It was a weird, wild, and wet weekend. We're talking about Summer Ends Music Festival, Lucky Man Concerts' three-day extravaganza scheduled for Tempe Beach Park. But Mother Nature had other plans, and after the second huge rainstorm to hit the Valley in a month dumped more than an inch of rain, the city of Tempe shut down Tempe Beach Park, forcing organizer Tom LaPenna to scramble to find a backup venue for his festival.
Luckily, LaPenna has another venue at his disposal, the Marquee Theatre, and he was able to move the bulk of his festival indoors. However, that meant that there was only one stage and that the local acts got the short end of stick, getting bumped from the lineup.
No one can blame Lucky Man for that decision. Surely, the major headliners are responsible for the bulk of ticket sales. It's just a shame that the local bands deputized to sell tickets for the festival didn't get a chance to reap the rewards of their efforts. Lost in time, like tears in Tempe rain.
So the show went on, albeit not exactly as planned. The Replacements played what was supposedly their first club show in two decades (does the Marquee count as a club?) and kicked ass, and the Descendents were golden, even if Taking Back Sunday had a sub-par show.
It was a weekend of great music, regardless. The quantity might not have been there, but the quality was. Here's what we learned. -- David Accomazzo
Lindsey Stirling is absolutely ridiculous live Lindsey Stirling is a proud Gilbert product, and her appearance on America's Got Talent has enabled her to achieve a level of success most artists around town wouldn't dare to dream of. She's a talented violinist and dancer. There's no other act in the country quite like her. And she's so frickin' sweet and has such a vivacious spirit that writing anything critical of her feels like punching a puppy, but there's something about Sterling's act that just feels so limiting. On the stage at Tempe Beach Park on Friday, she strutted around stage dressed in zebra-stripe tights and a black top, and for the most part, she delivered a great performance. Gone were the flubs that so irked Piers Morgan on America's Got Talent. But as she strutted across the stage, kicking her legs and playing sixteenth-note arpeggios over EDM- and hip-hop-inspired backing tracks, Stirling's unique flavor started to get a little old, like a piece of gum that's been chewed too long. There's only so many times you can watch her prance, sprite-like, across the stage before you start craving a beer and need to leave. I can't help but think that Stirling's music and live performance would be so much more interesting if she didn't constrain herself to predictable dramatics of power-pop and electronica. The talent is there, but the musical adventurousness and exploration is not. -- D.A.
Capital Cities are terrific The groovy disco five-piece has now rocked not one, but two festivals in the Valley of the Sun. As with their showing at True Music Festival in December, the attendance level was a little underwhelming, but there was nothing underwhelming about their performance. They were funky, they were groovy, they were dancing, and they kept it upbeat the whole time, even playing to a 10 p.m. crowd. I know in my heart of hearts it's just regular pop music. But there is just something so catchy about their track "Farrah Fawcett Hair" . . . it's just good shit.
They took the crowd and got them up, moving, and captivated with their upbeat tunes. In a festival that seemed to go through catastrophe after catastrophe Lucky Man can rest easy that its day one headliner was a winner. -- Jeff Moses
Always, always bring cash to a music festival. ATM fees as Summer Ends Friday night were $5 a pop. Lesson learned. -- D.A.
Dry River Yacht Club blows 'em all away Although you never really know how a music festival will turn out until after it unfolds, one thing was absolutely guaranteed going into Summer Ends: Dry River Yacht Club was going to put on one helluva show. And it did just that. While we're well aware that DRYC tends to play its hearts out in concert, the band's performance on Friday night on the KWSS locals-only stage had a bit more oomph and energy.
Due to the setup, the group had only about 30 minutes or so for its set but owned every single moment and filled it with fun. Drummer Henri Benard pounded on his kit like a madman, saxophone player Freddy Reyes wailed away with aplomb, and captivating chanteuse Garnet never sounded better. They were most certainly the highlight of the night on the local stage, if not the festival. And even though we've witnessed the indie/folksy/gypsy/worldsy act at least a dozen times before in a variety of locales, the outdoor setting underneath the stars at Tempe Beach Park at that certain point in the evening when the chill of the night air takes hold only added to the atmosphere. -- Benjamin Leatherman
The older crowd came out in force for Descendents and Replacements Look, we're not saying that everyone at the Marquee on Saturday to catch Descendents and The Replacements was pushing 40 (or older), but there were definitely plenty of folks in attendance who have been fans of both bands since back in the day. (Full disclosure: We're getting up there ourselves and have been rocking more than a few gray hairs in recent years). Heck, we even spotted a few cats that we had no idea were fans of Descendents and Replacements shirts sporting T-shirts for either band.
We don't mean any of this as a slight by any means, since it was cool to hang out and rock out with a bunch of Valley rock veterans, promoters, and scenesters both before, during, and after the epic sets provided by Milo Aukerman's Descendents and the living legends of the Replacements. A few even ventured into the pit to give it go and show those kiddies a thing or two while the Descendents thundered over the sound system, Father Time be damned. -- B.L.
"Rain or shine" isn't to be taken literally Sometimes, the rain can really outpour the shine. -- Tom Reardon
Fitz and the Tantrums keep it fun It was especially apt that Fitz and the Tantrums featured an array of smiley face-like blinking spotlights illuminating the Marquee's stage during their performance on Sunday, since it certainly seemed everyone in attendance was having a blast during their set. (Well, almost everyone, since we saw a few folks head outside for a smoke or because the upbeat and high-energy neo soul/indie pop sextet wasn't their cup of tea.)
Those who filled the main room were in high spirits as frontpeople Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs kept things lively and spirited throughout their hour-plus performance with such FATT jams as "Break the Walls" and "MoneyGrabber," as well as their stylish and inspired cover of Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This). There were handclaps, singalongs, and dancing aplenty, as well as tons of smiles. James King even provided an impromptu rendition of the kinky sax breakdown from Jason Derulo's "Talk Dirty" in the middle of "The Walker," which capped off the set. By the time that Fitz and the Tantrums, everything seemed right with the world. --B.L.
Foster the People whipped 'em into a frenzy To say that the packed house at Marquee Theatre was eagerly anticipating Foster the People's performance on Sunday evening would be an understatement. A definite fervor was building to critical mass in the crowd (as evidenced with chants of "Foster! Foster! Foster!") even before the popular indietronica band stepped onstage. And people kept screaming it turned into absolute bedlam once they kicked off their headlining set with "Pseudologia Fantastica" and painted the venue with a Technicolor trip-out of vibrant stage lights and neo-psych sounds.
It continued with the thunderous "Miss You" and its unrelenting percussive elements, (including a tremendous mid-song drum breakdown), followed by the gleeful indie pop of "Hustling (Life on the Nickel)," "Helena Beat," and "Call It What You Want," each of which featured audience members singing along and adding to Mark Foster's already lush vocals. Things quieted down, however, for his solo acoustic performance of "Goats In Trees" -- getting so still that you could almost hear a pin drop as everyone was rapt with attention by Foster's singing -- before they rolled through more than a half-dozen other hits and FTP faves and ended with "Pumped Up Kicks" (natch) and "Don't Stop (Color on the Walls)." -- B.L.
Correction: This story originally stated Capital Cities has never played a club show in the Valley. The band played Crescent Ballroom in 2013.
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