REVIEW: AFI Brings Despair, Blood, and 26 Years to Tempe 2-17-17

TEMPE, Ariz. — Eyeliner-tinged catharsis and angst were alive and well at the Marquee on Friday night when AFI made their Arizona stop on The Blood Tour with support from Nothing, and Souvenirs.

Souvenirs got the night started with a set heavy on tracks from their newest album Posture Of Apology. With stark emotional lyrics focused on understanding, loss, and forgiveness, Souvenirs struck the perfect balance between the 90’s Sub Pop records catalogue and The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me-era Brand New. Overall, while their set may not have astounded many of the ardent AFI fans in attendance, it served as the perfect transition to Nothing’s reverb-heavy set which followed after a speedy changeover.

Nothing proved to be an exceptionally polarizing band for the sold-out crowd. With awkward stage presence, dedications to the memory of George “The Animal” Steele, and rambling half-mumbled banter between songs, it would be easy to simply write off Nothing as a band trying to emit a false rockstar facade. However, as they worked their way through a reverb-drenched set of songs that called to mind My Bloody Valentine’s vocal delivery layered over instrumentals which would have felt right at home amongst the Smashing Pumpkins discography, or even Incubus’ Morning View, they revealed themselves to be truly adept performers and songwriters who deserved their spot supporting AFI on a large scale tour. Though Domenic Palerno’s airy, trance inducing vocals may have seemed out of place opening for the concussive ball of energy that is AFI, the fact that they were able to hold a largely unfamiliar crowds attention for a 45 minute set is testament to their well-deserved presence on the Relapse Records roster.

Following Nothing, the stage lights were tuned to an ominous purple while the hazers were ratcheted up to blanket the stage in heavy fog. Finally, the lights dimmed and AFI took the stage to a cacophonous roar from the packed Friday night crowd. Opening with a near-soulful rendition of “Strength Through Wounding” from legendary album Black Sails In The Sunset, Havok and company quickly ratcheted the energy up to a thousand by launching directly into “Miss Murder”, launching the crowd into a frenzy that never relented for the rest of the evening.

Jade Puget (guitarist), AFI - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Jade Puget (guitarist), AFI © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

Most impressively, songs from the recently released Blood album received just as much of an explosive crowd response as tried-and-true Sing The Sorrowera favorites. “Aurelia”, “Snow Cats”, and “So Beneath You” all found great strength in a live setting where Davey Havok’s powerful vocal flourishes combined with a wall of guitar tone, propelled them beyond an album sound which many felt was a bit too “clean” for a band which has consistently based their career on raw emotion.

Davey Havok (vocalist), AFI - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Davey Havok (vocalist), AFI © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

The setlist also made a direct point to showcase how much pride the band takes in their material from each album by sandwiching Blood album lead single “Snow Cats” between The Art Of Drowning‘s legendary tracks “The Despair Factor” and “The Days Of The Phoenix”. Whether calculated, or simply a serendipitous surprise, this pacing showed that with age, AFI at their core is still focused on the same message of sorrow, regret, pain, and love.

Hunter Burgan (bassist), AFI - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Hunter Burgan (bassist), AFI © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

Throughout the career-spanning set, Davey continually launched himself off of every available surface, while Jade Puget pirouetted effortlessly across the stage; making it clear that nothing about their performance or career would be slowing down at any point in the near future.

Highlights: Deep cuts from Sing The Sorrow, including “This Celluloid Dream” and “Paper Airplanes”, dedicated to anyone who had seen them at The Nile long ago.

Lowlights: An oddly-aged and very drunk crowd, who continued shouting for “Miss Murder” long after it had been played.

PHOTO ALBUM
by Katherine Amy Vega

AFI – Marquee Theatre 2-17-17

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PHOTOS: Unagi Usagi – The Rhythm Room 2-16-17

PHOENIX — Last night, locals Unagi Usagi performed at The Rhythm Room. They opened the gig with the high-energy “Holy Valkyrie”, which takes the audience by storm without a buildup, and shows them they’re in for something delightfully insane right off the bat.

From start to finish, Unagi Usagi brought constant power and animation from each band member. The vocalist, who goes by Ghostrick Alucard, brings oozing charisma and animation to the stage.

In the midst of their set, “It’s Your Fault I Have Issues… You Stupid Bitch” is a crowd favorite, as all stand together in solidarity for glorious bitterness. The breakdown during the song, which might be their hardest and heaviest instrumentals, unexpectedly blows first-timers away and brings sweet satisfaction to fans.

