By Lauren Wise
By New Times
By Amanda Savage
By Jason P. Woodbury
By Troy Farah
By New Times
By Derek Askey
There was so much to see that no amount of sprinting from club to club -- which, of course, I tried anyway -- felt like enough. Good thing I kept running into friends everywhere, who helped me cover the waterfront.
Clubs editor Benjamin Leatherman filled me in on what he had just seen: "Soul Power was rockin' -- their last song was a smokin' version of 'It's Not Unusual' by Tom Jones," he said, recommending I stop by Caffe Boa to check out Shelby James and the Crying Shames, who had just started. Sure enough, it was a crazy scene there, with Shelby belting it out like a young Bruce Springsteen while some ladies danced in between tables of diners sipping wine.
I scooted over to Hiller's show just in time to hear front man Andrew Hiller -- who sings in the most amazing, passionate, Devendra Banhart warble -- mention that the band plans on recording an LP this summer. But my attempts at multitasking didn't pan out when I ran two doors down, and apparently just missed Reindeer/Tiger Team. For all the sets that ended on the early side, though, just as many ran long, so I saw the end of Mikel Lander's gig at The Library.
Dirty Dave was rockin' The Gossip when I wound up at Tavern on Mill, and there was a decent-size crowd of people on the dance floor who looked like they were on the verge of actually dancing. Unexpectedly, I saw Mike Roberts and Dylan Underkofler from Smoky Mountain Skullbusters. Apparently they were waiting to see the next band, Job for a Cowboy, but I had to inform them that JFAC skipped out on its time slot. (I heard that they later played a set on the street outside for their underage fans.) Roberts told me that the Skullbusters are the first band signed to the new AZPX record label (which is hosting a launch party at Hollywood Alley in Mesa on April 28), and that they're making another full-length album. Since the label's affiliated with the AZPX skateboard company, the Skullbusters get their own custom deck, too.
The audience got a laugh in the middle of Andrew Jackson Jihad's quirky, fun performance when the trio paused between songs and suddenly there was a blast of Rage Against the Machine (being covered by Grime two patios down). Of course, they seized the opportunity for some self-deprecating humor, and then jumped right back into another catchy song.
Doug Quick from the Drunken Immortals tracked me down to give me a DVD with the hip-hop band's first self-produced music video for a song off Hot Concrete; they want to have a full DVD ready by the time of the CD release. (The release show is scheduled for September 15 at the Clubhouse Music Venue.) Drunken has been playing a lot of weekend out-of-town shows -- Reno and Tahoe last week, L.A. next week -- but is setting up a longer tour with Black Sheep for this fall.
Heading over to the Bash at McDuffy's to see xrayok, I overheard a guy stumbling over the band's name -- as in, "Exrah-awk?" -- which is too bad, because these guys are like Phoenix's own little Radiohead. But not for much longer. I talked to them later that night and they said they're about to move to Los Angeles, so maybe name recognition in Phoenix is a moot point. Drummer Jack Duff is already living in L.A. None of it comes as any surprise, considering that singer TJ Hill and keyboard player Allison Smith have already tried out a few other cities before Phoenix.
The Society of Invisibles' show had a wild, house-party vibe, with about a dozen guys on the stage at any given moment, and a jam-packed audience pumping their fists. The group had five TVs onstage, all lighted up with the band's seeing-eye logo, and the Invisible Man was standing silently amid a bouncing mob of interweaving MCs. Regardless of who ends up getting the most votes in the Best Hip-Hop category, these guys deserve props for Best Marketing -- they put up posters all along Mill Avenue, handed out fliers for their showcase set, and set up a big logo banner outside The Library. I can only imagine what a circus the showcase will be if more bands catch on to this kind of promotional blowout.
Back in the beer tent, I got more highlights from Ben Leatherman: Broadway Bound and Gagged, the local Rocky Horror Picture Show cast, performing "Time Warp" in the middle of the street to a riled-up crowd, and Cut Throat Freak Show, who appeared on ABC's Wife Swap last week, doing their trademark fire juggling. Veteran house DJ Pete Salaz, another of my New Times colleagues, raved about Liar's Handshake, who packed the house with tons of fans who sang along to every song. "It was awesome," he said. "I'm definitely gonna seek them out."
Music lovers finding more music to love. I love it.