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.
Phoenix — A long of line of dark figures stood waiting outside the Marquee Theatre on September 17th. Even on a Sunday night, fans gathered together under the setting sun, bonding over their shared excitement of the night to come. The Dutch symphonic metal band Epica was joining the Italian gothfathers Lacuna Coil in a show that was sure to not be forgotten.
Elantris & Insomnium
As the stage glowed an ominous red the opening band Elantris, a female-fronted symphonic metal band, perched on the edge of the stage amping up the crowd. The melodic voice of Lindsay Victoria Ketchum mixed with the gravelly screams of Thomas Ullom made for a beautiful contrast and got hearts pumping, Thomas even joined the crowd for moshing. After Elantris, Insomnium took the stage, bringing the crowd to new heights with their super charged energy and in-sync head banging. All the way from Finland, they were excited to be celebrating their 7th album Winter’s Gate.
It was now time for Lacuna Coil to take the stage and the crowd pushed forward, the room thick and dripping with anticipation. One-by-one, the band members took to the stage, adorned in their sanitorium costumes. Straight jackets stained red and band members’ faces painted white and red to look like sadistic clowns.
Only the vocalists Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro stood with unpainted faces, their clothes scrawled with lyrics such as “Leave me Alone” in erratic black marker. It was a sight to behold. They immediately launched into song and the crowd’s cheering filled the theatre.
They started off the night with some of their new songs from their latest album, Delirium which was released May, 2016. Songs such as “Delirium” as well as “House of Shame” and “Blood, Tears, Dust” all shook the theatre to the core. In between each song, vocalist Cristina Scabbia would address the crowd and make connections on a personal level. She told the audience to “Leave your problems at the door, because everyone is welcome in the sanatorium!”; and made them cheer as she told them, “We know where we are, and we are headed towards our destiny!”
Midway through their set, Cristina challenged the audience to raise the bar as she burst into their hit song “Swamped” the audience went wild, moshing and throwing their hands in the air. After singing “Come to Me” and “My Demons” Lacuna Coil brought it down a notch, asking the crowd to get out their lighters and cell phones and keep loved ones alive in their hearts as they sang “Downfall.”
Towards the end of their set Lacuna Coil announced a new project for their 20 year anniversary. They will be releasing a book entitled “We Fear Nothing” in 2018, which will document the band’s journey from beginning to their current platform. It should be an amazing and vivid illustration full of their accomplishments and past concerts. They finished their set with “Nothing Stands in Our Way” emphasizing that they believe in destiny! Even as the band members left stage, the audience was soaking in their message of love, acceptance, and strength. But the night wasn’t over.
The last band to take the stage was another female-fronted symphonic metal band, Epica. On their Ultimate Principle Tour, Epica promoted their newest album The Holographic Principle.
The band members took the stage as the eager crowd cheered them on. Vocalist Simone Simons appeared last, in a tight-fitting black leather like dress, flipping her iconic long red hair. Her operatic vocals filled the theatre as guitarists Mark Jansen and Isaac Dela haye wowed the crowd with their fingering skills, parading back and forth. Even the keyboardist Coen Janssen got into it, spinning his keyboard around and headbanging with his bandmates, even with his shaved head!
Green light emanated from behind them as though the audience was transported to a different world, as alternating lights flickered and flashed. Belting out the songs “Our Destiny” and “The Essence of Silence” the audience was electrified as though in a trance. It was the best way to end the night.
Afterwards, it was hard not to dwell on the lyrics and messages of the bands. It felt as though you could take on the world with a newfound passion and strength. With the words echoing in your head, “We Fear Nothing!”, it was time to tackle Monday.
PHOENIX — It was a hot and humid evening on August 12th as the lines of cars slowly filled the parking lot of Ak-Chin Pavilion in Phoenix. Incubus was headlining the night’s show with special guests Jimmy Eat World.
