Despite the abundance of aspiring and begging-to-be-disappointed pop/metal/whatever stars, there's a much more promising noise coming from deep inside the facility's second tier. Identifiable only by a fading Jurassic 5 sticker is a door that opens into the room used by Kinetic, a four-piece Valley hip-hop/funk outfit.
Whether playing a coveted slot at the "We Can All Get By If We Unify" festival, guest headlining one of the Arizona Roadhouse's hip-hop nights or performing in the decidedly non-hip-hop confines of Scottsdale's Chaser's, Kinetic is, suddenly, everywhere. And although the band has been playing out for a mere three months, the attention it's garnering is snowballing, avalanche-style.
Kinetic -- drummer Corey Manske, bassist (and occasional guitarist) Mike Hannah, turntablist Tige A. Susoreny and MC Javon Adams -- is a baby band by any measure, but that hasn't seemed to affect the mass of exposure and praise the group has been receiving. The band is the subject of an as-yet-untitled documentary (the program is set to air on Cox's Channel 9 on September 23 at 11 a.m.) intended to be the first in a series by producer Maurice Patterson that examines the local music scene and its players.
But why profile Kinetic, a band that audiences are just beginning to get exposed to? "Part of it is luck, definitely," explains Hannah. "Another big part is that we're unique-sounding; we don't sound like any other band in town, in the country even. Some people have recognized that -- it's just that the right people have recognized it."
"I think that we turned heads early," adds Manske. "We got lucky that we didn't go unnoticed."
It's difficult for anyone present at a Kinetic show not to notice the band. The Sprawl caught one of the group's early appearances, the aforementioned Chaser's gig. On a roster filled with alterna-hair bands, Kinetic was definitely out of its element (though it's hard to define exactly what its element is). Once the scattering of patrons suffered through a barrage of Goo Goo Dolls wanna-bes, the lights dimmed, a couple of quick record scratches drew attention to the shadows onstage, and the show began.
Kinetic has a mascot of sorts, a lanky brother by the name of LG who's in charge of crowd hype, dance instigation and introductions. This particular night, the intro doubled as a physics lesson -- the band's name is not simply a cool anomalous abstract -- that explained the differences between potential energy and kinetic energy. The latter is a dynamic force produced by movement, found in everything from baseball to roller coasters. Given the band's emphatic style, it's also the most appropriate moniker it could've adopted.
"You can draw comparisons to the name of the group and the sound we create because we always make you move in some form -- make your head nod, make you dance, make you smile, make you think," says Adams. "It keeps you in steady motion; we're always doing something to keep your attention. You don't gotta worry about being bored at a Kinetic show."
That's something of an understatement. When Kinetic plays, little else comes to mind aside from its delirious, beat-driven odysseys. Manske's explosive, intricate drumming paired with Hannah's rock-steady/funk-heavy bass form a rhythm section that's as unpredictable as it is tight. Alongside that, Tige (also a resident DJ at Z-Trip's Funky Cornbread nights) works his needle through the record grooves, injecting the kind of showcase leads a guitarist would normally provide. Over that wall of sound, Javon busts his deep-toned rhymes, pausing occasionally, only to explode again seconds later, sweating, bobbing and often jumping onto the dance floor to join the party.
Kinetic's tracks are a tasteful combination of the members' influences; Hannah and Manske come from a rock background, while Tige and Javon bring a hip-hop flavor to the proceedings. Thankfully, the resulting synthesis steers clear of the "rock/rap" stereotype.
"When we write songs, we have two things in mind," says Manske. "First, 'Does it groove? Can we picture the heads nodding and smiling?' Second, to diversify and challenge ourselves, and in turn, challenging ourselves challenges the listener."
For each of Kinetic's members, challenging themselves seems to be the overriding motivation. Manske and Hannah conceived the band as they were abandoning their previous, aggro-rock trio (they originally met through a "musician wanted" ad). Tige was introduced to the pair by a mutual friend and considered it carefully before straying from his comfortable hip-hop home to join the musical hybrid. "We had a personal meeting, thought Tige was cool, we jammed with him, and it was cataclysmic from there," boasts Hannah.
"A DJ in a band has to have a different mentality than a DJ doing hip-hop venues. When I first started to ask about Tige, [it turned out] he was a music fan, well-rounded -- one of those DJs who was interested in doing different stuff. That immediately appealed to me," says Manske. "If he was strictly hip-hop, I would have wondered how he could fit in."