Miniature Tigers, Pretty & Nice, Geographer, The Chain Gang of 1974 at Crescent Ballroom, 3/8/12
Melissa Fossum Miniature Tigers
Thursday, March 8
I'm gonna go ahead and start with the general takeaway feeling from Thursday night's lineup of four, under-the radar(ish) bands playing before an audience of Phoenix's finest (and drunkest) indie music lovers . . .
Takeaway feeling: I'm horny.
That's right: Even the straightest gay man would be a goddamn liar if he denied the sexiness taking place on stage last night. All right, whatever. Maybe it's just me. In any case, I walk away enlightened by all four bands -- Pretty & Nice, Geographer, The Chain Gang of 1974, and Brooklyn via Phoenix headliners Miniature Tigers -- each differing in both sound and performance style, but sharing a stage and a mindset that says, fuck yeah, contemporary music.
As San Francisco's Geographer prepared to take the stage, I found myself slightly disappointed by what seemed to be an underwhelming turnout, remembering their dynamic performance last year at South by Stateside, but admitting, I too had totally forgotten such a special talent-- that is, up until a few weeks ago when I saw their name on tonight's bill. Lead singer, guitarist and synth master Michael Deni has the kind of rare Jose Gonzales-esque vocals that make singing that beautifully look like second-nature.
Opening with a "Life of Crime," it was clear there didn't need to be a bunch of drunk and sweaty fucks cramping styles to determine the band's following. Geographer fans were here alright, standing to my left and right and mouthing every lyric like dear little diehards should. While the band started with upbeat tunes like fan favorite, "Verona," they closed their set with the slow and beautiful ballad, "The Boulder"-- the song, acting almost like a pillow to rest our heads on before the pop-rock jam sesh soon to take place.
The Chain Gang of 1974 is a band I admit to being entirely unfamiliar with going into tonight's show, something I later blame as the (silly) reason I was quick to judge their 80's industrial rocker look. However, it didn't take long for these four dudes, dressed clad in black and lead singer, Kamtin Mohager, sporting a shaved-side swoopy hair-do and some epic chest hair, to put my petty judgements to rest. At roughly around three songs in, I feel like I'm in an 80's pop time machine, swimming in a sea of distorted synths, pulsating bass, catchy keyboard, and, ah yes, liquid eyeliner. When Mohager grabs the microphone stand, turns it upside-down, and beats it in the air with his fist, it's clear this throwback pop genre is the band's job-- a job done very well.