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Iamwe, Crescent Ballroom, 1/19/13


Iamwe @ Crescent Ballroom| 1/19/13


We're going to need another venue.

Iamwe is a rare exception in indie music. Last night, the local rockers packed Crescent Ballroom to release their album, Run Wild.

After touring the East Coast with Anberlin, the boys returned to their hometown to play their first headlining show. Yeah, ever. Considering the rate at which the band has gained popularity, it's no surprise the show sold out. And for the first time ever, I craved for a show to be in a larger venue.

See also: -Iamwe at Crescent Ballroom, 01/19/13 (Slideshow) -IAMWE Soldiers on With a Newly Completed Album and Upcoming Tour With Anberlin -13 Phoenix Bands You Need to Know in 2013: The Complete List -The Top 10 Phoenix Albums of 2012 -12 Favorite Local EDM Mixes of 2012

I know what you're thinking. "Aren't shows better when you see them in an intimate setting?" Yeah, for most acts that would be true. But Iamwe, despite being a "local band" in the most literal sense, has developed a massive, heart-pounding sound that would be better suited in a stadium -- not a 500 person theater. (no dig on Crescent -- our experience was great). Their sound would be better interpreted in a space where it can soar and expand. I'm pretty sure I'm still gaining the hearing back in my right ear.

It might have been a short set clocking in at around an hour, but hey, this is their first album and they really only have handful of songs -- not to mention, less is always more when it comes to rock 'n' roll. Lead singer and pianist Tim Maiden had the crowd in the palm of his hand while the other members of the five piece found it difficult to mask their smiles. For all the hype surrounding the band, Iamwe found a way to back it up with a killer professional visuals show, including projected graphics of space and rain and old TVs broadcasting what the opposite side of the crowded venue was seeing.

While the venue's sound was certainly mixed too high, the more melodic tracks on their spaced-out debut album stood out at the winners of the night, especially the Mediterranean-meets-gloom "Italy" and Run Wild staple track "So They Say," during which more band members hit snares and symbols than not. An unexpected surprise came in a package sampled heavily from Bruce Hornsby's "The Way it is," with the band putting its own beat-based twist on the mash up without going the way of Tupac.

The album took almost a year and a half longer to craft than the band originally anticipated, and last night, seeing all of the songs performed in a seamless performance in one space, the wait was well worth it. As Maiden took time out of the night to thank the people who made a headlining show possible, including friends, family and media outlets, he also thanked his band mates for putting up with him over the last year and a half. They weren't out to fake it, Maiden said.

In September 2011, I wrote a feature about a mystery band opening for Neon Trees, whose sound at the time didn't seem fully realized until I saw them perform "So They Say" for the first time. Today they've successfully created an album that reflects the blood, sweat and tears I saw these dudes metaphorically secreting, and there's no faking that.

Sorry, Phoenix. With the way things are going, it will only be a short while longer we can call Iamwe a "local band." Be sure to catch them before things get out of hand.

Critic's Notebook

Last night: Iamwe CD Release at Crescent Ballroom.

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The crowd: Friends, family and fans. Also, more than one dude that looked exactly like Malcom X.

Bias: It's pretty clear, but seeing these guys blossom from opening nobodies to a full-blown local force to be reckoned with has filled me with joy like a proud mama bear.


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