Carnaval Eléctrico ft. Cold War Kids, Hanni El Khatib, Mergence, and More, Crescent Ballroom, 3/8/13
Abraham Karam Cold War Kids performing on Crescent Ballroom's outdoor stage.
Carnaval Eléctrico ft. Cold War Kids, Hanni El Khatib, Mergence, Stan Devereaux & The Funky Suns, Diners, and More @ Crescent Ballroom|3/8/13
It's awesome when everything goes right at a show: great lineup, great venue, and great concept. But, as the crowd at Friday night's sold-out Carnaval Eléctrico festival proved, sometimes it can be even greater when everything goes wrong. It rained cats and dogs, making the outdoor sets soggy, and creating a massive line -- a "one in/one out" situation -- to get back into the dry venue. Still, the pouring rain didn't stop the audience from dancing and cheering as Cold War Kids performed their trademark song, "Hang Me Out to Dry," the bass line booming as singer Nathan Willett sang "too, too, too many times" in his singular rasp.
Making my way into Crescent (after battling through downtown baseball traffic), I managed to catch the last couple songs of indie-pop darlings Diners. Drummer Tristan Jemsek and songwriter/guitarist/vocalist Tyler Broderick harmonized over chugging guitars and erudite leads from Broderick. "Good Friends," from the band's stellar EP, Throw Me a Ten, was a standout, though the band's newest material -- with lounge-pop melodies and sturdy Blue-and-Pinkerton-era Weezer muscle -- sounds like it could show up the band's debut.
Abraham Karam Mergence performing on Crescent Ballroom's outdoor stage.
On the outdoor stage, with a light-to-moderate drizzle coming down, Phoenix rockers Mergence plied their own brand of beefy rock, though it veers toward the heavier end of the rock dial. The band trotted out a confident version of The Beatles' "Happiness Is a Warm Gun," which is a bold move. The crowd and band were undeniably into it, but I'm of the idea that covering the Fab Four should be left to Beatles cover bands; personally, I think the individual Beatles' solo LPs are rife for exploration. I'd love to hear Mergence try its hand at Paul McCartney's "Eat at Home" or George Harrison's "Wah Wah." Could you imagine a Mergence cover of "Cold Turkey?"
Abraham Karam Stan Devereaux & The Funky Suns.
On the inside stage, Phoenix soul/R&B royalty Stan Devereaux & The Funky Suns took the stage, opening with a crack take on Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give It Up," which blended into a seven- or eight-minute meditation on Dyke and The Blazers "Funky Broadway." Devereaux took a minute to ease into his falsetto, but once he did, it was there. The Funky Suns are the hardest-working backing band in town, bringing organ flurries, psychedelic lead guitar, and a rock-solid rhythm section. "It ain't raining in here," Devereaux joked. "Remember where you are; you're at the Crescent Ballroom. If you get too fucked up, I'll help you call a cab."