love.

Dorothy - Photography: Mark Greenawalt
Dorothy Martin (Vocalist) & Leroy Wulfmeier (Guitarist), Dorothy
Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved.

For Dorothy’s final song, everyone left the stage, aside from Martin and Wulfmeier. Wulfmeier, in his Homburg hat and perfect mustache, sidled up to Martin and they performed an acoustic rendition of the love song, “Shelter.” Martin finalized the night by yelling to the crowd, “Go make love to your wife!”

Opening Act: Charming Liars

Charming Liars, a London-based band that relocated to Los Angeles in 2013, opened the set for Dorothy. This is their fifth time performing in Arizona, according to guitarist Karnig Manoukian.

Charming Liars - Photography: Mark Greenawalt
Kiliyan Maguire (Vocalist), Charming Liars
Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved.

Charming Liars’ set was filled with punchy, punctuated drums and dreamy guitar chords, which was pronounced in “Insomnia,” “Outta My Head,” and “Closer.”  Their style leans toward very danceable, club-like rock songs. Vocalist Kiliyan Maguire has strong vocals and the ability to produce an amazing falsetto. His passion and energy got the crowd excited, especially when they played new material such as the song “Time to Start,” which was only the fourth time it has been performed by them, according to Maguire. The Charming Liars website states that the band had been endorsed by Sir Elton John when he featured their songs on his Apple Music “Rocket Hour” radio show.

The phenomenal performances of both bands at Crescent Ballroom that night showcased their original music, thought provoking lyrics, and solidified their potential to rise up to the top. And, if there was one message conveyed through the music that evening, a message we can apply to everyday living, it must be; love fiercely, but take no shit.

Catch both bands on the “Freedom Tour 2018” until August 26.

Photo Gallery

Photographer: Mark Greenawalt

Dorothy – Crescent Ballroom 7-15-18

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Photography © Mark Greenawalt. All Rights Reserved

REVIEW: Taylor Swift Blows Away Opening Night of Reputation Stadium Tour in Glendale 5-8-18

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Reputation Album Cover - Click to Buy

GLENDALE, AZ – Taylor Swift kicked off her Reputation Stadium Tour in gorgeous Glendale, Arizona. Swift’s sixth studio album Reputation came out late 2017, and she’s worked tirelessly for months to perfect the album’s tour. Fans, or “Swifties” as they like to be called, poured into the University of Phoenix Stadium. They came armed with stuffed snakes, homemade signs declaring their love for Swift, and creative shirts with Swift’s image or impactful lyrics from different songs. Some fans had signs referring to Swift’s “Rep Room” hoping they might get lucky and be selected to meet Swift later that night. Inside the venue, Charli XCX and Camila Cabello warmed up the fans.

Charli XCX sang in a bright bubblegum pink raincoat and pants delighting fans with seven songs, two being cover songs – “I Love It” by Icona Pop, and ending with “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea. Cabello then took the stage, singing nine songs while wearing a white corset with glittery see-through sleeves and black pants with thigh-high slits. Cabello closed her set with her well-known song, “Havana”.

Swift started with a bang. First, “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts played over the sound system, followed by a video introduction addressing Swift’s reputation. Swift then emerged on stage singing “…Ready For It?”, the first track of her latest album, to the stadium of screaming fans.

Taylor Swift - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega, Kataklizmic Design
Taylor Swift
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved.

Swift spoke to the crowd before the third song saying, “I wish you could see yourselves. You’re beautiful; more than beautiful… What would that be?” fading into the song “Gorgeous”. Swift later said, “I’ve done fourteen shows in Arizona in thirteen years. Not all of them were in arenas like this. Most were in shopping malls, clubs, then opening for other artists. Now I’m doing stadiums like this, breaking the record with 60,000!”

Taylor Swift - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega, Kataklizmic Design
Taylor Swift
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved.

