When the restaurant/art space Lucky Dragon closed up its ancient, Burgundy-soaked digs on University Drive, those of us whose aesthetic tastes run to the outré were saddened beyond the telling. But the LD's new incarnation on McClintock, while cleaner and better lit, has delivered on its promise to keep down-and-dirty local arts alive in the Valley. And it still makes a blazing kung pao chicken.

Apart from its more refined menu, the second incarnation sports intimate booths and spiffy cloth-draped tables aplenty -- easily three times the previous seating -- and a generous complement of funky hangings by amazing local artists. But the real draw is its showcase for area bands, from release parties to farewell shows, on the sizable stage. It won't be long before the Dragon enters Valley music history as a place to see and be seen.

The Trunk Space
When the restaurant/art space Lucky Dragon closed up its ancient, Burgundy-soaked digs on University Drive, those of us whose aesthetic tastes run to the outré were saddened beyond the telling. But the LD's new incarnation on McClintock, while cleaner and better lit, has delivered on its promise to keep down-and-dirty local arts alive in the Valley. And it still makes a blazing kung pao chicken.

Apart from its more refined menu, the second incarnation sports intimate booths and spiffy cloth-draped tables aplenty -- easily three times the previous seating -- and a generous complement of funky hangings by amazing local artists. But the real draw is its showcase for area bands, from release parties to farewell shows, on the sizable stage. It won't be long before the Dragon enters Valley music history as a place to see and be seen.

Frankly, this is a category that's probably past its retirement age. After all, it feels like it was a million years ago that the film Swingers was hip and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was cool. Even swing revivalist Brian Setzer seems to have reverted back to his rockabilly roots. Locally, Tempe's Bash on Ash hasn't given up the fight as it remains the place to jump, jive and wail. The club calendar boasts the best in national bands working the genre, and the Bash's Tuesday night swing jam is still going strong, offering dance lessons to novices and a huge floor for those who already know how to act like it's still VJ Day.

Frankly, this is a category that's probably past its retirement age. After all, it feels like it was a million years ago that the film Swingers was hip and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was cool. Even swing revivalist Brian Setzer seems to have reverted back to his rockabilly roots. Locally, Tempe's Bash on Ash hasn't given up the fight as it remains the place to jump, jive and wail. The club calendar boasts the best in national bands working the genre, and the Bash's Tuesday night swing jam is still going strong, offering dance lessons to novices and a huge floor for those who already know how to act like it's still VJ Day.

Most bands' idea of a mixed media show is wearing hand-painted tee shirts from their girlfriends, which is why the Hypnotwists' sensory assault never meets with a mixed reception. Holed up at the Emerald Lounge on Wednesday nights, the band has turned the place into one of those sweaty Swinging '60s nightclubs where Terence Stamp might walk in and meet Julie Christie. Of course, Terry and Julie wouldn't be caught dead here, but chances are they might turn up in a movie projected on the stage: The Hypnotwists seem to favor black-and-white movies where people shag standing up. What ties all the swirling colored lights together is the band's music, a blend of garage, surf and soundtracks that keeps folks on the dance floor even when breathing space is a limited commodity. People dancing at a local rock show? These guys have really built the better time machine.
Most bands' idea of a mixed media show is wearing hand-painted tee shirts from their girlfriends, which is why the Hypnotwists' sensory assault never meets with a mixed reception. Holed up at the Emerald Lounge on Wednesday nights, the band has turned the place into one of those sweaty Swinging '60s nightclubs where Terence Stamp might walk in and meet Julie Christie. Of course, Terry and Julie wouldn't be caught dead here, but chances are they might turn up in a movie projected on the stage: The Hypnotwists seem to favor black-and-white movies where people shag standing up. What ties all the swirling colored lights together is the band's music, a blend of garage, surf and soundtracks that keeps folks on the dance floor even when breathing space is a limited commodity. People dancing at a local rock show? These guys have really built the better time machine.
Phoenix has long been a town rife with tribute bands. Groups of every size and style -- from Mötley Crüe, the Cure and the Cult to indie sensations like Guided by Voices -- have been represented by local cover outfits. But this past May witnessed perhaps the most original and disturbing such homage, as Billy Gordon's in Tempe served as home to the first, last and only performance from Satellike: A Tribute to Satellite -- The Whitey Years. The brain child of former Valley band (and current L.A. residents) Stone Bogart, Satellike played less like a local music in-joke than a loving homage to the Tempe pop combo and its over-the-top front man Stephen Ashbrook. Satellike's faux Ashbrook even dressed the part (leather pants, tinted glasses, etc.) while tearing through an alarmingly convincing set of Satellite standards. Now that's rock 'n' roll.
Phoenix has long been a town rife with tribute bands. Groups of every size and style -- from Mötley Crüe, the Cure and the Cult to indie sensations like Guided by Voices -- have been represented by local cover outfits. But this past May witnessed perhaps the most original and disturbing such homage, as Billy Gordon's in Tempe served as home to the first, last and only performance from Satellike: A Tribute to Satellite -- The Whitey Years. The brain child of former Valley band (and current L.A. residents) Stone Bogart, Satellike played less like a local music in-joke than a loving homage to the Tempe pop combo and its over-the-top front man Stephen Ashbrook. Satellike's faux Ashbrook even dressed the part (leather pants, tinted glasses, etc.) while tearing through an alarmingly convincing set of Satellite standards. Now that's rock 'n' roll.
Promotional blunders can usually be blamed on the band: a sexist flier, an offensive tee shirt or a show where some form of wildlife inadvertently gets neutered. But here's a case where the band was duped by a duping house. The Cremains had a great idea -- passing out free copies of their new CD to the crowds exiting annual metal extravaganza Ozzfest. The Cremains got UPS delivery of the discs the day of the show and sped over to the concert to give out 700 CDs, not realizing that a major manufacturing gaffe resulted in the wrong music being burned onto their CDs. They came home horrified to find that those lucky Ozzfesters had been given an album by a limp R&B lounge group instead of the hard-rocking Cremains. These guys deserve a medal of honor not only for making the manufacturer immediately press another set of CDs, but also for soldiering on with the same name after bewildering headbangers with their strange new direction.

Promotional blunders can usually be blamed on the band: a sexist flier, an offensive tee shirt or a show where some form of wildlife inadvertently gets neutered. But here's a case where the band was duped by a duping house. The Cremains had a great idea -- passing out free copies of their new CD to the crowds exiting annual metal extravaganza Ozzfest. The Cremains got UPS delivery of the discs the day of the show and sped over to the concert to give out 700 CDs, not realizing that a major manufacturing gaffe resulted in the wrong music being burned onto their CDs. They came home horrified to find that those lucky Ozzfesters had been given an album by a limp R&B lounge group instead of the hard-rocking Cremains. These guys deserve a medal of honor not only for making the manufacturer immediately press another set of CDs, but also for soldiering on with the same name after bewildering headbangers with their strange new direction.

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