Concerts

Through and Through Gospel Review, Crescent Ballroom, 7/14/12

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Opening with "I'm Not Dead, I'm Alive," it was clear that Marquard, whose battle with testicular cancer was the reason the audience was there to see a massive lineup of Phoenix's biggest rock 'n' roll bands, taps into gospel traditions that run deeper than "whatever is one sale at Urban Outfitters" tastes, and that no matter how the band dressed (faux-Dust Bowl) or joked (faux-Southern accents), there was a soulful truth to the ringing lyrics of the hymn: "I'm not dead, I'm alive, and I'm looking/for a place to hang my head when I die."

The show's massive lineup, which included ROAR, Yellow Minute, Ladylike, Snake! Snake! Snakes!, Gospel Claws, and What Laura Says, benefited Marquard's presentation of the Gospel Review sounds. The record -- which came out last year, and found its way onto my favorite albums of 2011 list -- remains a haunting listen today.

With its choruses of multi-tracked vocals, the record was begging to be played live, and with a sympathetic cast featuring members of most of the aforementioned bands, plus support from Rob Withem of Fine China, Shane Kennedy of Where Dead Voices Gather, Rachel Ludeman, J.D. Stooks, Bob Hoag, Becky Lee, members of Gospel Claws, and Marquard's former Dear and the Headlights partner P.J. Waxman, Marquard was able to stage the record the way it deserves, somewhere between the club and the church, swelling with massive sounds.

It was -- like everyone's sets -- a short but powerful one. "Do You Know My King," perhaps inspired by the sermon of the same name given by Baptist preacher Shadrach Meshach Lockridge, found the band abandoning most stringed instruments in favor of African-flavored percussion, drawing inevitable comparisons to Paul Simon's Graceland.

"Don't Let It Die,"a song that illuminated Marquard's gospel roots when originally performed with Gospel Claws, was recast as an utter rave-up. The stage packed with friends and fellow musicians armed with wood blocks, Waxman picked out a minimal blues riff on electric guitar, while the assembled crowd shouted out lyrics, stomped, and clapped their percussion devices.

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.