Scottsdale's Martini Ranch is headed for the last roundup this weekend. As we reported last week, the Old Town concert hall/dance club/drinkery/hangout is gonezo after Sunday night as its owners are closing down the joint for good.
Three straight nights of live music are scheduled to transpire, however, before plugs are pulled and doors are locked -- including tonight's gig by Equal Vision stalwarts Saves the Day -- which serve as the final chapter to Martini Ranch's 19-year history of hosting shows.
And it's a history that's included some noteworthy musicians and bands.
Like the recently deceased (and much venerated) rock club Hollywood Alley, Martini Ranch had a stage that was frequently trodden up on by acts and artists of renown and a pretty epic pantheon of local bands to boot.
In fact, we could probably fill a pretty thick tome with the thousands of famous names from the rock, pop, indie, and Americana realms -- including such singers and outfits as Adele, The Cardigans, Grace Potter, The Toasters, Trashcan Sinatras, Portugal: The Man, David Bazan, Melvins, Hot Hot Heat, Metric, and William Fitzsimmons -- that have called the place home for the length of a set.
Along with local music fanatics and clubgoers, the scribes of New Times headed to the Stetson Drive spot to catch some of these memorable shows over the years. In honor of Martini Ranch's closing, we've reached into our archives and assembled a rundown of some of the gigs our staff has chronicled in recent years. And while this is by no means a definitive list of the venue's best shows (and is admittedly only a tiny sample of its lengthy concert history), it provides a snapshot of the sort of tunes that were on tap at the Ranch.
She Wants Revenge Four hours before showtime, and Justin Warfield, the lead singer of the neo-New Wave band She Wants Revenge, has his hands all over some chick's panties. Okay, several chicks' panties, to be precise. Apparently, this is what some Rock Gawds do in their spare time. Um, you know, prep merchandise.
"Gimme me a sec, I've got to finish counting these," Warfield requests as he's thumbing through a big stack of red-and-black undies with She Wants Revenge logos on them, taking notes. "Really glamorous, huh?"
Reckon they'll be peddling the panties at the band's merch table. I'm not sure why Warfield's doing this himself out beside his tour bus, at the moment parked behind Scottsdale's Martini Ranch. Doesn't Geffen Records have, like, interns or groupies for this kinda scut work? -- Stephen Lemons
Shiny Toy Guns Shiny Toy Guns rocked the hell right out of their second gig leaving the audience chanting "STG" and several fans singing their favorite tracks right over Muse's "Knights of Cydonia" as they wandered out into the Scottsdale streets.
Pulling heavily from 2006's We Are Pilots Shiny Toy Guns covered all their hits including "Le Disko," "You are the One" and "Rainy Monday," but it was "Richochet" the first single from the upcoming album Season of Poison that set the room on fire. The song sounds like a bit of a departure from the dance music-leaning first album, but Dawson wants fans to relax.
"Richochet is the only song on the album that sounds like that. Listen to the record. The keyword is patience." -- Jonathan McNamara
Read More: Shiny Toy Guns at Martini Ranch
Eagles of Death Metal Taking the stage to Kool and the Gang's "Ladies Night," the band looked exactly like they did back in September -- I think the guitarist and bassist were wearing the same outfits. Opening with one of their biggest hits, "I Only Want You" also didn't inspire much confidence, but by the title track from Heart On, it was obvious they brought their A-game, Hughes and mohawked guitarist Dave Catching trading solos while bassist Brian "Big Hands" O'Connor and Joey Castillo kept things moving at a breakneck pace.
EoDM took a nice long break between almost every song (along with the 45-minute break between bands, this was the most annoying part of the night), but it'd be hard to argue they didn't deserve it. Their latest single "Wanna Be in L.A." sounded great and by the pre-encore closer, "Anything 'Cept the Truth," which features the band's best-ever riff, I was fully back in their corner. After the break, Hughes' solo cover of "Brown Sugar," and his guitar duel with Catching on "Speaking in Tongues" had me eying the T-shirts on the merch table. -- Martin Cizmar
Ida Maria If you're worried Ida Maria is the next in a long line of indie princesses to go "pop" the first time some douchey A&R guy suggests it might be a prudent career move, fear not. As she showed last night in Scottsdale, although "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked" may well be headed for mainstream success, this gruff-voiced Scandinavian is not Courtney Love, Gwen Stefani or Liz fucking Phair.
Actually, as indie/punk princesses go, she has more of a Kathleen Hanna vibe than anything, even if her much softer (and much more Swedish) style would render such remarks heresy to those who'd argue that it takes more than Maria's punchy songs and grrrly look - last night she wore a leopard-print slip with no bra or shoes while playing a white strat, held over her shoulder by a skull-print strap - to earn the comparison. - Martin Cizmar
Switchfoot It must be nice for a band like Switchfoot to play an intimate venue like Martini Ranch. The pop rock band sold out tonight's show, and the audience, which was made up of mostly 20- and 30-something's, actually sung along, danced and clapped to the music.
Switchfoot released their seventh studio album, Hello Hurricane, this past Tuesday, and the crowd did their homework quickly, singing along to every song from the album.