Opening act Judah & The Lion was on stage first to warm up the crowd and promote their recent Folk Hop ‘N Roll Deluxe LP, released earlier this year on St. Patrick’s day. The Nashville-based band brought their own unique brand of genre-bending grooves to the valley before heading to Los Angeles for a show at the Hollywood Bowl on August 14th. Frontman Judah Akers is high energy, even running through the audience at one point and doling out high fives to the amused delight of concertgoers. This band definitely did their job setting the mood for the rest of the evening.
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At approximately 7:42 PM, Jimmy Eat World took the stage to an uproar of applause as the lights lit up a sea of faces throughout the Pavilion with “Sure and Certain” as their opening song, followed by the title track of their 2001 album Bleed American. As the sun disappeared over the horizon, the purple clouds in the distance began to take a darker hue, with quick flashes of lightning bursts illuminating sky. This would foreshadow what would come later in the evening.
For the time being, everyone was worry-free and soaking up the nostalgia of seeing this amazing band again. It was even more special for the folks in attendance because Jimmy Eat World are one of the few mainstream bands from Arizona. Formed in Mesa back in 1993, the band has been a source of inspiration for many Arizona musicians for nearly two and a half decades. There are most likely a lot of people in the audience that saw them live in one of the famed and now closed Arizona music venues from the 90’s heyday before the band made it big. So many couples are singing along and embracing with the lyrics, “Sure and certain, wander ‘til we’re old”.
Lead vocalist and guitarist Jim Adkins eventually addresses the audience admitting “We’ve actually never played here before,” later adding, “It means a lot for us to be here playing music for you tonight”.
This was surprising news to many because the venue has been a staple for live music for the last 27 years. How could they not have played the pavilion before? When it had originally opened to the public in 1990 it was the Desert Sky Pavilion. In 1996 the name was changed to the Blockbuster Desert Sky Pavilion until 2001 when it was renamed the Cricket Pavilion, which it remained… Until it was again rebranded as the Cricket Wireless Pavilion. In 2010 it was renamed yet again as Ashley Furniture HomeStore Pavilion for 3 years until things came full circle and it once again retained the name Desert Sky Pavilion. That was short lived as the Ak-Chin Indian Community purchased the naming rights later that year and it has remained Ak-Chin Pavilion ever since.
There was a chilling performance of “Pass the Baby”, and the people swayed like blades of grass in a summer’s wind, back and forth to the beat. An entire field of people moving their bodies and mouths to the lyrics, reflecting the light off of their faces, brought to mind the sharpness of the lyrics as the wind stirred palms in the distance beneath a tapestry of ever-changing clouds growing more and more menacing. A little later. the mood lightens and the versatility of the evening begins to betray the current mood with an about-face.
“I’m gonna need a lot of help with this one. Get those lights out!”
As fans activated their cell phone flashlights, the entire of the pavilion transformed into a sea of dotted illumination reminiscent of stars dancing in the night sky. “Hear You Me” trickled out of the sound system for a beautiful performance that many there will not soon forget.
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Shortly afterward, Jim sang, “If you’re listening…”
His Fender Telecaster began to sing the beginning riff of “Sweetness”, and it was evident how many people were immediately transported to another place in time. They’re bobbing their heads stuffing laundry into dryclean safe bags at Delia’s cleaners. They’re skating to station 13 at Sonic Drive-Thru. A girl is scanning Eddie Bauer jackets at Target overnight for inventory while mouthing the words. The guy at the front counter is stocking parts at Autozone. The aforementioned couple is at prom again. A few of them are crying. This was a time when they were happiest. Back when mom and dad were still alive and all they had to worry about was homework. They’re all conscious that the year is 2017… But they’re all in another time. Some are in 2001. Some 2003. Some in 2005.
What’s refreshing is that there were also teenagers in the audience, all that same age as the older crowd when these beloved songs were released. This music has somehow transcended time as these few but long years have passed.
“The Middle” ended Jimmy’s set. Once again, the mood was notched up to a positive crescendo.
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Incubus hit the stage after a lengthy intermission and wasted no time getting started. Amongst rolling thunder, Brandon Boyd asked, “So how you guys doin’?!”
