Other Favorite Live Bands 2014

I probably should have done this in the reverse order. I wanted to give the following nine bands honorable mentions, because they made life great last year. Instead, I announced Field Tripp as the favorite instead of mentioning the others and there are still more honorable mentions I could think of (like 20 or 30 more), but these were bands that I either continually saw again and again or would go way the hell out of my way to see in 2014. I chose them in the most rational sense I made list straight off the top of my head, did the math and these are the results in no particular order.

Photo by Devon Christopher Adams

Gospel Claws

I love Gospel Claws, every song, every note, every member of the band. I think I only missed one show of theirs last year, which isn’t saying too much as they didn’t play very many, or it’s saying a lot. Members had other projects throughout the year, so this limited the bands availability to get on stage and tear it up, but when they did they blew the roof of the house–and always to a beyond ecstatic crowd. For me they are the perfect combination of catchy pop and indie rock and their songs drive me wild, often for days. Both of their albums are on heavy rotation constantly and their shows are no different, if they are playing, I will most likely cancel all other plans. Hell, I’d pay the cover just to hear “La Pequena”, but I’m happy that the rest of the songs are included as well. Be sure to check them out at The Rogue Bar on January 31st, which brings me to the next band, who you can see that same night…

Photo by Jime Hesterman Photography

Fairy Bones

Everyone knows I love the hell out of Fairy Bones. Naturally, they would be one of my favorite live bands, but you see they didn’t put out any music in 2014, except for two singles toward the end. For much of the year the only way to hear any of the songs not on their debut EP was to go see their shows and I saw a lot of them, maybe more than Field Tripp shows, honestly. It was a fascinating ride watching this band grow across the year. They were my favorite debut band of 2013 and watching them blossom last year was an amazing experience and for the first half of the year they gigged constantly, and I saw them every week, sometimes twice a week and it was magnificent. Then they went into hiding to selfishly record an album and I went through Fairy Bones withdrawal. Still, their shows were amazing and the more they did, the better they got, that’s probably why the album is so damn good, they too will be at the Rogue January 31st so you can get that album in your hands.

Photo by Devon Christopher Adams

decker.

I’ve been following this ever evolving psychedelic gospel folk rock band for over four years at this point and talk about aging like a fine wine, or a keg of whiskey. Though the lineup changes are near constant, Brandon Decker’s vision and direction never really changes.  No matter how large or small their lineup is on a given night, whether it’s at a club, a festival or in Dan Tripp’s backyard, it always a wonderful treat for the ears and the soul. Having four amazing records to choose from and a fifth on it’s way, there is never any shortage of material. decker. is clearly one of the best, and most critically acclaimed, bands in Arizona and I staunchly agree with that opinion. It’s not difficult to see why they are held in such high regard if you check out one of their shows, it’s difficult not to leave as a fan and probably slightly stunned–that’s how I first got hooked. The release their new album February 21st at Last Exit Live to see what I mean.

Photo By Devon Christopher Adams

Sundressed

I helped this band buy a van last year, because I thought they should be able to travel so that everyone could see what I saw in them right from the start. I think they only put out a split tape and a single or two this year, but they spent the rest of the time kicking ass on stage. It’s funny when you talk to Trevor Hedges, he’s such a calm, humble guy, but then he get’s on stage he is a volcano of emo rage, and it’s really great. You should see this band cover Bright Eyes, seriously, you’ll want to record it and then subsequently burn your Bright Eyes records because they do it better. Here is yet another band that is really coming into their own and creating a sound far different from how they started–sure all the pieces were there to begin with, but now they are taking those pieces and owning them. I have never once saw a disappointing show from these lads last year and their new EP to be released this Spring is one my most highly anticipated releases of the year.

