Small Leaks Sink Ships - Last Exit Live - 11/21/2013
By Mitchell L. Hillman
Photos courtesy Matty Steinkamp
Sometimes you go to a show and there simply is a vibe, a certain ephemeral quality, a momentary zeitgeist that can be described in no way other than "perfection." It could be any number of things, but usually it comes down to first, a carefully casted lineup, a group of bands whose sounds are complementary. Secondly, it relies on a great venue or rather an appropriate venue for the aforementioned lineup -- I mean if the lineup is lo-fi garage rock, the Yucca would be great, but if you need to deliver fidelity, you need to find the right space.
Finally, there needs to be a crowd that is eager to devour the music being pounded out on stage. When these elements combine properly, the evening is transformed from just a bunch of bands playing together to an actualized event where people are left smiling, dazed, and sometimes slightly confused as the show lets out.
Some shows try for it and fail, other shows seem to happen upon it accidentally, and still other shows appear designed to weave your soul and mind into the very fabric of the night. Such was the case Thursday night at Last Exit Live, when Small Leaks Sink Ships, As In We, Morning Theft, and Celebration Guns came together on a rainy evening in Phoenix.
I had a feeling it was going to be one of those events. I had missed Morning Theft's debut because I had already promised to catch Celebration Guns' debut, which blew me away -- then I heard through the grapevibe that Morning Theft's debut was spectacular as well. As In We visits here from San Jose with some frequency, and they are always great. Small Leaks Sink Ships is probably the best band in Phoenix, but they refuse to make a big deal about it, and their fans want to keep it like a secret.
So there's the formula. It's like shaking up a bottle of champagne and popping the cork -- it's going to go everywhere, everyone enjoys it, and for the most part, no one gets hurt (plus, you get champagne). In this case, every band brought its A-game, and by the time Small Leaks took the stage, it was just the icing on the cake. They were a delicious dessert for an already well-fed crowd.
Celebration Guns is one of my favorite debut bands of 2013. Formed from the ashes of Wizards of Time, NEBA, and Tiger Heist, this was a winning combination before it ever began. The band's debut EP, soon to be released by Rubber Brother Records, is actually just a set of demos that outshine what many bands put out as finished product. They took the stage first, and the crowd went from 15 to 50 in the span of one song. They played only two songs from the Quitter EP; the rest was new material, which takes what they did on the release and runs with it.
The set was great and the new songs have further solidified my belief in this band. On a side note, the immaculate sound system at Last Exit Live made Chris Blanco's guitar sound as though it was powered by the tears of angels.
Morning Theft: Wow, I was not expecting that. I had heard their debut was great, but I had no idea they would be that good -- I had no idea what to expect, really, they don't have recordings up yet . . . I was going on blind trust because they were ex-members of Wizards of Time, Packrat, and The Constellation Branch.