Miniature Tigers, Pretty & Nice, Geographer, The Chain Gang of 1974 at Crescent Ballroom, 3/8/12

Miniature Tigers
Crescent Ballroom
Thursday, March 8

See the full Miniature Tigers slideshow here.

I'm gonna go ahead and start with the general takeaway feeling from Thursday night's lineup of four, under-the radar(ish) bands playing before an audience of Phoenix's finest (and drunkest) indie music lovers . . .

Takeaway feeling: I'm horny.

That's right: Even the straightest gay man would be a goddamn liar if he denied the sexiness taking place on stage last night. All right, whatever. Maybe it's just me. In any case, I walk away enlightened by all four bands -- Pretty & Nice, Geographer, The Chain Gang of 1974, and Brooklyn via Phoenix headliners Miniature Tigers -- each differing in both sound and performance style, but sharing a stage and a mindset that says, fuck yeah, contemporary music.

The first, Pretty & Nice, put on a performance full of energy, looking pretty and sounding, yep, you guessed it, (very) nice.

As San Francisco's Geographer prepared to take the stage, I found myself slightly disappointed by what seemed to be an underwhelming turnout, remembering their dynamic performance last year at South by Stateside, but admitting, I too had totally forgotten such a special talent-- that is, up until a few weeks ago when I saw their name on tonight's bill. Lead singer, guitarist and synth master Michael Deni has the kind of rare Jose Gonzales-esque vocals that make singing that beautifully look like second-nature.

Opening with a "Life of Crime," it was clear there didn't need to be a bunch of drunk and sweaty fucks cramping styles to determine the band's following. Geographer fans were here alright, standing to my left and right and mouthing every lyric like dear little diehards should. While the band started with upbeat tunes like fan favorite, "Verona," they closed their set with the slow and beautiful ballad, "The Boulder"-- the song, acting almost like a pillow to rest our heads on before the pop-rock jam sesh soon to take place.

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The Chain Gang of 1974 is a band I admit to being entirely unfamiliar with going into tonight's show, something I later blame as the (silly) reason I was quick to judge their 80's industrial rocker look. However, it didn't take long for these four dudes, dressed clad in black and lead singer, Kamtin Mohager, sporting a shaved-side swoopy hair-do and some epic chest hair, to put my petty judgements to rest. At roughly around three songs in, I feel like I'm in an 80's pop time machine, swimming in a sea of distorted synths, pulsating bass, catchy keyboard, and, ah yes, liquid eyeliner. When Mohager grabs the microphone stand, turns it upside-down, and beats it in the air with his fist, it's clear this throwback pop genre is the band's job-- a job done very well.

Miniature Tigers finally hit the stage late into the night, which may or may not have been the reason a few "over-served" and overly drugged up chicks (one of whom started some preschool-style hair-pulling match and the other jumping on stage with MT to do, well, whatever it was the acid was telling her to do.) I guess opening with "Female Doctor" just has that kind of effect of females (in need of a doctor).

MT's second song, "Boomerang," prompted an interesting fan visit to the stage, a dude rockin' some rad coat and, of course, a boomerang. "This guy's gonna do an interpretive dance to this song," said singer Charlie Brand. After the song, Brand continues to demonstrate his sharp witted, engaging stage presence, "Give it to the boomerang guy." He claps. "Wait, was he even dancing? When I turned around, he definitely wasn't. Boomerang guy, you suck! I still love you, though."

With the release of MT's newest album three days ago, it was only expected to hear them play their newborn musical babies. Whether the crowd was diggin' the new stuff -- which is, for the most part, more mature-sounding -- a difference that definitely caught my attention was the bassist's ruthless boogie. Tonight, it's clear that, together, the band has honed its musical talents and conquered the ability to make an entire room simply have a really great time.

Set List:

Geographer Life of Crime Verona Shell Beach Original Sin Blinders Lover's Game The Myth of Youth Kites The Boulder

The Chain Gang of 1974

Tell Me Undercover Teenagers Matter of Time Shiver Heartbreakin' Scream Don't Walk Away Hold On

Miniature Tigers:

Female Doctor Boomerang Bullfighter Jacket Afternoons with David Hockney Flower Door Gold Skull Angel Bath Cleopatra Ugly Needs Cannibal Queen Sex on the Regular

Encore: Mansion of Misery

Critic's Notebook:

Personal bias: I'm horny, but really, the experience of new music has to be some kinda aphrodisiac.

Overheard in the crowd: Look at the Ryan Gosling motherfucker on keys and tambourine.

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