Dressed in mod 60s garb -- men in black suits with skinny pants and ties, women in leggings and polka-dot dresses -- equipped with classic-looking instruments and metal vintage microphones, The Love Me Nots look like extras from a spy movie. At first glance, they look like a benign lounge act.
And then they start to play.
Last night, the Love Me Nots kicked off the Desert Botanical Garden's Spiked! series, which runs each Thursday from March to May, which features a catered dinner, cocktails (and $3 wine), and music as the sun sets over the saguaros. The crowd of blue-hairs in attendance may not have realized what they were getting themselves into. Beneath the aesthetic of a jazzy lounge ensemble, the Love Me Nots were a garage-y mix of surf rock, buzz, Farfisa organ, pop, and Kathleen Hanna-esque vocals.
They were loud and spirited, they were intoxicating, and they elicited head bobs and foot-taps from men and women who had gone gray long before anyone in the band was born. The $25 price tag on the evening may have scared off the plaid-wearing, PBR-swilling hipsters who would normally catch the band at the Yucca Tap Room or Hollywood Alley, so the band's reverb and angry breakup lyrics may have fallen a little flatter than they should have, given the energy in their performance.
Most of the older crowd gravitated away from "the kids and their damn rock music" and stood far away from the stage, but the majority of the under-50 set was planted under heat lamps, moving along with the organ and acid vocals bursting forth from singer Nicole Laurenne, who oozed with flirty confidence and sex appeal. By the end of the set, the stage was littered with the broken drumsticks of Bob Hoag, who looked mild-mannered in his suit and thick glasses, but blew the leaves off the trees with his dynamism.
When they're not selling their stuff on eBay, the Love Me Nots are readying themselves for a short European tour next month, then heading home to Phoenix. So if you missed them last night playing among the flora, make sure to catch them tonight at Martini Ranch, where the price ($10) and the median age of the audience will be far lower. And with appearances at SXSW and press from Rolling Stone and Spin, they may not be Phoenix's little secret much longer, so see them on the cheap while you can.
Last Night: The Love Me Nots at the Desert Botanical Gardens
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Better than: Having to sit through a band that didn't drown out the geriatrics talking about their maladies.
Personal Bias: I only heard of them two nights ago when I was asked to do this review. I can't get much more unbiased than that.
Random Fact: Nicole Laurenne got her tights from Easley's Costume Shop in central Phoenix. Suck it American Apparel, she's keeping it local. Here's the link.