By Sarah Ventre
Every third Friday of the month, Mesa-based Hollywood Alley turns their space into a place where art and music can come together with good food and cheap beer. Less upscale and underage than First Fridays downtown, Theonix Arts Showcase doesn’t follow the formula of taking an art gallery and doubling it as a small performance space. Hollywood Alley takes its brick and corrugated tin walls, and puts loud music not meant for an art gallery with visual art in a place where it was never meant to be hung. The handful of paintings can be found hanging on the muraled walls of the back room. The music however, can be found in the front, with a video screen on stage alongside the band, all amidst the surfaces covered with posters, stickers, and vinyl records.
One of the coolest aspects of the whole night is its sheer variety. During Friday’s Theonix Arts Showcase vol. III, the music was diverse as was the crowd. Punk, jazz, folk, funk, reggae, fusion, and rock music could all be heard, with fans to match every sensibility.
In addition to Matthew Reveles and H.P.R, this month featured none other than garage rock throwbacks, the Green Lady Killers. The band showcased hard-hitting drums, ripping guitar and vocals that had the intensity of the Ramones or Bikini Kill but were more discernable. Coming out of the punk tradition, their simple chord progressions and repetitive lyrics just scream for the crowd to join in on the familiarity. Frontwoman Lady Van Buren prefaced one song by saying, “This is about driving fast cars.” That she received a rousing response was hardly surprising given how much they’d wound the crowd up.
Brewed to Perfection took the stage next. Their hippyesque fusion blended reggae beats with jazz licks and a hint of funk. They got people up and dancing; even dancing barefoot. Quite frankly, this was a brave move given there could have been residue of God knows what on the floor.
While the term “hippyesque” often connotes a jam band with not necessarily a lot of skill, this group was really tight, and very technical.
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Rocketline closed out the night with gusto. They crammed seven people and probably twice that many instruments on stage for the finale. Just watching them unpack and set up was somewhat mesmerizing and intriguing. Wind chimes, a saxophone, an accordion, and a handful of other auxiliary percussive instruments were carefully pulled out one at a time. The result was an experimental concoction of classic and progressive rock with a hint of psychedelia that truly was the best way to end the night. Much of their music utilized voice as another instrument, not unlike jazz. They used old ideas but framed them in a new way, creating high energy in the context of a heavy, textured sound.
In many ways Theonix Arts is a great concept not to mention a great night out. Yet is a testament to the fact that art and music are not as much a part of our everyday lives as perhaps they should be. We create something special because we’re not doing it all the time. What we should do is take a hint from Theonix. They not only bring art to an untraditional place, but they put bands together that we wouldn’t necessarily link in our minds.
Here’s to thinking outside the downtown gallery.