Trunk Space: 20 Favorite Shows From the Last Decade
A scene from the Trunk Space Fest in 2009.
Later tonight, the Trunk Space will wrap up both its 10-year celebration and its ambitious performance project, the Indie 500. As we've previously reported, the multi-day concert festival -- which dozens of bands playing the space over the last week and change -- sought to have a total of 500 songs performed over the course of 10 days.
Thing is, as impressive as the Indie 500's running count may seem, it doesn't come close to matching the total number of songs that have echoed through the tiny Grand Avenue music venue since it first opened in 2004.
Co-owners Stephanie Carrico and JRC estimate that more than 8,000 bands have made their home in the Trunk Space (if only for the length of a set) over the previous decade, and that's not even counting the number of regular acts and musicians who have repeatedly performed there countless times.
Needless to say, many memories of many concerts have been made at Trunk Space. And in honor of the spot's big birthday, we spoke with both local and touring artists who shared their favorite shows they've witnessed at Trunk Space, as well as adding a few of our own choices to the following list.
New Times photo
Quintron and Miss Pussycat (2007/2008) One of the ones that sticks out is the first time Father's Day played with Quintron and Miss Pussycat there. That was incredible. That was the most packed I've ever seen it. I think it had to be like 2008 or 2007? Quintron was fucking ridiculous. It was packed. That was really where it started to sink in that this is real shit. [Trunk Space] is not this fucking weird place on the corner where kids fuck around. This is fucking Phoenix. It was the first night it really hit me. It was middle of summer. It was horrible. We're all getting heat strokes during the show. Quintron is one of the louder acts I've ever seen there. It was awesome. -- Andrew Jemsek
Multiple Shows Some life changing performances I saw at the Trunk Space include Mandarin Dynasty (around 2005), Dear Nora and Casiotone for the Painfully Alone (around 2006), Jason Anderson (Countless legendary performances), Thanksgiving/Adrian Orange (Countless highly influential performances), Wild Man Bill (Last known performance before he died, maybe around 2006), All the amazing Asleep in the Sea, Foot Ox, Stephen Steinbrink/French Quarter, Andrew Jackson Jihad, Reindeer Tiger Team, Red Pony Clock, et cetera, et cetera. Getting to see bands like Hello the Mind Control grow into Diners and UggaMugga slowly turn into the unstoppable Dogbreth. -- Zach Burba
The Real Coachella 2009 Every single Real Coachella that has happened there has been really, really special and memorable and has had something really bizarre happen. In 2009, Eli Kluger's band, The Slackers Agenda, had eight or nine people performing with him, which was really weird. I don't think they practiced at all. It was very, very strange and janky.
And on top of that, when they performed the song "Fight the Devil," he had a friend of his dress like the devil on top of the roof of the Trunk Space but nobody knew that he was up there and he climbed down the side of the building and started fighting him. That was real weird. And strange. -- Ryan Avery
Wizwars I loved seeing Wizwars from California, who dons a GameBoy as his primary instrument. We were set to play with Japanther from Brooklyn, who couldn't make it. So we just partied our asses off anywho! It was a no-holds-barred nerdfest that only a venue like Trunk Space could facilitate. -- Phil Buckman
Kicking things off at 11:45 pm with "A More Perfect Union" -- which was the most sublime way to get things going, if you ask me -- Titus Andronicus quickly established their pace and presence, ripping through the song's first chorus to get to the amazingly satisfying line, belted by lead singer Patrick Stickles, "I never wanted to change the world / But I'm looking for a new New Jersey / 'Cause tramps like us / Baby we were born to diiiie." Springsteen he ain't, and Stickles knows this -- but he, and the rest of the crowd, can take umbrage in that nod to Stickles' fellow Garden statesman.
