Five Great Shows We Saw This Summer
As a Midwestern transplant, I'm having a lot of trouble figuring out what is summer and what isn't in Arizona. I left my last apartment in the spring, back in April, and arrived here two days later in the summer. From what I'm told, it will continue until sometime next April.
But seasons were how we decided to arbitrarily mark off the list of shows we really enjoyed reviewing, so we did our damnedest to demarcate something called "summer" and put some cool shows in it. We also want to hear about the shows you really liked, even/especially if we didn't review it.
Fleetwood Mac - US Airways Center - 5/30/2013
( View the full slideshow .) For Fleetwood Mac's show at US Airways Center --which was on May 30, yes, but who's counting--we were lucky enough to assign the review to Shane Kennedy, who, in the words of his own disclaimer, "[owns] numerous bootlegs recordings, VHS tapes, a laserdisc, a T-shirt, two belt buckles, and, yes, I also have a Fleetwood Mac cover band that exclusively plays material from Tusk ."
So yes, he liked it. But so did Melissa Fossum, our photographer and control group. He was also able to explain why he liked it:
Looking over set lists and reviews from other stops on this tour reveals the same exact nightly set list and same nightly banter. Perhaps that's to be expected in this day and age, but don't we always want to believe that we are special and every show is unique?
All in all, I doubt there was anyone in the audience who left feeling slighted, other than the one holdout who thought there was a chance of them busting out Peter Green's "Oh, Well."
The band was indeed the "Big Machine" that Lindsey frequently refers to them as, and with any machine that big, nothing was left to chance, which would explain the teleprompter in front of Stevie.
For me, one of the great joys of the show was seeing, and hearing, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood play together, as they have for almost 50 years now, and as seamlessly as ever. One cannot say enough about their chemistry and history. Oh, the places they've been!
And despite the hair-splitting, it was a great joy to go with them last night.
D.I. - Club Red, Tempe - 7/2/2013
D.I.'s show at Club Red "became a bit of a debacle" when last-minute scheduling changes led to multiple stages going up at once, but the hectic scheduling led reviewer Richard Noel to make a pleasant discovery in mid-show :
As I sat there thinking "No sir. Fuck you for your uninspired attempt at NOFX parody," something wonderful happened.
My ears caught the sound of something in the background. It was a band in the Red Owl venue. I quickly excused myself and scrambled over to the other side.
The Combat Medic had just taken the small stage, playing to virtually no one. I had heard good things about this band a while ago and was a bit eager to see what they were about. I caught nearly the entire set. I found them to be a really solid three-piece.
The influence of The Clash on this band is absolutely unmistakeable. But The Combat Medic certainly doesn't come off as a wannabe cover band. They seemed to carry Joe Strummer along with them in their songs like "Windshield" and "Have a Nice Day" subtly, without being obnoxious. Singer Gil Rodriguez's vocal stylings are akin to a toned-down Lemmy Kilmister meets early Dickie Barrett, which I really dug.
Feeding America Benefit Concert - Crescent Ballroom - 7/25/2013
Four popular locals--Flamenco por la Vida, Sara Robinson & The Midnight Special, Dry River Yacht Club, and The Senators--came together for this July 25 show, benefiting Feeding America and United Food Bank. Here's what Lauren Wise said:
United Food Bank is a driving force in fighting hunger, distributing almost 46,000 meals daily, and can provide five meals with just $1. By the time I donated my bag of four non-perishable items, they had already collected about 160 pounds of food. As Sara Robinson & the Midnight Special came out to perform, a substantial crowd had already gathered. I personally think they should've had some sort of sign outside of Crescent promoting the fact that a concert/food drive was happening inside, as I bet it would've brought even more people off the streets.
Sara Robinson & The Midnight Special's brand of bluesy funk rock sounds just as good live as it does on the band's recording. While the rest of the band doesn't move around too much, frontwoman Robinson makes up for it with her usual captivating show. She has a type of sensual impatient energy as she dances around the stage, stamping her bright red high heels and balling her hands into fists and strutting around with a jazz singer's attitude. She looks way too sweet to have the soulful, reverberating voice that projects from within her. You can also tell that the band is having a great time, as they shot each other smiles and joked around in between songs.
By the end of the night, the entire crowd was undoubtedly worn out by grooving, sweaty from the crowd's close quarters, and happy with the thought of contributing to a good cause. At least I know I was.
Cover the Crescent: NY Punk edition - Crescent Ballroom - 7/28/2013
Cover the Crescent picked some dangerous territory on July 28, when members of Sweet Oblique, Sweetbleeders, and Wooden Indian covered Television and the Velvet Underground--bands about whom everyone has an opinion--and Billy Joel, about whom people who have opinions about the Velvet Underground often have very negative opinions.
But according to Amy Young--a New York transplant, who is thus required to weigh in on these things--everyone acquitted themselves beautifully, or at least well enough to avoid her ire.
Sweetbleeders kicked off the night with a Billy Joel set, opting for some interesting choices from Joel's mid-'70s offering Turnstiles. Even if you are like me and have never gotten into, or down with, the sounds of Billy Joel, Sunday night's performance brought those tunes to life in an honest, fun, and musically right-on homage. Singer Robin Vining was nothing but fierce as he channeled Billy Joel via interesting choices like "James," Angry Young Man," and "I've Loved These Days."
The band, complete with sax action, was righteous with big, impassioned arrangements. Not saying I'm gonna go rock a B.J. album now, but if I had to hear him, this was for sure the way to go
Blues Oblique rocking Television was nothing short of outstanding, capturing the band's brilliance with songs from the timeless Marquee Moon and delivering it with real power and elegance. Hey, Michael Krassner on vocals and guitar, you are exceptional.
The whole band, actually -- but never having seen Krassner perform before, I was beyond impressed. Truth be told, I got chills during "Prove It," a song I've probably heard 5,000 times before; it was a beautiful rendition. "Venus," "Torn Curtain," "See No Evil," and "Marquee Moon" were also part of the set.
Wooden Indian, Yellow Minute - MIM Music Theater - 8/19/2013
The Musical Instrument Museum's "I Am AZ Music" series has brought a ton of great acts through their top-of-the-line theater--earlier this month there was an acoustic blues night , and before that the Through & Through Gospel Review --but it was a particular pleasure to hear Wooden Indian and Yellow Minute in such a perfect-sounding room for their Pop Genre-Benders night.
We could blockquote in part of our review, or you could just watch a song from each band, and then imagine hearing them in perfect clarity in some maybe-too-comfortable seats.
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