I have to admit that I feel completely privileged to live in a metropolitan area where I can go out three to six nights of the week and experience pure, live, musical bliss presented by the most talented people I’ve ever had the honor of knowing. Maybe this should be called “What A Whirlwind Week!” for that reason, because the weekend started on Tuesday. That being said, due to the pace of my musical adventures I totally missed out on Sunday due to a scorching fever and an aching in my bones. I will, however, be back at it tonight when I head to Crescent Ballroom to catch The Madera Strand, The Thin Bloods, The Wavelengths and Numb Bats. Let’s get down to the music I got down to this past week.
Tuesday, September 24th: Small Leaks Sink Ships
Somehow, it makes sense in their true indie spirit that Small Leaks Sink Ships would play a surprise show on a Tuesday night at Long Wong’s in Tempe giving folks only five hours of notice. Turned out it was seven hours of notice, due to a late start and their ability to blow out the power on stage four times in the first song. This was jinxed before they even began by fans joking that they were going suck all of the power out of the place and by the fact that they opened with a song that is tentatively titled “Power Outage.” Once underway, the show was stellar, albeit all to brief–it’s always to brief with Small Leaks, they could play for two hours straight and it would still be over too soon. In all seriousness, Small Leaks Sink Ships have an awesome effect on my entire nervous system unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, every damn time they played. They closed with the killer “Glass Hypnotist” from the Oak Street Basement EP and then drove to LA to play at The House of Blues the next night. It was a stunning, secretive little show that I thought might reduce El Dub to ashes.
Thursday, September 26th: Dry River Yacht Club & The Prowling Kind
It’s no secret that Dry River Yacht Club is one of the very reasons I became so engrossed and fascinated by the local music scene over five years ago. They have a penchant for making me dance inside of ten seconds from the start of their performance even when i don’t want to or don’t feel up to it. I felt honored to be invited to the album listening party at Last Exit Live for El Tigre, their forthcoming and highly anticipated new album. I felt even more excited after hearing the record in its entirety twice through. DRYC is continuing their adventures on the high seas of Americana Indie Gypsy Rock in fine fashion and exploring some new territory as well, this record is sure to completely fulfill your high expectations and impress you with some surprises along the way. I cannot wait to get my hands on the masters and wrap my ears around this album completely–it’s pretty much eight tracks of audible bliss. El Tigre has been a long time coming and it’s been well worth the wait, I assure you.
After a champagne toast they proudly played their new album twice for their guests to hear, we were then generously treated to a rare acoustic performance by the band and the entire crowd was thrilled to be witness to such an unusual event. Immediately following their performance The Prowling Kind roared into a full set that not only included songs from their new debut Tennessee, as well as some new songs and great covers of Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang” and The Cranberries “Dreams.” Their performance was flawless and the garnered a handful of new fans that night. They are one of the more exciting new acts in the valley and they seem to be getting better and tighter with each show.
Friday, September 27th: It Get’s Weirdfest, Naked Pizza’s Final Show, Doctor Bones Returns
I wanted to get to Weirdfest earlier than I did, but sometimes life happens and you show up just in time to see Fairy Bones closing out their set. I blame this completely on Friday traffic on the motorway, which I greatly underestimated–luckily I had caught their entire 12 song set at the Electric Ball the week before and have probably seen them a dozen times before that, so I didn’t feel too bad. After that I was primed to catch Man Hands and Exploding Oranges, who were unfortunately playing at the same time across from each other through a chain link fence. Man Hands is an absolute powerhouse live and I was thoroughly impressed, what’s even more amazing is that their bass player was MIA and they still blew my mind being one man down. I am looking very forward to seeing their full set with a full band. Though it was admittedly hard to hear, Exploding Oranges pulled off a great set despite Man Hands shaking the sky. What occurred next was a total treat and a complete surprise. I have seen The Oakland Raiders listed on a couple bills lately, but I had no idea about them. I can say, without a doubt, that The Oakland Raiders have to be one of the best new bands in town with the absolute worst name possible–seriously, I completely stumbled upon their set and when I saw Nicholas Villa on guitar, I knew my ears were in good hands. The Oakland Raiders presented some of the best revivalist Mod rock I’ve heard in a while and I can’t wait for them to get a new name and start playing more venues throughout town (also, if they have a Facebook page or anything else, it’s impossible to find). Villa then completed the set with his own songs and various friends accompanying him, including photographer Jon Jenkins taking a seat behind the drum kit. The Haymarket Squares followed and the main stage area turned into a dustbowl of anarchy, while the audience went wild dancing to songs about politics, voting, revolution, getting fucked up and having fun–”punkgrass for the people” indeed.
Following that was the big event I had been waiting for: Naked Pizza‘s final show. I had thought this was my first Naked Pizza show as well–it became apparent while watching them for the last time, that I had seen them before, but the rum-soaked memories of those shows were murky at best. I can honestly say I will be sad to see Naked Pizza go because they are so fucking fun and the world needs that kind of madness. I made my way to their makeshift merch stand and bought my first cassette in fifteen years and I would have bought a t-shirt, but at $5 a pop they were sold out by the time I got there, but I learned something in the process. The final show was fantastic with nearly 20 people on the stage and at least a hundred onlookers, it occurred to me that only Naked Pizza could make six songs stretch across nearly an hour thanks to the amusing and often inspirational soapboxing of ringleader Austin Rickert. I really hope this show was completely captured, because you wouldn’t believe it unless you were there, seriously.
