The Desert Rock Dudes in Big Finish Are Keeping the Tempe Sound Alive

Big Finish is from left: David Rhodes, Phillip Rhodes, Greg Gleason, Chad Hines, and Tony Burns.
Big Finish is from left: David Rhodes, Phillip Rhodes, Greg Gleason, Chad Hines, and Tony Burns. Matt Simon

Local music has evolved plenty since the Tempe sound heyday of the 1990s. But the music of the "desert rock" days lives on in various songs, bands, and shows.

Case in point: Big Finish, a five-piece outfit of Phoenix music veterans with pedigrees rooted in that era.

"It’s a universal sound, I think," says guitarist Tony Burns. "There’s nothing too crazy or too progressive about that era. It’s more singer-songwriter, three- or four-chord arrangements."

Burns used to be in Haggis back in the day. Guitarist and lead singer David Rhodes was a member of American Standard. His older brother, drummer Phillip Rhodes, was an early member of a little Tempe band you may have heard of called the Gin Blossoms. Bassist Greg Gleason is an alumnus of Fat Gray  Cat and Drunk Prom Date. And guitarist Chad Hines still plays with Truckers on Speed.

So, yes, they come by their sound honestly. You can see for yourself when they headline at Yucca Tap Room tonight (Ghetto Cowgirl, another Tempe mainstay, and Doug Preston & The Soul Searchers are also on the bill.) It'll be the first live show for the band since March 2020, and they'll be playing songs off Everything I Need, their 2019 album of melodic alt-rock anchored by thoughtful lyrics and driving rhythms.

David Rhodes, the band's primary songwriter, adds that he's got a new song about anti-vaxxers that they may play tonight. "The songwriting process depends on what I’ve had to drink and what’s really moving me," he says.

The band was in talks with Bob Hoag at Flying Blanket Recording to lay down some tracks before the pandemic hit; now, they're looking to early 2022 to get into the studio.

But first, an evening of Tempe desert rock, which Rhodes says isn't just for the people who were around for it the first time.

"It’s nostalgic for a lot of people in our age group, but for anybody who’s not, I would hope they see that it's genuine, it’s authentic," he says.

Big Finish. With Ghetto Cowgirl and Doug Preston & The Soul Searchers. 8 p.m. Friday, August 27. Yucca Tap Room, 29 West Southern Avenue, Tempe. Free. Visit
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Jennifer Goldberg is the culture editor and Best of Phoenix editor for Phoenix New Times.