I'm no prophet, but 2013 might go down in the books as some sort of "shoegaze revival banner" year. Not only did My Bloody Valentine release the long-awaited (22 years) MBV, the followup to the genre-defining Loveless, but yesterday news broke that the Southwest's long-dormant dreampop/shoegaze/noise rock showcase, Beautiful Noise, is set to be reborn on Saturday, April 27, when Dead Leaf Echo, Dogshow, Tennis System, Cassiopeia, and reunited Tempe bands Half String and Alison's Halo will take the stage at Hollywood Alley.
To gain some perspective, let's flip-dive into the New Times' vault, going back to 1995, when Peter Gilstrap wrote about Beautiful Noise II, which featured -- you guessed it -- Half String and Alison's Halo:
Let us now perform a general dissection of the various forms of rock 'n' roll music being performed in the Valley of the Sun. There are the pop guitars on Mill Avenue that go jingle jangle jingle; there is the bouffant metal of Phoenix; you've got your neohippie groove funk; and born-again, second-generation punk.
But there is something else quietly festering out there that you may not be aware of: a handful of bands in the Lush, Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine mold, playing atmospheric, moody stuff called noise pop. That's what guitarist/singer Brandon Capps calls it; his band Half String is one of the main practitioners of the genre. Capps, 24, is also the organizational force behind the Beautiful Noise Festival, a showcase of seven local groups that represent a big chunk of this miniscene of Brit-influenced sounds.
The hometown gig from Half String comes as no big surprise. Last year, Brooklyn-based label Captured Tracks reissued the band's catalog, which inspired a mini-reunion tour of California. The 20th anniversary of the inaugural Beautiful Noise lineup prompted Capps to organize a new edition of the festival, adding fresh-faced young bands like Tennis System, Dead Leaf Echo, Dogshow, and Phoenix's own post-rockers Cassiopeia to the cast of gauzy, hazy veterans.
"We were definitely doing something different," Half String drummer Kimber Lanning (Stinkweeds, Local First Arizona) said of Phoenix's nascent shoegaze scene when I interviewed her. "We tried to pull together all the strains if you will, the people who didn't fit in the "Tempe sound" for the Beautiful Noise festivals . . . all of these bands started raising their hands saying 'We don't fit anywhere, either.'"
"If I honestly thought it wouldn't work, I wouldn't have pursued it," Capps said of the earlier reunion shows. "I have a lot of faith in our past chemistry, not only as a band but as friends, too. I trust everyone has done their homework rehearsing on their own -- we all live in different cities/states now. I'm also counting on the muscle memory we built up through constantly playing together for six years."
Update: Tickets for the Beautiful Noise festival are now available. Beautiful Noise ft: Dead Leaf Echo, Dogshow, Tennis System, Cassiopeia, Half String, and Alison's Halo is scheduled for Saturday, April 27 at Hollywood Alley in Mesa.