PHOENIX — In the brisk evening air of December 1st, fans waited outside the Marquee Theatre in eager anticipation. It was Friday night and fans were ready to throw their weekday woes away and get ready to listen to the raw sounds awaiting them. On tonight’s agenda: long established metal bands Arch Enemy and Trivium.
The night opened with New Jersey’s Fit for an Autopsy whose bass lines seemed to tremble right through the floor into your very breath. The stage splashed with red and blue light as they worked up the crowd. Next up was While She Sleeps, all the way from Sheffield, England. Lead vocalist Lawrence Taylor was a whirlwind of energy headbanging and even crowd surfing. Calling to the audience, he challenged them to “meet him” by crowd surfing all the way to the pit. Needless to say, many met his challenge. Taylor was all over the stage, even standing atop the drum set. After their set, the crowd was definitely ready for Arch Enemy.
As equipment was set up and sound checks were made, more and more people crowded into the room, shouldering and squeezing into their own perfect spot. A backdrop reflecting hell itself stared back at the audience, with twisted demons and a red glowing reflection. As the music started, a laser show of lights flooded the stage and members of the Swedish band Arch Enemy descended. Vocalist Alissa White-Gluz dominated the stage with her powerful voice and energy. She was a force to behold in her skeletal ripped bodysuit and wild blue hair. Alongside her, guitarists Michael Amott and Jeff Loomis did amazing fingerwork and left the crowd screaming after their amazing guitar duo.
Arch Enemy promoted their new album Will to Power, showcasing some amazing songs such as “The World is Yours” and “The Eagle Flies Alone.” In one moment, Alissa called to the audience, before the song “Will to Power”, to shine a light – and her will was done as the audience swayed their phones in the air. She closed off the set with one of her favorite songs, “Payday.” It’s safe to assume many who came to see Trivium that night left an Arch Enemy fan as well.
After a short break for set changes, Trivium was about to take the stage. In the dim lights, the audience got so excitedly impatient that they started chanting the band’s name: “Trivium!… Trivium!…” Their chants were met with red and white flashing lights, and Trivium took the stage. The backdrop was the same as the cover of their new album, The Sin and the Sentence. Blanketing the wall was solid black with clean gold lines and iconic images, a great reflection of the band.
Lead vocalist Matt Heafy’s passionate and clean vocals were accented by the raw enraged voices of guitarist Corey Beaulieu and bassist Paolo Gregoletto. While Trivium’s sound has changed over the years, the audience was in full agreement that they sounded amazing! Many fans sang along with the lyrics, Heafy’s clear and thought provoking words making this an easy task. Songs like “The Heart from Your Hate” and “The Sin and the Sentence” are surprisingly addictive, with their fast paced melodies and powerful lyrics.
The show was five straight hours of metal. There is something about metal that is cathartic, raw, and enticing; this show was no exception. Arch Enemy and Trivium helped take the week’s stress, ball it up, grind it into the ground and just let loose in the music, allowing everyone to start their weekend refreshed.
Photographer: Dale Hurt
Trivium, Arch Enemy, & More – Marquee Theatre 12-1-17
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
PHOENIX — Pop recording artist Miss Krystle has just released the six-song EP Inevitable as the follow up to her successful Woman In Motion CD. This night was a showcase of the new songs along with an offering of music from her first three studio CDs. The intimate VIP party was held in a controlled private studio called the Premier Room at Premier Studios on Indian School Road. Guests arrived in anticipation of the live show and explored the venue and the well-stocked merchandise booth while networking with friends and industry associates.
Miss Krystle lit up the room at 8:30pm when she hit the stage dressed all in black; a dramatic contrast to her signature fiery red mane. The set started with “Right Movement” a collaboration with KJ Swaka (Pendulum and Destroit) and “Take Me Home” which was produced by Zion Brock. The hard-hitting electronica tracks are brought to life by the solid rhythm section of That Orko on bass and Brent Hensley on drums. This music transcends labels of pop or electronic dance music. It is edgy and in-your-face, but it is uniquely Miss Krystle. With lyrics like, “I’m a wolf, not a sheep,” she has no regrets in blazing new trails forging her own sound.
