Entries Tagged 'Reviews' ↓
December 26th, 2012 — Reviews
Tis the season for good music, falling apples (the computer kind of course), candy hurling, and all around good times. This past Saturday evening at Crescent Ballroom combined every one of these elements into the most delightful of times.
Wooden Indians started the night out with a very chill and intriguing set. I use the word intriguing not only because of their two drummers, at times two bass players, and their complex song writing technique. Nay, mostly because the singer decided that even though there was a microphone in front of his face, he would sing as quietly as possible. Aside from the vocals being difficult to hear well, their set was undeniably alluring. As singer Wally Boudway switched places a few times with other members to do things like play guitar while singing or playing the drums, I couldn’t help but stare at him in awe.
The much awaited Black Carl came onstage next. I looked past my caged surroundings and the 21+ side was quite packed with people ready to dance it up. Having never seen this band live before, I can honestly say I was beyond impressed, and that everything I’ve heard about them is true, everything good that is. Lead singer Emma Pew sang into her golden microphone with a voice that never faltered or failed her. All of the notes she wanted to sing, she did. The rest of the band onstage danced and had fun. My only qualm with this set is that the backup singer could have been a bit louder. The harmonies he was hinting at would have magnified the performance. However, with or without them the set was quite notable.
Ladylike’s front man Rob Kroehler sauntered onstage and started singing “The Christmas Song”. This simple rendition of the song with only him performing was a great opening to the rest of their set. Soon enough the rest of the members joined him and energy filled a slightly emptier room. Those who stayed around for Ladylike (it was getting a bit late) were still ready to dance and have a good time, since the majority of them were taking part in holiday festivities at the bar. Ladylike put on a good show. They had their instruments hidden behind structures that looked like presents and their attire was definitely in the holiday spirit as well. Keyboardist, trumpet player, tambourine hitter, etc., Alex Tighe had a few tough moments throughout, as his computer kept falling off the keyboard. Thankfully though that didn’t faze him, and he performed just as splendidly as before. This, being my fourth time seeing them, seemed a little bit more forced than past shows. However they still were able to maintain their flair for good technique. A few songs before the finish, the audience became targets for candy flinging practice. Seemed like a bit of a painful price to pay for lollipops. They ended the show with “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Rockin Around the Christmas Tree”. The latter was sung by Emma from Black Carl. Though she didn’t know the lyrics, that didn’t stop her from singing what she felt would work.
October 31st, 2012 — Previews, Reviews
By: Paula Tesoriero
It’s a Saturday night at the Marquee Theater. Energy threatens to explode the venue walls. Taking Back Sunday is finally making there return to the valley this evening. Wearing their TBS shirts, the majority of the crowd that are here at this early of a time simply want a close up view of the famed band’s performance. I, however, am here for other reasons. Jukebox The Ghost is making their second debut in Arizona and I couldn’t be happier.
The first band that came on stage was called Now, Now. This trio, comprised of two females and one male, were quite impressive. Though their ambient punk sound isn’t exactly my style, I was appreciative of their musical quality. The only problem with the set was the over-riding sound of the bass drum. At times it overpowered the rest of the music. Also, the lead singer had quite good voice, though the lyrics were a bit difficult to make out. In the end, the set from Now, Now (Meow, Meow also seems to be accepted from the group) was very enjoyable.
Now Jukebox The Ghost takes hold of our attention. I must admit that looking around and seeing people dance to their music warmed my heart a bit. Compared to the rest of the evening’s lineup, they seemed a bit out of place. This, however, was not a problem for them. After setting up onstage the lights went off and lead singer/brilliant keyboardist Ben Thornewill asked the crowd to act surprised to see them when the lights went back on. We did a fairly good job of it too. Right off the bat JTG had the audience in their grasp. They gained our attention by bringing the stage to life. Their energy was nearly unmatched by those in the audience. During their hit song “Hold It In” Thornewill used a small pointing gesture as he hit notes you wouldn’t think men could sing. Select observers began to mimic these movements in good nature. Throughout their set, their unfortunately brief set, drummer Jesse Kristin displayed superb hand-eye coordination as he twirled drumsticks and tambourines into the air (and subsequently caught them). Their sound was spot on and they brought with them a lightheartedness that would later be diminished by more hardcore bands. I expect after a performance like that, Jukebox The Ghost will have a much greater fan following here in the valley now.
