Andrew Jackson Jihad, Hard Girls, Dogbreth - Crescent Ballroom - 8/1/14

Categories: Last Night

All photos Troy Farah
Andrew Jackson Jihad

Andrew Jackson Jihad might be the best band Phoenix has produced. And unlike certain local punk bands from the '80s, they remain relevant. Unlike most musicians who move elsewhere to "make it," totally neglecting their hometown later, Sean Bonnette and Ben Gallaty have made every effort to stay involved in the Valley, even when they're stomping around Europe with Frank Turner or taking time off in other cities. That's why when AJJ returns home, it always feels like a reunion of sorts.

AJJ's music will always remind me of my hometown and my many friends who are also fans. So I had to pass the torch. Not too long ago, I introduced my younger brother Garrett to "The Jihad," as we call it. He just turned 16 as well, so for his birthday, we brought him to AJJ's sold out show at Crescent. This review was supposed to focus more on his perspective, but unfortunately, something tragic happened on our way to gig.

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Lady Gaga - US Airways Center - 7/30/14 (VIDEO)

Categories: Last Night

Nicki Escudero
Lady Gaga at US Airways Center

Lady Gaga brought her own version of the Electric Daisy Carnival to US Airways Center when her ArtRave: The Artpop Ball came through. The show featured neon ravewear and leg warmers, pacifier shots, glow-in-the-dark balloon backpacks, light-up squishy balls, and stuffed animals galore. It was the most colorful Gaga concert she's done out of all her stints in the Valley, with 20 people on stage to keep the high-energy momentum going.

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The Last Concert at a Storied Phoenix Underground Venue Canned by Cops, 7/26/14

Stressors' lead singer.

Well, it was bound to happen anyway. As one Facebook commenter put it, "They were responding to a call they got in the goddamn '90s." I'm talking about W___ S____, a South Phoenix storage unit turned underground show space that's been hosting shows for nearly two decades -- and was finally broken up by the police on its final night.

Maybe we can mention the venue name anyway, since it's not really much of a secret at this point (thanks, Google) and of course, the cops are keen now. But I'd rather not, just because this "venue" tends to get passed down like a DIY-scene heirloom, and I respect the few shreds of anonymity we're allowed in this post-Snowden era. Saturday night was supposed to be the venue's final night, unless someone else took it over. When I asked one of the organizers what was next, that person shrugged, saying, "No one knows yet."

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Spoonboy, Bepstein, Electrisad, Straight Straws - Trunk Space - 7/21/14

Categories: Last Night

Photos by Troy Farah

Perhaps the reason garage rock fits so well at The Trunk Space is because the venue is the size and shape of a good-sized garage. The acoustics are just perfect for it. I never realized that before and that makes me like the small venue that much more.

Straight Straws opened the night with their mix of jangly guitar tunes and pop vocal melodies. Ben Nandin's project has been getting out a lot more, which is great. T.K. Campo (of T.K. and the Irresistibles) played bass and Max Martinez (of Wolvves) played drums. Sorry, I don't know the other guitarist.) There was a lot of dancing for them and they only slipped up once that I noticed, but immediately picked back up. Their vocal melodies make them a really fun band to see live.

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Downtown Boys, Drunk & Horny, The Line Cutters, The Cons - Trunk Space - 7/10/2014

Categories: Last Night

Meghan Herring
Downtown Boys played Trunk Space last night.

If there is one thing that can never be taken away from the decade-old downtown Phoenix DIY venue The Trunk Space it is the bookers' uncanny ability to put together a lineup that will leave the audience scratching its head. Such was definitely the case last night when the Rhode Island-based Downtown Boys rolled through with their heavily political and pseudo radical left wing punk tunes, and had comedy polka punk duo Drunk & Horny open for them.

Even veteran performer Ryan Avery of D & H had to admit that after looking into the Downtown Boys when they were booked for the show he didn't quite understand why the venue had turned to him and Andrew Jemsek to do it. The only thing that could have possibly been farther away from the Downtown Boys "radical" message could have been Avery and Jemsek's other project, the habitually outrageous Father's Day.

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KISS, Def Leppard - Ak-Chin Pavilion - 7/9/2014

Categories: Last Night

Jim LouvauKISS. Full slideshow here.

The surroundings of a KISS and Def Leppard concert are one of the most entertaining parts about it, aside from the legends performing on stage.

Wednesday's concert contained a huge range of age groups, but the most amusing of them is what I like to call the "dad-rock" group. Dad-rock isn't a negative phrase and will surely be the genre I enjoy in in the decades to come. Here, I'm using the term to refer to those who grew up with the metal and rock icons onstage last night.

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Deafheaven, Destruction Unit, Wreck & Reference - Crescent Ballroom - 6/30/14

Categories: Last Night

Troy Farah

I went to a Deafheaven show, but you probably haven't heard of them. That's a deaf joke, because my ears are ringing and won't stop and I'm a little terrified I have tinnitus.

I get called a hipster every so often, which is kind of stupid, but whatever; I've been called worse things by better people. That's still the argument, though, isn't it? Music conversation has become about whether it's cool or not or whether you've heard of something (first, no less), not whether it's good or not.

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Arsonists Get All The Girls - The Underground - 6/26/2014

Categories: Last Night

Arsonists Get All The Girls

Going to a show at The Underground is always an interesting experience. The basement-style venue is popular for local and national acts and crams in its audience for the bigger shows.

One of the most memorable shows I've been to there was about four years ago. My friends opened up a show with For Today. The night ended with For Today's set, which was possibly the hottest set I've ever watched. As the crowd left, a pool of water, presumably from everyone's sweat, had formed in the middle of the floor.

While I didn't expect anything close to that last night, the expectation for myself was that the show would have a pretty big turnout. Arsonists Get All The Girls has a solid following, but the amount of people in the venue throughout the evening was fairly low.

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I Called in Sick to Follow Menzingers on Tour

Melissa Fossum
The Menzingers. Full slideshow here.

Against all odds, Pennsylvania punk outfit the Menzingers gets better with every tour. The band gained quite the following with its fantastic 2012 album, On the Impossible Past. If Past serves as an introduction to the Menzingers, the band's most recent record, Rented World, will make lifelong fans.

The Menzingers has a devoted audience. I speak from experience -- I went on a mini-tour and saw the band three nights in a row.

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Lionel Richie - Ak-Chin Pavilion - 6/8/2014

Categories: Last Night

Maria Vassett
Lionel Richie. Full slideshow here.

Lionel Richie's All the Hits, All Night Long Tour
Ak-Chin Pavilion
June 8

Lionel Richie is one of the best-selling artists of all time. He was a member of Motown's The Commodores in the '60s and went on to be a hit machine as a solo artist, with 10-plus albums released over 30 years. He's 64 and still appears to thoroughly enjoy performing. The sheer amount of smiling and laughing Richie can fit into an hour and a half is kind of incredible and contagious (even while he's singing, I mean, come on). His signature move is to face the crowd, place his hands on his hips and throw his head back and laugh. Mix that kind of happiness with a performer who still has quite a bit of soul and grit and a good but maybe dorky sense of humor, and you've got a fine night of entertainment.

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