Miss Krystle commands the stage and pours her soul into each line. The fans in the audience are under her spell and sing along with the next two songs from Woman In Motion; “Dukes Up” and “Pressure”. The high energy has been non-stop and her performance has been an aerobic workout, but still the vocals are spot on. From assertive lines of angst to soft soaring notes she is matching the studio versions of the songs note for note.
At the end of this introductory frenzy, there is a catharsis. The band exits the stage and Miss Krystle is left alone with keyboard and a spotlight. This is where we learn that Miss Krystle is more than a pretty face with rock star vocals as she demonstrates her classical training on piano and delivers some of her original songwriting. The three-song solo “acoustic” set starts off with her song “I Don’t Cry” from the Run CD. This song has a beautiful music video where she performs in elegant body paint and has over 200,000 views. The crowd cheers as she begins singing. Next up is “Relevant”; the first song played from the new EP. In an interview with The Arizona Republic, Miss Krystle described the message of this song saying “The only person who should make you feel relevant and loved is ultimately you.” The studio version of the song has a sonically big production that conveys the emotional message, but ironically this stripped down piano/vocal version may have emoted even more heartfelt emotion. The third song in the set was a totally unexpected cover of “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys. This brought a smile to everyone’s face and it seemed to be a true expression of love to some lucky person in the room.
The band returned to the stage and the energy again cranked up for two more songs from the new EP, “Inevitable” and “Wild Like Fire.” Miss Krystle has been very prolific at self-producing high quality music videos and her latest is for the song “Inevitable.” In an industry where record deals seem to have lost their teeth, she has been successfully gaining celebrity through self-promotion and a lot of hard work. Her new songs are collaborations with her musical partner, That Orko, who has helped to elevate her production sound and inspired her to write songs that she says are some of her “best music to date.”
Miss Krystle isn’t relying on sex appeal to connect with her audience, but she definitely isn’t trying to hide it either. There is a seductiveness to her moves that matches the message in “Focused All Night” from Woman In Motion. She strips one layer of black and eventually focuses on each person in the room, one at a time, making eye contact and making a personal connection. One can envision her doing this same performance on a national stage with backup dancers, lights and pyrotechnics, a 10-piece band, and a stadium crowd. Although her surroundings were much more reserved, her performance proved that she is ready for prime time.
The 14-song set culminated in trio of covers that kept in sync with the high energy of the evening with “Lap Dance” by NERD, “Breath” by The Prodigy, and an homage to Beyonce with “Crazy In Love” that had everyone moving. Lastly, it was back to an original for the final song of the night which was “Unforgettable”…literally and figuratively. This song’s haunting melody is addictive and complements the lyrical intent to never fade into anonymity, “Burning in your memory you know I’m unforgettable…On your mind and in your dreams I’m a part of history.” The band left it all on the stage and there was no holding back to put on a fantastic show.
This was a VIP experience so everyone had their chance to meet the band, take selfies, and get their CDs, prints, and t-shirts autographed. The venue was a perfect place for a band showcase and the sound was appropriately loud while remaining clear. The only annoyance was the automated lighting chase that wasn’t synched to the music and each scene was monochromatic. Other than that, the space was a perfect venue to promote the new EP from Miss Krystle. Look out for her next music video release for the song “Relevant” coming soon to her bustling Youtube channel.
TEMPE, Ariz. — On November 5th the Marquee Theatre was bustling with life as fans waited outside its doors. Originally the Thrice and Circa Survive co-headlining show was to be at Mesa Amphitheatre, but a few weeks prior the show was moved to the Marquee. Due to the venue change, there was some chaos in the beginning. There were long lines at the box office as everything was sorted out after hopping venues, and fans were worried they weren’t going to make it inside on time.
The two openers took the stage to entertain fans and help wash away their frustration. The first band was Balance and Composure, who are an American alternative rock band from Doylestown, Pennsylvania. The second band was Chon, an American rock band from San Diego, California. People were calming down and enjoying some beers with friends. As house music played between sets, people happily chatted about how excited they were. Some reflected on past Thrice shows.
