No, you can't see everything you want to at Viva PHX, but you could make a tour of some of the best local live bands if you wanted to make it a hometown event. There are other festivals this weekend not featuring local bands, but this one has a ton of them. Sure, you may want to catch Best Coast or Andrew W.K., but you could also catch some intriguing talent that is making beautiful noise in your own backyard. Plus, this approach will probably have you attending their shows again and again. No real favoritism here, I'm going in the order they play, despite some scheduling conflicts.
Tobie Milford - Film Bar - 7 p.m. I truly think that Tobie Milford is a musical genius. Classically trained and high minded, he is a one-man orchestra with his electric violin and his series of loops he creates. He also has a stunning voice. I most recently caught him playing guitar with Wooden Indian (which I have never seen him do before) as well as play in There Is Danger and was a member of the now defunct Whisperlights. I truly hope for more recordings from one of my favorite local luminaries soon. If you have no reference to his work, check out the video of his solo take on "Death!" in the video above.
Bear State - Crescent Ballroom - 7pm Bear State is one of my more recent fascinations. You can read my my review of their most recent double A-Side single here http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/uponsun/2015/01/5_great_new_songs_by_phoenix_artists.php?page=2 which is, as far as I am concerned, their best work so far. Still their shoegazing dreampop sound is as fascinating as it is beautiful and hypnotic. Here is another band that I hope releases further great music this year. They certainly seem to have the creative spin to continue to make captivating music and they have yet to release anything that didn't catch my ears attention. Having yet to see them live, I can only imagine that they bring their moody atmosphere with all gears engaged.Party Gardens - Punk Rock Alley - 9pm
Party Gardens (formerly Yellow Minute) may have moved to LA, but I will always consider them a local band and they have the decency to play here with some frequency, much to my delight. The thing is they just play fantastic indie pop. Last year they produced some of my favorite songs that were stuck in my head for weeks on ends, as well as playing some of my favorite shows of the entire year. I guess it's true of pretty much everyone on this list, but I hope that 2015 produces more recordings from these guys and they enjoy many happy returns to the Valley of the Sun.The Senators - Last Exit Live 9pm
I have never gotten to write about The Senators to give them their just due, but that being said, I love this indie folk quartet. In all honesty, they don't play enough live shows for my taste--because from what I have witnessed their shows have an energy that transcends their recordings. In short this is an infrequent event and you may spend some time with these gentlemen. They have a new single on the way called "Hummingbird" that you can pre-order now and to sweeten the deal, 50% of pre-sale proceeds of this single will be donated directly to the Valley of the Sun United Way to help end childhood hunger. So they are not only fantastic musicians, they are also good people.
Fayuca - Monarch Theatre - 10pm I have never been able to get enough Fayuca, whether it is their recordings or their live shows they may be one of the more underrated bands locally that is celebrated everywhere else. As they should be. Having toured extensively and risking life and limb to do so, this show should be amazing. They should be sharper than ever and sound even better than the last time you saw them. I've never once see them deliver a bad show and these guys are consummate professionals. I also truly believe they would put to shame some of the national acts playing at the same time.
Banana Gun - Last Exit Live - 10 pm Banana Gun was one of the most ambitious bands of 2014 releasing a solid rock album and a more subdued, but no less brilliant EP, the latter to celebrate their five year anniversary. I can only imagine what they have in store for us this year as they seem to be on something of a creative roll. Here again, and maybe I've been lucky in the dozens of times I've seen them, but never once a bad show. They are a growling, howling rock'n'roll machine with some touches of Americana and a hint of occasional folk. I am convinced that the entire band can be shitfaced drunk, then suddenly take the stage and dazzle everyone. I don't need convincing, I've seen it happen.MRCH - Film Bar - 11pm
File this band as my fascinating new thing. MRCH (pronounced March) is a new side project from three members of The Prowling Kind (Mickey, Jesse and Erin to be exact). That being said, it sounds nothing like the prowling kind. You can read my review of their song "Validation" here, http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/uponsun/2015/01/5_great_new_songs_by_phoenix_artists.php?page=2 It's a pretty fantastic debut and I'm guessing that the indie electronic pop sound gives these three a nice outlet for songs that may not quite cut it in The Prowling Kind. I have yet to see them live, so I am pretty confident that I will be at Film Bar at 11 pm to catch and see how it goes down live.Gospel Claws - Film Bar - Midnight
The choices get rough at midnight. That being said, Gospel Claws is almost assuredly my favorite live band of this year, so far. After months of silence, they unleashed a string of shows that have been beyond stellar. Plus, it's Gospel Claws who have released two of the best local indie rock albums I've ever heard--in my mind those two albums are flawless and I play them nearly every other week to this day. This is also an interesting venue to catch them in, so another unique experience where the acoustics will be astounding. I have never been to a show at Film Bar where I left disappointed.Jared & The Mill - Hard Rock Cafe - Midnight
So Jared & The Mill just released a new single (see tomorrows column) and have an amazing EP on the way. In the last year they have toured constantly, most importantly they supported Barry Gibb on his entire tour. That's right, they opened up for a Bee Gee and that's simply amazing in my book. Still, their brand of energetic indie-folk-Americana is some of the catchiest material in that vein I have ever heard. For my money they far surpass any of the bands on national radio representing that odd genre. Their songs are just better than say Mumford & Sons or any other group like that--the songwriting is better, the hooks are better. Oh, also, these are truly good, compassionate people that display that energy at all times.Sara Robinson - Last Exit Live - Midnight
The final choice for the Midnight hour is Sara Robinson. This is actually an unknown quantity, because I don't know if this is Sara Robinson & The Midnight Special or just Sara Robinson. All details are unclear. All that aside, it doesn't matter--either you are going to get an intimate semi-solo show with Sara or an all out blazing show with the whole band. This is a win/win. Sara has one of the best voices in this town and whether she is backed by her amazing band or flying solo, this beautiful chanteuse will only please your ears. The band has gone through a lot of changes and this might be worth checking out for the unknown factor alone.
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