Tag Archives: Valley Bar

REVIEW: Justin Courtney Pierre Gets Intimate With Fans at Valley Bar (11-30-18)

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PHOENIX — Justin Courtney Pierre returned to Arizona for an intimate underground show at the historic Valley Bar Friday night, revitalizing fans with a colloquial performance of his latest solo-album In The Drink. Since Motion City Soundtrack’s “So Long, Farewell Tour” in 2016, it had been unclear when and if Pierre would continue making music in the future.

Post-MCS I just really wanted to focus on the art,” Pierre told Billboard during a recent interview, “so, I built a team of people around me that I can utilize for all the other stuff – the production, the business. What’s nice about this is I don’t have to ask anybody for permission or get four people to agree on whatever we’re doing. I can just do my ideas whether they’re stupid or not, for better or for worse. I thought, ‘OK, so if this is the only record I ever do, great. I’m just gonna do it exactly the way I want it.’

In The Drink album cover

Produced by Motion City Soundtrack bandmate Joshua Cain, In The Drink is heavily influenced by the sound of the 90’s, classic guitar and, as Pierre puts it, (in direct reference to noted inspirations Swervedriver, Polara, Guided By Voices, and Frank Black’s “Teenager of the Year”) “a lot of movement going on”.

During a coinciding interview with boutique pedal company ZVex, Pierre went on to explain the experimental nature of his work which he revealed, lead him to his newfound love affair with the ZVex Fuzz Factory 7, as well as the ZVex Effects Vertical Vexter ’59 Sound, which he utilized throughout Friday night’s performance. When it comes to guitar, this singer-songwriter prefers a more improvisonal approach – toying with different combinations until his fancy footwork yields a sound he likes.

Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
Justin Courtney Pierre
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design.
All Rights Reserved

Pierre’s tourmates for his latest solo album include old friend and master of effects – guitarist Thomas Rehbein, sensational vocalist and guitarist Lydia Liza, emotive bassist Shannon Burns, and relentless drummer David Jarnstrom.

David Jarnstrom - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
David Jarnstrom (Drummer)
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design.
All Rights Reserved

I’m listening to Flaming Lips in my headphones to drown out all this other bullshit”, Pierre joked before jamming out the opening notes to “I Don’t Know Why She Ran Away”, following opening tracks “Undone” and “Anchor”. “Just kidding!”, he laughed – noting that the night’s opener had been unable to make it due to an undisclosed transportation issue. As a result of that last minute change, the night became increasingly conversational. Fans shouted back and forth as Pierre responded between tracks from on-stage, speaking on everything from his struggles with alcohol, to new “dadhood”, and even his strong distaste for Burger King. Pierre casually guided the audience through an evening of impromptu storytelling between each new track from In The Drink, but not without some nostalgic surprises along the way.

Shannon Burns - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Shannon Burns (Bassist)
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design.
All Rights Reserved

Preceding the Farewell Continental portion of the evening, a tribute to Pierre and Rehbein’s passion project since 2008, “My Girl Margo” off a “special upcoming EP” got fans jumping for more. With the night’s energy at its peak, “Total Devastation” had diehard JCP fans weak in the knees.

Justin Courtney Pierre - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Justin Courtney Pierre
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design.
All Rights Reserved

Next up was a new Farewell Continental song that’s not yet been recorded. “It’s called ‘Tossing and Turning’”, Pierre told fans, “It’s a motif I’ve used before and I’m aware of that,” he laughed, “And I like to remind people, it’s supposed to sound like this.” Farewell Continental takes the undeniably esoteric undertones of In The Drink one step further, culminating a uniquely chaotic blend of power-pop-meets-classic-rock. The band finished out a lively performance of “Do You Wanna Tangle” also by Farewell Continental, before abruptly leaving the stage where only Pierre was left to tame the spotlight.

Justin Courtney Pierre - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Justin Courtney Pierre
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design.
All Rights Reserved

Without question, the moment we’d been waiting for since 2016 had finally arrived; it was time for a little Motion City Soundtrack. Pierre explained that since the band had chosen not to continue making music two years prior, he’d decided to play only MCS  songs which he’d “brought to the party” so to speak. Members of the crowd shouted out track after track in hopes of hearing their longtime favorites. Pierre responded by teasing onlookers with a candid rendition of “Stand Too Close” before breaking for a quick story – “The Caffeine Story” he called it: “Listen, listen. I haven’t had a drink of alcohol in over nine years, and a few years after that I quit caffeine. And now I have nothing.

As fans applauded, “Atonia” began rumbling out from the speakers. Fans sang along loudly as Pierre pieced together a nostalgic solo tribute session including “When You’re Around” and “LG FUAD”, to which the entire bar sang aloud. “Okay, now I am going to invite the band back to the stage,” Pierre announced before launching into a cover of Guided By Voices’ “Motor Away” which he credited as one of his favorite songs to date. “Some of these guys just heard it for the first time today,” he told fans as they hooted and hollered at Pierre to “do it again!