Circa Survive, an American rock band also from Doylestown, Philadelphia, took the stage and they were greeted with cheers. Anthony Green led the band with their first song of the night, “Lustration.” For an hour they serenaded the crowd with a sixteen song setlist.
The changeover between headliners was thirty minutes, enough time to go to the patio for a smoke break or grab another drink. As it grew closer to showtime, people filled back inside. The crowd reached all the way to the back almost spilling into the lobby. The entire venue went dark as Thrice, an American rock band from Irvine, California, stepped on stage. They went straight into playing “The Earth Will Shake” from their fourth studio album Vheissu. The lights flooded the stage, red-then-blue, as Dustin Kensrue sang while strumming his guitar. The crowd cheered and put their arms up in the air, and all the chaos from before disappeared. Fans in the front of the stage were jumping up and down, and a guy with a blue Mohawk was the first to crowd surf. The rest of the crowd sang along and headbanged. One guy up in the balcony was full-on headbanging with everything he had.
The next song, “The Window” was calmer. As the blue lights filled the room, people swayed and put their phones up to record or take pictures. After the song finished, Kensrue spoke to the crowd, “Thank you so much. We are Thrice,” before going into “The Artist in the Ambulance”. Fans clapped along, the entire vibe of the place was pure excitement.
During “Hurricane”, the light on stage turned to a yellow hue. The song is from their latest studio album To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere and peaked on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs chart in August 2017 at number 24. The fans once again threw up their hands; the white lights on stage highlighted all the arms in the air. A woman next to me was crying; her boyfriend had his arms wrapped around her waist.
The whole night people were jumping and singing. In front of the stage, people continued to crowd surf and at one time people were throwing around a shoe. The bass and drums were so powerful it hit your body like a wave of sound, almost feeling like a second heartbeat.
Before starting “Firebreather”, Kensrue said, “Ten years ago we put out a four disc album representing the four elements: Fire, Water, Earth, and Air. Super nerdy I know. We wanted to tour with vinyls, but didn’t get them out on time. They should be out soon.” Kensrue was referring to their fifth studio album The Alchemy Index Vols. I & II. As Kensrue sang, three girls next to me started their own little dance circle, one was even twerking. At the same time, a guy up by the front of the stage was crowd surfing with his crutches.
Kensrue mentioned they just added “Red Telephone” to their setlist from their seventh studio album Beggars. The lights bled to red as a mix of drums, guitars, and bass began the song. Before playing their final song of the night, “The Long Defeat”, Teppei Teranishi (Guitarist) addressed the screaming crowd, “We love you guys.” Kensure added, “This is our last song of the night. We will have no encore due to this show being a co-headline, makes it awkward.” In total, Thrice had a sixteen song setlist.
Even though the night started out a bit rocky, it ended on a high note. Everyone left happy and Tempe is ready to rock out with Thrice and Circa Survive again in the future.
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.
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.
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.“
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.
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.
Lime green and royal blue lights gushed in flashing motions above the entranced crowd as mysterious, three-dimensional psychedelia circumvolved on screen behind the stage. Their infamous visuals are actually known as a mark of transformation for the group, as they first introduced fans to this unique art in 2013 during their “FungusAmongUs Tour”, featuring three-dimensional figures that appear to collapse in on themselves as the music rises and falls. The hypnotizing display serves as the perfect backdrop for Infected Mushroom’s “psy-trippy synthetic rhythms”, having been dubbed by Relentless Beats as both “enigmatic” and “always trippy.”
The vibe of the night was pure ecstasy. People danced with everything they had in them, grinning from ear to ear the whole time — adorned in multi-colored glow sticks, varying Infected Mushroom gear, and glazed looks of general intoxication. The set was a solid two-hour fusion of fan favorites mixed with the full Return To The Sauce album, a dance party to top all dance parties. Curiously, the song titles of the most notable tracks from the evening seemed to perfectly foreshadow the audience’s spirit along the way.
