“Tfronkypalooza” was last week my friends! As Detective Murtough said, “I’m too old for this shit.” The problem is in my case I love going to live shows more than anything. I just do not usually hit four in one week, and it was supposed to be five. Some of you are going to go off on me when you read which concert I blew off in order to catch up on sleep, but trust me, I made the right choice so I was good to go for Friday September 16. I thought about being really motivated and doing a blog post about each show, but considering it is September 22, eight days after the first of the four shows, a combined review will suffice. For me that is. So here we go with a review of Tfronkypalooza!
Tuesday September 13 – Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker at Martini Ranch. I still have 1985’s Telephone Free Landslide Victory on vinyl, that is how long I have liked Camper Van Beethoven. Nice to see so much of the early line-up of the band playing on this evening, including the second violinist in the band Jonathan Segel. I have seen CVB three times now, had never seen Cracker before on this evening. Camper was fun as always and Cracker really surprised me since I was never a big fan. They are very good live. David Lowery is the man, what a stud for assuming his frontman duties for both bands.
CVB played Key Lime Pie in its entirety, a short break occurred, then Cracker took the stage to perform their biggest selling album Kerosene Hat in its entirety. I was happy to see CVB get the respect they deserve from the appreciative crowd. Cracker put on an even better performance and got an even better reception, totally earned on their part. Their style of college rock translates better to a live setting. Great way to start of Tfronkypalooza!
Wednesday September 14 – Michelle Blades, Nick Jaina, ROAR, Fatigo and Sweetbleeders at the Rhythm Room. The Rhythm Room celebrated 20 great years of music here in Phoenix. While the venue is primarily a blues destination, the Rhythm Room has hosted some awesome indie shows over the years, including A Place to Bury Strangers, We Were Promised Jetpacks, The Appleseed Cast and Jukebox the Ghost. The weekend was jam-packed with several blues legends, but Wednesday began the celebration with a show of acoustic sets from several artists. I got there a little late so only saw three songs of Michelle Blades. GORGEOUS voice, must see her again!
Nick Jaina was on the road when their van broke down. Lo and behold they were close to the Rhythm Room and asked the venue if they could be added to the line-up for that evening. They were very good, indie folk-rock including a guy that played the trumpet and cornet.
ROAR was up next, one guy (sorry, can’t recall his actual name) that sang and played the guitar. He has a pretty wide vocal range and his music could have been very good, but he spent a lot of time saying that he sounded horrible and should have drunk more before his set. I need to see him again to determine whether I really like his music or not.
Fatigo was RIDICULOUS. I forget how much I like this band. Their style of rock, Mariachi and indie folk music is absolutely wonderful. Add in the fact this band is ultra-professional and knows how to play their instruments and you have the foundation for some outstanding music. Set of the evening, no question.
Sweetbleeders were very good and have a singer/guitarist by the name of Robin Vining that can hit some ridiculous high notes. He also played accordion during the Fatigo set, so we are talking about a man with some serious talent. Good set from the whole band and a nice way to end my evening. There was more music but I was fading at this point.
I blew off the Fleet Foxes, Walkmen and Bon Iver show on Thursday. No joke.
Friday September 16 – Psychedelic Furs and the Tom Tom Club at Talking Stick Casino Showroom. Let’s see. I have seen both of these bands twice. Tom Tom Club I saw previously at Gammage opening for the Fine Young Cannibals, then at Mesa Amphitheatre as part of the “Escape from New York Tour” with The Ramones, Casual Gods (Jerry Harrison) and Debbie Harry. Both were good shows. The first time I saw the Psychedelic Furs was at Club Rio. The Ocean Blue opened and were great, The Furs were horrible. Years later I saw them at the Cajun House and they were awesome. So this time?
The Tom Tom Club actually has a new album out! The new material was okay, nothing spectacular, but the band does stick to its tried-and-true formula of mid-to-mellow tempo dance music. Naturally the crowd went apeshit when the band played “Genius of Love”, still such an infectious pop song. I love the fact that song is decades old and the band is still getting royalty money from all the schmucko hip hop and soul artists sampling that tune. My favorite song from the Tom Tom Club, “Suboceania”, was played early. Only glaring omission to me was “I Confess” from the Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom album, especially since they pacified the crowd with “Take me to the River” and “Psycho Killer” from the Talking Heads. Still, a good set.
The Psychedelic Furs took the stage next and I immediately looked for two members; Richard Butler behind the mic and Tim Butler on bass. Seeing both of them I knew we would be in for a good night. I just was not ready for a great night! They were outstanding and the remaining four newer members backing them up played the material to near Furs perfection. Richard Butler may be 55 now but still has an amazing voice. Years of life of the road and lots of cigarettes have not done the damage to his voice that one would expect. He sounded awesome and brother Tim remains the perfect complement, playing as dark and good a bass as ever.
I was stunned when the band broke out my favorite song “Love My Way” two songs into the set, more stunned when they played the poppier “Some Kind of Wonderful” version of “Pretty in Pink” instead of the much darker version from Talk Talk Talk. Most of the band’s hits were played to the delight of the crowd. Personal highlight of the set? A beautiful, dramatic rendering of “Sleep Comes Down” to close out the first set. Good God these guys put on an awesome show!
Saturday September 17 – Source Victoria, Snow Songs and Sunset Electrics at Teakwoods. Lindsay, bassist for Snow Songs and other bands, plus manager at Stinkweeds Records asked me early this evening why I blew off the Fleet Foxes show for a show with three bands I could see anytime. Valid point, but I really do try to support local music when I can. Throw in the fact that a free cover meant I could feed my face with the deliciousness of the wings at Teakwoods. 🙂
A fun night I must say. Sunset Electrics is one-man crew Zachary James Dodds and he impressed me. Good vocals, nice job on the guitar, a good way to begin the evening. Check out the link I gave you for him to check out his music. Snow Songs delivered IMHO the best set of the evening and Yoli Bejarano as always had a beautiful voice. One of these days I will figure out the other piece of the puzzle in regards to what vocalists she reminds me of, Hope Sandoval being one of them. Source Victoria was good as always and played a longer set than what I have seen from them recently. They have a show coming up October 5 opening for Vive Voce, hopefully enough people will show up early to that show and give them the support they deserve. Frontman Brendan Murphy said Slow Luck is due for a November release. About fricken time! 😉
Sunday the 18th? Hell, I watched football and watched The Gary Colemanation dominate, a great way for this 42-year-old to recover from Tfronkypalooza!
Alas, I bid you adieu with a not-so-subtle reminder that Elbow is in Los Angeles is just nine days! If you have not purchased your ticket yet then what the hell are you waiting for?!