The audience is echoing a cacophony of applause as Incubus opens with “Quicksand”, executing masterful precision. That would end up being a theme for the evening between the three bands. With the exception of Judah And The Lion, Jimmy Eat World and Incubus are veterans in their own right. This is one of thousands of shows these bands have played and their abilities haven’t diminished in the slightest after twenty plus years of touring year in and year out. Each and every song sounds studio- quality, with the perfect charm of the inequitous distribution of sound in a live setting. Everything sounds fresh, which is a true indication of each band’s maturity, and an excellent high water mark to distinguish their respective careers.
When the beginning of “I Wish You Were Here” began, people got quiet. It seemed like everyone within a mile radius is singing along loudly to the lyrics. Once again, the phones were out and that same illusion of stars dancing across the seats was visible, to the delight of observers. As they wrapped this song up, they closed it out with the intro Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”, to the same lyrical zealousness of the few who knew the lyrics.
The clouds got closer and were nearly directly overhead when Incubus began “Stellar”, which elicited audible reactions of delight. Brandon Boyd is flawless in his recitation. At 41 years of age, he’s still very much an attractive man as well as a fantastic vocalist, but now with the age and wisdom of a distinguished older gentleman. Co-founder Mike Einzeiger is still ever the lead guitar slinger, hitting every melodic scale and harmonic with deft accuracy. The original drummer Jose Pasillas nailed the beats with the impeccable timing of a metronome. It would be criminal to discount the beautiful bounce of Ben Kenney’s bass, and the power of DJ Kilmore’s scratch. On this night they were in rare form as a unit and in tight unison. By the time they played “Drive”, there was a definite shift in the atmosphere.
The wind was now slightly oppressive and cups are blowing across the isles. The good vibes were still there but the weather really began to become more pronounced. The sprinkling began with “Pantomime”, to the dismay of the audience, and just as the band was finishing up “Sick Sad Little World” it began to pour significantly. It actually came in sideways toward the stage. As the song concluded, Boyd remarked nervously “We’ll be right back guys, I promise… We’ll be back”, as they exited view. Moments later a promoter or employee with the pavilion appears and explains that they’ll do everything they can while staff cover the electrical equipment from the elements. “We’re here for your safety.”
Giant thunderbolt and lightning (very very frightening). The crowd went wild and cheered with the revelry of a rebel yell. Masses poured out of the grass and into the stands for cover. Many beneath the ramada begin sprinting for the gates. By all appearances it looked as though this show was over. The parking lot was in shambles. Cars were scrambling toward the exit. The stack turning left at 83rd ave and Monte Vista began to congest as the downpour continued onto the policemen stopping traffic in opposite ways to assist those fleeing the venue.
…But Boyd kept good on his promise.
When the rainfall began to calm, Incubus DID come back with “Nice To Know You” and finished the show with “Warning” to close out the evening for good. Any other band could have ended the concert right then and there when conditions became dangerous and half the audience left. They must have done it just for those few fans that stayed. It was truly a rare sign of integrity to match the humbleness of Jimmy Eat World; both bands being the measure of ethics and class to the very fullest. It was a remarkable show; one that can be easily recounted for years to come for anyone who was fortunate enough to be there. Like a Strawberry Cheesecake Shake from Sonic.
TEMPE, Ariz. — Marquee Theatre was heated up by Phoenix’s electric performance on June 13th. Just four days earlier, Phoenix released their sixth studio album Ti Amo and played a few songs from it. It was an unusually cool night (well, as cool as Arizona in June can get), and everyone was lining up to enter into the venue. The atmosphere was filled with excitement as the Marquee was quickly filling up, and looked to be a nearly sold out show.