Although it was easy to get lost between one track and the next, it was clear Duvdev and Eisen knew exactly what the people of Phoenix wanted. They started things off with an electrified mash-up of “Return To The Sauce” followed soon after by “Flamingo” and “See Me Now.” As the opening notes to “Becoming Insane” tumbled out of the speakers, the crowd’s energy was on the verge of bubbling over. Bartenders thrust water hoses into the air in tandem, cutting through the dampened air with splices of icy water, sending everybody into a craze of complete euphoria. Senses dimmed and the beats took over; all that mattered was the music.
It was the raw innovation behind Infected Mushroom at work, enrapturing the crowd and never holding back, passionately compelling the audience to mirror their energy with every ounce of being until the set’s closing. Together, we danced furiously through the remaining tracks of Return To The Sauce, erupting louder and louder each time at surprise mixes of tracks like “Special Place”, System of a Down’s “B.Y.O.B.”, and“Deeply Disturbed”. By the night’s end it felt a bit like all of us had left something much needed behind on that dance floor. And that “something” speaks to the magic that is Infected Mushroom: Two producers who invented an entire subgenre of trance music; two creatives who have been captivating listeners for over a decade. Whether it was sweat and spilled drinks or something a bit more meaningful— “saucy” doesn’t even begin to cover it.
PHOENIX — Evanescence brought a whole new level to their performance by teaming up with several orchestras around the US and Canada to promote their new album with the “Synthesis Live” Tour. The band’s fourth album Synthesisis set to be released in the fall of 2017, specifically November 10th. Downtown Phoenix was buzzing Tuesday, October 17th as fans eagerly anticipated the start of the show. Anyone who is familiar with this band knows that their music all has the same major trait to it: it’s intense. Whether it’s a soulful ballad or a heart pounding rock anthem, vocalist Amy Lee knows how to excite a crowd and keep them on their feet. This tour, however, was set to be a whole new experience from any other in the past.
Inside the concert area, center stage could be seen decked out with typical instruments; microphone, drum set, and a piano. The full orchestra surrounded them, warming up on a dark stage lit only by a hint of a purple hue. As the rest of the lights dimmed to signal the beginning of the show, the orchestra took it’s moment first to shine as it guided the audience through a symphony of sound. Wooden bows mixed with the sounds of brass and percussion shook the concert hall for several songs before turning the stage over to Lee. Met with rousing applause, Lee stepped up to the piano and played “Overture” off of their unreleased album.
Transitioning into “Never Go Back” from their 2011 self-titled album, everyone remained in their seats as her velvet-like vocals spilled into the crowd, and entranced them with explosive melodies and vocals that still possessed the true Evanescence sound. And even though the audience being stationary is not the norm at her shows, Lee made it known that even without the head banging and stage dancing, this show was going to rock. “Thank you for being here tonight”, she said out into the darkness. “I just want you to know… Just because there’s an orchestra here, just because we’re sitting, doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to MAKE NOISE!!” This was met with thunderous cheers from the audience, ready to see what was in store for them next.
As the sixteen song (plus three-song encore) setlist progressed, the audience was taken through every level of nostalgia imaginable. Performing songs from each of their four albums, Lee’s ever present talent was really put into the spotlight. Almost like that of a rock opera, she gave off a Sarah Brightman vibe, from her outfit to her unfaltering voice as she belted the lyrics to her most popular tunes. Not having to do the intense movements a typical Evanescence show calls for worked in her favor as well, allowing her to focus more intently on her vocals. She took to the piano for several songs, singing her soul-searching ballads under a single spotlight as she expertly ran her fingers across the ivory keys. As if that weren’t enough to completely draw the crowd in, her beautifully haunting music was accompanied by a spectacular light show that emphasized the tempo and important parts of each song.
Following “Imaginary”, and before performing “Secret Door”, Lee took a moment to express appreciation for her fellow band members for stepping outside of their comfort zones to accomplish something new. “It’s a lot of fun for me. I think we’re all having fun up here. I want to give it up for my amazing band right now who had to go all the way outside the box! Beautiful, personal, amazing musicians who trusted me. Thank you.” She also later thanked the fans for trusting them.
