EMA, Mas Ysa, YUS - Crescent Ballroom - 6/28/14

Categories: Last Weekend

Melissa Fossum
EMA performed at the Crescent Ballroom Saturday night.

I'm not sure what went wrong with this show. All the bands were talented, smart individuals, yet it seemed like no one could be bothered to even pretend to be interested. First, this gig started off with tickets around $7, but Crescent Ballroom made the event free, presumably because they couldn't sell enough tickets. That encouraged a pretty good crowd, but they did not seem focused at all.

This was YUS's first show in two years -- I remember seeing him with oOoOO in 2012. Back then, he was just playing on a laptop with a mixing board. Now he has a guitarist/percussionist and a backup singer. It was their first show, so you can't blame them for being a little rusty.

Melissa Fossum

YUS himself was elegant, however, almost robotic. That might sound stiff, but because he's human, there will always be a slight degree of error in his musicianship. YUS played "Nowadays" and several other tracks off his new album, Talisman, but I mostly heard people talking or on their cell phones. I'm hoping he plays around more now.

Melissa Fossum
Mas Ysa

Mas Ysa was a different story. Here was a guy in sweatpants and an oversized white shirt jumping up and down barefoot over "Sarah McLaughlin beats" (he described them that way). His setup was a table crammed with DJ gear and a microphone. He said he was going to "cry all over everything" for us and I couldn't tell if he was being sarcastic or not, because the way he sang was warble-y and whiny, and he did sound almost ready to cry. I couldn't understand this at all, so in my head I pretended I was not here to see music but instead some bizarre performance art from Paris or Copenhagen, and then it made like a small amount of sense.

EMA was gracious for the amount of folks that showed up. Granted, for a Saturday night it wasn't much, but it was still a healthy draw. Folks seemed blasé and bored and didn't dance -- as usual -- but EMA performed wonderfully.

Melissa Fossum

The stage was set with fake potted plants and LED boards lit by a saturated blue beam. It kind of looked like a newsroom or the set of Between Two Ferns, looking surreal and inviting. Goopy fog pumped from a smoke machine and greens lasers danced in it.

EMA herself wore large, round sunglasses, and her blonde hair covered her face. In fact, she's so good at blending in that my friend nudged me in the ribs and said, "That's the girl I bummed a smoke from outside!" No wonder she laughed at him when she gave him a menthol.

Location Info

Crescent Ballroom

308 N. 2nd Ave., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Music

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Been to over 60 concerts at the Crescent since this great venue opened in October of '11.  In all that time I've encountered just a few acts who performed poorly -- maybe had an off-night, maybe just not that good.  Mostly some crappy opening bands going nowhere.

But holy shit was the EMA, Mas Ysa, Yus show the absolute worst!  All three acts sucked.

Yus would have been embarrassingly bad at a middle school talent show.  "Rusty" doesn't begin to describe them. Being out of practice doesn't make you not able to sing -- and these kids' "singing" was like nails on a chalkboard. Hands down worst act -- opener or otherwise -- at an ostensibly professional show I have ever seen, in decades of attending shows. 

Mas Ysa was as awful as described in this article, and we put up with just a few of his "songs" before heading to the sidewalk seating area to drink a beer and wait for EMA. 

Too bad that didn't go well. either.  How anyone found EMA even passable -- let alone "put on a great show" -- is beyond me.  No, Erika Anderson wasn't as bad as Yus or Mas Ysa, but I'm sorry, she can't sing.  She prowled and stalked around the stage, trying to put on a good performance with her backup band, but her voice was not up to the task, at all.

Glad I got my money back at Stinkweeds for the tix I bought ($12 each -- not sure where the $7 mentioned in this article came from). 

And yeah, the crowd sucked, too, yakking their fool heads off during the performances as 20- and 30-somethings almost always do at indie shows.  It's some generational thing, and seems more prevalent at "poppier" shows compared to more eclectic stuff like, say. Darkside.  But this time the acts didn't do anything to give the crowd a reason to stop acting like spoiled, entitled children snapping selfies. 


I enjoy reading what you have said here. I love music! friv


EMA put on a great show despite the (lack of) PHX crowd.  I was captivated, enthralled, enchanted and sooo grateful to see her live.  Whats weird is I didn't even notice the crowd once she started playing.  This was a dress rehearsal for her July 1 debut at LA's legendary Troubadour.  Have a great show Erika!

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