A rock show in a church? I have to admit their was some creepiness in the air. Sitting in a pew waiting for bands to melt some faces is an odd experience.
First of all....the reason for the festivities...
The Garfield Organization, a non-profit 501(c)(3), was formed in April 1989 by concerned residents who worked tirelessly to revitalize the area and restore a sense of community pride to Garfield. Through community policing partnerships with the City of Phoenix and Maricopa County, and alliances with the local non-profit sectory our community has become a national success story. Over the last 18 years, we have fought against blight and crime to bring new life and hope to our downtown neighborhood, without succumbing to gentrification. We face new challenges and opportunities as ASU moves 15,000 students to their downtown campus, and look forward to engaging with a reinvigorated urban core. For more information about Garfield and pportunities for connecting with residents, getting involved in community events, or finding places to relax or play.
First up to the altar was Universal Spunk. A trio of youngsters blending indie vibes with jazz licks. It reminded me a lot of Zappa's HOT RATS. The bass lines and drum beats were the focal point of my enjoyment. What bothered me was the formula of quiet-dramatic pause-loud-dramatic pause-quiet-scream. The lyrics were sparse which was fine because the instrumentals held their own. I just wish someone would explain to the singer that screaming is not the only form of vocally expressing intensity. It could use some work but I am interested to see a future set as these guys mature. C- (for now)
Next Snow Songs took the stage/altar. Snow Songs is an appropriate name for the band. The trio (apparently the drummer could not make it) was comprised of vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar and bass. The sounds blended a warm, cozy feeling that reminded me of being next to a fire in the winter. A delightful vocal that blended a Hope Sandoval/Bjork tone captivated me. I thought they performed well and I hope to catch their electric set soon. B+
The Worrymen infused the night with boredom. Country tinged songs failing to recreate the Roger Clyne sound. Things did more interesting when guitarist Jay Bennett took over lead vocals. The songs took on a more definite country sound (shudder) but also took on meaning lyrically. It's almost if they decided that Jay sings the songs of interest and Kris sings the fluff. Well, Kris regained the vocal lead and sang another banal song and ended with a lyrically cringe worthy tune of flags and pride. I am also prety much convinced that the same bass line is used for all the songs save for one which was interesting but too loud. Meh. D+
In the whole night only one band took the opportunity to exploit the fact that they were playing on a church altar. The Green Lady Killers performed a wonderful set in full overdrive. Hard, fast and with intensity. I hope the other bands took notes. A
Finally, Kirkwood Delinger. A mix of electronics, guitars, bad vocals, and awkward banter. If only they would put as much effort into the samples they played inbetween their songs as they did into the actual songs, then I might not have felt the need to exit a quarter way into their set. It was bad. Owl City bad. F
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
So I admit I strolled in a bit late. Slap Daddy was on the backend of their set. Immediately I grabbed a good sense of the band. It was the typical band with a pretty girl upfront, proficient technical skills, and nothing of interest. Beyond the great job of shaking her tits and ass the singer had the charisma of your typical kareoke participant, with a meek voice. They proceded into a song "Monster," about addiction. It was bland and riddled with hokey metaphors, and completed with the use of "monster voice" effects. If you drive a mini van, wear jeans with elastic waistbands, and find that going out twice a month is too much excitement for you to handle, than this band is for you. C
Then The Blue Rose Band took the stage. There isn't much you can say about TBRB. They're a tight band. Amanda hits the stage with an unmatched vocal ferocity. Jimmy Rose is definitely one of my favorite Arizona guitar players, with incredible slide techinique. Trevor plays appropriately and in time and Mark has a beautiful SWR rig that I am planning on stealing. A definite go and see. B+
Abandoned Theory began well, with Jimmy Rose lending a guitar solo to the mix. I was sad to see him leave as the guitar sounds that followed seemed to be a forced mix of Eddie Van Halen doing his Stevie Ray Vaughn impression. Tristan provided sultry vocals that reminded me of Alannah Myles (yes, I am so old that I made that reference.) I really enjoyed the vocal playfulness between Tristan and bassist Crystal Rose on their song, "Wine and Dine Me." My interest was greatly peaked, when the tone of the guitar made a change for the discoesque song, "Vegas Baby." I was amazed by the hybrid funk/metal guitar solo. I was glad when they followed it up with a similar tune "S.D.R +R." B-