As the set was nearing an end, there was one song that stood out in particular. With a sense of duality, Lee segued from the piano solo “In-Between” to the contrasting “Imperfection”; the second single from Synthesis. A pianist seamlessly replaced her at the piano bench, while she returned to center stage and unleashed the fierce song that combines the band’s current sound and channels the band’s original rock essence. It was able to fill the room with a powerful energy reminiscent of the time Evanescence came by storm with Fallen in 2003 (certified 7x Platinum); up through their time spent on the Family Values Tour in 2007 with the likes of Korn, Atreyu, Flyleaf, Trivium, and more. The light tech went all-out for this one as well, blanketing the room in a sea of color and shapes that perfectly aligned with the melody.
Before the first song of the encore, she asked the audience to indulge her before she played a solo song, “Speak to Me”, which she said they’ve only played live once, “so be nice.” Following this humble expression was a seemingly flawless performance of the song. The intensity and emotion was enough to send chills, especially as she hit the high note in the last instance of the lyrics, “Hear me call your name.”
Wanting to interact more before she closed out the set, Lee took some time to get more personal, vulnerable, and authentic with the crowd. She talked about having nagging self-doubt, and that regardless of it, you have to persevere and overcome it. She related with every person in that room by telling them that she too has these feelings of doubt and uncertainty.
“This is silly that I’m starting to talk now, after all of this time… You guys ever have that thing, where you don’t exactly know your place, and you’re just constantly inside, like, second-guessing yourself… ” One audience member shouted out, “Every day”. She continued, “…Here comes the punchline… wondering if you’re good enough? …You gotta fight that voice in your head. I fight that voice in my head every day. We all have to fight that voice in our head, we are good enough, you do belong here. One day at a time, ‘kay? Thanks for sticking with me.”
Her sweet words of encouragement and love were met with resounding response, fans screaming her name, and a few tears. These uplifting sentiments were a tie-in the the song that followed; “Good Enough.”
After the closing song, “Swimming Home”, Lee expressed, “Tonight has been so special to us, thank you, we love you.” By now the audience could no longer contain themselves, and Lee was met with a standing ovation from the entire theater. As she exited the stage, she bowed with the orchestra instructor and blew a kiss to her fans.
Lee and her band not only managed to put on another incredible, unforgettable show, but they also were able to give their fans a bit of encouragement to take home with them. There is no doubt that Evanescence will only have more surprises for their fans when they tour next, and that Phoenix should be ready when they do.
PHOENIX — Electronic indie pop duo MRCH did not disappoint as they rocked out with the crowd at their album release party at Valley Bar on Saturday night. MRCH (pronounced “march”) filled the venue with aesthetically pleasing visuals and entrancing music. Drummer Jesse Pangburn’s, sparkly silver drum kit and Vocalist/Guitarist/Synthist Mickey Pangburn’s black sparkly dress added to the October atmosphere and the band’s image.
Mickey Pangburn gave off Stevie Nicks vibes with her 70s inspired outfit which incorporated red velvet boots. At one point, she took off her boots, showing how comfortable she was with the crowd.
Heavy drums and synthesizer are the duo’s signature sound. One might consider some of their sound to be like a cross of Phoenix locals Vial of Sound, and The Birthday Massacre. Jesse Pangburn played the drums with seemingly effortless power and precision. Many times during the set, Mickey would ask the sound person to ease up on the drums due to the strong beats.
One of their songs “Spooky”, the title lived up to its name, had a strong bass feel that even made the ground shake. Mickey’s vocals were fittingly haunting, and the song would’ve made an excellent soundtrack for those donning costumes for early Halloween celebrations outside the venue in downtown Phoenix.
Mickey incorporated guitar into some songs, often playing catchy riffs such as those in “Spin” and “Dark Days + Disco”.
The duo paid a lot of attention to details in organizing the whole concert experience. They focused not only on their music, but also on the lighting and visuals. Green, blue, red, purple, pink and white lights cast over a background of white sheets added extra effect to their show setting the mood for the song.
Their visuals were just as amazing as their stage presence and musicianship. With a geometric theme, triangles and lines differed in shapes and colors varied per each song. Just as with lighting, their visuals helped make their songs and added to their meaning.