The venue seemed to be filled with mostly ages 21 and over, as many people had a drink in their hand as they watched the opening act, The Lemon Twigs, perform. The Lemon Twigs owned the stage with their vintage style and sound. Brothers Michael (Lead Vocalist/Guitarist) and Brian (Drummer/Backing Vocalist) D’Addario front the band; with Megan Zeankowski on bass, and Danny Ayala on keyboards/backing vocals. Michael D’Addario commanded the stage with his flare pants and teal shaggy hair. He did numerous high kicks into the air and had a reminiscent look and presence of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards combined. They played a song “Bay Baby”, which gave a 70s feel-good heartbreak vibe. The Lemon Twigs are about to take the music industry by storm, so make sure to check them out!
After a long anticipated wait, Phoenix walked onto stage and the crowd roared with excitement. They started with “Ti Amo”, the title-track of their newly released album Ti Amo. Next came “Lasso” which was met by a pleased crowd that cheered after hearing the first few seconds of the song.
Phoenix played “Entertainment”, and were immersed in an incredible light show during parts of the song. White lights created a curtain cover and our concert photographer, Katherine Amy Vega, described it as being like a holographic effect. The lighting really complemented the electric rock sound. Strobe lights of white, red, blue and yellow filled their set. During some songs, there was a rainbow lighting effect, which may have hinted to Phoenix’s support of the LGBTQ community during Pride Month.
Phoenix seemed to have one of those awe-struck moments as the band paused after playing “Lisztomania”, and smiled at the crowd. During most of the set, balloons with a heart and “Ti Amo” printed on floated through the air amongst the crowd. The whole band put on an energized performance and played their part in creating a music loving atmosphere.
One of the most amazing intimate moments of the show was during the encore when Thomas Mars (Lead Vocalist), climbed off the stage and came to the barricade while singing a stripped-down version of “Countdown” to the crowd as guitarist Christian Mazzalai played on stage.
Phoenix played many fan favorites including “1901” and “Fior Di Latte”. The band took over the stage and created an exhilarating atmosphere. Constant dancing, singing along, cheering and pure happiness filled the venue. It was a concert where you couldn’t help but feel joy because the band projected their happiness and love for music onto the crowd.
To end the show, in the BEST way, Thomas Mars came off stage and joined the crowd in the final song “Ti Amo Di Piu”. He walked through the full crowd with his microphone connected to a glowing red cable that the crowd held up; and he said “Thank you!” over and over again, showing his gratitude to the loving fans. At one point he seemed to be hoistered on someone’s shoulders, possibly a fan, and said “Thank you!” again; followed by crowdsurfing back up to the stage . It was truly a moment no one will forget!
Phoenix put on an amazing performance that rocked the Marquee. Fans will definitely be awaiting the next time they come to Arizona!
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Gothic rock band The Birthday Massacre, along with supporting acts Army of the Universe and Sumo Cyco, brought their 2017 North American tour to Pub Rock on the verge of releasing their seventh full-length studio album Under Your Spell. The Scottsdale stop was the 15th of 27 tour dates. With a whopping 20-song setlist and tireless energy, The Birthday Massacre brought their signature animated and dark stage presence to a packed crowd on a Monday night.
Fronted by Sever (formerly solo artist Skye Sweetnam), punk metal band Sumo Cyco from Ontario opened the show. Their 2nd album, Opus Mar, was released recently on March 31, 2017. The charismatic front-woman with teal hair, matching bustier, high-waisted shorts, and fishnet stockings easily caught the attention of The Birthday Massacre’s fans. Sumo Cyco’s song “Danger” well-represents the image of the band and it’s lead singer, with lyrics like, “If you want it, we’ll give you danger“, and “I’m young and feisty, so tongue me and try me“. At one point, Sever rode on the shoulders of the guitarist Matt Drake amongst the crowd. With her sex-appeal and aggressive movements, and the band’s lively performance, they drew the crowd in and left them pleased.
The next band to play before the headliner took the stage was an Italian industrial band named Army of the Universe. Vocalist Lord K is also the lead singer of the band Kult of the Skull God. The audience was visibly impressed with the power that the band brought to the stage. Lord K took the stage with ferocity and cocky mannerisms; yelling and thrusting his mic into the faces of audience members, raising up and pumping the mic stand above his head, dripping with sweat and shirtless by the end of the set. While DJ, producer, and band co-founder Trebla primarily focused intently on his synthesizers and laptops; guitarist Davide Tavecchia and drummer Giuseppe Amato wildly played their instruments with their hair flying like they were caught in a storm while donning big smiles and roaring facial expressions. It was clear that the band members were having a blast, which made them equally fun to experience.
