When I received a phone call a few days ago from our esteemed music editor, Martin Cizmar, asking me to review the You Hang Up show at Martini Ranch in Scottsdale, I agreed almost immediately. As frequent New Times readers already know, Martin has a little bit of, ahem, history with You Hang Up drummer and former Malcolm in the Middle child star Frankie Muniz and his girlfriend/publicist Elycia Marie. Unfortunately, Martin is out of town this weekend and couldn't review the show himself, opening the door for yours truly to witness - up close and in person - what was sure to be a spectacular train wreck.
Meh. No such luck.
While You Hang Up didn't exactly blow the roof off the joint, they did play a competent, mildly entertaining 45-minute set free of any discernible fuck-ups.
After a brief opening set by Phoenix pop rockers Crash Coordinates, You Hang Up took the stage at about 8:30 p.m. to a mild ovation from the all-ages crowd. Muniz's teen idol days might be behind him, but the under-21 section of the crowd seemed much more into the set than the smattering of grown-up on the floor at stage left.
To be honest, You Hang Up's brand of emo-tinged pop punk isn't really my cup of tea, but the guys play it well. The band started their set with four or five upbeat songs before Muniz, bassist Henry Ebarb and guitarist Chris Brown (not to be confused with the former Colorado Buffaloes standout tailback who scored six touchdowns in a 62-36 rout of the Nebraska Cornhuskers in 2001) left the stage for a solo number by lead singer/guitarist Aaron Brown.
The rest of the band returned one song later and finished the set to a mostly appreciative audience. Overall, it's really hard to judge this show (and You Hang Up as a band) outside of the context of the whole Cizmar/Marie/Muniz interwebs feud, but it definitely poses some interesting questions:
Would YHU have the following they currently enjoy if Muniz wasn't in the band? Probably not.
Would I have even been at this show if Muniz wasn't in the band? Absolutely not.
Are they a shitty band or merely a vanity project? No and no.
Will they eventually recruit Dewey to play keyboards? We can only hope.
All things considered, Muniz proved to be a capable drummer and Aaron Brown certainly has a knack for writing catchy melodies and pop hooks. Eventually, the novelty of having a former sitcom star on drums will wear off and the band will have to be judged on its own merits. Something tells me they're as eager for that to happen as we are. After last night's show, I probably wouldn't bet the house on them, but I certainly wouldn't count them out either.
Personal Bias: Back in the olden days, before the advent of the DVR, you had to record your favorite TV shows on these unwieldy, rectangular plastic thingies called "video cassette tapes." I used to record and watch The Simpsons and The X-Files religiously, but I always fast-forwarded through Malcolm in the Middle.
The Crowd: Hot chicks and douchey guys. It's Scottsdale. What else did you expect?
Overheard in the crowd: "[Indecipherable], but I'm totally biased." - Elycia Marie after the set.
Random Notebook Dump: "Frankie and Skanky just walked right in front of me. I feel so stealthy." (Probably a little mean-spirited, in retrospect.)