When March rolls around, the bum rush of SxSW season is a boon for Phoenix: All the West Coasters streaking toward beer-soaked Austin need gas money to brave the barren west Texas stretch, often resulting in mass pit stops in the desert. Rampage Fest, organized on a spotty year-to-year basis by promoter Select Shows, always wrangles a stacked showcase of punk and garage rock rising stars. Day one (day two to follow next week) of this year's Rampage doubleheader features two of the best punk outfits emerging from the Great White North. Art-damaged Vancouver screamers Nü Sensae are experts at dialing down the tempo to a harrowing hardcore burn. Also from Vancouver, the airtight melodic hardcore of White Lung goes down smooth due to the anthemically scorched vocal hooks of singer Mish Way. Out of the garage are Oakland-based Warm Soda, purveyors of airtight rock 'n' roll riffage. Among the other offerings are the shimmering girl-group harmonies of Wax Idols, the sun-dried pop-punk deep fry of Audacity, and the revivalist pop of The Allah-Las. It's not the same all-out blitz as SXxW, but who wouldn't like great bands sans the annoying fanfare? No wristbands, no lines, and no corporate shills hawking promotional taco/Dorito hybrids allowed.
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