Army of the Universe was a fitting choice to set the mood and round-out the audience appeal following Sumo Cyco, with the style of The Birthday Massacre somewhat being a combination of that of the two openers.
The Birthday Massacre’s new album was funded through PledgeMusic, with full-album downloads being sent out on June 1st exclusively to pledgers in advance of the June 9th release. When they hit the stage, they kicked off their set with the first track of the new album, “One”, with instant force.
The Ontario-based band was formed in 1999, and their well-seasoned prowess is clearly evident in their performance. Their fanbase at the venue that night was also a mature crowd, who interacted with the band like loyal, long-time friends. Front-woman Chibi engages with the audience, grabbing hands and emoting delightfully vicious facial expressions throughout the night; while the rest of the band also contorts their faces, violently headbangs, pounds on and swings their instruments around. With such a dynamic, The Birthday Massacre is a band that it would feel off to experience with a substantial distance from the stage; so it’s just as well that Pub Rock has no barricade between the crowd and the stage.
The next two songs the band played were “Red Stars” and “Looking Glass”, the first and second singles from their 2007 album, Walking With Strangers. “Red Stars” is a personal favorite due to it’s raging power-chords. Following, were a couple more songs from their new release, “All of Nothing” and “Counterpane”. Then, a few songs from the Superstition album; “Destroyer”, “Divide”, and “Superstition”.
“Lovers End” from the 2004 Violet album came next, followed by “Happy Birthday” and “Video Kid”. These two songs were originally from 2002’s Nothing and Nowhere, and then appeared again on the Violet album. They next played the new album’s title track “Under Your Spell”, and then “No Tomorrow”.
Chibi exudes such confidence and comfort on stage, it is inspirational and it garners respect. Event when forgetting some of the lyrics, she simply burst into laughter, which caused guitarist Rainbow to crack up too. It was very endearing as they continued through the song, unable to hold back more laughter between them. Temporary mic issues didn’t snuff out the fire of her enthusiasm either. During “Lovers End”, Chibi grabbed a fan’s phone that was recording video, and walked around stage singing into it.
Continuing to give a full-discography sampler, the next two songs performed were “Leaving Tonight” and “Alibis” from Hide and Seek, which was released in 2012. Lastly, from the 2010 Pins and Needles album, “Pins and Needs” and “In the Dark”.
Almost immediately after the band exited the stage before returning for the encore, the enthusiastic fans started chanting, “Ten more songs! Ten more songs!”. While they didn’t get their 10, they seemed to be satiated with the long set and an intense finale, which included “Blue”, “I Think We’re Alone Now”, and “Broken”.
MESA, Ariz. — As I approached Mesa Amphitheatre on the hot Arizona day, I saw many of the almost-5,000 people walking in to fill out the sold out show to see The 1975. I was surprised to see the wide range of fans who filled the venue. A very different scene from when I first saw The 1975 at Comerica Theatre in 2014 where the venue was filled mostly teenagers. This shows how much the band has grown in reaching their music to a broader audience.
The first opener, Pale Waves set the indie pop mood for the night. The up-and-coming British indie pop band got the crowd moving with their catchy guitar riffs and the lead singer’s enchanting voice. Pale Waves played a song called “Kiss” which had an ‘80s pop nostalgia vibe that I loved. The strong female presence was amazing with the lead singer and drummer both being girls. With a sound reminiscent to The 1975, it was no wonder they were opening for the band. Pale Waves is definitely a band you’ll want to listen to.
came out next and the crowds excitement roared when they walked out on stage. Lead singer, Sarah Barthel, commanded the stage with her electric voice and 70’s fringe, Stevie Nicks, inspired outfit. Her captivating psychedelic-pop voice hypnotized the crowd. Energized guitar solos, powerful drums and added keyboard for a synthesizer effect got the crowd moving.