Using state-of-the-art production on three different stages, the center being the largest at 110 feet tall, Swift exceeded expectations for those thousands of fans. Colorful confetti rained down on fans, and another round of confetti was designed as mini newspapers with “Reputation” in bold, and “Taylor Swift” written all over it. There were firework-like flares, amazing choreography with sixteen dancers, and of course no show is complete without pyro.

Creatively, Swift had a tilted stage to go along with her song “Look What You Made Me Do”. This song’s music video gained over 43.2 million views during its first twenty-four hours on YouTube, breaking the record for the most-viewed music video in one day.

Taylor Swift - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega, Kataklizmic Design
Taylor Swift
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved.

Before Swift went into “Delicate” she gave the crowd an uplifting speech, “Wow I missed you guys. Since I was sixteen I’ve lived on a schedule, make an album then go on tour. Over and over, five times in a row. This time I decided to break that record with this last album. I decided I wanted to see who I would be and what my life would be like if I didn’t have a spotlight on me all the time. It was important for me, but I really missed you.” Swift shared some profound thoughts on how brave it is to pursue relationships, knowing that there’s an incredible chance to find mutual love, and also the risk of heartbreak. “It’s just delicate, you know?” As she sang “Delicate”, she was lifted in a sparkly, swirled cage, to her second stage in the back of the stadium.

When she landed, she happily asked the hungry crowd, “What’s going on back here?” She then broke into “Shake It Off” with tourmates Chari XCX and Cabello joining her. Smiling, Swift spoke again, “How is it going on this side of the stadium?” She mentioned following what her fans were saying on social media and trying to put together what they wanted for this tour. She said, “One of my favorite things about you guys in fifteen years is the music industry tells you what they [the fans] want. You can’t sing with that person or make a pop album because your fans are Country and would never understand. And I would say to them, ‘I’m pretty sure I know them better than you do.’ You stuck with me with my musical change. Thank you for that. I still write the same way. I pick up an instrument and the words come.”  

Taylor Swift - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega, Kataklizmic Design
Taylor Swift
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved.

After “Blank Space” Swift ran off the stage across the field seating, touching fans’ hands along the way, to her third stage. There she asked fans, “Do you like my dress?” She was greeted with cheers as the song “Dress” began. Swift transitioned to “Bad Blood”, making the entire crowd dance. During each song, the light up bracelets each fan received pulsed with the beat.

Swift had giant blow-up snakes on all three of her stages, a snake-themed mic, and she was lifted from the third stage to return to the main one in a floating snake ribbed cage. Later in the show, Swift explained the reason behind the snake theme, which every Swiftie knew. She explained that someone called her a snake on social media, along with other things. “I went through some really low times because of it. I didn’t know if I’d be able to do this anymore.” she said. “Thank you for taking the time to get to know me. For seeing me as a human being,” she concluded. Swift played a blend of “Long Live” and “New Years Day” on a sleek black piano with the word “Reputation” written in gold.

Swift got everyone on their feet with “We Are Never Getting Back Together,” the lead single from her fourth studio album, Red. That song quickly became a hit and reached the top slot on iTunes’ digital song sales chart just fifty minutes after releasing, earning the “Fastest Selling Single in Digital History” for Guinness World Record.

Taylor Swift - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega, Kataklizmic Design
Taylor Swift
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved.

Swift ended her incredible twenty-song setlist with “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” with a real water fountain on center stage. With beloved songs both old and new, Swift left her “Swifties” screaming and wanting more. Her opening night in Glendale was specular, and even if Swift is an artist who started in Country music and moved toward pop, that only made her a bigger sensation. Swift may even be one of the biggest pop stars in today’s music industry, and she doesn’t care about her reputation anymore. Swift told the crowd goodnight and high-fived her dancers before leaving the stage. The show ended with the words, “And in the death of her reputation, she felt truly alive” on the screens.

PHOTO ALBUM

by Katherine Amy Vega

Taylor Swift – University Of Phoenix Stadium 5-8-18

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© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved.

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