Feeding America Benefit Concert - Crescent Ballroom - 7/25/2013

On Thursday night at Crescent Ballroom, the vibe was even more feel-good and positive than usual. Sure, it was a roster chock-full of locally loved acts -- Flamenco por la Vida, Sara Robinson & The Midnight Special, The Senators, and Dry River Yacht Club -- that attracted an impressively large crowd for a Thursday evening. But the main focus of the show was that it was also a chance to help fight hunger in Arizona.

It was time to watch a great show for an even better cause. Benefiting Feeding America and United Food Bank, and sponsored by Fourpeaks Brewery, the concert attendees arrived with non-perishables in tow. They were directed to the back of the venue, where they received promo materials from United Food Bank, and receive a raffle ticket for each food item you donated.

United Food Bank is a driving force in fighting hunger, distributing almost 46,000 meals daily, and can provide five meals with just $1. By the time I donated my bag of four non-perishable items, they had already collected about 160 pounds of food.

As Sara Robinson & the Midnight Special came out to perform, a substantial crowd had already gathered. I personally think they should've had some sort of sign outside of Crescent promoting the fact that a concert/food drive was happening inside, as I bet it would've brought even more people off the streets.

Sara Robinson & The Midnight Special's brand of bluesy funk rock sounds just as good live as it does on the band's recording. While the rest of the band doesn't move around too much, frontwoman Robinson makes up for it with her usual captivating show. She has a type of sensual impatient energy as she dances around the stage, stamping her bright red high heels and balling her hands into fists and strutting around with a jazz singer's attitude. She looks way too sweet to have the soulful, reverberating voice that projects from within her. You can also tell that the band is having a great time, as they shot each other smiles and joked around in between songs.

Before the Senators took the stage, the head of the United Food Bank took the mic and thanked everyone for showing up. He then called out some raffle numbers. The prize? A $25 Crescent Ballroom gift card, which I'm guessing the winner went straight to the bar with. Throughout the evening, other prizes include a Four Peaks gift basket and other gift certificates.

Phoenix-based indie band the Senators meld together a folksy vibe, backbeat country and hipster rock, utilizing an electric acoustic guitar, a trumpet bass, electric guitar and drums. Rooted in years of collaborative songwriting between the Teer brothers -- Jesse & Rooster -- the band kicked off in summer 2012 and have been gaining a national following ever since. Sure, they might be dressed as old-timey prospectors, but their music has a surprisingly fresh edge to it, considering that the folk band trend is all the rage. In fact, in 2012, the New Times pegged the Senators as one of the 13 bands you need to hear in 2013.

With every food donation, the Senators were also handing out a free copy of their first full-length release, Harsher Than Whiskey/Sweeter Than Wine, which was a win/win situation for everyone -- they helped promote donating food, and marketed the hell out of themselves all at the same time. I admit, I popped the CD into my car stereo right after I left the concert.

By the time Dry River Yacht Club took the stage after 11 p.m., the Crescent was packed. DRYC is definitely well-known on the local scene, and it's not just because the 8-plus members bring all of their friends. The acoustic symphony, Gypsy/Western rock includes just about every instrument you can imagine: bass clarinet, accordion, bassoon, acoustic guitar, viola, bass trombone, bass, you name it. Eclectic music, and fans, is what you'll find at any DRYC show, and the band's liveliness got everyone on the dance floor on this particular Thursday.

By the end of the night, the entire crowd was undoubtedly worn out by grooving, sweaty from the crowd's close quarters, and happy with the thought of contributing to a good cause. At least I know I was.

Critics Notebook:

Last Night: Dry River Yacht Club, the Senators, Sara Robinson & The Midnight Special, Flamenco por le Vida at Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix

Personal Bias: I am huge advocate of helping out the community -- I cook at a shelter regularly and host food and clothing drives out of my house, so I was all about this benefit.

The Crowd: A mix of older hipsters, young hippies, and business professionals that probably came right from work downtown.

Overheard in the Crowd: Regarding Sara Robinson: "If you close your eyes, you would think that her voice is that of a 40-year-old jazz singer; in a good way!"

Random Notebook Dump: It was nice how fliers were handed out at the show as to how anyone can help United Food Bank: just $25 feeds a child fir six weeks, donate such tings as peanut butter, canned goods, soups, rice, pasta, and check out www.unitedfoodbank.org to get involved.

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