Photo by Devon Christopher Adams

Playboy Manbaby

Do I really have to explain this? Have you seen Playboy Manbaby? If you don’t leave a Playboy Manbaby show either sweating or injured, you did it all wrong. They are one of the most exciting live shows in town and some will say they are the most exciting and some will say they are the only show in town. I’ve seen them create a moshpit at a family festival with the most boring crowd in the world–it was quite stunning. They have sold out Crescent on multiple occasions at this point and can turn any venue, alleyway, parking lot, house, backyard into a riot, they could do that to your house if you asked them nicely, I’m sure. The point is, Playboy Manbaby consistently delivers the most high energy show around–hell, even when Robbie was sick he still tore up Crescent, it was an amazing feat. With three releases in 2014 they had a lot of material to play with and just keeps going–what risk injury and have a ton of fun, check out Playboy Manbaby if you foolishly haven’t already.

Photo by Angela Garcia

Emby Alexander

You wouldn’t necessarily expect that a “chamber pop” band like Emby Alexander would have a great live show, but you would be wrong. Michael Alexander is a fantastic performer and comes on a bit like a cross between David Byrne and a cult leader. First of all their music is intoxicating on record and it drives me to write enormous poetry laden articles, but live the recordings come to life and envelope you, immerse you, swallow you whole. The create a psychedelic experience though their sound is not necessarily psychedelic, but it does open your soul. It’s not trance music, but it is trance inducing. They have this one thing they do where they create a feedback loop with the crowd using every ones cell phones and apparently it was me that dubbed it “The Emby Echo” and it’s a fantastic introduction to “Sexting My Friends”. That’s only part of their show though, their sets come of as experiences and memorable ones at that. I seriously look forward to what they have going on in 2015.

Photo by Frank C. Photography

The Thin Bloods

For a while last year, I found myself at a lot of shows with The Thin Bloods. I had a problem. Not really, but I was a little addicted. I had to wait all year to finally be rewarded with their second EP and I have to admit it was well worth the wait, still I want more. So while I was waiting I would go to shows and I would shout out songs and they would play them, so that was pretty great. I’ve been a fan of these guys since the start, actually before the start when they were All My Friends, but I will take The Thin Bloods over that any day of the week. Their live set is amazing, high energy, terse, intense, filled with rage, angst and psychosis and it it doesn’t get much better than that. I have referred to them as our local Pixies, but that’s not really fair, it’s only one aspect of their sound. All I want for this year is a full length album from these dudes, and lots of shows, yes lots of shows. Some of my favorite nights of 2014 either started or ended with The Thin Bloods screaming to their hearts content.

Photo by Sam Bibb

Snake!Snake!Snakes!

When Snake!Snake!Snakes! started they were pretty great, they had this wonderful indie rock sound tempered with a sensible pop element. But then Dan Tripp joined the band and these guys are hell on wheels–psychotic surf music written for sociopaths to enjoy. Worlds away from their beginnings you can still see their roots, but they are hacking at them with machetes. Over the last year Snakes! has become this unwieldy force of amazing guitar noise and aggression, while still maintaining that surf sound. Their shows have been mind blowing feedback laden events of cathartic fury, even when they are acoustic! My only complaint, but this has been my complaint from the start with Snakes! even before they became so apocalyptic and wanted our blood is that their sets are too short. I always want more at their shows, it’s like they just start to get my engine really revving and then it’s all “Thank you, goodnight.” Still, they are one of the best live acts in town. My only hope is that 2015 is the year they finally put out their second EP or better yet, an album.

The Redemptions

After Anthony Fama was unceremoniously sacked from Doctor Bones, I was a bit crushed. I knew I wasn’t going to really like his replacement, then no one really liked his replacement and the only one who did was the dude that replaced him. So I’ve always been rooting for Fama and I knew after a while he would rise again, and so in 2014 he did with the poetic moniker of The Redemptions. Fama has always been a performer and that hasn’t changed one iota, though this time around he isn’t rolling around in broken glass or injuring himself as often. Joined by Danger Paul on bass and Brett Ridler on drums this trio belts out 50s influenced punk and a strange madness that defies genre. Fama is as crazy as ever, but he’s just doing it in a way that’s not as hyperkinetic, but no less engaging. Here again is another band I want to see release music this year, because I’ve spent the last year watching them grow and they are at a point where they are ready to let it rip in the studio.

 

 

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