September 21st, 2012 — Reviews
By: Paula Tesoriero
The evening opened with DJ Hartbreaks playing the audience some superbly mixed tunes. He performed between each band’s set and supplied continuous great music to those at the Rhythm Room. Though at times I got caught up in friendly conversation, DJ Hartbreaks always brought me back to his attention with the unique mixing of a song. Local duo Bogan Via composed of Madeleine Miller and Bret Bender began to play around eight. After spotting their EP power flower tin, I knew I would like them. This was my second time seeing them perform, but this time was quite a bit more intimate, which helped me focus on their truly unique sound. They seem like they could be right out of the hippie music movement, what with their languid attitudes and compositional talent. The sound seemed simplistic enough, but as I began to focus on their chord progressions I realized these two are able to create complex melodies while still keeping it light. Though there wasn’t much feedback from the crowd, I did hear a few comments about how good they sounded together. Their voices apart were enjoyable, but when singing simultaneously it sounded like the perfect fit. During the last song, though there was a bit of a keyboard stand problem, the two were able to continue on in a most professional manner. I was exceedingly impressed.
Next up, Factories. I’d heard a lot about this group and was intrigued to view their performance technique. Needless to say, it was quite an entertaining set. This group seemed to make it a point to toss their inhibitions far away. All three on stage danced and stomped along to the rhythm, each having their own unique style. Hair flipping keyboardist and vocalist Audra Marscovetra added a very metal-esque feeling to the music. The combination of the gravelly bass sounds coming from the keyboard in the first few songs and her melodic screams made me a little unsure as to what they were trying to get across in their music. As the bass lowered and more vocals could be heard from Bryan Marscovetra, I began to get a better sense of direction. This group performed well enough, not exactly my style of music but still a very fun performance.
Jacques Cousteau once said, “When one man, for whatever reason, has the opportunity to lead an extraordinary life, he has no right to keep it to himself.” Thankfully every member in White Arrows realized this and agreed to band together to let the world know their lives, in this case through music. I cannot vouch for the validity of this entirely, but I know that as far as lead singer Mickey Church is concerned, I know there is some truth to it. Born virtually blind, Church has been quoted as seeing things as an “impressionistic smear”. Though his eyesight has been regained, I wondered if the use of the fog machine during their set has anything to do with letting the audience see through his younger eyes, for that’s exactly how I would describe what I saw of their stage presence. Bright and flashing colored lights mixed in with the artificial fog, making it so I was almost in a dreamlike state of mind. I danced along to the beloved tunes while taking in that kaleidoscope of color and movement from the stage. Mickey’s brother and White Arrows drummer Henry delivered incredibly sharp and profound drumming throughout. I was impressed not only by his skill but also by his ability to know exactly when to play. Many drummers I’ve seen live tend to show fondness towards beating their frustrations or what have you out in a most passionate way. This drummer, however, knew when to hold back just enough to keep the music intense yet not overwhelming. Vocals from the band were intriguing, as I sometimes fear for the performance of those higher pitches. Yet as they all were executed with tact, I couldn’t help but smile. They covered Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire” with vigor and excellence. As always, their set flew by right before my eyes. Soon enough they thanked us for coming and hopped off the stage. Fans longing for more rattled off some classic “encore” yelps, but sadly, it was finished.
Items of interest:
I saw- Hawaiian shirts.
I heard- Killer White Winter Hymnal mix brought to the crowd by DJ Hartbreaks.
I did- Dance.
September 10th, 2012 — Reviews
By: Paula Tesoriero
You might know of Crescent Ballroom as a bar, a venue, a restaurant, or perhaps a most excellent place to be at any given moment. However, on Friday night it was transformed into a time machine of sorts. The bands this metamorphosis is credited to are All My Friends, Yellow Minute, and Ladylike. This local band showcase proved to be a most first-rate time for all who went. Besides being an exceptional concert, it showed that Arizona has massive talent and superb people willing to enjoy good music.
