No Age, Radio Moscow, The Growlers, The Goat, Avon Ladies, Earthmen & Strangers, and More Yucca Tap Room Saturday, March 31, 2012
I've never been a skater, but back in high school, my skate-rat brother and I were locked in a nuclear arms race with my brother to discover cool new bands and one-up each other. I had tattered copies of Alt Press and Spin on my side, but he had insight into a more surprising world via his skate videos and issues of Thrasher. There's no single "sound" that defines skate culture, and in those days he discovered hip-hop like Black Star, classic punk like Fugazi, and hardcore like Refused.
Last night's PHX AM After Party, which took over the Yucca's stage and parking lot with a chain-link fence, shared that same sense of "anything goes." Headliners No Age and The Growlers didn't share a common sound, let alone have much in common with the nihilistic, crushing hardcore of Avon Ladies inside on the Yucca's stage, but for the most part, all shared a certain "go hard" mentality with the skaters who skated earlier that afternoon.
I arrived around eight thirty, to the sound of DJ DJ Juan Love (pro skateboarder, John Cardiel) spinning bassy dub from the outdoor sound system. The line was long, but as the night went on it would only get longer, eventually wrapping around the building and spilling on to Southern Ave. I missed sets by The Goat, made up of pro skaters Andrew Reynolds, Kevin "Spanky" Long, Bryan Herman, Beagle, Shane Heyl and Camille Driscoll (folks I talked to described it as "entertaining, not good, but entertaining") and Life Sized Monsters.
Radio Moscow played a nearly identical set to the one it played a few months back at Sundown Showdown at the Yucca. The trio powered through their bluesy, psychedelic, boogie rock with workman-like precision on the outdoor stage, but the "Summer of Love" smell in the air vanished as you entered the Yucca proper. Avon Ladies' brief, brutal set was all thick, distorted riffs, and pejoratives hurled at the audience (like the loogies passing through the air). Speakers were pushed, pants were dropped.
Sets by The Growlers and Earthmen and Strangers made for more contrast. California rock band The Growlers, were pleasant if a little boring. Their surfy, vaguely psychedelic "flower punk" wasn't unlike that of The Black Lips, but there seemed to be some hesitance in the voice of singer Brooks Nielsen.
The band's unique, artistic representation of time in Arizona (that's it over there) is actually more exciting than most of the set.
Which honestly may have picked up near the end; I was watching Earthmen and Strangers by then. One of Ryan Rousseau's many bands, I think Earthmen might be my favorite of his projects. It's certainly the most streamlined and melodic, and it felt like it had been far too long since I'd heard songs like "Deceitful Lines of Love." I couldn't quite make out what Rousseau was saying, but I think I heard something about "high as shit."
For a band that relies on loops and samples, No Age's set outdoors wasn't static or stiff. The duo of Dean Spunt (drums, vocals) and Randy Randall (guitar, vocals) were energetic, though the crowd (both the wealth of pro skaters who partied off the side of the stage and the all ages crowd pressing against the barricades up front) put the duo to shame, acting about as crazy as anything I've seen at Yucca.
Spunt thanked the crowd, and shouted out "that vegan spot, Green," whose owner he saw "walking around earlier."
The duo's ties to the skate community brought a sense of communal energy -- they seemed to feed off the rowdiness of the skaters that wailed about the stage. Randall's wall of amps was loud, but the roar of the V.I.P. crowd as they finished and tore down one of the tents set up in the lot, was even louder.
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Last Night: No Age, The Growlers, Radio Moscow, Avon Ladies, The Father Figures, Scorpion vs Tarantula, and more at Yucca Tap Room/Cowtown PHX AM Afterparty
Personal Bias: I generally like to watch bands from the crowd, but in the case of No Age's set, the side stage proved to be even wilder than the G.A. section. Overheard: "Uh, this band is called 'The Family Members'," by a guy discussing the excellent set by skate-rock royalty The Father Figures.
I like getting: Complimentary beer Koozies with drinks.