Wooden Indian - Crescent Ballroom - 1/10/13

Rubber Brother Records is really cool -- the cassettes, the amazing DIY shows, the sincere work with high-school-age musicians, and now a seamless transition from an epic underground festival to a sardine-can-tight all-ages show at Crescent Ballroom along with one of Phoenix's premier acts, Wooden Indian.

Like a lot of what Rubber Brother does, the night distinguished itself right away -- the setup of the stage made it clear something was up. Wooden Indian's wide array of instruments were on the stage all night; so were a series of colorful lights and light-making devices -- say, a straw chair with blinking Christmas lights wrapped around it, for starters.

"It's really overwhelming to have this sort of turnout, and a beautiful show of community, and it really means a lot to me to see this," says Rubber Brother co-founder Gage Olesen. Not only did his label pack this city's best venue on a Friday night, but they also sold out of their limited-release split cassettes.

Petty Things opened the night with a garage rock feel. The band is fronted by Jordan Owen and has Wooden Indian bass player Austin Owen on the drums. They played both songs off their split cassette with Playboy Manbaby, "Run Angel Run," and "She's the One," and were joined by Wooden Indian guitarist Douglas James for their final two tracks.

DJentrification took over during all the breaks in music, playing uptempo world-beat tracks from a table set up in the all ages section while wearing a spectacularly colorful patchwork jacket. His short sets were half DJ set and half musical education as he talked about the local, national, and international hits he was spinning, and he even gave away some of his record collection at one point.

The Austin Owen-fronted Los Puchos took the stage second with Owen in a turban and aviator sunglasses. The band also features Jordan Owen, as well as Douglas James, who was decked out in a shiny cape, and two female backup singer and auxiliary percussionists.

Their sound also leaned more toward garage rock, and it seemed as though all their songs were titled after females. Before they began playing, Owen asked if there were any Victorias in the house before going into their track "Victoria." Los Puchos started quite a few songs in that same way, including "Joanne," which did merit some audience responses. "Sophie," too -- but the only response there was from Phoenix musician Andrew Jemsek.

Owen really opened up while fronting Los Puchos, and took his duties as frontman as a call to act completely erratically. He danced around the stage, spent a significant amount of time on his knees, and even managed to lose his shirt by the end of his set.

He also lay a Mexican blanket across the outstretched arms of the crowd for what he called a "tragic carpet ride," in which he was hoping to be dropped.

Then Djentrification got going again, and the venue got pretty cramped while excitement rose for the Playboy Manbaby madness that was about to ensue.

Both sections were crowded and rowdy, but the all-ages section was obviously where the party was. From start to finish, there was moshing and jumping and stage dives. Even though Playboy played mostly new, freshly released music, the crowd still got down like they knew it, with bodies flying everywhere.

"That was fucking extreme," said Manbaby drummer Chad Dennis. "It's fucking surreal man, you know. You come to shows and you see your favorite bands pack the venue, and I've played so many local shows, and you know that doesn't happen at every show . . . So coming here and getting that kind of response is super-surreal."

Playboy Manbaby frontman Robbie Pfeffer had the crowd eating out of his hands, while trumpeter David Cosme bantered with the crowd when he wasn't busy playing. Playboy Manbaby brought an energy that turned Crescent from a premier Phoenix concert venue to a sweaty Phoenix living room, with kids scattered everywhere and music blaring.

"I couldn't have asked for anything better," Pfeffer said.

After the next Djentrification set the lights went out. Wooden Indian used only their makeshift lighting rigs to set the mood for their headlining set. In the blinking light, Wooden Indian was really in their element -- the perfect Wooden Indian environment is a place where it's hard to tell where each sound is coming from.

"It was really fun, I don't think we've ever played for that many people," said Wooden Indian lead singer Wally Boudway. "We just needed a lot of people having a good time and we had that.

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Jeff Moses
Contact: Jeff Moses