Setlist

  1. Holy Valkyrie
  2. Pigs!
  3. It’s Your Fault I Have Issues… You Stupid Bitch
  4. You Suck
  5. Reason
  6. Heart In The Graveyard

Unagi Usagi debuted a song called “You Suck”, which is distinguished from their other songs by an infusion of ska. It really rounds out their set list by offering an upbeat sound and comic relief, while retaining their signature angst.

“Heart In The Graveyard” was a fitting closing song, finishing things off with both Big Jake (bassist) and Austang (guitarist) down on the floor, wildly emoting… while, astonishingly, Dead Wesley (drummer) shows no sign of fatigue up to the end.

Every crowd becomes noticeably impressed and intrigued shortly after the band begins playing, and they are always enthusiastically applauding and cheering by the end of the set. Unagi Usagi just keeps getting better and they’re gaining traction in the Phoenix scene, so follow them on Facebook to see what comes next.

PHOTO ALBUM
by Katherine Amy Vega

Unagi Usagi – The Rhythm Room 2-16-17

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REVIEW: Hearts Burst for Dashboard Confessional at Marquee Theatre 2-8-17

TEMPE, Ariz. — Energy coursed through the crowd as Dashboard Confessional fans spewed through the doors of Tempe’s Marquee Theatre Wednesday night, anxiously awaiting the return of frontman Chris Carrabba’s sweet-sounding lyrical prowess.

Following a charismatic opening performance by acoustic duo This Wild Life, Vinyl Theatre took the stage with a magnetic energy that immediately caught our eye. Each track appeared to pulsate through them, elegantly rocking out between heavy drop-beats, vivacious keyboard riffs and catchy lyrics which boasted a similar rawness to that which Dashboard Confessional is known for. Vinyl Theatre closed out their set with a commanding performance of newly released track “Built by New Machines,” which explores universal ideas on human existence and our current world state.

Dashboard Confessional - Marquee Theatre
Hands Raised for Dashboard Confessional
Phone pic from Emily Rudolph

The Dashboard Confessional crew wasted no time setting stage. In fact they even made time to whisp what appeared to be Palo Santo smoke around each instrument, also positioning a small Himalayan salt lamp at the foot of guitarist Armon Jay. Minutes later, Carrabba stepped center stage immediately kicking things off with timeless track “The Good Fight” off Dashboard Confessional’s sophomore album The Places You Have Come to Fear Most, followed by longtime favorites “Saints and Sailors,” “The Sharp Hint of New Tears,” “As Lovers Go,” and “Remember to Breathe.”

Beneath a glaze of violet light, Carrabba’s voice settled as he began to address the crowd, “I’ve been thinking lately. You know, because the world went to shit these past three weeks.” The audience responded in overwhelming applause. Carrabba went on to speak on the current social tensions revolving around topics like sexual orientation, race and religious differences. “What the fuck does it matter?”, he said. Before going into the next song he finished his thoughts with a message for the audience, “Go out into the world and try to talk to as many people with opposing views as you can. Find out why they believe what they do and learn from that.” As Carrabba stepped back for another quick guitar switch, the audience was able to catch a closer look at drummer Ben Homola’s t-shirt, which read “Equal Is Equal. No Matter The People.”

Chris Carrabba, Dashboard Confessional
Chris Carrabba, Dashboard Confessional
Phone pic from Emily Rudolph

Next up was “We Fight” off the group’s latest unreleased album which Carrabba has been steadily building anticipation for since co-headlining with Third Eye Blind in the summer of 2016. The new track merges Dashboard Confessional’s classic emo-core sound with a montage of wildhearted lyrics and heavy-handed guitar that suggest a revitalized perspective on the free-spirited determination needed to find fulfillment as an artist. Making for the ultimate crescendo moment, Carrabba then announced the band’s performance of newly released track “Heart Beat Here” would be recorded live for possible inclusion on the their highly anticipated upcoming album. As the crowd sang along, Carrabba appeared visibly moved by the fans response, commenting moments later on the sweet sound of our voices in harmony together.

The setlist was fitting considering Carrabba’s plans to welcome singer-songwriter Trevor Hedges of local band, Sundressed to the stage following Dashboard’s hit track “Stolen.” Hedges stepped into the spotlight and instantly captivated the crowd with his intense vocal diversity and passionate lyricism. Although it was a single-track performance, it quickly became clear Hedges possesses a vocal dexterity reminiscent of archetypal groups like Taking Back Sunday, The Starting Line, 30 Seconds to Mars, The Used and of course Dashboard Confessional. It was an impressive performance to say the least, but the night wasn’t over yet!

