This show was supposed to be two shows. But, going up against Bon Iver in Mesa, promoters wisely combined the two very different sounds of !!! and The Cave Singers. In the end, !!! took the stage at Rhythm Room around midnight, following a long, long line of acts: Lightning Dust, The Cave Singers, Indian Jewelry and Sean Watson. As bizarre as the mix sounds, the night ended up transitioning with relative ease.
In tiny kakhi shorts and a worn red tee, Nic Offer could be anyone. His wardrobe showed not the slightest hint of his dance punk godliness, or the promise that he would strut the stage at Phoenix's premier blues club a la Jagger, accept underwear from an audience member and sport it as a face mask, or lead a pack of energetic Phoenicians through less than an hour of jams to the end of one hell of a long night in downtown Phoenix.
Offer's hip swivels could envelope the high level of ass-shaking in any Beyonce video. He's what Christian Siriano would call "fierce." In fact, so fierce, the only man worthy pitted against Offer in a dance-off would probably be our own Treasure Mammal.
See, Cave Singers and !!! aren't exactly cut from the same cloth. The former are largely stationary twang-singed simple rockers, while the latter have a front man who raves with his crowd, in his crowd. And between these co-headliners (or something like that) there was a goth dance outfit, Indian Jewelry, and a local DJ, Sean Watson.
The transition would've been damn near impossible if it weren't for the stomp along ditties played with the fury of a train chugging across the dusty plains that Cave Singers brought to the table. Passionate harmonica, a gravelly, soulful voice, entrancing guitars and spectacular drumming made them the absolute stand out. But, that's not to say the whole crowd was feeling it.
At Cave Singers' best they were dirty, gritty southern-inspired and capable of carring a serious groove. At their worst, the were a snoozeable pre-party nap, while some waited for !!!.
Last Night: The Cave Singers and !!! (plus a few more) at Rhythm Room
Better Than: Bon Iver and !!! at Mesa Arts, which was not a real thing, but if it were, Cave Singers and !!! would still be better.
Personal Bias: I wasn't totally sold on Cave Singers after "Welcome Joy."
Random Detail: Amber Webber of Lightning Dust and Black Mountain is probably the coolest person ever. She hopped up and sang with The Cave Singers.
Further Listening: Depending on which camp one's leaning toward, check out Black Mountain and Pink Mountaintops if you're on team Cave Singers, and, if you belong to team !!!, go for Out Hud or Moving Units.