They finished with the anthemic “Songs About Depression Sell Records” with Rickert and most of the audience screaming, “There is no God and nothing happens after you die!” At one point Rickert even commented that “This is the greatest thing I’ve ever created” and I have a suspicion that “So Far” should be added to that statement with a smile. And for a moment in space and time Naked Pizza mya indeed have been “The best band ever.”
As the final notes still reverberated in the air I booked it to my Jeep and headed to The Rogue. As the lineup at Weirdfest had been running behind, I had to sacrifice one of Sun Ghost’s last performances for Naked Pizza’s final show, which I had to accept, though I was greeted at the door by friends informing me that they had just seen the greatest Sun Ghost set they had ever witnessed (luckily, everyone has a chance to catch them once more this Sunday at Crescent Ballroom with Genre!). Luckily, this show was running late as well and I arrived just in time to catch Snake!Snake!Snakes! deliver a completely searing set of pure rock’n'roll and psychotic beach music. I absolutely love their new direction in sound and vitriolic delivery and can’t wait for their new recordings. Lead singer Jonathan Messenger was about to end the set, but guitarist Dan Tripp would have none of it and began playing the start of “A Certain Kind of Loser” and for the next six or seven minutes I completely lost my mind to what is not only my favorite song by Snakes! but was my favorite song of the entire evening. It was around this time that I also partook of one of my favorite things: Punk Rock Pizza–my new favorite is the Anarchy, I could have eaten three of them. Finally, the moment that most of the audience was waiting for had arrived. After five months of silence Doctor Bones returned to the stage for a live performance, the first of a series of monthly shows at The Rogue. They played to a packed house all eager to see how the hiatus had treated them, the air was electric and when the dust settled a sweaty audience dispersed and drank and discussed the evening as Ex-Ghost deejayed the night away. I for one am quite curious to hear the upcoming Secrets of El Cortez EP and watch as their future live shows play out.
Saturday, September 28th: Sundressed at Wong’s, Twin Ponies EP Release Party at The Rogue
After such an exciting and physically draining Friday night, I slept way the hell in Saturday–so much so that I missed out on returning to Weirdfest. I did however, make it in time to Long Wong’s to catch Sundressed and get a taste of their newly refined lineup. It has to be said that Sundressed is getting better and harder with each passing moment–they are becoming our own little Replacements and their sets lately have completely blown me away. I would have stayed to catch the rest of the amazing lineup that night (Packrat, Saddles, Morning Theft and St. Ranger), but ironically, Charles Barth of Saddles had turned me on to Celebration Guns earlier in the week and my ears and attention were promised to the Rogue. It was a wise decision (though I’m sure the other show was great too) because the Twin Ponies EP release party for Pores was hands down the best show of the weekend. Celebration Guns made their live debut and holy hell what a debut it was! They are now officially my favorite new band in town with their clever combination of feedback washed, air infused shoegazing indie pop filled with flawless hooks and enough rock nerve to get you moving. I’m not sure I’ve ever been more impressed with a band during their first performance, these guys just totally nailed it right out of the starting gate–fucking amazing. Seriously, keep your eyes on these guys! The Electric Blankets from Tucson followed and I’ve now found my new favorite band from that city–a furiously paced and visually exciting garage rock outfit with Mod flourishes, every song was catchy and nearly everyone found themselves dancing at some point in the set, kudos to them and their searing cover of The Sonics “The Witch.” I cannot wait to catch them again and I sincerely hope they make many more trips North in the near future.
I can safely say without fear of hyperbole that in the coming months Captain Squeegee will unleash one of the best albums of the year that may very well melt your brain and devour your soul. Well, Saturday night we got a taste of what is to come at The Rogue and it was goddamn delicious. Wild guitar rock infused with Zappa-esque horns, Beefheartian absurdity all within the realm of a new age bent pop rock explosion. Their set was absolutely devastating and I felt as though it had altered my brain chemistry in the process and possibly raped my spine. “My Machine” and “Shift Happens” were particular highlights that delivered my consciusness beyond the confines if The Rogue. Finally, it was time for the Twin Ponies to release Pores to the people. First of all, they have to get some kind of award for the most creative release design of the year in the form of a limited edition song book containing the lyrics, sheet music and a download code for the four song EP. In case you are unaware, Twin Ponies is three fifths of Tugboat and their debut EP is a stunner. I had been prepared for them to play those four songs and not much more. Needless to say I was completely surprised when they played an entire albums worth of material across the better part of an hour. Think Tugboat, then imagine them darker, edgier and harder than ever before. It was a spectacular finish to a show that never let up once on energy or drive–it was fours hours of fucking perfection.
My only regret this weekend was that I didn’t make it back to Weirdfest, especially on Sunday, where I wanted to catch The Cadavers, Japhy’s Descent and Girl Boner–alas that was not to be as I awoke with a head full of hell and a fever of 103. It almost made me wish I had been drinking. In all honesty, I’m not sure I could have handled much more greatness crammed into such a short space of days and I feel downright blessed for all I got to witness. You have no excuse not to have this good of a time too.