So it went, for the rest of the night -- the band quickly disposed of "A More Perfect Union" for "Titus Andronicus Forever, " screaming, with an all-too-real relish, "The enemy is everywhere," perhaps a too astute observation given Arizona's recent political adventures, if you will. However, the focus was not on politics, thank god, and if that were the case, Stickles & co. would have preferred you read between the lines for that. The rollicking, catchy-chorused "Richard II" and the stoutly declarative "No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future" highlighted a set that decidedly Monitor-heavy. -- Michael Lopez
Lemuria One of the times Lemuria played, the mic stand broke or something halfway through a song, and I had to pick up the microphone and hold it to Sheena's mouth for the rest of the song. A couple years ago, I was invited to a writing conference that I couldn't really afford to attend. Tristan put together a fundraiser show for me at the Trunk Space, complete with a raffle, a bake sale, music by some of my favorite friends' bands, and readings. I made enough to get a plane ticket and buy a personal pan pizza at the airport. -- Erin Caldwell
Dear Nora/Asleep in the Sea/Lightning Bolt "The first time I saw Dear Nora perform with the Golden Boots as her backing band, mind blown with magical feelings; the dramatic ritual music of Djentrification (and Sexpen); the last Asleep in the Sea show because it seemed like the end of an era, the chaos and intensity of watching Lightning Bolt perform in a really packed venue, watching the band Women perform an incredible set on their last tour, The Chronicles of Sheriff Joe Arpaio seven-inch release show because everyone who played was a hero that night, and The Treasure Mammal Cumming Full Circle performance and art installation because we had never done an art installation before and the second night of this show was extremely memorable for the Treasure Mammal familia. -- Abe Gil
Jason Webly Jason Webly played here before we even had a stage. The first couple of months. -- Stephanie Carrico
He barged his way onto a punk show, like a leather jacket, snarling punk show. He wouldn't take no for an answer. -- JRC
He showed up and he was on tour and there were two local punk bands on the bill. He was this little hippie guy with long hair. They were like, "You have to go on first." And he was like, "Is there anyway I could play second?" He says, "I'm on tour," and finally we convinced one of the punk bands to go on first, but it was 9 p.m. by the time we got them on and it was a huge pain in the butt.
The first band played and there was probably 40 punks here. Then everybody went outside except for three guys. Jason came out and had this monkey mask on and his accordion and he just belted out this song with all his might and the one punk guy ran outside and was like, "You guys gotta see this!" And everybody came back in and by the end of his set he had everybody arm-in-arm singing sea shanty songs.
The other punk band was like we don't want to follow that--the night's perfect the way it is. They didn't even play. It was just the way he was able to turn the whole entire crowd around because they were so mad and they just wanted nothing to do with him and by the end they were all like, "We love you!" So that really stood out and was sort of this first Trunk Space magic moment cause we were new and it was just really magic. -- Carrico
French Quarter I am sure others will tell the glory of the last Asleep in the Sea show, Treasure Mammal, Ajj, Kimya, which were all beautiful experiences, I remember an early French Quarter show, where Stephen Steinbrink played a song I had never heard before, and I couldn't help but cry. -- Teague Cullen
Screaming Females at Trunk Space.
Screaming Females, henceforth Screamales, busted into raging party anthem "Laura and Marty" from their new LP Castle Talk. Paternoster mentioned the record, and said, with a meekness completely foreign to her music, "It's yellow and it has a pony on it." The song kicks in with bleeding, crunchy guitars with Paternoster snarling. It wasn't long before one of her '70s arena rock-style solos demanded all eyes on her tiny hands speeding through the breakdown. They got our attention, and held it with "Bell," one of the stickiest tracks from the band's 2009 breakthrough record Power Move. Paternoster's voice was alternately shrill scream and growling Casanova; Patti Smith's readiness to explode and Mick Jagger's bratty sneer.
The trio delved into some lesser-known tracks like "Baby Jesus," from release Baby Teeth back in 2006, in which Paternoster tapped into a Slits-like islander jangled groove, and melody shaking, gruff yeller "Theme Song," from What If Someone Is Watching Their T.V.? Last night's set varied from gentle rockers to boiling scream-alongs (don't miss the full setlist below), and closed with the new single "I Don't Mind It." -- Becky Bartkowski
The Roast of Brodie Foster Hubbard
The most memorable show I played was my last while I was still living in Phoenix. It was my going away party, which started with a very embarrassing and profane roast, lots of different musicians and comedians from Phoenix saying really horrible things about me (but also some nice stuff). There were also performances by Alexis and Carissa (two sisters, the oldest of which went on the play in The Cigs) and Andrew Jackson Jihad. I wrapped up with my set, and got carried out on people's shoulders while they chanted my name. This is literally the dream, right? Of course, then they threw me on top of a closed dumpster - but at least it wasn't open! -- Brodie Foster Hubbard
No Age's SST-era punk rock influences were clear, as they played the faster songs from their catalog and had minimal stage banter. They took the stage without a word as Randy Randall played the opening riffs of "Life Prowler." Once Spunt started drumming to "Teen Creeps," the second song of the evening, the crowd erupted into a small-scale mosh pit.
