While bands and musicians from all over the states will head to the Valley for next Friday's Viva Phoenix music festival, none will travel as far as Honolulu-based rockers Kings of Spade. The five-piece band will be jetting from their island home to the mainland as a part of their current tour in support of their 2013 self-titled album, including a stop-off in the Valley before heading to Austin for South By Southwest.
Kings of Spade, formerly known as X Factor, will be joining Sara Robinson and the Midnight Special, Zero Zero, The Burning of Rome, Bears of Manitou, Rusty Maples, and Treasurefruit at Last Exit Live during Viva Phoenix on Friday, March 7.
Performing at the festival is something that Kings of Spade guitarist Jesse Savio is looking forward to, especially since he's a former Valley resident and a fan of many of the aforementioned bands.
"We love Phoenix," he says. "I really didn't know it had such a vibrant music scene, I lived here for six months before I was 21, so I couldn't really go out and experience live music. So when we came back for the first time we were really impressed with all the musicians and the tightness of the bands. We also met one of our favorite bands to play with who we [also] became really good friends with, Sara Robinson and the Midnight Special."
Savio, a talented guitarist whose riffs on "This Child" the first song on their album are simple but catchy, helps create Kings of Spade's hard rock/blues sound, which is really accentuated by the wide vocal range of lead singer Kasi Nunes.
And Savio thinks it is Nunes that helps set them apart from other bands, and not only because of her vocal talents. The 36-year-old singer identifies as a transgender, which Savio says makes Kings of Spade unique and earns them some extra attention, but isn't much of an issue.
"To be honest it's really been more of a blessing if anything. It's not like we walk into a bar and people are like, 'That chick looks like a dude.' It's never been like that," says Savio. "If we ever ran across a person who it was an issue for, once they meet us and hear the music, I don't really think it will be an issue any more. Seems like we would have in such hot, social gender-bending times, but it's just not something that comes into play."
If nothing else, Savio says, the Kings of Spade singer "appeals to [both] guys and girls on stage."
"[She] has a wider appeal," he says. "Casting a wider net is always a good thing. I've never really looked at her as a guy or a girl, she's just Kasi."
Besides her unique gender status, Nunes also grabs people's attention in other ways via her tremendous vocal talents, as she can she can really wail.
"She's just a really good front person and she really tends to capture people's attention and reel them in," Savio says. "We have a real classic sound, blues mostly, and everyone can get down with the blues, we try to make it fun, heavy and danceable -- something everyone can get into."
Kings of Spade are scheduled to perform on Friday, March 7, at Last Exit Live during Viva Phoenix.
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