All My Friends opened the night with vigor and a few technical difficulties. Thankfully they were sorted out in no time and there was very little effect from this on the band. In fact, it seemed to increase their energy levels. Keyboardist/tambourine extraordinaire Michael Boyle was one of the highlights of their performance. Starting the moment he took off his shirt and continuing when he would go up with a huge grin on his face after a song well played only to say a smooth “yeah”. That simple thought had a strangely great impact. This is not to demean the other members in any way. Lead singer Colson Miller impressed me as well. I’m not usually a fan of the screamo tinge, but he used it to his advantage, and in the end it gave the songs a pure rock feel that evoked a certain sense of nostalgia. Their set and the element of the clean guitar riffs placed me at a rock show in the late 1970s.
The next band up, Yellow Minute, brought me back to present times. Lead singer Sean Brennan hopped onto the stage carrying a big black bag. He emptied its contents out and soon balloons drifted around the audience, making buoyant appearances throughout the performance. Their moveable experimental pop provided the audience with the chance to show off their dance skills. After a few songs, Sean brought out yet another black bag, this time tossing beach balls into the crowd explaining that the next piece had a very fun-ocean-times vibe to it. These, though fun while they lasted (unless you were hit unexpectedly with one in the face) were not as long lived as the balloons, which were still going rather strong. Yellow Minute displayed a very composed yet lively performance technique. Their sound was vibrant and easy to listen to. Sean later introduced the audience to a little piñata man, who just so happened to look like one of the Bee Gees. This guy was passed around during a slow song, inspiring us all to let loose and have fun. In the end, Yellow Minute impressed and provided excellent audience participation factors which I greatly admire.
Two large “L”s are placed strategically apart from each other on stage. A voice resonates throughout every space of the venue. Light then focuses on he who croons to us all. As the song continues, the stage becomes brighter and we are presented with the whole of Ladylike. I’ve often described Ladylike’s sound as being “a little Queen, dash of ELO, tinge of Springsteen, and an indescribable quality of their own”. I must admit, seeing them perform live only added on to that purely Ladylike sound. During their song “The Auctioneer”, they brought up Danny Torgersen from Captain Squeegee to add a few trumpet flourishes to the piece. This with the addition of the lighting and double “L”s placed me in another era. I felt like I was approaching a carnival of sorts in the late 1940s. It’s an exceedingly wonderful experience when a mere performance of one song can carry such authenticity within it. This credit goes to the band as a whole. If one doesn’t comply with the mood others are creating, it doesn’t work. Thankfully however, the gentleman in Ladylike proved their passion throughout the set. At the end of the show, lead singer Rob Kroehler presented us with a choice: whether or not to cut the contrived suspense and just perform their encore song then and there or go off stage and come back in a few. The crowd’s uniform answer was for them to continue without leaving. Bassist Austin Owen suggested the lights go off completely so that it would seem they left, yet would suddenly appear when the lights went back on. The crowd humored Ladylike by chanting the familiar “One more song!” in the darkness. Ladylike’s last song, though a bit slower tempo, kept the audience engaged even after it was all over. My friends and I continued to dance and sway a bit, almost believing the band would return to the stage.
Ladylike gave props to Crescent Ballroom so I will too. This venue has done wonders for Arizona’s music scene, and to hear the band’s appreciation for it was inspiring. In the end, this show was as exhausting as it was entertaining. The connection between the artists and the audience made it seem that we were so much more than surveyors of a show; we were a vital part of it.
August 9th, 2012 — Reviews
By: Paula Tesoriero
Last night I went to see Saint Motel with openers Races and Sun Ghost. Needless to say, my expectations for Tuesday evening shows are now much greater.
Local trio Sun Ghost provided the perfect opening to the evening. Their fun and mildly old-timey sound had the crowd, though seated, swaying to their music. Lead singer and keyboardist Trevor Denton karate kicked his way through the set, only enhancing their playful-rock sound. Denton’s technical keyboard skills made not having a guitarist bearable, which is definitely not the easiest thing to do.
