Anti-Rock Stars: Blackmarket at the Brickhouse Theatre on Sunday, May 18
By Niki D’Andrea
Photos by Pat Kauchick
Better than: Flying all the way to Japan to see a good band from Arizona.
When I arrive at the Brickhouse Theatre to see Lake Havasu City band Blackmarket open for Eisley, there’s a line winding around the side of the venue. It’s hot outside and “I’m on the list,” so I push my way through the crowd of fresh-faced emo kids who’ve already been waiting an hour and charge up to the door. “I’m on the list,” I tell the guy at the window. “Don’t you know who I am, biotch? I want my VIP wristband and my comp tickets NOW.”
Actually, I didn’t do that. I’ve never done anything like that. Even though I really am on the list and the door guy is gonna recognize me and just wave me through when I finally get up there (saying, “Skip the line next time”), I can’t bring myself to just barge ahead of everybody. I’ve seen other people act like that and thought they were assholes, and I’m shy by nature anyway (yes, really), so what I do instead is get in the back of the line.
I know it’s not very “rock star” of me, but I’m working on it.
Inside, there’s a crowd of about 150 people -- impressive considering it’s still early (8 p.m.) and the first band, Blackmarket, was added to the bill with Eisley and The Myriad just a couple weeks before the show and wasn’t included on any of the show fliers. I wrote about Blackmarket in this blog last week, and was looking forward to seeing the band play live again. That there is a modern rock band from Lake Havasu City, Arizona may strike some people as an anamoly. That there’s a really, really good modern rock band from Lake Havasu City, Arizona may strike some people as an impossibility.
But it’s true – the guys in Blackmarket have been playing together since junior high, and I consider them one of the most promising bands in the state right now. Their sound is solid – a pastiche of wicked riffs, emotive vocals, popping percussion, and songwriting centered on a strong sense of melody. They look like rock stars, too.
When the band takes the stage, singer/guitarist Daryl chugs a bottle of whiskey and spits it all over the front row before ripping off his shirt and screaming (all Paul Stanley-like), “How ya doin’, Phoenix? Are you ready for some rawk and roll-a? Let’s blow the motherfucking roof off this bitch!”
Actually, he didn’t do that. I can’t imagine Daryl doing anything like that. The svelt frontman actually seems pretty shy on stage, and his between-song banter consists of things like, “It’s hotter than the devil’s basement in Arizona,” “Do you guys like water?” and my favorite, “We’ll have a CD soon, that you can buy…I’m the worst salesman ever.”
I know it’s not very “rock star” of him, but he’s working on it.
Luckily, Blackmarket’s music speaks for itself. The quartet’s knack for crafting catchy, guitar-driven rock songs is impressive. Two songs from the band’s repertoire – “Play Dead” and “Night in Question” – piqued the ear of some record execs. Both of those songs just scream “Successful single!” Unfortunately, A&R peeps stateside starting looking at Blackmarket at the same time the pink slips started raining down on the record industry, and no one was brave enough to take a chance on a new band.
Except Japan. Blackmarket’s building a big fan base in the Land of the Rising Sun, where they stay in five-star hotels, play sold-out shows and massive rock festivals, and nabbed a record deal for their first full-length album, Elephant in the Room. (You can order that here.) The band’s first stateside release will be a self-titled EP that hits in mid-June, and is already available in Japan (you can order the Japanese version of the EP at the same site offering Elephant in the Room).
Watching Blackmarket perform live is a treat, because the band sounds about as pro as you can sound without having the Eagles’ sound system and the Grammys’ sound guys at the boards. Lead guitarist and keyboardist Jason gets an amazingly crisp tone out of his Fender six-string, even when playing the spacey, dreamy bridges that decorate half of Blackmarket’s songs over Daryl’s power chords and bassist Mikey’s booming chord progressions. Drummer Langdon’s percussion tends to be more on the low rhythmic tip, and he uses cymbals sparingly (though Blackmarket seemed very fond of the tambourine, as they used it for about half the songs in their 30-minute set).
The band’s set list included the melodic rock number “Sheila” (driven by a catchy keyboard hook), the retro-harmony gem “White Lie,” and the punky hard rock number “Bad Call” (all three of which sound like something you’d hear on the radio in Any City, U.S.A. – maybe even a little better). By the end of the set, the floor space in front of the stage was at a premium, and the all-ages crowd was screaming its approval and appreciation.
Overall, the opening set was a good look for Blackmarket, and an enjoyable show for me – even if Daryl’s still working on his clever, crowd-prodding banter, and I’m still working on my diva dork attitude.
Random detail: Blackmarket will be playing in Phoenix again on Friday, May 30, at the PhiX Gallery.
Personal bias: I was on the list, biotch.
See more photos from the show in our slide show Anti-Rock Stars: Blackmarket at the Brickhouse Theatre on Sunday, May 18.