Last came Mergence. A skillful band that performs an overplayed sound. It was typical jam/indie rock vacillating between the sounds of Phish and Maroon 5. Like I said, it was fine, but I can hear the exact same band on any given night in Tucson. If you need 15 sylables to order your coffee, have to go every night to "be seen," and wear jeans that are the equivalent of a car payment, but have to make sure they look like they came from a thrift store...then this is the band for you. C
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Before we get started, let me leave you with instructions. If I am ever the middle aged guy, with the hawaiian shirt, air guitaring during someone's set, don't ask questions just shoot me. With that said-
Phoenix's ZIROH...an instrumental band. Pretty much a dropped tuned jam band. Not that there's anything wrong with that, Black Sabbath was basically the same thing and that's not a bad band to be compared to. Their songs aren't the usual 10 minute compositions of usual instrumental bands. They rock quick and hard with their songs seemingly structured for vocals. However, the instrumentation of the songs don't lack vocals. The group didn't sound like a band lacking a singer. My personal favorite of the set was "Kyuss."...B
I dare anyone to hear "Get On The Dancefloor" and not at least tap a toe to The Green Lady Killers. I strongly suggest you catch a GLK show soon, it's quite an experience. Lady Van Buren switches between smiles and scowls, screams and sweet melodies. Annie Venom slinks across the stage as well as her fret board, sending piercing looks into the audience and to her bandmates, with a prescence that I can only describe as Susanna Hoffs (The Bangles) on X (for those needing to know...this is a great thing). The drummer, Cherry Bomb, does what many drummers fail to do- keep a strong, driving, steady beat. She did this all while adding an array of vocal textures to the songs and celebrating the glorious nature of unicorns (they do exist). On this particular evening, things didn't get going till about half way through the set, when Lady Van Buren announced with a tinge of embarrasement a "new pop song" entitled "Beautiful Loser." The new song launched the trio into overdrive. It highlighted the joy of a GLK show- the audacity of punk attitude, and to retain that attitude to say I'm going to play something pretty, now fuck off!...B+
I've been a big fan of LOVEMOUND for sometime now...
Lovemound is simple- a big wall of guitar sound a la ZZ Top with a bass player who likes to set up residency in the higher octaves of the neck. For my money, you simply can't go wrong with that. I wish there was more to say, other than the set was tight and consistent, but that's the allure of the band...rock and roll- intense, simple and fun. The highlight of the set, I must admit, was the band's cover of Hendrix's (I didn't recognize the song and I had to ask) "Messege To Love." Covers are a tricky thing, and Lovemound did it perfectly. You could hear the strong Hendrix sound, but at the same time there was no denying that they retained their own personal sound on their homage. If they would not have announced it as a cover, I would have believed it to be another one of their own sonic anthems.. A
It was a great night! Any one of these bands would have made the night worth the price of admission, but to have all three rock the night away left me proud of the AZ scene. Kudos to the booker!
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Trever Jones of Ashland, Oregon will be coming to Arizona for a couple of shows. He performs under the moniker of Poor Boy's Soul and from the sounds of his release entitled "Everything I Had," it's a dead on description of his sound. Immediately the feel of Leadbelly and Robert Johnson fill the air. However, it is not so much an artist trying to sound like the old legends but a sublime flavor of a time passed mixed with the soul of a man in the modern world. I was greatly pleased to hear the opening riff of the title track of the album and immediately thought of Tom Waits. I don't know if I was pleased or dissapointed to not hear Tom's voice come clumbering in, but that has more to do with my own battles with the aforementioned legend. Regardless of my own craziness, it's a gem of a track. The track "Temptation" continues the collection and contains a hint of Kenny Wayne Shepard in it's vocal qualities. Before I forget, the background vocals of Nola Pierce are a great compliment to Jones' voice, and I look forward to hearing her voice in her own projects. The album is very consistent. That might be my issue with it. I definitely sensesed a lack of dynamics both in the songs individually and as an album as a whole. However, the honesty of soul of the album is transparent, especially on the track "Turn To Stone." In that particular track you can hear the resonance of a man enjoying his music. I am also particularlly fond of the Graham Burke penned tune entitled "Poker Chip," which yet again harkens the flavor of the great soul man Tom Waits. All in all a good effort from our visitor from Oregon.
