When I got in the door to Funny World, I asked Space-Alien Donald how he was doing. "I have music," he said. "So I'm happy." And it turned out, it indeed was a good night for music. A great night actually, from a variety of weird backgrounds from all over the Southwest, somehow fitting best in Phoenix.
I missed Button Struggler because I was late. Because I was, OK? I'm sorry. One of the first songs from Jawwzz, from Salt Lake City, was very similar to Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill," but it was strung through guitar so it sounded unique and that made me feel good. In addition to that, it was apparent Jawwzz have taste. Dressed in all black, they recalled goth punk -- Joy Division blended with The Smiths. It makes sense they had a song called "Morrissey." The lead singer practically made out with a bouquet of fake roses duct taped to his mic stand.
With their mixture of poppy, surfy, beachy, and otherwise just sunny punk chords, Cum Stain was pretty much the antithesis to Jawwzz. From Oakland, the lead singer helicoptered his stringy hair and flashed his mustache and actually did make out with the mic, tongue and all. They were sexy, not just the way they screeched how horny they were. There was just something about female bassists tonight, I guess. Anyway, it might not surprise you that Cum Stain is a band that has songs like "Kitty Cum Home" and "Cum Back." They make you want to dance and lots of people. There was even some moshing. The band also said they took EBT cards for merch, which I thought was very generous.
The Wavelengths released one of the best albums of this year, in my opinion, so I was incredibly excited to see them perform. They opened with a lyric-less track, which I think is brave of them. Audiences these days, shy of the EDM folks, can't seem to handle instrumentals. Without lyrics, they can't be bothered to pay attention, so any band that does this is risking everyone yawning or checking their phones, through no fault of their own. But no yawning occurred. That's because The Wavelengths fucking rock.
There's something beyond vintage about this band, whom were all dressed in blank blue shirts and khaki shorts. Costumed bands are delightful. The Wavelengths' vibrations just feel too bizarre to transport you back in time -- you're stuck here in the tacky seductiveness of it all. "Devil Woman" is hypnotizing, yet has a kind of cool sarcasm, while "I Don't Wanna" makes you feel more independent than stubborn. Evan Bisbee is kind of a wizard on the keyboard, and his echo-y organ riffs are what hold this band together, especially on "Take It Sleazy." They dedicated one of their songs to Robin Williams.
I talked to Ryan Avery of Father's Day before his set and he told me this story that I will now relate to you because I think it is amusing: After one of his shows, Mr. Avery was approached by a young boy who claimed he could relate very much to Father's Day songs. "Really?" Ryan said, shocked. "Well, is your father addicted to pills?"
"No," said the little boy.
"Well, is your sister a slut?"
"No," said the little boy. "But that song you have about cleaning your room..."
Father's Day opened the night with "dad jokes," such as "time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana." These are jokes my dad actually loves to tell. My dad is also er, rotund, and has a thick mustache. Ryan Avery was dressed in a bathrobe with a fake mustache that kept melting off. In this way, I felt like Ryan Avery was actually my dad for a moment.
Their first song was a new one called "Disney World." Here are the entire lyrics: "I'm never ever, ever, ever, ever, ever gonna take my kid / to Disney World." But imagine them screamed as people thrash around and squeal and slide around on spilled drinks. But indeed, fuck that mouse and his Florida hovel.
The energy was constant throughout for "I Like Your Mom" and "Stupid Dog" and "She's Just A Friend." I moshed hard and got my hair pulled by Ryan and I was knocked all over during "You're Lucky To Be Eating At The Sizzler." My family used to go to Sizzler once a week until we kept getting sick from it. Diarrhea memories! Father's Day can remind you of those!
Father's Day ended their set and filed off stage while demanding an encore. As soon as they were outside, someone locked the door, which was pretty hilarious. When let back in, their encore consisted of "Disney World" being played like four or five or six more times. I lost count quickly. There was a bit where the whole crowd was invited to "scat man" with Ryan. Then more of "Disney World." Then everyone threw their instruments down and the carnage was over.
See next page for Critic's Notebook and more photos.
Last Night: Father's Day, The Wavelengths, Cumstain, Jawwzz, Button Struggler At Funny World
The Crowd: Only some of the coolest people in Phoenix.
Overheard: "Is my lip bleeding? It's because of that Jewish boy. This next song is about his parents."
Personal Bias: Robin Williams, who died that night, was in a 1997 movie with Billy Crystal. You know what it was called? Father's Day. Coincidence? I don't think so.
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