Toadies, Supersuckers, BattleMe - Crescent Ballroom - 3/19/14

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Toadies, Supersuckers, BattleMe Crescent Ballroom 3/19/14

A seriously epic show went down Wednesday night at Crescent Ballroom, courtesy of Toadies and friends.

It was the first show of the alt-rock band's current tour, which is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its kick-ass debut album, Rubberneck, and includes two Northwest-by-way-of-the-Southwest bands, Supersuckers and BattleMe. There was definite buzz in the air before the show even started, which is always nice on a Wednesday night, and things got off to an energetic start.

Portland's BattleMe got things rolling with a multi-layered approach to rock 'n' roll. They kind of reminded me of that old song that Donny and Marie Osmond used to sing about being a little bit country and a little bit rock 'n' roll, except with BattleMe, it's more like a little bit indie and a little bit stoner rock. It's a really cool blend, though, and the decent crowd in the Crescent seemed to dig them.

Though there was nothing super-original going on with them, they were not overly familiar, either. Solid players all-around and most importantly, they seemed genuine happy to be on tour with the Toadies.

Thought I would definitely give BattleMe another chance, I think I'm pretty much done with the Supersuckers after seeing them for the first time. They were mildly entertaining, but to be honest, I think I prefer my revved-up rock 'n' roll to be served by their fellow Seattle punk 'n' rollers Zeke or (REO) Speedealer, if given the chance.

I feel for Supersuckers, actually, because it definitely has to suck getting blown away by Toadies every night on tour after you (even jokingly) proclaimed yourself to be the greatest rock band in the world.

It's part of their shtick but it's more of a turn-off than turn-on. I did enjoy their cover of Depeche Mode's "Never Let Me Down Again" quite a bit, though, and their set definitely seemed to pick up after they played it. The crowd seemed to really love the Supersuckers and the affection was clearly mutual, so let the hate mail rain, I suppose. I just didn't dig it.

I'm glad that they don't take themselves very seriously, and their off-stage demeanor definitely suggested that they're decent dudes, but this night was owned by Toadies. And Toadies were amazeballs, as the kids say these days, delivering the goods for 35 minutes straight as they played Rubberneck in its entirety. The energy in the Crescent jumped about 115 percent when Toadies took the stage, and it barely let up the entire time.

I can't say enough about what a great band they are, and the current incarnation, which has been together for the better part of six years, and is a well-oiled machine.

Vaden Todd Lewis possesses one of the more charismatic voices in rock 'n' roll, and his vocal delivery is always spot-on. And Wednesday night at the Crescent was no exception. It felt as if it were one hit after another as the band roared through the first part of the set. A high point for me, early, was the rendition of "Backslider," which I learned earlier is a favorite song to cover by Christian rock bands. Lewis has always chosen interesting subject matter to write about and with the Crescent's excellent sound system, his lyrics definitely were easy to make out.

Lead guitar player Clark Vogeler is also an unsung hero of the music world. He adds wonderful texture to the band and does not get enough credit for some of the more iconic solos in alternative music history. Angular, yet meaty, his work on songs like "I Come From Water" and one of the encores "Doll Skin" was fantastic. The rhythm section of bassist Doni Blair and drummer Mark Reznicek was stellar as usual, and this was the first Toadies show I've been to that I didn't hear anybody ask, "Where's the girl bass player?"

The band stuck around for quite a while after the show signing autographs for the fans and shooting the breeze, which was really refreshing to see after playing such an energetic set. Overall, the Toadies played for just over an hour and kept up the pace the entire time. I don't think anyone in the audience felt the least bit cheated and as for this particular critic, I left with a smile on my face.

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Toadies, Supersuckers, and BattleMe at Crescent Ballroom

Personal Bias: I am beginning to feel like Toadies are an almost perfect band and the Supersuckers pretty much do nothing for me.

The Crowd: Young-ish, older-ish, not very dressed up but also being somewhat inebriated and definitely amped for some rock 'n' roll.

Overheard: "'Doll Skin' makes me openly weep. I fucking crying so hard everytime I hear them play it," said a drunk girl in line waiting to meet the band after the show.

Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.

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