The blessing of Arizona's spot at the proverbial Kiddie Table is the huge number of shows we get by bands looking for a layover, or a warm-up, on their way to Sunny California. In recent years we've even seen California-based bands like Metallica travel out to the desert to warm-up and get their pyro and lighting timed before making a triumphant homecoming. On Thursday, Arctic Monkeys played Marquee while Yeasayer took stage at Rhythm Room, the latter on their way to Coachella. On Tuesday, Vampire weekend and As Tall As Lions dropped in on their pre-Coachella tours. The list goes on.
The curse? Sometimes those shows feel like warm-ups. I'm not familiar with the sport of cricket's equivalent to baseball's batting practice, but whatever the Brits call it, that's what the Monkeys were doing in Tempe.
Honestly, I can't totally blame them. If I was about to play a show for cities that have about half this country's music bloggers, I might take 'er a little easy the night before, when the only critics in the house were, um, well, myself and the Republic's Ed Masley. I probably wouldn't review my own show, though, so I guess that analogy breaks down anyway.
Either way, I won't fault Alex Turner for being apparently intoxicated. Fuck it, we're playing LA this week! Eh, amiright, boys? Lets get a little smashed then, eh? Do it up a bit, right?
Also, there's nothing sadder than being a band who, three albums in, can't escape the shadow of a monster first record, like the Monkeys' Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, which is, you may recall, still the fastest-selling debut in British history. So while the band seemed to genuinely enjoy playing, say, the 2007 single "Fluorescent Adolescent," I wasn't totally surprised when Turner introduced the band's breakthrough single "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor" with one word, spoken almost venomously.
"Laaaaadies!" he screamed, slamming into the song, which was tellingly buried in the very middle of the set.
The crowd's energy reached its zenith during "The View from the Afternoon," and I was right there with it. After all, I've listened to the Monkeys latest record, 2009's Humbug... well, actually, I've probably listened to the whole thing at least once. Meanwhile, I know Whatever People Say by heart.
That was the sad part for me: I've been waiting to see Arctic Monkeys since 2006, when I showed up at Washington D.C.'s 9:30 Club with two tickets (which had been going for $200 each on eBay, though I got mine from the box office) only to learn the show had been the night before. I've been waiting expectantly to see them since. Like the people calling for "Mardy Bum" around me, I can't get enough of that glorious record.
As Turner warned in "Afternoon":
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"Anticipation has a habit to set you up, for disappointment in evening entertainment, but..."
"But" nothing. Fare thee well in Cali, Monkeys.
Note: The Arctic Monkeys are not playing Coachella this year, as this post originally said.
Last Night: Arctic Monkeys at Marquee Theatre
Better Than: A typical night at George and Dragon.
Random Fact: Craig Outhier's advance on this show shared a lot of interesting facts about British bands, broken down by geography.
Further Listening: Eh, I think I've listened to all the Arctic Monkeys I'm going to for a while.