Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band - Crescent Ballroom - 11/03/13
Few bands merit having the wall of talent that is Phoenix's Haymarket Squares open for them at Crescent Ballroom. But Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band is one that did when they brought their twangy, country, bluesy sound through downtown Phoenix Sunday night.
Photos by Jeff Moses
"The Rev," Breezy Peyton, and Ben "Big Bird" Russell played a 75-minute set and clearly enjoyed every minute of it. "We loved it. We love this town. This was a lot of fun. I love this venue -- Phoenix is lucky to have a venue this good, and we're lucky to come here, and it was just awesome," Reverend Peyton said after signing autographs and taking pictures with fans. "It's the people -- that's what makes a show better for us. If the crowd is awesome, that makes the show awesome for us."
It also does not hurt to have The Haymarket Squares opening at a venue less than a mile from where most of them live, in a community that they live and work in, on a night where they sounded particularly spectacular.
"I had a fucking awesome time. Everybody was into it. We were playing our asses off, the crowd kept growing, and we kept playing," said Squares mandolin, accordion, and keyboardist Mark Sunman.
It was also a somewhat special set for Squares drummer Aaron Hjalmarson, who played his first show at Crescent Ballroom since turning 21 on Halloween. "I had a blast playing it," he said.
The Squares played a stellar set in a venue that really makes their five-piece acoustic "punkgrass" sound monstrous. Some of the highlights were their rendition of Pink Floyd's "Hey You," their ode to drunken nights, "Let's Get Fucked Up," and -- for Reverend Peyton's crowd, especially -- their cover of Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues."
Perhaps their strongest song of all was the more politically charged "Let's Start a Riot," which really sounded spectacular. All the song's influences in punk, folk, and especially jazz shined through amazingly on Crescent's sound system.
And before calling it a show, the Squares gave the crowd their customary "surprise" and got down into the audience to play a short unplugged set. They played "Honey Dip" and "Light" before calling it a night and allowing The Reverend to take his turn on stage.
With a name like Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band one imagines a lot of members, but the Brown County, Indiana, group is able to produce its huge sound with just Reverend Peyton on guitar and lead vocals, his wife "Washboard" Breezy Peyton on the washboard and auxiliary percussion, and "Big" Bird on the drums.