Crusher Sound System and Mr. Meeble Last Night at The Sail Inn

Crusher Sound System, Mr. Meeble & more.
Sail Inn
Saturday, April 30

You know, the old substance over style debate can get a little old. Isn't it possible to have both?

It sure seemed like it watching Mr. Meeble on the outdoor stage at Next Fest at Sail Inn last night. The band was premiering its new laser system, and, combined with the smoke machine and synchronized video, the visual element was impressive. But the sights never overshadowed the sounds of heavy electronica and pedal steel-lead post-rock.

The festival brought out a diverse lineup of AZ talent, featuring Mr. Meeble, Crusher Sound System, DJ Radar, Super Stereo DJentrification, Pablo Gomez, Deconstruction, Orphans, and Discombobulator alternating between the indoor and outdoor stage.

Though not everyone dropped the kind of stage effects cash that Mr. Meeble did, the vibe of the festival was intensely visual, with artists creating on-the-spot hip-hop and street inspired art. The party vibe, worked, too. It was awesome to see so many people come out for an all-locals event, especially the lady out front with the flaming hula-hoop.

Mr. Meeble's set focused mostly on the moody electronica the group has built its rising reputation on. Their last show before their tour to Europe, the band didn't miss the opportunity to grandstand, bringing out no fewer than two camera crews to film their set.

It was worth it, too. Reviewing Where Dead Voices Gather Friday night, I noted that the band was especially good, and it turns out Mr. Meeble shares one impressive member. Pedal steel/guitarist Rick Heins added a haunting Americana touch to front-man Devin Fleenor's Thom Yorke-inspired soundscapes.

The group welcomed special guest Mr. Puma of Gentlemen Ether to rap over "Auction." The combination worked --Puma's aggressive flow sounded great paired with Mr. Meeble's throbbing pop. The collaboration was indicative of the culture-mash that Next Fest embodied, with hip-hop, indie rock, electro and live art all sharing equal footing.

Following Mr. Meeble's set outside, Crusher Sound System, featuring turntablist Pickster One, Scottie Does on percussion and onstage painting by Dumperfoo, doesn't play out often, and when they do it's a genuine event.

Pickster dropped pop hits like Toro y Moi's "Solid Sound," The Black Keys "Tighten Up," and MJ's "Rock With You" while Does hit off beat rhythms and added a pounding, almost rock n' roll sensibility to the breakdowns.

"Hopefully this happens every year," said Pickster about the fest, before showcasing a tune from his new moombahton project, Arizonaton, and the shuffling, glitchy cumbia beat had the floor packed. 

Dumperfoo painted the whole time, working up a portrait that kind of reminded me of Duran Duran's Rio. His visual contribution wasn't as flashy as Mr. Meeble's laser show, but in both cases the extra sights worked because the music was doing its job.

Last Night: Next Fest at The Sail Inn.

The Crowd: Just about everyone. Dancers, rockers, rappers, the whole mix.

Overheard in the Crowd: "I just want more lasers!"

Personal Bias: While I am somewhat familiar with dance/electronic music, I have never been much of a club goer. Anyone have a copy of How to Not Look Stupid Reviewing an Electronic Show for Dummies I could borrow?

Random Notebook Dump: Crusher Sound System really live up to "crusher" part of their name. No wait --don't use that, that's the stupidest thing ever.

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.