"I don't know how you guys are already singing along," said guitarist/vocalist Jon Foreman. "It's amazing. You're officially our favorite crowd ever." -- Nicki Escudero
Read More: Switchfoot at Martini Ranch
Metric [Emily] Haines sat at the black baby grand while the stage remained unlit and, directly following, Shaw sat to play a rotating trio of acoustic guitars. The duo went straight into a relentless rendition of "Gold Guns Girls," from their latest release Fantasies. I was ecstatic. 1: Because nobody from FM 103.9, a sponsor of the gig, made a goofy, unneccessary stage announcement, and 2: Because I immediately knew I wasn't in for a night of boring, watered-down song rehashes.
Haines' haunting, sometimes childlike meow hoovered over the crowd, struck silent by the raw power in her gentle croon. Even our blathering drunkard friend shut her trap. Bobbing her head with increasing intensity to the beat of "Satellite Mind," Haines built up to the line, "Heard you fuck through the wall, I heard you fuck," immediately demanding the attention of the least interested of the obliged boyfriends demographic. -- Becky Bartkowski
Read More: Metric at Martini Ranch
Bruno Mars Wow, what a showman Bruno Mars is. The young singer-songwriter made it clear he's not just another pop star at his show Saturday night at Martini Ranch, launching his set with an extensive drum solo. While other musicians in his genre might hide behind backing tracks and headset mikes, Mars confidently took charge of his set from the beginning, displaying the musical chops that helped make him a hit songwriter with The Smeezingtons before debuting his own career.
His full band, including Smeezingtons collaborator Philip Lawrence on backing vocals, were also talented, playing aggressively and energetically from the start. It was evident from the beginning Mars' show wasn't just about playing the hits--it was about establishing Mars as a bonafide performer who has the ability to improvise well and engage an audience. -- Nicki Escudero
Read More: Bruno Mars at Martini Ranch Last Night
Patrick Stump During all the times I had seen Patrick Stump perform with Fall Out Boy, he never looked quite as comfortable, confident, or happy as he did Tuesday night during his solo set at Martini Ranch.
Now, I do use the term solo loosely, as Stump has a complete and very talented backing band behind him, but you get the picture. He danced, he played guitar, he even played drums a few times.
We've written about Stump's move from punk to pop, but last night's performance sold me on the shift. Outside of a few covers, the songs Stump played were all his own, and it showed. The sincerity with which he performed was refreshing and it amped up an already excited audience. The night started off with a short, three-song set by Rocky Fresh, a Chicago rapper who has benefited from Stump's tutelage. -- Wayne Schutsky
Read More: Patrick Stump at Martini Ranch, 8-30-11
The Pretty Reckless Gossip Girl star Taylor Momsen told the crowd at Martini Ranch Monday night her band The Pretty Reckless almost canceled their show because her voice was completely shot. For the devoted fans in the half-full venue, it's a good thing she didn't. But for a concert reviewer, it's hard to judge muffled vocals, with the remainder of the lyrics being sung by audience members.
That doesn't mean the show wasn't fun. For a band in all-black on Valentine's Day, the mood was actually quite upbeat, since The Pretty Reckless' music is so catchy. The crowd danced and sang along a lot throughout the show, giving a reminder that no matter how mature Momsen might dress, she's still just a 17-year-old like many of the people in the audience. (And, at the concert, she wore a very sheer dress.)
Once the band started playing, though, the audience helped out the scratchy-throated Momsen throughout the set. The band's debut album, Light Me Up, came out only last week, so it was impressive that so many people already knew all the lyrics to the new material. -- Nicki Escudero
The Baseball Project There's really no better tune to sum up The Baseball Project's set than their opening one, "All Future and No Past." In its 3-odd minutes, the tune encapsulates everything that makes the band so great, the opening day optimism that makes eager fans believe that anything is possible, that your team could take home the pendant, that all those years of suffering the fair-weather fans and waiting patiently may finally be rewarded.
The band, comprised of indie-rock royalty Scott McCaughey (Minus 5), Steve Wynn (The Dream Syndicate), Linda Pitmon (Miracle 3) and Peter Buck (R.E.M.), blasted through an hour and a half set last night, occasionally sidestepping the baseball themed songs from their two albums, Frozen Ropes and Dead Quails and High and Inside for detours into Minus 5, Miracle 3 and Dream Syndicate songs.
The band was enjoying an extended stay in Arizona, playing at a few spring training games, where they had to "force" the music on bewildered baseball fans. Not necessary last night; the modest crowd (you'd have thought more people would show for an R.E.M. side project) was totally into the scene, air-guitaring and shouting along. -- Jason P. Woodbury
The Ataris Although he has been the driving force behind one of the more successful pop punk bands of the last 15 years, The Ataris' Kris Roe seemed just like any other struggling musician last night at the Martini Ranch.
But don't take that the wrong way. He was just more humble and down to earth than many other musicians of his ilk. He was self-deprecating, joking about his Arizona curse. Hell, Roe even sold a few B-side CDs out of a plastic bag to help pay for repairs to the band's van.
While his voice seems a bit throatier than I remember and you can tell that the wear and tear of the past 15 decade have gotten to him a bit, Roe still swayed and moved on stage with genuine enjoyment as he played songs new and old, and a few covers too. -- Wayne Schutsky
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Read More: The Ataris at Martini Ranch, 8/12/11