YACHT, Nite Jewel, Painted Palms, Bogan Via Viva PHX Crescent Ballroom 3/7/14
Let's just be honest here: Viva PHX, at its very heart, was an attempt to mimic Austin's South By Southwest. (Even its promoter Charlie Levy essentially admitted as much to us in a recent interview). And that's not that it's a bad thing by any means.
If you've ever been to SxSW, you know it's far more about industry contacts and bookings, looking cool, and finding the "next big thing" than it is about the music or art. What Viva PHX had going for it was a decent amount of venues open, collaborating, and catering to one idea -- having a good fucking time. And from what I saw inside Crescent Ballroom last night, it worked splendidly.
Here's a rundown of what I witnessed:
Bogan Via They grow up so fast! I remember when Bogan Via was just another unknown synth band, but after President Gator pushed out their first EP, the couple started gigging like crazy, playing shows almost every week, it seemed. I made the mistake of always saying, "I'll catch the next one" and then the so-called "sunnier Beach House" moved out to Los Angeles. How embarrassing that I've never seen a band I originally covered, especially one that became such a well-known staple of the modern local music scene. Finally, here was my chance to witness them in action.
Bogan Via cut through many of their classics from their Wait Up EP, including "TES," "Kanye," and their juxtaposition of The Animals' "House of the Rising Sun" mixed with Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs' "Red Riding Hood." Still, many of their songs I was unfamiliar with, which gives me hope that they'll have a new album shortly. There's an apparent evolution between these two and that really excites me. Glad this band has avoided becoming stale, even if they're not our neighbors anymore.
Painted Palms If you like super-stoned Weezer rock by way of The Cure, then Painted Palms might be your new favorite band. I knew nothing about this quartet before last night, but because San Francisco psychedelic garage rock is my favorite thing aside from LSD, I was definitely intrigued. Unfortunately, most of Painted Palms' set was sluggish and feeble. They tried to cut through something I think was a cover and followed up with a jangly, jungle jam that was somewhere between Blink 182 and Vampire Weekend. No, that is not a compliment.
After a synthy rendition of something resembling "Hash Pipe," the band threw themselves into an energetic cut filled with tension, drama and extended riffs. It redeemed everything previous about their lackluster set. It makes sense -- save your best song for last. But something tells me if you're biggest surprise is waiting in the wings, you should just copy and paste it a few times. Trust me, no one will notice. But you know -- just tease out that fever, it'll do you good.
I saw Nite Jewel on Halloween at Crescent a few years back and I felt really bad for the band. Because it was Ghoul's Night, everyone was dressed up and more interested in getting wasted than seeing the group perform. It didn't help that the show was free, allowing any random schmuck to come in.
And so dozens of costumed freaks stood front and center, chatting, texting and looking into their beers while Nite Jewel performed. You could see it in their eyes -- they knew the gig was a bust.
But Nite Jewel is a pretty good band and so I'm glad I got to see them in front of an audience that actually gave a shit. Wait, never mind, wrong venue. Whatever the lead singer of Nite Jewel's name is, she did a completely solo set and no seemed the least bit interested. Again.
Maybe Nite Jewel is trying too hard to be like Cults or a dozen other similar bands. Phantogram to Beach House to Lower Dens. Maybe when Nite Jewel mentioned something about a Grand Theft Auto V-themed song, no one batted an eye because the game is boring or something. But I don't care, because I like them and I think Nite Jewel is pretty music.
YACHT is beyond words because it is YACHT. Duh.
Lemme say this: the entire set I had this uncontrollable urge to leap onstage and dance alongside the androgynous beauty that commanded the microphone, but I convinced myself it wasn't worth getting a lifetime ban from Crescent and/or breaking my cell phone when I leapt into the crowd.
Speaking of cell phones and crowds, I also felt an urge to violently attack people on their fucking phones. Yet, Yacht encouraged taking pictures and sending tweets right after a song they did condemning the NSA. Maybe I'm just a bitter old man. But I'll tell you I danced like a motherfucker with his jeans on fire and tried to mosh with a few people but they were totally not in the mood and shoved me back a lot. Fuck you dumb, skittish suburbanites that don't know how to have a good time. I hope Yacht casts a demonic spell on you or something.
Last Night: Viva PHX feat. YACHT, Nite Jewel, Painted Palms, Bogan Via at Crescent Ballroom
Personal Bias: I need to get out more to remind myself why I like to stay in more.
The Crowd: Well, since it was like one-tenth of everybody, I think if you look in a mirror you'd get a good idea who was there and who wasn't.
Overheard: "The bass is ... resonating ... inside me!"