The 1975 finally came on, and to say the crowd was excited was an understatement. Pink lights flooded the stage and the beginning of “Love Me” caused the crowd to scream with excitement, myself included. It was the perfect opener, showcasing the new image and sound of the band.
Throughout the set, when the band played songs from their first self-titled album, the lighting fit the aesthetic of a darker mood with darker colors. During the transition to “I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It”, the lighting consisted of neon pink and white. I loved how the band made it a point to showcase the different album styles through lighting. Not to mention how amazing their backdrops were! The 1975 is definitely an aesthetically pleasing band.
Lead singer and frontman, Matty Healy, commanded the stage and engaged the eager fans as he climbed on top of the speaker and lit a cigarette, while singing “A Change of Heart” to mesmerized girls. Before playing “Falling For You” Matty asked for “no phones”, adding, “let’s live right now”. The sheer silence and lack of phones, with the exception of the few fans who couldn’t possibly resist capturing how beautiful Matty looked, made “Falling For You” a unforgettable song. The outside venue made this moment even more magical because for just a few minutes the outside seemed calm and everyone free of any worries.
One of the most captivating moments of the concert was when “Loving Someone” started play and suddenly the lights projected the LGBT flag colors into the crowd. I couldn’t help but smile and feel comfort in knowing one of my favorite bands is using their music to show support.
The band played many fan favorites including “Robbers”, “Sex”, “Girls”, and “Somebody Else”. They ended the set with “The Sound”. On the last verse, Matty asked for everyone to jump. Seeing close to 5,000 people jumping and singing along will definitely be one of my favorite sights I’ve witnessed. In that moment, nothing but pure joy exuded from the crowd.
As I walked out of the venue, I couldn’t help but smile. I overheard girls telling their friends about the experiences they had with Matty being so close to them and the happiness they felt. It’s so amazing how The 1975 never fails to impress. Seeing them live is an experience that leaves me speechless every time.
TEMPE, Ariz. — Tempe was bursting with anticipation Friday night as fans of co-headlining Bayside and Say Anything gathered early outside Marquee Theatre, pushing their way inside to claim their spot in the front row.There was a tangible buzz in the air as people of all ages lined up to be checked by security outside the theatre.
The air was crisp in my lungs as I walked rather quickly behind Burning Hot Events concert photographer Katherine towards Will Call to claim our press passes for the evening. As we arrived for Bayside in the nick of time following some transportation chaos, the opening band, Reggie and the Full Effect, had set a fast-paced tone for Bayside to take the stage after them. As the set change became evident, audience members rushed to claim their place before the stage, rumbling with shouts and claps in a flurry of excitement; and I hurriedly followed suit to find my place in the front corner near the security barrier.
As I quickly worked to get my things in order, I could feel the deep rumbling of the bass move from beneath my converse and slowly encompass the rest of me as the band did a quick warm up. The vast, dual-level concert area makes for great acoustics, which they used to their advantage as they dove into their set with the ever-popular “Already Gone.” The breakneck tempo of this A Day to Remember-esque song sent the crowd into a frenzy of cheers and metal hands as the band members danced around the stage to the opening chords.
“What’s up Phoenix?! We came to sing with you and dance with you!,” vocalist Anthony Raneri shouted into his mic, attempting to rouse the crowd even more. This song comes from the band’s fifth album Killing Time, which was released back in February of 2011, and it was obvious why they chose to open with it. The exuberant crowd danced and sang along in unison, receiving copious opportunities to sing back the words they’ve come to know so well. Raneri made it known immediately to everyone there that the rest of this particular set was going to be filled with high energy and vivacious songs. And they did not disappoint.