Poor Boy's Soul will be performing June 20th at The Yucca Tap Room in Phoenix with Adam Cogswell and June 21st at The Red Room in Tucson. You can call in with your questions and comments June 16th at 10pm on the live broadcast of Azoverload.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Scream! Scream! Screaming from THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT KATE
The perpetual Battle Royale took place at The Rock in Tucson on May 14th. The air was filled with the stench of a bad 80's movie awaiting to begin it's climatic finale as the bands and their prepaid crowds waited in anticipation for the festivities to begin. Let's keep in mind of what this event is. This is not the rocketship to stardom that the teenage bands are romanced into thinking it is. It is a ritual of young bands dreaming of vast worlds of MTV and sold out stadiums, who will ultimately break up and hopefully either find their way in the non-music world or use the experience to grow into a more mature music future. Either way, here's the quick break down.
Rite of Kin- Solid bar room rock. C
The Floor Is Lava- A failed attempt to be Eyes Set To Kill. The singer has a pretty voice, but is misplaced within the flood of hardcore waves and practically inaudible. Random, unecessary techno beats further illustrate this bands lack of ability to arrange anything interesting. F
Within Our Reach- Okay, so hardcore is not my thing, but even I could tell that this was bad. The singer/screamer was cracking his voice the entire set. He reminded me of sounding a lot like Howard Dean...here's the reference...http://www.youtube.com/watch#!v=D5FzCeV0ZFc and seriously, what's with the random techno bullshit? F
The Reprisal- These kids definitely show that they've listened to healthy doses of "...And Justice For All." I couldn't believe the big voice coming out of that little kid. C+
There's Something About Kate- Yes, there is something about There's Something About Kate. Despite their unprofessional demeanor of trash talking everyband and acting like juvenile (ok they are) brats, they managed to put on a solid performance. My suggestion is to let the capable lead singer do his job and not swith off vocals with the other members. Also, when did the mosh pit turn into a synchonized, ballet, Soul Train line? C+
Regretting Silence- Ugh! Okay, here's the obvious comment: More like regretting your sound. First, these kids attempted to buy the crowd vote by offering free treats. Look kids, next time just make a banner that says "we know we suck." Typical "I want to get into your pants" acoustic guitar playing is partnered with a singer who sings out of key ande flat, and further tortures the crowd with awkward, between song banter. If you want to sing badly, join a screamo hardcore band, at least that way, you have a wall of sound to bury your failed attempts.
Like Insects In Amber- Spoiler alert! They won. If you haven't picked up on things, I'm not really big on the hardcore thing. They seemed capable of what they were doing. It sounded a lot like what There's Something About Kate just played. Please, next time, spare me the Disney cover. C-
Odd Man Out- Typical ska. Every song was the unique blend of boredom and toe tapping goodness. Their song "Splits Street" was cool. C
At War With The Inferior- More hardcore, testosterone "goodness" Their son "Let's Kill Chris" was an interesting sparkle amidst a set of typical metalness. C
Sheets of Metal Rain- Guess what they play? How many times do I have to hear the same band in one night? D
Media Safe- Awesome music. A very vintage sound taken straight out of the Josh Homme handbook. However, neither of the singers could sing and that greatly took away from the music. To make things worse, they did a very intimate song with a cello and it only highlighted their lack of vocal ability and the weakness of the lyrical content. Get a frontman and you'll be great! F
The highlight of the night...the delicious bbq cheeseburger. Kudos!
Feel free to cry to me about how awesome you really are and how you are changing things by being the same.