The Love Me Nots, Sugar Thieves, and 2 Tone Lizard Kings at New Times Soundcheck, 2/10/12

New Times Soundcheck Friday, February 10, 2012 Club Red

It's been a great week for local music fans. The much-anticipated 100 Years of Music That Defined Arizona article came out a couple days ago, and we're halfway through a pretty big music festival.

Check out the full Phoenix New Times Soundcheck slideshow.

Last night, the New Times Soundcheck kicked off with 14 diverse and talented bands. Regardless of personal tastes, every performer was entertaining to watch. Like most music festivals, the artists played at overlapping times and made for some difficult decisions. Fortunately, the festival is arranged so that you can spend at least 15 minutes watching every band on the lineup.

Music wasn't the only thing to enjoy at The Soundcheck. Fans could take care of all of their pipe/hookah shopping needs on the patio while munching on treats from the food truck that was conveniently parked outside. The strangest thing of them all was the tattoo artist who set up shop a few feet away from the bar. These weren't washable temporary tattoos or henna tats, this guy was the real deal.

The audience was as diverse as the lineup. Differences aside, it was easy to spot the band most of the crowd wanted to see. I'll give you a big hint: They received the most votes in our ticket contest. The Father Figures claimed to be them as they took the stage, but revealed their true identity after one song because they will never be "as sexy" as the band in question.

That, of course, would be The Love Me Nots, who exude sexiness. Sophie O lived up to the "hot female bassist" stereotype by shooting sly, seductive glares during her solos. Michael Johnny Walker defiantly smoked a cigarette before picking up his guitar -- seriously, how cool is that? And, of course, the lovely Miss Nicole Laurenne stole the show by reigning supreme over her microphone and organ.

Looks and attitude can only get you so far. It takes talent to tour faraway places like Europe, and The Love Me Nots definitely have what it takes to succeed. The band played a lengthy set gushing with garage rock rhythms and sex appeal.

There were quite a few people wearing Love Me Nots shirts at the show. Usually, that's a faux pas, but we'll let it slide because it was more cool than tool-ish.

The only downside to The Love Me Nots' set was the fact that Sugar Thieves played at the same time. As soon as Meridith Moore started singing, I needed to take a moment to pick my jaw up off the floor because, damn, that girl can sing. She shared vocal duties with Mikel Lander, who had an equally impressive deep voice that was made for singing the blues.

Sugar Thieves' style is a hybrid of blues and country unified by strange instruments like an upright bass -- and, no, it's not the same thing as a double bass.

"It's an intsy-wintsy guitar, but boy does it have a big sound," said Moore. The tiny bass had the same crisp, organic sound as a double bass, just in a much more compact form. Other highlights of Sugar Thieves' set included a kazoo solo and a cover of Jermaine Jackson's "Hot Nuts" that included a string of hilarious innuendos sang fantastically by a vocal powerhouse of a woman.

Most ska purists balk at third wave ska revival. Some don't like the genre at all and can find truth in Propagandhi's tongue in cheek jam "Ska Sucks." The rest seem to be obsessed with the genre, which is part of the reason 2 Tone Lizard Kings practically has a cult following in Tempe. The other reason is they're a good band that deserves the hype.

Fresh off a tour with The Toasters and a local show with The Slackers, the Lizard Kings waxed nostalgic with a spot on cover of "Weekend in LA."

Just like this! They had the sunglasses and everything-

The Lizard Kings also paid homage to the first wave of ska with a great rendition of The Specials' "Little Bitch." There may not have been any rude boys in the audience, but 2 Tone Lizard Kings definitely accomplished their mission to get the crowd to "shake some ass."

Last night was a small-scale déjà vu of the X show in December. It was nice to actually have breathing room and be able to see talented acts like The Love Me Nots, The Father Figures, and Glass Heroes take the main stage.

The Father Figures rose from the ashes of '80s skate-punk legends JFA and continue to play rhythmic punk. Glass Heroes is another local punk band that has been going strong for decades. The Heroes closed out a long night of music with an energetic '70s classic punk-inspired set laced with jokes about drugs.

The New Times Soundcheck has a little something for everyone. If a hater like myself could find enjoyment in a ska band, I'm sure just about anyone would have a blast at the second half of the Soundcheck, which continues tonight at Club Red. Critic's Notebook: Last Night: New Times Soundcheck at Club Red with The Love Me Nots, Sugar Thieves, 2 Tone Lizard Kings, The Father Figures, and Glass Heroes. Better Than: Trying to track down the line-up on Spotify. Personal Bias: The Love Me Nots and The Father Figures together again? Yes, please. The Crowd: Very mixed. Punks, older folks, hippies, you name it. One More Thing: I also was really impressed with Doctor Bones.

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