After discovering that MxPx lead singer Mike Herrera was coming to Tempe's Yucca Tap Room with his rockabilly/country side project Tumbledown, I knew I had to check it out for sheer curiosity alone. I've been an MxPx fan for years and have seen the band live on numerous occasions. And being a rockabilly fan, I was tickled pink.
However after watching their live show, I think they should probably lose the rockabilly part of the music genre, which they claim on their MySpace page. While they incorporate a stand-up bass and fiddle, their genre is more along the lines of country/pop, but not the Faith Hill or Shania Twain kind. Hell, whatever you want to call it, it's pretty badass.
Sadly, not a lot of people turned out to witness Monday's high-energy show. In fact, there were only about 40 people there. But the people in attendance were die-hard MxPx fans. I overheard many proclamations of love for the pop-punk band and even witnessed a 40-something guy with a ponytail wearing a green MxPx shirt. (You don't see that every day!)
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When Tumbledown took the stage, it was hard not to hear MxPx in Herrera's vocals because has such a distinct pop-punk sound in those pipes. But I moved past that pretty quickly and got lost in the poppiness of the music. Songs like "Sunny in Dallas," "Atlantic City" and "Lonesome," my favorite of the evening, had the small crowd bouncing - and some even singing along. The group also added two covers to the show. They mixed in MxPx's "Rock & Roll Girl," adding the fiddle and stand up bass to give it a fresh sound, and covered Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again" at the end of the night.
The highlight of the show was that Herrera and company didn't seem bothered by the lack of turnout on a Monday night. They drank it up, engaging in shots with fans, and turned Yucca into a party atmosphere for their hour-plus set, making it a memorable night for those in attendance.
"Every night's a Saturday night for us with a Sunday morning hangover," Herrera told the audience.
Critic's Notebook: Last Night: Tumbledown at Yucca Tap Room Better Than: A few of the local rockabilly bands I watched at the Tres Dias Rockabilly Fest at F1 Race Factory last weekend. Personal Bias: I fuckin' love MxPx. Go ahead and laugh but I do. I used to play their music on Punk Rock Infusion, my ASU radio show for "The Blaze" otherwise known as KASC 1260 AM. Random Detail: I was coming out of the bathroom and the singer from the opening band Simon Says Go Fuck Yourselves dedicated a song to me. Hey man, that doesn't happen every day! Further Listening: www.myspace.com/tumbledowncountry and/or the band's debut album set to drop May 19. By the Way: Another random ASU detail - I'm dating myself by sharing this but I interviewed MxPx at Gibson's (now the ghetto un-fabulous Margarita Rocks) for ASU's State Press when I was a Sun Devil girl way back when. One More Thing: MxPx released, "On the Cover II," a collection of covers, Tuesday, March 24.