Long Wong's Shadow: Concerning a Band Without a Name and the New Wong's

Around midnight on a recent Saturday, Jack Maverik gets a text message from a friend. A few minutes later, he gets another one. Then another. While getting three texts in a row is not remarkable for Maverik, the general manager of the new Long Wong's in Tempe, the reason is. All three messages are about a band on stage, and all three are from people who want to know who these guys are, since they seemingly came from out of nowhere.

"It was unique," Maverik says. "I have been [doing] shows in the Valley for over six years, and I see about 15 acts a week, easily, and never have I gotten quite the reaction I do when they play."

One text even goes so far as to call the band the sender's "new favorite."

Future Loves Past . . . or Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes, or . . .
Future Loves Past . . . or Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes, or . . .

This band is new. Really new. So new that they have no recorded music and are still looking for a permanent keyboardist. And, oh, yeah, they don't really have a name yet. But they've quickly established themselves as a favorite at the venue, which might, in turn, establish itself as the rightful successor to the legendary Mill Avenue club of the same name that birthed bands like Gin Blossoms.

Not that anyone wants to talk about that stuff. Maybe it's scenester politicking — people involved with the old venue are a little touchy about the new venue — but the people who run the new Long Wong's don't want to be compared to the old Long Wong's, Maverik says.

"You can't try to repeat it. You can't actively go after it," he says. "It was a time and a place. I only really give a shit if people have fun here."

Still, it's not ridiculous to ask: Does the new Long Wong's on Apache Boulevard have any chance of becoming an institution like the old Long Wong's? It's an uphill battle, sure, but if that's going to happen anytime soon, it will be because bands like this — good bands — win a loyal audience that shows up to watch them play regularly.

But, first, a name.

"We're pretty set on Future Loves Past," vocalist and auxiliary percussionist Sarah Hibner says. "We'll probably stick with it."

This band changes names like most people change socks, and it's become a running joke with members and their new fans. Among their names: Giant Crystal Scorpion, Cuteness (for about 45 minutes), Good Luck Past, and most recently, Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes, a name that fans have taken a liking to, even defiantly singing the famous children's song to them on stage when they call themselves anything else. During one of their performances, the band called themselves Mike's White Shoes, after guitarist Mike Anderson's footwear that evening.

For now, though, they seem to have taken a shine to Future Loves Past, which is a lyric from a song written by bassist Eric Palmer. Hibner, particularly, likes the name because of the openness and sense of fluidity it evokes. She says if they need to add members, they can; if they want to change their style, they can; and if they want to experiment with different sounds, they can. The name Future Loves Past is "open-ended. It reflects on the nature of the band and trying to embrace and remain open to everything, not just music."

When Future Loves Past plays, their sound is almost all-encompassing. Think neo-soul meets '70s rock, with a nod to current indie trends from bands like Yeasayer and Local Natives. It borrows lovingly from all genres and blends them together in a straightforward way that's easy to relate to and digest.

The band came together after Palmer and guitar player/vocalist Tristan DeDe had disintegrated another band of theirs, Indias, and decided to start something new. Maverik needed to fill a performance slot one night and had worked with Indias in the past, so he asked them to play.

"When I took over at Long Wong's, I booked Indias and they just killed it," he says. "They packed the place, played great, were cool dudes to hang out with. One day I had a show opening and I needed a band. I called Eric Palmer, but Indias' drummer was in China for work. So he said 'I'm throwing together this side project. We'll play. It'll be awesome.' I figured any band thrown together in one week was probably going to be pretty awful, so I put them on late that night and hoped for the best."

And much to Maverik's surprise, the texts started rolling in.

Palmer attributes their instant positive reception to the fact that their music makes a nice soundtrack to a night at the bar: upbeat, easily interpreted, fun.

"We have a huge mix of songs to pull from that we've written in the past," DeDe, the singer, says. "Eric and I have been playing for three years together, and [with Future Loves Past] we have the right mix of people."

The band does seem to have a communal approach to their music, with members pulling double duty on instruments and vocals. That spirit of relaxed, open collaboration is what Long Wong's, which has been open for about seven months, is hoping to build a scene around. One aspect of the old Long Wong's that the new Long Wong's wants to have is a reputation for nurturing the bands that played there, says Maverik.

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6 comments
Anon
Anon

He sure is a douche. I hate that guy. Holy Crap.

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John
John

If they don't want the comparison, then why even call it Long Wongs? Just call it something else. I've been to the new location a few times and it sucks. The staff is slow and cranky. Not worth spending my money there. And I really miss the Firehouse that was in that location. A great place to get a fantastic steak dinner for a reasonable price. Tempe let two great institutions die.

whocares
whocares

Jack Maverick's a douche.

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Tempelocal
Tempelocal

I love the Wongs on Apache, and I was a regular at the Wongs on Mill but just to be clear, they are not owned by the same folks.

Yea Jack Mav!!!

 
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