Dashboard Confessional finished out the night with three additional tracks, including “Screaming Infidelities,” “Vindicated” and “Hands Down.” Conclusively, it was a night of truly stellar performers. The Burning Hot Events team is patiently awaiting the release of Carrabba’s latest material, but in the meantime we’ll be jamming out to newly discovered favorites Vinyl Theatre and This Wild Life.

Today’s #dashtag is brought to you by \m/ and @Danimal2533 (onTW). Hell of a night, Tempe. Austin, see you tonight at @emosaustin !

A photo posted by Dashboard Confessional (@dashboardconfessional) on

Want to know more about Sundressed?

They’ve just announced pre-orders for their upcoming LP A Little Less Put Together which is set for release on March 24th (2017). Click here to check it out! We have a feeling you’ll be seeing them alongside Dashboard Confessional very soon.

Concertographer Cam Web Series, Episode 01: Quantum Colossus

Welcome to the official debut of our Concertographer Cam™ – Exclusively from Burning Hot Events by Kataklizmic Design!

This is the first episode of our Concertographer Cam™ web series – A perspective unlike any you’ve seen before! It’s an exclusive behind-the-scenes look from the viewpoint of a concert photographer (Katherine Amy Vega)… well, a GoPro, on a harness, on a concert photographer! (Best viewed in 1080p) 

Quantum Colossus is a
Sci-Fi driven Punk/Sludgecore band from Phoenix.

Band Social Media:

Facebook • Instagram • Twitter 

Full Photo Album:

View on Burning Hot Events  or View on Flickr


About the Web Series Episodes

Since concert photographers are typically allowed to shoot the first 3 songs of a concert, episodes are the first 3 songs  of the show, cut down to 8 minutes.

See moments pinpointed when many of the shots were captured! See the challenges a concert photographer works around, the judgement calls and movements that need to be made to capture the shots!

Being that the video is shot with a GoPro, the view is actually much wider and further back than through photographer’s eyes. The sound is intentionally raw and unproduced.

Enjoy, and please leave a comment,
letting us know what you think of this idea! 

Support this web series through our Patreon!

PHOTOS: Unagi Usagi – The Rebel Lounge 1-12-17

PHOENIX — Local “Anime-themed Punk” band Unagi Usagi (Japanese for Eel Bunny) performed at The Rebel Lounge in Phoenix on January 12. Oozing with animated and charismatic stage presence, and energy reminiscent of some of our favorite rock bands from the early 2000s, Unagi Usagi has great potential and persona build a solid following, and mature into a band that will sell a lot of records!

We previously discovered this band during an open mic night at a coffee shop while working on a behind-the-scenes post for Burning Hot Events’ Patreon. Between the folksy acoustic and hiphop lyricism in the background that we tuned out as we worked on our post, Unagi Usagi started up on stage and they were a force to be reckoned with, commanding our attention and sending goosebumps across the surface of our skin. (Become a patron to read the post from when we discovered them: For the Love of Music: Sum 41 and Open Mic Night)

“Ghostrick Alucard”, Unagi Usagi © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

Presumably meant as self-deprecating humor, during the show Unagi Usagi proclaimed themselves as weaboos – people who are overly obsessed with Japanese culture to the point where they become annoying. But the following is a more flattering and clarifying descriptor, taken from their Facebook bio:

Unagi Usagi is a rock band from Chandler, Arizona. Catchy melodies and excellent songwriting are no stranger to this band, as they create the unique blend of Pop Punk, Post-Hardcore, and Japanese Rock Music that’s unique and fresh in the saturated music scene of today. Complemented by an eye catchingly beautiful visual presentation heavily influenced by anime, and joined by an eccentric live performance with plenty of energy, the band is creating a must-see phenomenon that is original, and unique to this group only.

It’s refreshing to have a fresh band in the local scene that garners such enthusiasm. While they have a ways to grow, keep an eye on these guys and do not underestimate them! We hope to see them get into the recording studio sooner than later. With the right support, they will go far!

