The biggest impression a band leaves usually comes from the lead singer. After all, we all (well, most of us) speak English, but we don't all play music. So understanding and connecting with lyrics and the expressive range of the human voice is usually the easiest thing for a musical layman to do.
But some lead singers build a connection with the audience that is bigger than just words and notes, and they become more than just the vocalist. It is those people we are celebrating with this list. Phoenix has many talented songwriters and singers, but this list is about the ones who bring a little something extra. These are the 10 best front people in Phoenix right now.
Abe Gil - Treasure MammaL Treasure MammaL is pretty much the weirdest band in town, and all the weirdness starts with their martian of a frontman Abe Gil. For context on how strange Gil is, he once defeated Wayne Coyne in an Instagram battle for weirdness supremacy. In his signature spandex suit, Gil transcends stages, bringing the out-of-control antics that he is known for right into the audiences face. There is no single performer in town better at getting the audience off their ass and on to the dance floor than Gil, though he does usually have help from his spandex-clad harem of backup dancers. He's the type of guy that the most interesting man in the world should aspire to be, on and off stage. But when he's on stage, Gil just exudes a certain type of electricity and excitement that absolutely cannot be ignored. He's one of the best performers in town because of how genuine he truly is about everyone at the show having a good time, while still maintaining an air of sarcasm around everything his band does.
Camille Sledge - Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra Sometimes having an outrageously talented band can be an obstacle for even a great front person. For Camille Sledge, it forces her to up the ante and remain one step more energetic than one of the most explosive horn sections in the Phoenix metro area. Now Sledge has a slight advantage over many of the other musicians in town because she has performing in her blood as the spawn of Debbie Sledge of Sister Sledge fame. But she certainly is not riding her famous mother's coattails; she brings her own authentic flavor to her performances with PAO. She is the essence of the band. PAO has many talented members, but without Sledge to tie it all together there would just be grooves with no soul. As great a showwoman as she is she also has great feel for when she needs to own the stage, and when she needs to back down and let her powerful band take over.
Daniel Shircliff - Freaks of Nature
There are no slow songs when Freaks of Nature frontman Daniel Shircliff is providing the music. He is without a doubt the best possible frontman for his proto-punk four- piece. He brings the perfect sort of energy to the stage, looking at all times like steam might just come out of his ears. But he also has the perfect look with his colored plaid shirts and black shoes; he looks the part of rock 'n' roller from the '60s just starting to figure out punk. Oh, yeah, he's a pretty good singer too, with a hell of a lot of wind. To go full bore the way he does even for just the 30-minute sets they generally do has to take a lot.
Jack Bennett - Boss Frog No offense to anyone else on this list, but Jack Bennett is the best dancer, and possibly the prettiest. He also happens to be tremendous performer. His performances with Boss Frog are incredibly theatrical in every way. His outfits, his makeup, his persona -- he acts as though he is performing a piece a theater rather than a piece of music, and it's refreshing. Fronting Boss Frog is no easy task with the other huge personalities and performers in the group, but Bennett really does it. He is the center of attention at every show they play. It's like Bryan Ferry and James Brown had an illegitimate demon child in Phoenix.
Chelsey Louise - Fairy Bones Chelsey Louise is everyone's favorite fairy, and she really is emerging as one of the strongest female faces in the Phoenix music scene. Her voice explodes out of Fairy Bones' music, but more than that, she is the linchpin of their entire aesthetic. She is an adorable fairy who is just a little mischevious with an air of danger and mystery to her, and her bandmates Matt and Ben Foos and Robert Ciuca take after that feel. The band's music is fun and danceable pop with a heavy dose of rock 'n' roll, which doubles as a decent description of its lead singer.
Douglas Patton - Fathers Day Fat mustachioed scumbag is how I would describe "The Business Dad" of paternal thrash punks Fathers Day, Douglas Patton. The next word I would use is amazing. When that chubby deadbeat gets in front of a crowd with his drunken idiot friends, they are so unbelievably entertaining that the fact that Patton can't sing a lick doesn't even matter. It's not about high-quality music, it's about high-quality entertainment. Patton hurls obscenities at his audience, insults them, knocks drinks out of their hands, and at almost every show assaults at least one person. But nothing beats that trademark Douglas Patton wiggle.
Aydin Immortal - Wolvves Wolvves frontman Aydin Immortal posses a certain je ne sais quoi, and I don't say that lightly. He's got "it" or the "x-factor" or maybe the x-gene. There's just something about the guy that is magnetic. The music he makes with Wolvves is a seamless blend of garage punk and hip-hop all made with an obvious "fuck you" attitude that emanates from Immortal and into the rest of the band. That attitude hasn't always worked in the favor of the audacious four-piece, as they have fallen out of favor with a few local venues and artists. Part of that is probably because Immortal doesn't always show up with his A-game, but guess what? Aydin's D-game is better than most bands A-Game, and when he doe bring that A-game he does things like challenging an entire crowd to "break our shit for us, come up on the stage and beat my ass."
Kristina Moore - Where Are All the Buffalo? Kristina Moore is a great lead singer because she feels real. The stories she tells with her music come off as authentic, and in turn it makes an evening of watching her perform that much more magical. The music and the band itself have a lot of old world qualities to them, and Moore accentuates that with her demeanor and fashion. Their whole show feels very old timey, which completely explains why veteran Phoenix artist Pete Petrisko (RPM Orchestra) sings their praises to anyone who will listen.
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Anthony Fama - The Redemptions Anthony Fama was one of the most talked-about frontmen in Phoenix as part of Doctor Bones until he was unceremoniously shitcanned in May 2013. He was replaced by Zach West, a decision that Mitchell Hillman said was "the equivalent of kicking Iggy Pop out of your band and replacing him with Brandon Flowers." Naturally Fama, being the performer that he is, did not stay down for long, and he is now rocking with his new group, The Redemptions. He's still got that signature voice, but now he's lending it something far more toned down than his former dance-punk act. The Redemptions do rock 'n' roll in the style of Elvis Presley, and Fama plays the part really well. His somber voice, sincere tone, gyrating hips, and pompadour haircut give him all the tangible qualities needed to be a great frontman.
Wally Boudway - Wooden Indian What a year it was for Mr. Boudway and his psychedelic folk band Wooden Indian. In March, they invited Califone to play a show with them at The Icehouse, and by summer they were joining him on tour as his backing band. Boudway even got to go to Europe with Califone. Wooden Indian is just teeming with talent, but the entire songwriting process for them starts with Boudway. He is the centerpiece of the band. It's more than just notes and chords, though. Boudway sets the mood for every Wooden Indian show. When Wally is upbeat, the show is upbeat, and his bandmates follow his lead. Some things are up in the air concerning Wooden Indian right now as they recently lost their recording and practice space, The Dressing Room, but that probably won't stop Wally from making and playing far-out music.