After an energetic performance from Sun Ghost, Races took the stage and shifted the crowd into a more relaxed mood. This six member stage presence had me a bit worried for a minute, considering there was so much equipment that could be tripped over or trampled upon. After a surprisingly quick set up, they paid close attention to ensuring their instruments were in tune, a commendable quality. It was refreshing to hear them ask for changes in mic volumes even throughout the show. It seemed that they were comfortable with the venue and performing in front of us. Lead vocals from Wade Ryff flowed easily into the ears and souls of all present. In the end, Races left me grinning to myself over their slightly melancholic tinged performance.
Saint Motel. I need to start off by saying that their music videos should all be watched and admired by those reading this. They have a knack for pulling at the nostalgic feelings in all who listen to and look upon their videos. The stage filled with fog as they reassured us it came from no machine, forcing us to enter into a 1997 frame of mind. After the first few songs they turned on a colorful strobe light of sorts, changing hues and giving the fog the perfect backdrop to show its true marvel on. They covered Brenton Wood’s “Give Me Some Kind of Sign” with excellence. AJ Jackson and Aaron Sharp did not disappoint in vocals. They hit each note perfectly, even the ones that I thought would be a bit disastrous. As a whole the band made it difficult for the audience to see them go. During the performance of their single “Puzzle Pieces,” more than half the crowd was up and dancing, some were definitely more outgoing than others. However, during this show it didn’t matter. No judgments took place since the band made it easy for us to forget our troubles and anxieties and become enwrapped in their catchy melodies and danceable beats.
When the show did end, I know I was left wanting more. A friend and I chatted with the members from Saint Motel for a bit and I told one of them I would do my best to portray them as being cool. If you did not catch on before, Saint Motel is a very keen band, and its members are equally rad. They are not to be missed.
June 1st, 2012 — Reviews
By: Paula Tesoriero
Concert date: 05/30/12
There’s a lot to be said about a band that strolls in from the streets of Tempe past a vast line of fans a mere hour before their show starts. But I’ll save that for later. Last night’s show at the Marquee Theater contained a crowd composed of a good mix of young and old; I even spotted a young girl of about 8. The opening band, Yellow Ostrich, began their set with the song WHALE, introducing the audience to the complex looping used in most of their music. During their first few songs, the members of this group seemed to be holding back a bit. There was a great amount of tense energy that kept the audience craving more. However, as the show progressed they began loosening up more and that pent up aggression-type passion began releasing. They ended their set by performing the liveliest rendition of The Shakedown. At the end of it, lead singer and guitarist Alex Schaaf played his guitar in desperation to release as much sound and energy as possible. Their set was only enhanced by the addition of brass and Alex’s quirky comments to the audience. I later asked Alex to supply this review with a statement of whatever might come to mind right away. His reply? “Sweaty beauty.”
After a surprisingly short wait, the lead act Of Monsters and Men graced the stage with waves and smiles. They began with a spirited performance of Dirty Paws, reeling the audience in with their talent and wonderfully unfamiliar accents. This Icelandic band brought as much as they could to the stage, even in the intense heat so unlike their native home. A few of the members took off their shoes at the beginning, providing a very comfortable vibe to those of us appreciating such a gesture. The two lead singers, Nanna Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar þórhallsson, armed with their acoustic guitars and compatible voices held nothing back during their show. I believe their drummer gave their set its great intensity. This man enticed the audience to clap and sing along, and from start to finish he did nothing but give himself to bringing his drums and the audience to life in the most passionate way. The band performed a unique and worthy cover of Close To Me by The Cure. Another interesting factor brought to the stage was the use of an accordion, and the fact that it changed hands about 3 times throughout. The audience danced and sang along to Little Talks, the last song before they left. The crowd, however, was not ready for them to depart so soon. After about 5 minutes of cacophony, the band reappeared. Their encore set included a new song, and they ended the entire show with a song titled Yellow Light, which also happens to be their last song on the album. They told the audience that it was a slower song but that did not stop us all from clapping when possible and shouting our love during it. Of Monsters and Men left the stage for the last time, but also left some of themselves in our heads, as we left the venue humming select songs from the evening.
I obtained a brief interview with Nanna after the show. I asked how they enjoyed playing in Arizona and she said that because it hadn’t sold out, they were all a little bit unsure of how it would turn out, but in the end the crowd was very welcoming and they had a great time. I asked if they would consider coming back and she said of course. In the end the concert was one about which those who attended should jot down a few notes. It isn’t often a show of its class takes place in a venue as small as the Marquee.