This being my first time seeing Bayside live, I can honestly say I didn’t know what to expect, but the next 12 songs following the opener all had one thing in common: they were meant to make you move. Wanting to keep the electricity flowing, Raneri continued to captivate the crowd with other old favorites such as “Sick, Sick, Sick”, “Masterpiece”, and “Blame it on Bad Luck.”. Guitarist Jack O’Shea and bassist Nick Ghanbarian could be seen dancing around stage the entire performance, singing passionately as they moved fluidly from one song to the next.
They even included a few songs off of their new album Vacancy, and while it “isn’t a breakup album”, the songs were written to portray a very uncertain time in vocalist Raneli’s life. That doesn’t mean they have to sound that way, however, and as “Mary” followed hastily by “I’ve Been Dead All Along” were blasted through the speakers I was standing precariously close to, the frenzied tempo was enough to keep everyone moving.
While the set was primarily focused on the music as opposed to engaging the crowd, Raneli did pause about halfway through the set to discuss their new album. “CDs are expensive to make and even more expensive to buy” he stated matter-of- factly, and went on to inform the concert goers that the band has created a $5 version of their new album that is available for purchase now. The roar in response was deafening, and all the motivation Raneli needed to jump into the next set of fiery songs that would steadily keep the energy of the room at maximum level right up to the final song “Devotion and Desire” off their very first album.
As I left the Marquee that evening, I couldn’t help but notice how quickly I moved, or the extra spring in my step. This band had even found a way to keep the energy flowing through me, even after their set was over. They show true passion in their music on and off the stage, and gave me the motivation to be as fluid with my writing. This was admittedly my first time writing a concert review for Burning Hot Events, but I can easily say that if every show is like Bayside, I will definitely be back for more.
PHOENIX — It’s around 7:30 PM on a Tuesday night and the streets are busy on 4th Ave and Washington. The throngs of people milling around are desperately searching for the end of the impossibly long line that will eventually lead them to the entrance they are only feet away from at the moment. The lights from the large electronic marquee reads “A Perfect Circle TONIGHT!” and casts a glow on the faces passing below. For many standing there on that night, this was a long anticipated show.
“Oh my god, she just left her fuckin boyfriend back there!”, I heard a woman blurt out as I sat on a bench next to the box office at Comerica Theater. With lines stretching around the corner for several blocks, people of all different backgrounds are shuffling slowly past me toward the entrance gates. There are goth teens, soccer moms, bikers and hipsters all standing together in line. They’re chatting excitedly, talking about the last time they had seen the band perform and even dancing to Sublime’s “Wrong Way” as the sky gets darker.
I prepared myself for what would be the second time I would see A Perfect Circle since Lollapalooza 2003–the year they released their second album Thirteenth Step. In the nearly 14 years since that show, they’ve come a long way. Although the lineup has changed slightly, lead vocalist Maynard James Keenan of Tool-fame and lead guitarist Billy Howerdel have remained the central force of the band since its inception. Current bassist Matt McJunkins, who joined in 2010, has played with the likes of Thirty Seconds to Mars, Maynard James Keenan side band Puscifer and The Beta Machine, a band he formed with current APC drummer Jeff Friedl. McJunkins was also the touring bassist for Eagles of Death Metal during the Le Bataclan attack in Paris, France on November 13th, 2015. The audience was attacked by terrorists wielding automatic rifles, grenades and suicide vests, killing 89 fans including the band’s merchandise vendor. Rounding out the group is former Smashing Pumpkins alumnus and founding member James Iha on rhythm guitar, a superstar in his own right.
As the line seemed to shorten to a visible end, I took my place to be screened by security. It was a relatively short process. I got through the entrance within maybe 5 minutes of entering the line and spotted another long line snaking up the stairs to the second floor balcony. A friend remarked, “That’s the line for merchandise.” After purchasing my respective Cola and water bottles, I finally found my assigned seat just moments before the house lights come down and the uprising of applause and whistles begin. Smoke begins to seep from across the foot of the stage and everyone in attendance knows that this rocket is about to blast off.