Spunt's vocals were difficult to hear at times due to Randall's six amps and array of effects pedals, but that didn't stop the crowd from dancing and singing along to their favorite songs, including a cover of Black Flag's "Six Pack." The mosh pit full of dancers consumed nearly half the crowd by the end of No Age's set. After playing "Miner", Spunt announced their unofficial encore. "Alright we're gonna play just one more, a real quick one." The moshing/dancing audience caught their breath as Spunt closed out the evening by saying, "Thank you, thank you, see you guys next time. Don't be a stranger." -- Melissa Fossum
Harry and the Potters at Trunk Space
Harry and the Potters My favorite show was when we played on the night of one of our "bandiversarys." We played three shows at Trunk Space that day, one in the sweltering afternoon Phoenix heat, and one at night, and also one outside in the parking lot for the people who couldn't fit in. We also had ordered 13 pizzas from a shop down the street to be distributed during one of our closing numbers.
We wanted to celebrate and it everything just seemed to line up perfectly for us to do everything we set out to do and more at the Trunkspace. I love that Trunk Space is such a positive space in Phoenix and has been always accommodated us well when we come to town. We've had great shows at the Phoenix public library too, but Trunk Space is just goshdarnit a place that is down to clown with our wizard antics. -- Joe Degeorge
Carla Bozulich at Trunk Space's stage.
Jason P. Woodbury
There's only about twenty people in the Trunk Space, and we're sitting on the floor. Badwater Bob is on stage, a spry, gray gentleman in a string tie and worn Levis. He's been playing campfire songs for the past half hour, traditional cowboy stuff like "Cool Water" and "Streets of Larado." Right now Bob is leading meager crowd through a singing of "Taking Tiger Mountain," an ambient song/poem by Brian Eno. Hastily copied lyric sheets have been distributed, and everyone is singing.
Badwater Bob is charming, but not much more than a rudimentary guitarist. His voice, though, is clearly why Carla Bozulich, the woman we are here to see, has invited him along on her tour promoting her new album In Animal Tongue. Bozulich is sitting with us, huddled in a close circle, leading the refrain from the floor while Bob does so from the stage.
She is all smiles when the song concluded, and the meager attendees hoot and shout our applause. "That was the best time ever," Badwater Bob says. "Most of the time people just sit there and look at me." -- Jason P. Woodbury
Kevin Steinhauser, the male half of Math The Band.
Math The Band Math The Band ripped open their set with "Hang Out / Hang Ten" and the audience, already invigorated by Treasure Mammal and Rough Tough Dynamite, instantly went into this frenzy, screaming along with the catchy chorus: "Everyone have fun tonight!" A perfect intro, 'cuz I'm pretty sure that everyone did just that.
The energy in the room expanded more and more with each song. As the band executed a track featured in their newest music video, "Brand New Physics," it drove the crowd off the edge. I've never seen such an energetic audience in Phoenix, minus something like a hardcore punk show, with everyone dancing in place or holding onto one another or stinking like glorious sweat. It was loony bin fun. -- Troy Farah
Soft Shoulder at the Trunk Space.
Even though I saw them at an art gallery, the Seattle band The Pharmacy channeled the spirit of a dive bar house band. With their scruffy appearance, liberal use of the word "baby" to describe adult love interests in their lyrics, and general upbeat nature, I can easily imagine dancing to this band after I've had one too many PBRs or Old Styles. It makes me regret not actually doing so at the neighboring Bikini Lounge, but I still enjoyed the band. One of my favorite aspects of them was that the Beach Boys/Zombies-ish vocal harmonies that happen on their lo-fi recordings such as Stoned and Alone are not some kind of studio magic, they really sound like that live. This is probably why most people would classify them as "garage rock", but for me they are on the very tasteful end of the bar rock spectrum.
The real highlight though, was Soft Shoulder. I haven't seen this band in a while and figured they were on some indefinite hiatus. James Fella's other band, The Mangled Men, were supposed to play, but not all the members could make it, so the slot was devoted to a Soft Shoulder set featuring Fella on guitar and Paul Arambula of Mangled Men/Chandails/Vegetable on drums.
I used to think that Soft Shoulder was boring, that they sounded too much like Silver Daggers and all those other kinds of spazzy, jazzy, Silverlake brand of weird bands that there were plentiful a few years ago. But this incarnation got me. The songs were apparently the same songs as before, but downtuned and about four times as slow. -- Mike Bogumill
The Trunk Space's Indie 500 concert series runs nightly through tonight.
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