This is a little bit of a different kind of post. No bikes, but lots of “hiking”. And it was quite the adventure.
We stayed in the northwest section all night
I love live music. Seeing bands play live, especially in a small venue, is so much more compelling than just listening to tunes on my phone. So, when I heard about Viva Phx I immediately got tickets. The deal is that they try and get a bunch of the bands that are heading to SXSW in Austin to stop over in Phoenix for one night. So something like 80 bands, in 18 venues in downtown phoenix, over a 7 hour span (7pm-2am).
That is quite a schedule
When I saw the lineup I was very excited to see that X was going to be there. I saw them over 30 years ago in Austin at Farm Aid. It would be fun to see them again. Also, I had recently been listening to a band called Summer Cannibals and was really digging them. They were also going to be there. Awesome.
Nancy arranged a hotel stay for us so we didn’t have to make the long drive home afterwards. We were set. My only issue now was to decide what bands to see in the limited time available.
Carbo loading for the festivities
We started the night at the Summer Cannibals show – since I had to see them. They were up there as one of my favorite bands of the night. However, we didn’t stay for the whole set, since there were other bands to see. We headed over to Punk Alley (which was actually in an alley), but only caught the last bit of the last song by Palm. Darn, too slow.
Summer Cannibals - Concert photography is tricky
Next it was over to the Crescent, where we were going to check out Pure Bathing Culture. We got there, saw an outside stage with a band and started listening. Turns out that was the wrong stage and we were actually listening to Rozwell Kid – which neither of us liked at all. We ducked inside the Crescent to the smaller stage and listened to Pure Bathing Culture for a bit. The lead singer was wearing an all white outfit and seemed to have a Stevie Nicks kind of vibe. After a couple of songs we said, nah, and moved on. Just not our thing.
Since we had ducked out of that show earlier than expected, we had a little time. After a quick consult of the schedule and map we headed over to the Grace Chapel, where Running From Bears were playing. They were a jazz quartet, so we got to hear some Thelonius Monk and others in a small room. That was pretty cool.
After that it was back to Crescent. We were there to check out The Japanese House on the inside stage, but stopped to listen The Mezingers on the outside stage for a bit. I thought they were really good. Ducked inside after a few songs to catch The Japanese House. Their music was a little unusual. Didn’t work so much for me, but Nancy liked them. Nancy wanted to check out The Drums at Comerica, so we headed over there after a few songs.
The Comerica Theater is much bigger than any of the other venues. There was real security here and it took a little longer to get in. This is where the express pass was totally worth having. We went inside and listened to The Drums for a while. They were pretty good, but I didn’t love them. The heavy drum backing on every song kept them all sounding pretty much the same.
After a bit we left there and had a little bit of time where we had nothing really scheduled. So we rolled over to Monroe Mercado and caught a bout of Lucha Libre Wrestling. That was a hoot. On a whim we ducked into the Boiler Room where a DJ was spinning house and techno. Turns out this was in an actual small boiler room, in a basement. There were about 30 people dancing (that was max capacity) and a DJ. Didn’t expect that. Very cool. We danced a bit then left.
Some fun wrestling action
It was getting near time to go see X. I was concerned that we’d have trouble getting in since the Masonic Temple was not very big and wanted to get there early. We got in quick, but it was packed since Reverend Horton Heat was playing. I’ve been a fan of the Rev since my early days in Dallas when I used to go see him in small clubs. We had been to one of his shows recently so this wasn’t an essential stop for the night, but always good to hear some psychobilly. John Doe, Exene, and the band finally took the stage. They had aged a bit since I saw them last – but then so had i. It was a great show and I enjoyed hearing them again. I had planned to skip out and go see Girl Talk, but couldn’t tear myself away.
We left near the end of the show and headed over to Comerica to see if maybe Girl Talk was running late –but no dice. At this point it was after 12 and there weren’t a lot of other options. Plus, we were tired and hungry. We went over to the Mercado, but the food vendors were closing up shop. So we headed back to the hotel to look for food. When we got there we noticed that Three Commons were still kicking out psychedelic cumbia punk in one of the conference rooms at our hotel. Although we only caught the end of their set, I really liked them.
Finally we headed over to the hotel bar/restaurant. They had stopped serving, but told us that the place across the street was still serving for another 30 minutes or so. We hauled over there, got some good food and drink and wound down a bit.
But wait, the party wasn't over yet. When we came back into the hotel we discovered that the same room where Three Commons had played now had a DJ spinning cumbia. So, of course, Nancy and I did some more dancing to end out the night/morning/whatever.
It was quite a night. We heard everything from punk to jazz to rock to cumbia in venues from a big arena to an actual boiler room. Heard music I loved and some I totally didn’t love. And there was wrestling. The compressed nature of this event makes it tough since you have to make hard choices, but it is also a great opportunity to sample new music and make some discoveries. We’ll definitely be back.
My only regret is that we didn't get to see any hip hop. I would have loved to have seen Ton Loc, Mystikal, Blackalicious or Wyclef Jean, but that venue was just too far from where we were. Maybe next year...