Mickey’s vocals were truly enchanting and transported the audience to another time in such songs as “Something Beautiful”, “Spin” and “We Are the Strange Ones”.
Mickey also really engaged with the crowd, making silly jokes during stage banter. At one point a girl in the crowd asked for her number, and Mickey playfully asked if she was referring to her favorite number. The crowd was completely invested into the duo as they danced and enjoyed themselves as the night went on. Mickey was also having fun and dancing while singing and moving across the stage when she wasn’t playing guitar or her synthesizer.
MRCH’s cover of Metric’s “Black Sheep” from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was clearly a crowd-pleaser; amping up the power with strong vocals and crashing drums.
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At the end of the set, if fans had a wristband, they received a free CD of their new album Reactions. This was a kind gesture from MRCH that seemed to be their ‘thank you’ for supporting them, and the audience was grateful to the band in return.
MRCH is certainly a local band in Phoenix who you won’t want to miss! Follow them on their Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to find out more about their future tour plans.
PHOENIX — The city’s weather was perfect on Thursday, October 12th as it enthusiastically welcomed Halestorm to the stage. People of all ages swarmed the Arizona State Fairgrounds for one of two reasons; fun rides and fried food, or heading to the Coliseum for a show that would allow them to experience rock at its pure essence.
Lzzy (Elizabeth) Hale is and has been the lead vocalist since the band came into existence in 1997. Anyone who has been to a Halestorm show can confirm that she posses a stage presence unlike any other female artist in the industry. From the moment she stepped up to the mic, there was a fierce connection between her and the crowd that remained throughout the entire show.
Even as the music shifted from fast-paced, bass pumping rhythms to slower, more haunting ballads and back again, her passion for their music poured from her. Literally and figuratively in this case, as sweat dripped from every pore, whether she was dancing around the stage during “I Am the Fire” or aggressively playing her piano for her more emotional ballad “Dear Daughter.” One would think she would steal any show completely, but with this band that is simply not the case.
Midway through their set she did something often seen at a concert by pausing midway through one of their main hits titled “I Like it Heavy”, from their third album Into the Wild Life, to introduce Arejay Hale, who is her little brother and Halestorm’s drummer. He is also an original member of the band, asking his sister over breakfast, at 10 years old, if he could play drums for her when she was telling her parents about wanting to start a band. Without returning to the song, Arejay instead spent the next six minutes in an intense, heart-pounding drum solo that shook the Coliseum walls and drove the crowd insane. “WHAT’S UP PHOENIX?!”, he yelled into his mic as he brought the solo to an end. He then took out chopsticks and proceeded to prove his pure talent as he effortlessly played the drums with them as if used them everyday. People cheered loudly, and it was obvious this bit is a crowd favorite. Still not finished, he pulled out broomsticks next and successfully played the same beat he just had with much smaller sticks. The crowd was losing their minds with amazement at this point, so Lzzy Hale took the stage once more to finally bring the song they had started playing nearly fifteen minutes before to an end. It was truly a unique transition of focus and made for an unforgettable introduction.
One other thing Halestorm always makes clear when they perform is the love they have for their fans. After spending a good portion of the last half of the show playing upbeat, intense songs, Lzzy took a moment to toast the crowd with these words; “Thank you Phoenix for having us. Here’s to Rock and Roll, here’s to us being excellent to one another, and here’s to Arizona!”, which received thunderous applause and exuberant screams that were quickly drowned out as she launched into the beginning chords of “Here’s to Us.” This song brought out more emotion in the crowd than any song had yet. There were people pumping their fists and they sang back the lyrics they knew so well next to people hugging one another as they also sang along.
This band really knows how to evoke emotions from a crowd. Even as they closed their set with the ever popular “I Miss the Misery” everyone was out of their seat, head-banging along to the beat and dancing with their hands in the air. The band didn’t give on their end either, wrapping up their final song with so much intensity from the music and the light show you could feel it at your core. “Thank you so much Arizona, we fucking love you!”, Lzzy said, which was met with roaring applause and a room full of metal horns.
