I challenge anyone who thinks that Phoenix has a faltering music scene to go to the second night of Los Dias de la Crescent tonight. Go ahead, I dare you. You'll most likely see that this so-called Tempe versus Phoenix rivalry is non-existent (or at least not that big of a deal) as long as great bands are playing and the beer is flowing.
The first night of the festival went off without a hitch thanks to a packed venue and all of the bands playing on time. The transformation of the back parking lot into an outdoor stage was pretty impressive -- Joe Pagac painted a Los Dias mural on the back of the venue next to a large wall of posters showing off Stateside Presents' upcoming shows. The décor is what really brought it all together. The Grande Stage was accented by a large Arizona flag backdrop and a bunch of blue patio lights and streamers overhead. Also, there were a bunch of food trucks and booze vendors (including Four Peaks) that were all reasonably priced, providing the recipe for a successful event.
Music festivals can be pretty annoying, but Los Dias did it right. The sound was good on both stages and there was enough room to move around while still being able to see the show. The two-stage setup worked wonders since there was always a band playing and and no sets overlapped more than half a song or so. More festivals should follow that format.
Friday's nine-band line up boasted some of the Valley's most talented and consistent musicians. Roar (who features New Times contributor Chase Kamp on drums) played a solid set of material from the band's two '60s pop inspired EPs, even if they left the goat masks at home this time.
Next was Mergence, whose '70s rock/jam band influences seemed to bring out the crowd's inner hippie. Things got pretty lively during "Dynamite & Kerosene" -- the only thing missing was a hackysack circle. Source Victoria was a personal favorite, with vocalist Brendan Murphy attributing technical difficulties to the fact that he'd been drinking since 4 o'clock -- which was probably the case for most attendees as well. Murphy's vocal styles reminded me a little bit of Hot Water Music's Chuck Ragan. I couldn't help but imagine Source Victoria as what The Draft's non-existent third album would sound like.
Murphy gave a shout out to Dry River Yacht Club's drummer, Henri Benard, who was celebrating his 30th birthday last night. This was a reason for DRYC to party even harder, and as always, it was hard not to dance along to the group's energetic track, "The Tale of Earl Augustine."
Fellow female powerhouse vocalist Emma Pew made Black Carl a delight to watch. The band also played a sultry, bluesy cover of Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive."
Ladylike closed out the show, which had turned into quite the raucous good time. It felt like a less busy version of the band's CD release party -- which was only the case because the band took the stage at 12:10 a.m. and people were getting pretty tired by then.
The first day of Los Dias de la Crescent was a success. I can't wait to see what tonight has in store for the thriving local music scene. Critic's Notebook: Last Night: Los Dias de la Crescent at Crescent Ballroom. The Crowd: A great mix of Crescent regulars and local bands. Members of Peachcake, Bad Lucy, and Snake! Snake! Snakes! were also spotted in the crowd. Overheard in the Crowd: "This is a Siracha peanut butter burger. It will change your life." Random Notebook Dump: Wow, there are some good looking guys at this show.
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