Mark Sultan, The Wrong Ones, Andrew and His Feisty Felines, and The Cosmeticators at Trunk Space, 11/21/11

Marks Sultan, The Wrong Ones, Andrew and His Feisty Felines, and The Cosmeticators Trunk Space Monday, November 21

Mark Sultan: Someone has offered me a Xanax and an enema tonight.

Audience member: Welcome to Phoenix!

Such was the tone last night at Mark Sultan's Phoenix stop. He seemed perturbed at first, setting up his bass drum and snare set up, fiddling with his amp. "Would you just give me a fuckin' minute?" he demanded of the packed crowd.

Once things got moving though, any irritation went away. He made weird jokes (heavy on the schmegma references), and alternated between his sweet doo wop croon and a scratchy bark.

Sultan had the benefit of a fantastic set of Phoenix bands opening the show. The Wrong Ones, a four-piece classic garage combo kicked things off, forgoing a bass player in favor of two surf and maximum R&B flavored guitars. The new band is still ironing out some kinks (ha!), but well on their way. I'd just like a little more volume and a little more gusto -- but minor complaints when the song selections are so good.

I've raved about Andrew and His Feisty Felines to anyone who'll listed for some time now; the band just has "it." And "it" is not flawless execution or stage presence, but full on heart. Ripping through the organ-lead "Looking for Danger" or covering Danzig's "Mother," things were always near falling completely apart, which is a virtue in a rock 'n' roll band.

I always get go on a crazy Ramones kick in November, and The Cosmeticators, while easily comparable to any number of guitar, bass, drums, and vocal acts, are solidly centered in the Ramones tradition: No bullshit, just straight ahead rock 'n' roll. The band ripped through tunes like "Roboman," a sci-fi punk-pop number with killer vocal trade-offs.

Mark Sultan named his a double album set Whatever I Want/Whenever I Want, and watching him do his thing, it's apparent why. The guy takes pleasure in screwing with what people expect from him. Plenty of folks showed up expecting a rock 'n' roll assault, but despite tantrums of scattershot snares and death metal growls, Sultan mostly played up the soulful crooner element of his music.

He didn't pause between songs, ripping into "I'll Be Lovin' You," "Nobody Else But You" and "Calloused Hands" any which could be performed minus distorted guitar as straight soul numbers.

People expecting straight forward rock were turned off and split, but the crew that stuck around seemed to win Sultan over, who got chattier and happier as the night went on. Explaining that he couldn't play a lot of the King Khan & BBQ Show requests without Khan, he turned up his guitar (after pleading that he didn't know how to) and tore into "Shake Real Low."

It was what the crowd wanted, and lucky for everyone, it was what Sultan felt like doing.

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Mark Sultan, The Wrong Ones, Andrew and His Feisty Felines, The Cosmeticators at Trunk Space Better Than: The Monday night blues.

The Crowd: Rock 'n' roll kids, older record nerds, some punk rockers Cover of the Night: Mark Sultan's take on The Rolling Stones' "Out of Time" (which he joked was from Bridges to Babylon.)

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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.