Entrance Band, Amen Dunes, and Wooden Indian at Chasers, 5/1/12

Entrance Band, Amen Dunes, and Wooden Indian Chasers Bar and Night Club Tuesday, May 1, 2012

See also: Amen Dunes on Living a Million Musical Lives I'm sitting at a table with Paz Lenchantin a few hours before her heavy psych-blues outfit, Entrance Band, decimates the stage at Chasers in Scottsdale. She's explaining to me that life in the music business requires a specific zen, a "childlike attitude." She should know. She's devoted herself to Entrance Band for years now, but her name appears in conjunction with some of the biggest names in alt-rock, like A Perfect Circle, Queens of the Stone Age, and even Billy Corgan's post-Smashing Pumpkins band Zwan (whose solitary record I regard as something of a lost classic).

But she's equally placed footing in the underground, collaborating with Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Brightblack Morning Light, the Silver Jews, and more. Entrance Band lands somewhere between the two worlds. Guitarist Guy Blakeslee's Middle Eastern motifs and deranged surf licks would never work on modern rock radio, but the band's rhythmic heft and bullish force puts 80 percent of the bands spinning on KUPD to shame.

Both Entrance Band and Amen Dunes (fronted by Damon McMahon, who comes across more like a normal dude than his records would let you imagine) were fresh from the Austin Psych Fest, where they played to big crowds and masses assembled in worship of loud amps and noise. The run-off from the festival lead to some strange scheduled conflicts: The Brian Jonestown Massacre was downtown, effectively siphoning off many of the scroungy record nerd types who would come out to watch bands like these.

It didn't matter. Following a glowing set by locals Wooden Indian (two drummers, man, who managed not to play all over each other, but actually make it work), Amen Dunes took the stage. Suffering through cracking speakers during "Lower Mind," the band eventually found its groove. McMahon's deep voice boomed overhead, murmuring the subtle incantations of "Sunday" and "Good Bad Dreams," from the band's latest, Through Donkey Jaw. It was distant and mystical, but never quiet or reserved.

Opening with what sounded like a mutant version of the band's classic "Grim Reaper Blues," Entrance Band proceeded to blow the minds of the meager audience. I saw one guy in a Tool shirt, no doubt drawn in by Lenchantin's presence, absolutely losing it. He had every reason to. Entrance Band makes the power trio thing look easy, with Blakeslee and Lenchantin trading riffs and high kicks, while drummer Derek James kept time and offered up a few crashing fills.

Save for a glorious seven-minute cover of The Troggs classic "I Want You," I was unfamiliar with most of the material. Lenchantin told me they'd be playing new material tonight, stuff that will appear on the band's records scheduled for release this summer and on Halloween.

The "childlike attitude" was on full display last night. Unfazed by the lack of attendees, the Entrance Band simply did what they do, dancing and flipping pickup switches, creating noises that didn't sound of this world.

"I'm a little out of it," Blakeslee told me before hand. "But I always wake up when we start playing."

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Entrance Band, Wooden Indian, Amen Dunes at Chasers

Better Than: The time I saw the Brian Jonestown Massacre

The Regulars: The guy talking about how the government "sold us out" had one band to compare everything he heard to: Pink Floyd. For the most part, it was an apt reference point.

You've Got to Respect: Wooden Indian's style. To the soundman: "We could use a healthy dose of reverb. And when we say healthy, we mean, like, caveman levels." Amen again and again. There's Nothing So Inspiring: As real, sincere, completely spontaneous devil horns in the air.

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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.