With all the city's venue closings, Yucca Tap Room remains one of the few reasons to visit Tempe for live music. There are all the house shows, of course, but with Parliament and Long Wong's gone, Yucca stands out the most. And Friday, it hosted a mini-showcase of the Valley's aggressive punk scene.
First up was Detached Objects, who buzzed like a hornet's nest. Their bassist seems like an expert as he plays at his knees, and their drummer was like Vin Diesel -- fast and furious in a way you don't see very often. Blanche Beach followed, but I can't say much besides except they sound like Weezer mixed with Green Day, only with Mission of Burma textures to round things out more maturely.
Numb Bats recently returned from a two-week tour around the West Coast, showing everyone how friggin' cool Phoenix can be. Their mix of sparse, grungy punk tunes are somewhere between the soft sarcasm of Ouija Radio and the throat-scratching energy of Le Butcherettes. Their album, Gentle Horror, is a diverse mix of moodiness and gloom, and they jangled and jingled and the crowd seemed to love it. Numb Bats is one of the most tightly wound groups in Phoenix, so it's encouraging that they're out there, spreading the good word.
Man Hands will also soon be evangelizing the power of Phoenix punk, as this show was a tour kickoff for the quartet. The most evident thing about this band is, boy, that girl can shred. Man Hands channels some truly murderous aggression, but every now and then, some pop DNA will bubble up. It sometimes has the racing edge of '60s-era spy movies, but lacks the sleek edges that make James Bond glossy. Man Hands are the Jason Bourne of punk, more concerned with thinking on their feet, attaching themselves to doom metal tropes, than worried about how sanitized it is.
Man Hands also got the first mosh pit of the night. The bar was mostly packed, the amps screeching. It was energetic, to be sure. Father Figures closed out the night, but I noticed most of the bands didn't just leave immediately after their sets. It was quite respectful. Father Figures played something akin to thrash, but more melodic. Their crowd, while somewhat dwindled given how late they played, still had plenty of slam dancers.
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All in all, the night was loud and thrilling and the momentum of these bands doesn't deserve to stay just in Phoenix. It deserves to travel all over the country. So whether on tour for a few weeks or so, or just another crazy night at one of the last standing venues, Phoenix punk is something else.
Last Night: Man Hands, Father Figures, Numb Bats, Detached Objects, Blanche Beach at Yucca Tap Room.
The Crowd: Folks leaning toward 30, many of whom are in bands.
Overheard: "Are those people having sex in their car? They are, look! The air conditioning's on and they're steaming up the windows!"
Personal Bias: My ears still haven't stopped ringing, so maybe I need to go to a doctor. Fuck me for forgetting earplugs.
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