Photos by Joshua Tesoriero
February 16th, 2012 — Reviews
By Gabrielle Marshall
Jam sessions are severely under appreciated. When given the opportunity to sit around with musically adept friends, and nerd out on syncopated rhythms or thumping bass lines, musically induced bliss results. What happens when this atmosphere surfaces at a live show? Musically charged euphoria for all those present. White Denim performed this week at Crescent Ballroom for a Valentine’s Day showcase to a crowd eager for every note they had to offer. Opening was Phoenix/Los Angeles hybrids K N E S S E T, part shoegaze mixed with upbeat pop undertones describes their overall effect. With a full and enriched sound, the ensemble managed to fill both the stage area (and the patio) with a giant sea of harmony. As I sat eating my delicious burro, my ears were greatly satisfied with the music that surrounded me. Performing a generous amount tracks off of their first full length “Coming of Age” release, the notes and disposition were all effectively poignant. These guys were extremely good at setting the tone for the musical experience yet to come.
White Denim’s interesting variety of blues/ rock/ pop intersects in all the right ways. Their CD’s are filled with unexpected twists and dripping with that earnest prog-rock sensibility. Primarily promoting “D” their latest full length release, the boys were in fine form for their Centennial day performance. Though the crowd itself was not as densely packed as the last show I attended there, the quality of people present was sky high. Only genuine fans seemed to make this event a Valentine’s Day priority, but that made it all the easier to sequester near the stage. Perfect view in my sights, the bands opening number solidified everyone’s thoughts this was the place to be this centennial. With their pounding rhythms and r&b infused heavy instrumentation, the crowd was in a swaying-hipster dancing frenzy at the fantastic performance. Guitar solos galore, along with the best drummer I have seen in years, and the swelling soulful vocals of lead James Petralli made for an intoxicating blend of southern soul that can be hard to generate. Each member of the quartet had ridiculous musicianship that made you want to bask in the fact that such a well-balanced ensemble exists. They killed it again and again. The small crowd ate every bit of it up, and naturally cheered enthusiastically for the encore. Then my mind exploded. Encore shenanigans that included Petralli doing laps around the Crescent and then wailing passionately on one of my favorite White denim concoctions sealed the deal. This was one of my favorite shows of the past year. His energy was so infectious that I almost followed his lead and ran laps behind him. But I feared that would be overstepping boundaries.
White Denim is currently on tour. For a list of dates check out their website.
February 10th, 2012 — Reviews
By Gabrielle Marshall
This week was filled with all the bells and whistles that a solitary hectic week could possibly contain. Starting off the week right proved to be a precious commodity. This past Monday, live music was done right by the ever personable Anthony Green. With music containing a precocious blend of folk, hardcore, blues, and alternative, his music can be appreciated by the many. Performing at the Clubhouse Music Venue, Anthony brought his vibrant personality (and music) straight into the Tempe city limits. Opening for Green was the ever melodic and pensive-thought inspiring Dear Hunter. Setting a more somber tone with his music (it was part lost in sad thoughts/somebody hold me music: part angry ferocious alt-prog deliciousness), The Dear Hunter had so much energy and musicality that the reverb created by the venue’s small amount of area seemed to seep into every pore. Perhaps the fact that I was positioned directly adjacent to the speaker could have played a role in this as well… Regardless his impressive performance left the respectably sized crowd appreciative and clapping enthusiastically.