PHOTO ALBUM
by Katherine Amy Vega

Unagi Usagi – The Rebel Lounge 1-12-17

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REVIEW: Getting Intimate with The Sounds at Tempe’s Marquee Theatre 12-10-16

TEMPE, Ariz. — Swedish indie group The Sounds rocked the house at Tempe’s Marquee Theatre Saturday night with their 10th anniversary performance of sophomore album, Dying to Say This to You. Following energetic sets by spirited openers Zipper Club and My Jerusalem The Sounds guitarist, Felix Rodriguez took over the stage beneath a vibrant purple cloud of light. As soon as the first few notes of “Song With a Mission” dropped, the crowd went wild. Although it wasn’t a full house, there was a clear sense of communal nostalgia that seemed to supercharge the audience.

The Sounds - Marquee Theatre
The Sounds © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

Next up on the set list was crowd favorite, “Queen of Apology” which kicked off with a signature Maja-esque display of her gives-no-fucks attitude, backed by airtight guitar and a stagelight-shift which illuminated fans as they sang along to every word. Hit after hit, The Sounds proved that ten years hasn’t slowed them down a bit, boasting a stage presence that could rival some of Rock and Roll’s most iconic female-fronted acts.

Arizona, I love you… We’re back, baby. We’re fucking back!” Maja yelled, igniting an outburst of claps and shouts throughout the venue. Maja’s pop-rock sound has been countlessly compared to that of Blondie and Missing Persons, and rightfully so! Personally, I also picked up on some similarities in tone between her and The Submarines’ vocalist, Blake Hazard.

The Sounds - Marquee Theatre
Maja Ivarssonv, The Sounds © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

The Sounds finished out their live revival of “Dying to Say This to You” with a gritty, electrified reproduction of “Running Out of Turbo” before topping off their forty-five minute tribute with an additional 9 tracks including everything from classics like “Living in America” (from their debut album) to the group’s recent single “Thrill” which features an impressive display of Maja’s vocal diversity in addition to fast-paced drum beats, a reverberant dual guitar solo and some subtle synth-heavy, 80’s era keyboard.

The Sounds - Marquee Theatre
Maja Ivarsson, The Sounds © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

It was truly a night to be remembered, especially considering the intimate audience size and Maja’s up-close-and-personal stage persona. By the show’s end, each track was visually pulsating through the audience as they fist-bumped, clapped and headbanged to the final songs of the night, “Rock N Roll” and “Hope You’re Happy Now” which Maja energetically concluded with one middle finger to the sky, and a cigarette in her other.

As the Burning Hot Events team exited the venue, we happened upon a couple who had actually travelled all the way from Kansas to see The Sounds in Tempe that night. It was a powerful reminder of just how impactful music can be, especially with a group like The Sounds who have an unbelievable, authentic connection to their fans.

PHOTO ALBUM
by Katherine Amy Vega

The Sounds – Marquee Theatre 12-10-16

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PHOTOS: Quantum Colossus – Chopper John’s 12-9-16

Photos of local “Sci-Fi driven Punk/Sludgecore” band Quantum Colossus performing at Chopper John’s in Phoenix, Arizona on December 9, 2016. Quantum Colossus really got the bar crowd moving to a high-energy show after midnight!

PHOTO ALBUM
by Katherine Amy Vega

Quantum Colossus – Chopper John’s 12-9-16

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PHOTOS: Lindsey Stirling – Comerica Theatre 11-12-16

PHOENIX — Lindsey Stirling, the awe-inspiring dancing violinist, brought her Brave Enough Tour to Comerica Theatre last night. Hailing from Gilbert, Arizona, it’s no surprise that the venue posted low ticket warnings on social media, and a horde of fans came out to see her live.

High production light shows and other grand visual effects are a staple of her concerts, and they make for a truly magical experience. Watching her spirit take flight when she does what she was meant to do, and fought to succeed, sends chills through your body. Lindsey Stirling is a strong inspiration and encouragement for her fans, especially in Arizona, to aspire for great things and persevere.

PHOTO ALBUM
by Katherine Amy Vega

Lindsey Stirling – Comerica Theatre 11-12-16

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PHOTOS: Diarrhea Planet – Valley Bar 11-9-16

PHOTO ALBUM
by Katherine Amy Vega

Diarrhea Planet – Valley Bar 11-9-16

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PHOTOS: Spafford – Last Exit Live 10-28-16

PHOTO ALBUM
by Katherine Amy Vega

Spafford – Last Exit Live 10-28-16

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News & Reviews from the Fiery Mosh Pits of Arizona

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