Lydia Liza - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Lydia Liza (Guitarist, Vocalist) & Justin Courtney Pierre
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design.
All Rights Reserved

The evening closed out with “Shoulder the Weight”, “In the Drink”, and “Goodnight Hiroyuki” – the last three tracks off of Pierre’s latest solo expressional, sending fans off with a phantasmal intermingling of sludgy, otherworldly tones. Rehbein could be seen sliding his guitar back and forth against everything from the guard rail to the speakers and even Liza’s guitar while her robust, angelic voice offered a sweet contrast to the whirlwind of instrumental experimentation unfolding on stage. “This is it. I love you all, except Kevin!”, Pierre exclaimed.

Thomas Rehbein - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Thomas Rehbein (Guitarist)
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design
All Rights Reserved

Following a staggering twenty track setlist, fans continued to swarm the stage in hopes of one more. Band members could be seen handing out copies of the setlist, and even notes from practice sessions to outstretched hands eager to claim their prize. Following the performance, Pierre stayed true to his reputation of being the down-to-earth artist we’ve all come to love and hung out to greet and take photos with anyone and everyone who chose to stick around. Although he was lacking in words (as he announced that he would not be speaking, in order to protect his voice), Pierre’s charismatic demeanor radiated off of him as fan after fan stepped up to meet the man of the hour.

After two years of wondering, Pierre took us back to the driving spirit and endearing authenticity behind what made Motion City Soundtrack great. It’s that permeating willingness – to care and connect with his fans, to tell the stories that need to be told, and if there’s one thing for sure, it’s that we absolutely cannot wait to see what this performer is up to next.

PHOTO ALBUM

by Katherine Amy Vega

Justin Courtney Pierre – Valley Bar 11-30-18

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© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved.

REVIEW: Jim Adkins Returns to Phoenix 4-30-16

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Phoenix, Ariz. – Jim Adkins, lead singer of Jimmy Eat World, returned home to Arizona last night, bringing his solo project super chill “dude-with-a-guitar” gig to Valley Bar. The show sold out at least a month in advance, which is no surprise considering the success of the band he fronts, the success of his recent European tour,  and the special place he holds in the hearts of those in his hometown.

Set Times - Jim Adkins at Valley Bar 4-30-16
Set Times – Jim Adkins at Valley Bar 4-30-16

A refreshing deviation from the norm, the show unexpectedly opened with stand up from Anwar Newton instead of an opening band. Recruited by Adkins, he loosened up the crowd before it was going to “get emo”. Newton succeeded in garnering laughter from the audience with off-color humor about topics like self-righteous coworkers, a carjacker who couldn’t drive manual,  separation of food and politics, and paying taxes versus giving blowjobs (in his opinion… there’s no question, BJs FTW). For those that came to see Adkins, this was an engaging act, and time passed quickly before Adkins took the stage. It was unique that, as the headliner, he was the second act of the night with more bands following.

Jim Adkins at Valley Bar 4-30-16
Jim Adkins © Kataklizmic Design

As emotional as Adkins’ music is, he brought a very lighthearted, slightly goofy stage presence to Valley Bar. He was excited to be playing at Valley Bar for the first time! Despite 23 years in Jimmy Eat World, he is arguably the least pretentious major musician you could ever meet. Adkins effortlessly tapped into the vulnerable emotions of his music, while still interjecting his quirky sense of humor between songs. One moment he was singing heart-wrenching lyrics like, “Are we too damaged now to possibly connect?”, and the next, he was joking about learning Slayer songs to play upon request.

Jim Adkins setlist - Valley Bar 4-30-16
Setlist – Click to Enlarge

For the set, Adkins played songs from his “I Will Go” EP, as well as select J.E.W. songs and covers. Without falter, his vocals delivered exactly what you would expect from listening to his records, with the only noticeable difference being intentional changes to the melody for the performance. Adkins’ guitar is like an extension of himself, which lends itself to his ability to fully invest in the nuances of his vocal performance. He is a seasoned musician with the ability to genuinely connect with his adoring audience on the same level.

Jim Adkins at Valley Bar 4-30-16
Jim Adkins © Kataklizmic Design

For some solo projects, such as Nate Ruess and The Band Romantic or Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra, the artist performs with a full live band. For Adkins’ solo endeavors, he may be only one man with an acoustic guitar on a big empty stage, but these humble, low-key vibes are exactly what he goes for.

In a 2015 interview, Adkins told Substream Magazine that, “…planning out an encore makes me feel like an asshole.” So it was unsurprising that when Adkins exited the stage, that was the end of his set. He loaded up his equipment himself afterward, which he joked is what rock ‘n roll really is. Some in the crowd were overheard asking, “Why is he carrying out his stuff himself?”

Jim Adkins is a totally normal guy who happens to be a world-famous musician, and Arizona is proud to call him our own.

PHOTO ALBUM by Katherine Vega

Jim Adkins – Valley Bar 4-30-16

Flickr Album Gallery Powered By: WP Frank

Photography by Katherine Vega, © Kataklizmic Design
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. (THAT MEANS NO STEALING)

A special thank you to Debbie Malone for editorial. You’re legit… Please forgive me for ignoring a few small bits of your advice!