The first notes of “The Package” begin to trickle melodically from the speakers behind a hazy white cloth that encompasses the entirety of the stage. Hidden beyond the opaque white veil, the band members’ silhouettes can be seen in various distorted sizes dancing as the lights produce their shadows. With little silence to buffer, each of the beginning three pieces all vaguely kind of bleed into the other. This first medley, The Package, The Hollow, and The Noose perfectly set the tone for the remainder of the show.
It was then that Keenan finally addressed the crowd, explaining that this was their first show since their three show Vegas tour kickoff at the Palms Resort and Casino Pearl Concert Theater. “Normally we try to do this first so we don’t make a bunch of fuckin’ mistakes and then you guys judge us…”
“And now a song about anal sex!”
Keenan playfully muses into the mic as the band launches into “Weak and Powerless”, another track from Thirteenth Step, their 2003 sophomore masterpiece, followed by “Rose” from their debut album Mer De Noms. As the show goes on I feel as though I’m transported to a time when I first started listening to a group whose lead singer sounded like that guy from Tool. It would be months after first being introduced to this new band until I would find out who it was behind those vocals, and would ultimately turn me on to Tool after hearing A Perfect Circle, and not the other way around.
Keenan has been an eccentric figure in both his professional and personal life. Army veteran, musician, winemaker and entrepreneur; he is one of the most eclectic artists ever grace a stage. With a residence in Jerome, Arizona near his Merkin vineyard in Cornville, where he produces his Caduceus Cellars blends of wine; Keenan has singlehandedly raised the profile of Arizona wine nationally and internationally to break it out of mediocrity and make it a truly respectable region in the wine world… But that’s another story. We’re here to talk about the music.
The fourth movement and majority of the body of the show begins with a cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine” from 2004’s eMOTIVe album, in a style that one could only expect from A Perfect Circle. It’s brooding and not without the quintessential melancholy that only APC can produce. Truly a beautiful cover. As I ruminated on that thought, I scanned the crowd behind me. Not a single sarcastic smirk. The audience seemed to think it was as beautiful as I did. The show continues with several more amazing tracks from previous albums and including their incredible cover of Depeche Mode’s “People are People”. Keenan prefaces this performance with a few words to the audience regarding forgiveness.
“It’s those moments that forgiveness is the only thing that’s gonna get you through it, so, forgive each other, forgive yourself. Move to the light.”
For some people it was an emotional experience. I saw a woman across the aisle from my section wiping tears from her eyes during that particular track. It was evident that it meant something to her that only she understood. This band holds a special power that allows them to tap into the listener’s psyche. The feeling and raw emotion they emote entrances these fans with melodious distortion and precision combined with Keenan’s articulately barbed lyrical style. A Perfect Circle masterfully ends the main body of the show with “Blue” and Keenan once again addresses the masses before introducing all the players to their venerate fans.
The final medley of the concert is comprised of two tracks from Thirteenth Step, and a new song they debuted in Las Vegas during the first dates of the tour. Keenan describes the first song, “The Outsider,” as song “sung from the perspective of an asshole who has no compassion, so think of the whole album as being parts in a play and this is the Rodney Dangerfield…. Being a dick.”
“So anyway, look out for each other. Don’t be a dick”
At this point, James Iha is introduced and expresses his distaste with the desert.
“The sand, it permeates my clothes. I don’t like it.”
The monologue goes on a little longer and almost seems necessary to lift the crowd back up from getting too cathartic and deep. It’s certainly a fun interlude as the final trio of pieces signals the beginning of the end of the show. By the close of “Feathers”, the final song and A Perfect Circle’s newest unreleased track, everyone is on their feet and cheering as Keenan speaks one last “Thank you”, and the band gives their final humble bows amid the silken forest of pillars amongst them and walks off stage.
Iha throws several handfuls of guitar picks into the front rows and the band disappears, never to be seen again by those hoping for an encore. Those dreams were dashed when the house lights immediately hit like a blast of reality and signaled that it was indeed time to go. I sauntered out into the streets and walked down Jefferson toward Squid Ink to wait for my Uber, and savored the sights and sounds I had just beheld.