The band bowed together as one and exited the stage. As the lights came on and everyone began to file out of the Coliseum, various chatter had already started about the show and how unforgettable it was. For never meeting a majority of their fans, they have a way of making every one of them feel like family. So it’s only natural that Phoenix will anxiously await the next time Halestorm returns to rock this city, and our hearts.
Tempe, Ariz. — Even before a band took the stage there was a sense of friendship and camaraderie sweeping the room at the Marquee Theatre that Friday, September 22. Ben Folds’ Paper Airplane tour had come to town, and the audience smiled and laughed as they waited excitedly for the show to start.
Tim Harrington and Paul Wright of the duo Tall Heights sauntered on stage, carrying their instruments: a guitar and a cello. The electrofolk group from Boston serenaded with haunting harmonies that lulled back and forth as an ocean’s tide, pulling the audience in and releasing them once again. Their emotive lyrics of songs like “Spirit Cold” and “Iron in the Fire”weighed on hearts and the duo used creative sounds like cell phone feedback to accompany the song “Cross my Mind”. The spell was eventually broken as their set came to an end, signalling to the crowd to usher forward for the main event, Ben Folds.
After holding the audience in eager anticipation Ben Folds entered the stage and seated himself at the piano, gave a short wave and sheepish grin to the crowd, then immediately slammed fingers to keys, playing “Annie Waits”. Arms slipped over shoulders and the audience sang along. It was as though everyone was invited to an intimate house party, every song a precious memory as it poured over the audience, friendly reminders of days now past.
Ben Folds warmly shared stories, talking about his father as a construction worker and being cornered by his Uncle Walter who talked about what he would do if he were president. Occasionally Ben Folds would stop singing and just listen to the audience sing instead. He stood and happily conducted the crowd in a five part harmony singing “Not the Same”. Tall Heights came back to the stage joining Ben Folds to sing “Still Fighting It”.
For the grand finale of the first half of his set he started playing a drum while walking across the stage and continued playing an amazing drum solo as they set up the remaining set around him. The stunned audience continued to watch intently, impressed into silence broken intermittently by hoots and screams. When it was over, a brief intermission began, but there was a catch.
The audience was instructed to go into the lobby and get a piece of paper. Write a request on it and fold it into a paper airplane to be sailed across the Marquee landing gently on the stage, where Ben Folds would take it and play what was written on it. People rushed to get their paper and pushed their way close to the stage, hoping that their paper would make it, and more importantly, that their paper would be chosen. It was none other than Arizona’s own Alice Cooper who came on to the stage, swinging red lights and wearing his signature black hat, who initiated the count down. The crowd chanted “10, 9, 8…” and at 0 the entire audience sailed airplanes towards the stage. The planes that didn’t make it were picked up by strangers and thrown again, everyone helping to get all the paper planes to the stage.
Ben Folds did explain he might not be able to sing every song, or occasionally a song wasn’t even written on the paper, making it impossible to play. However, the highlight of the second half of the set was when just that happened. He started to play a song that no one recognized, and went on to completely ad-lib a song based off what was written on the airplane, which was “Rock this B***h, Omaha Symphony 2017.” In the song Ben Folds told a story about how he acquired his favorite piano, his Frank LLoyd Wright piano for only $8000, singing that the guy who sold it “thought that was a lot.” The audience laughed over and over at the witty story set to music, all in the guise of a request written on an airplane.
Songs kept coming and wrists flung in the air to the beat of “Kate” while bodies moved back and forth to the sweet piano chords. Abruptly, Ben stood and bowed the audience, thanking them for coming out and left the stage. The audience continued to cheer and scream, knowing an encore had to be in store. In a few minutes he returned and played “Zak and Sara” for a rejoicing audience.
Then it really was over, the house lights came on and the crowd started to head to the doors. Their faces full of smiles, holding the hands of loved ones and already reminiscing about their favorite part of the concert. It was as though they were leaving a friend’s party who had come to town unexpectedly, hyped up and already awaiting the next chance they get to see each other. The next time Ben Folds comes to town, they’ll be ready.