A Backyard Party for Barack: AZ Rocks the Hope at the Lost Leaf on Saturday, October 25

By Benjamin Leatherman

The indie pop-rockers of Hooves perform at AZ Rocks the Hope.

Better than: Hanging out at a McCain fundraiser.

For some reason, I thought the AZ Rocks the Hope event on Saturday, October 25, in downtown Phoenix was going to be a gigantic rally for presidential front-runner Barack Obama. I envisioned hundreds of Obama converts packing downtown art space [email protected] and cheering en masse as dozens of local bands and DJs gave stirring testimonials between their sets about how the Illinois senator was the savior of our nation.

So did that actually happen? Did my prediction prove accurate?

Not really.

First off, AZ Rocks the Hope didn’t even go down at it’s planned location, but instead was moved a few blocks east to the Lost Leaf. According to event organizers, Canvas is having problems with its “certificate of occupancy” and also didn’t have proper permits for the shindig. Hence, Phoenix police officials shut down the event even before it began, leaving organizers to hastily relocate things to the nearby beer and wine joint and along Fifth Street near Roosevelt Row.

Secondly, there weren’t as many people at the event as I thought there would be. While bands such as What Laura Says and Cardiac Party performed on a makeshift stage behind the Lost Leaf, a crowd of anywhere from 20 to 40 people sat on the yellowing grass to watch. Hardly the hundreds of rabid Obama fans I was expecting. It was fairly packed inside the bar throughout the night, however.

But despite the relatively low turnout, the bands played with plenty of energy and it seemed like a fun affair. Cardiac Party and What Laura Says each provided some memorable sets. I also dug the pop-flavored indie rock sound of Hooves. Eventually, the music moved indoors before 10 p.m. (due to noise/curfew laws) where the Latin groovemeisters of Fatigo, the one-man freakazoid Treasure Mammal, and other outfits performed until last call.

Meanwhile, the neighboring HoodRide was also holding a backyard show on Saturday, featuring music from the thrash rockers of Running Thin, as well as the ska-punkers of Raise the Flag and Recovering Creeps (the latter of whom were clad in togas). HoodRide owner Derrick Pacheco was grilling up some delicious Italian sausage and peppers in his tree house. Down the street, agit-prop painter Bobby Casteneda (a.k.a. the “Resist” tagger) was doling out the live art at the house next door to Conspire.

Here's a video a put together of the bands performing at Lost Leaf, HoodRide, and Modified.

Although Election Day is less than two weeks away, the political content was pretty much at a minimum. An Obama volunteer was set up at a small card table across the street from Lost Leaf, Casteneda played some hip-hop remixes incorporating quotes from Barack, and musicians occasionally said a word or two in support of the candidate.

Like I said, I kinda was expecting something more. Especially considering were mere days away from one of the most important elections in our lifetime.

Random detail: The motion-sensitive security lamps in the Lost Leaf’s backyard provided lighting for the outdoor performances after the sun went down. It occasionally would turn off, causing audience members to jump around and wave their hands frantically, trying to get it to re-activate.

Personal bias: I plan to vote for change on November 4.