Small Leaks Sink Ships, Leonardo DiCapricorn, Snake!Snake!Snakes!, Playboy Manbaby Parliament 3/28/14
Lately, I've been choosing the shows I go to based on a certain criteria. The first is that I must see something new, the second is that I want to see a band I haven't seen in a while, the third is that I want to check in on a band's growth and progress and the fourth is that I want to see a band I absolutely love. Most nights I'm satisfied if I get three out of four, but last night I got all four.
I had to pick my shows wisely last night and I banked on Rubber Brother Records to provide me with the most band for my buck at Parliament. Some nights you're throwing the dice and I know there were a lot of good shows going on, but none of them had Small Leaks Sink Ships headlining and that was the deal sealer.
Until last night I had never seen Leonardo DiCapricorn. I had certainly heard the buzz about them and many had told me that I would love them and they were pretty much spot on. I got there late and thought I would miss their set completely, but luckily shows often run behind at Parliament from the get go and I like that.
It reminds me of the days when I first started writing about local music when if you showed up on time, you were way to early. I must have seen most of their set and I was impressed by their blend of punk, funk an rap. I also love to see a mosh pit, whether I'm in it or not, I have a problem with people in this town not dancing at shows, mostly because I feel compelled to most of the time. So when I walk into a standing room only Parliament and there is a mosh pit happening, a great sensation of well being washes over me.
My favorite song of the night was "Red Panda" which will play in my head for at least the next week, while closing with "Firetruck" was brilliant as well. And if you think their originals are good, check out their live version of Eminem's "Lose Yourself", a brilliant rendition that was as tongue in cheek as it was legit.
A band I haven't seen in a while. Snake!Snake!Snakes! is a band that has transmogrified over the years and I for one love their new direction. First of all, bringing in Dan Tripp on searing guitar was a capital idea and they rage harder than they ever have before. I look forward to the recordings they produce from this era of their existence, because I think they are going to be killer.
So, how do they sound now? It's like psychotic surf music for the apocalyptic generation. They also inspired several mosh pits and I was glad to see it. I love the sound of old Snakes! but the new sound they are generating is so much more phenomenal, so much more rock'n'roll that it just appeals to my aural senses.
Tonight, I have to admit that they came across as an updated version of a modern Arizonan rendition of the Jesus and Mary Chain, a band that basically took surf music and drove it to a psychotic, feedback laden edge. Songs like "I Want Your Blood" are brilliant, I'm not sure what's going on with Jonathan Messenger, but his songwriting has escalated to an entirely different level. Nevertheless, I'll be trying to catch every show I see them on, because tonight's performance was absolutely searing.
A band I want to check in on their growth and progress. I have written about Playboy Manbaby a lot and it's because I find them one of the most fascinating acts in the entire Phoenix metro area. I love them in no uncertain terms and I feel like they are going places, like they could leapfrog to the front of the line at any moment and most of that is based on what I see in their live performances.
One of the things I love is that Robby Pfeiffer is the lead singer, and he also happens to be one of the founders of Rubber Brother Records and there is a distinct Greg Ginn/SST Records vibe about that which I love. Not only is this guy snatching up every band that shows promise in this town for cassette releases, but he's also fronting one of the best of them.
I have to say honestly that it was one of the best sets I've seen Playboy Manbaby deliver, filled with new and familiar tunes, the packed house crowd raged to the set and rightfully so. I have to admit one thing of note is that the Chad Dennis (Instructions) ,on drums now, really seems to tie the band together into a cohesive juggernaut of greatness and several friends commented on that. Everything was right tonight and their vibe was simply devoured by the crowd beyond compare. It was the last of the mosh pits, but the standing room only crowd remained for what was next -- a band I absolutely love.
Tonight was a night for the cassette release of Living Room B-Sides by Small Leaks Sink Ships and with three fantastic bands opening, their performance was simply the icing on the proverbial cake. The cassette is a pretty amazing collection of songs that run the gamut from material that could hold its own as singles to psychedelic instrumentals to slightly strange studio toss offs, but it's a document of a band that is making their way toward their next masterpiece.
In my opinion, 2014 is the year that Small Leaks both damns and blesses us all at once. First the bad news, they damn us by collectively moving to Portland next month, though they promise many happy returns. They bless us by releasing Living Room B-Sides, a collection drawn from their Monday Minestrone recordings and erstwhile studio experiments, as well as promising a brand new album soon which will include many of the prime cuts played tonight. I may be wrong, but I don't think I've missed more than one SLSS performance in the last three years, because they are rare occasions and because they are always transcendental. Tonight was no exception.
Every time SLSS opens with "Power Outage" I half expect the power to go out, because I have seen this happen before, but on this occasion the power held out. The set was heavy with songs from the forthcoming album, which was surprising as I expected more songs from the cassette, but I had no complaints. Songs like "Midnight Jinn" (a free song you may receive if you ask them nicely) and the amazing "Yellow Bird" were crowd pleasers, especially when bookended by the instrumental monstrosity that is "Building Blocks."
What happened next was wholly unexpected, I was in the bathroom thinking that I would pay them $200 to play "Pray For Pills" during the end of the latter song. They rarely play this most beloved song ( I don't know why, I've begged them to on countless occasions) so needless to say I was completely shocked when it was next in the set. And it was amazing, far beyond what is represented on their Oak Street Basement EP. It should go without mention, but the crowd went nuts. They followed with another future track I've been waiting for release called "Orchis" and I sincerely hope that shows up on the new album, because it's one of their finest formulated compositions to date.
"You Say Today, I Say To Dance" is the single from Living Room B-Sides if there can be one, and I was grateful to hear it live, though I must say after having had the collection for over a month (I bought the cassette anyway, because I will buy a cassette player sometime soon) I wish that they had played more from the comp. They then went into the instrumental madness of "The Mind Is It's Own Place" which only upped the ante for what was to come.
At this point everyone knew what was next: "Glass Hypnotist" is apparently the favored track from Oak Street and everyone attending an SLSS show lives for it, they were not to disappoint on this occasion. The crowd could not have been happier it would seem, until an encore was demanded and they concluded with "Shuddersome."
This may well have been the greatest set Small Links Sink Ships has ever played, if only for me and the standing room only crowd that was completely mesmerized by every single second they played on stage. If you missed this show you have one more chance to see them before they set off to relocate in Oregon, be sure to head to Last Exit Live this Sunday, March 30th to catch their farewell show and just hope the setlist is as good as it was last night, I have a feeling it will be.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.