The Declaimed, Shovel, Freaks of Nature - 4/11/2014 and 4/12/2014

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This time of year you should be well within your rights to bitch slap any music fan who spends the weekend whining about how there's "nothing going on." Plenty of live music is flowing all over the damn city, at any given time, and the weather is nice, too -- a bonus incentive to soak up live music. Though I could fill a page with all the shows I missed this weekend 'cause life was busy fucking up my game plan (and I couldn't miss the killer pinball and arcade gaming convention, Zapcon), I managed to see a few Phoenix acts strut their stuff.

Friday night, I hit Tempe's Yucca Tap Room, where longtime punk band Naked Aggression stopped on its current tour. I couldn't stay for the band's set, but that doesn't mean I didn't get attacked with a raging dose of punk rock fury. That was delivered in full, with a few extra blasts to the gut, courtesy of local hardcore act the Declaimed. This band always hits it head on, but on Friday night, they were on fire.

Lead singer Jen Holiday's voice betrays her diminutive size, in the best ways possible, as she easily moves from belting out sharp and punchy lines into full-on screaming assaults. Her bandmates matched her ferociousness with a blistering musical backdrop. Guitarist Shawn Erroneous took on some of the vocal duties throughout the set and made real magic happen on their closer, "My Wandering Mind," when he and Holiday traded verses and came together in chill-inducing choruses. After overloading my senses, and thumbs, on hours of pinball machine action, I took a cruise over to downtown Phoenix venue Lost Leaf to catch a couple of bands. I walked in as noise punk duo Shovel just started doing their thing, which involved drummer Ward Reeder's relentlessly attacking his kit while vocalist/guitarist Dusty Rose created dynamics with driving, noisy guitar riffs and vocals that seamlessly transitioned from minimal to in-your-face. They barely kept their chaos controlled, building on it throughout the set for a full sonic explosion at the end.

Next up were garage rockers Freaks of Nature, who did what they do best -- turned the intimate venue into a sweaty, jam-packed, head-shaking, spasm-inducing rock 'n' roll party. The Freaks delivered a fierce set of their stomp-y punk loaded with both ease and vigor. Lead singer Daniel Shircliff passionately commanded and demanded on songs like "C'mon 'N Dance," easily making the audience willing participants.

This blog originally published with an incorrect headline.

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