So my friends in The Black Moods are living the rock n roll dream. They are on tour with Gin Blossoms, which is a life long dream of Josh Kennedy, and will soon be launching on a tour with White Snake. It is awesome, in every single way, to see my friends, local artists, busting through that ceiling and actually making those dreams happen! It really is, and I must admit, I am living vicariously through The Black Moods boys right now, and using their success as an example of what can happen when hard work and dedication meets talent. But – that said, music fans, seeing The Black Moods in town, here in Phoenix, may never be the same again.
I am reminded of the old days watching The Refreshments play in the old Electric Ballroom. You could still leave the floor, get a beer, and get back to your spot. “It’s easier to grab a beer without a thousand people here”, indeed. It was possible. Seeing Roger Clyne now, whether it is with the Peacemakers, the Three Amigos, or even just solo acoustic, in Arizona? Not so easy to get a beer.
This thought, and the festival season hitting with a fury in Phoenix as we roll in to March, had me really thinking about the value of a local, club/bar, music scene. McDowell Mountain Music Festival hit Phoenix this weekend, benefiting the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, as did Innings Festival over in Tempe. The weather was great, and Phoenicians proved they were ready to get out and hear some tunes! That is fantastic, and my friend Cheyenne Rowell added several bands to her Spotify list just from hearing them from the KWSS tent at McDowell Mountain! From a band perspective, that is the whole point of playing a festival type show right? Exposure. New fans.
But, from a fan perspective, this is not always congruent. Which is why, instead of heading to McDowell Mountain, or Innings, I went to Last Exit Live, to see Ben Anderson, The Runner Up, and Harper & the Moths, as they supported Break the Robot for their debut album release. The local club scene here in Phoenix is fantastic, and should not be forgotten about even as you buy your tickets for the Humdinger, or any of the other great festivals bound for Phoenix. In this article I will do my very best to prove why.
Break the Robot DEBUT CD Release Show @ Last Exit Live, Phoenix.
Ben Anderson opened up the show, and for me it was awesome to see him for the first time with a band behind him. He is a one of the more talented singer/ songwriters in town.
In-between sets, I stepped out on the patio and had a conversation with my friend Dubs. We were discussing festivals, festival attendance, and club shows. It made sense, it was a modest crowd at Last Exit Live, and several folks had commented on this being a HUGE music weekend in Phoenix. It also fueled a thought I had been having about the Humdinger in Mesa: would it have an effect on club show attendance this spring?
So, as my aside-of-interest for this particular outing… I wanted to take the opportunity to kind of reaffirm the definite Pros of local club/ bar shows.
Speaking of one of the first of the Local Club Show Pros, intimacy! And this was up close and personal in terms of obvious with The Runner Up. Fresh after their performance on the Mesa Amphitheater stage, which is huge in comparison, Rusty even commented on seeing various guitar parts flashing before his eyes as he danced around. But… that intimacy creates an energy, that is really hard to match. At local club shows, you can hang out, talk with the band, and get so up close and personal even your cell phone can make you look like a photographer! This is no where more prominent than when watching The Runner Up, who bring an intense amount of energy to any stage they play! What a great band to make sure you get out and see!
The second big win of local club shows is longer sets, sound quality, and VALUE! For instance, Festivals have become big money, and with the exception of the Humdinger Local Showcase, they can get pretty pricey. Tickets. Parking. Price gouging by vendors. Etc. Etc. Whereas with a local show, you not only know that the bulk of your dollar is going to support the artists, you also will end up paying less! For everything” from food to parking to drinks to tickets to merch. And… you get to see bands like Harper & the Moths cover Bowie’s Let’s Dance on an intimate dance floor with a sound-system that can handle it!
Finally, I am left with the lead act, 80/20 Records Recording Artist Break the Robot. Formed from the members of The Instant Classics, who have been a top rated weddings cover band here in the Valley for the last decade, Break the Robot allows lead man and bass player, Todd Middleman, and fellows to experiment with the concept of using their music to break down the robotic mechanisms of society that make us less alive. Their band mate, Drake, the steampunk Robot, exemplifies this symbol… similar to the character of the gorilla, or washing machines at a Rush show. The ensemble is a slam dunk of talent, and Break the Robot features the band’s prowess with original material… all while mixing in their over 300 cover catalog from their TIC experience. As Chelsey Louise, of Fairy Bones, told me, “Unless you are Beyonce’, the degree of control a band has over their performance is limited at a Festival.” This is very evident with a show … a concept…. that is Break the Robot.
My point is here, music fans… LOVE music. Support Artists. Get to Shows. But…. as festival season is upon us, it brings up a chance to reminisce about all those small shows, the chances to hang out with your friends and watch them create music right in front of you…..
Don’t forget Amigos….. The Electric Ballroom does not last forever. Don’t forget to support your local album releases, your local single release parties, and your local fundraisers (Like THE PLUS ONE SHOW @ Last Exit Live on May 3rd !!! )….. even as you plan room in your budgets and calendars for major events as the weather gets more and more….. Rockin!
Keep the Greasy Side Down, my Friends !