A mere 20 min later, the boisterous Anthony Green strolled out to take a stab at it. Opening with one of his older tracks “She Loves Me So”, and then transitioning the entire night between his Avalon album and his newest release Beautiful Things, there was an infectious mix of the old and the new. His backing band pretty much blew my mind. Their musicianship was unparalleled. From the ecstatic ferociousness of the drummer, to the killer guitar solos hailing from the left part of the stage, the wave of sound propelling itself from the stage was steeped in hype. Hype to galvanize the crowd of course. Pair that with Green’s high vocal range/ throaty yells and pleasant demeanor, the crowd was completely enthralled. Shouts of “Take your clothes off!” were common place, as well as clamoring for songs like Saosin’s “Seven Years” and “The Devil’s Song ”. Green of course appeased all requests in due time (except for the nudity, which was a disappointment for many of the Green Groupies out in force I’m sure). Creating a terrific rapport with the crowd was an easy feat for Green, and mixing it with good music made for an awesome show. Encore included, Green played most songs from his catalog that the eager fans yearned for. Not to mention that proceeds from the show (and from a shout out for donations from Green himself) would support Keep-a-Breast.org. Charity is always a good thing in my book. Green’s show definitely proved his strength as a musician to a novice music blogger as myself, and it will be interesting to see what his next ambitious musical evolution will be.
Anthony Green is currently on a tour of the U.S. For a list of upcoming tour dates check here.
February 2nd, 2012 — Reviews
By Gabrielle Marshall
Sock puppets, Meg Ryan, and an accordion. What on earth could this dynamically diverse trio of random nouns associate with? Only one answer to satisfy that mystery: Last Sunday’s They Might Be Giants’ show (with Jonathan Coulton as the opening showcase). My first appearance at a TMBG show and I was semi terrified at what I would encounter. Was I ready for a level of such auspicious nerd rock? The answer to that lady and gents: yes, I most definitely was. Upon entering the densely packed Marquee Theater, I set my sights upon a crowd filled with every age and level of geekdom. There was even a fellow wholly absorbed within the confines of a novel, who refused to look anywhere aside from said book between music sets. Definitely not the only interesting character to encounter, but it was no surprise considering the wonderfully weird music that TMBG is known to produce. Even when a friend first introduced me to the ‘giants, the only description he could muster was “It’s like children’s music?… But for adults? I dunno, just listen!”. Listening is definitely the only way to grasp the whimsical, yet ultimately addicting nature of the band.
Their live show holds exactly the same premise. It’s part production, part nerd rage, part musical talent. Setting up the ambiance of the evening quite nicely, predicated upon the quirky tuneage of Jonathan Coulton. With a catalog of songs ranging from zombie culinary desires to a cruel yet ultimately hapless mad scientist’s quest for love, there was a story to tell with every strum of guitar. “Still Alive” was definitely one of the shining stars in his setlist, and considering all around me I heard “Hey, isn’t this from Portal?”, it was a majority crowd favorite as well. Though a short set, it was filled with vivid energy and charm that got the crowd roaring for the main event.
Even the in between sets period was sprinkled with random playlists, featuring everything from LCD Soundsystem and The Pixies to Kanye West. The atmosphere brimmed with uncertainty on what to expect from the quirky quintet, but the excitement for those first few notes was obvious. The lights dimmed, and epic musical entrances followed. TMBG strutted out on to the stage starting their set with a high energy rendition of “Can’t Keep Johnny Down”. Classic songs (Istanbul, Clap Your Hands, Birdhouse in Your Soul) and countless other tunes were infused with intense guitar and xylophone action that radiated in all of its satiric glory. The show prioritized audience participation. Jokes about drunken concert goers and pre-scripted banter were in full force. This included a call to action for the crowd to shroud themselves in the role of people vs. apes. Put into effect by of course encouraging hostility and/or chicken fights. My OMG moment had to be when the lovely Meg Ryan graced the stage. Or rather when her crudely designed demented smiling puppet did. Along with the “Avatars of They” (a super hardcore puppet pseudo band), the puppets battled it out wit for wit. Fifteen entertaining minutes later, the band moved on to give a righteous performance that had the crowd in a nerd dancing frenzy. So what is one left with upon leaving the night’s show, having just experienced such nerd euphoria? A huge smile and a severe need to invest in sock puppetry.
They Might be Giants are currently on a tour across the southern United States. For a list of tour dates/cities go here.
March 18th, 2009 — Reviews
SXStateside is a music showcase with new and emerging musicians all over the US, making a pitstop at Phoenix’s Rhythm Room before reaching SXSW in Austin, TX. 2 stages outside and inside with over 7 bands that night on 3/16.
Dusty Rhodes and the River Band
Note: there are plenty of video highlights on the Silverplatter youtube channel!