I’ve been listening and watching Authority Zero for nearly two decades now. My first album was Patches in Time, but my sixteen year old self was catching them on the Ska Punk Show before that. I can recite almost all the lyrics to any album released before I became a slave to the GameStop corporate machine in 2006. After that, I got pulled out of the scene for a few years only to hit an occasional bigger show. Attention and time unfortunately eaten by the salaried job. Even so, I picked up every album of theirs up to this day only lacking in memorizing some lyrics to the latter ones. They have put out well composed, well written albums in the entire span of being a band. Authority Zero a proud product of the Phoenix punk scene, and inspiring many local bands to reach where they’ve gone.
The punchline to this long anecdote is that when Travis, tour manager, and Mike Spero, bassist, approached me with the offer to take pictures, be backstage, and do an interview, I ended up in a state of dumbfounded excitement. Plus I had already planned to be at the Hammy’s to present, and I wasn’t going to back down on my word. After a little sleep, messages to see if I could coordinate both, and I accepted. I can’t say it enough, but a big thank you to them for this. The amazing night of music including catching Authority Zero, my first time catching the excellent guys in Hey Smith, all the way from Japan, and the great locals in both places I ended up.
With four openers, this was probably the earliest I have been at the Marquee for a show with Perfect Sense kicking off the festivities. This band seems to have clear inspiration from that of New Use For a Name and Rise Against. That’s not to mention them doing a No Use cover in their set tonight. A solid sounding band put together with Chuy, formerly from Los Fukn Ramirez, Shane, formerly from Riot Act, Sho Wie from Ethan 103 and Torn at the Seam, and Rafael who I don’t know of any previous band. It is certainly a great sounding combination up there.
Following them was our only alternative rock band of the night, Constellations. These probably half my age gals and guys have an amazing talent. Brie’s voice alone was amazing up there on the Marquee stage. They have some great young musicians in that band watching them move around the stage to play. They did two covers, which one gave me an entertaining audience member to watch while I was backstage for the second half of the set. I watched a guy not only singing along, but even do windmills with one arm for a little. Constellations were a great sounding band that I can only expect to be propelled to better things.
Up after them were the guys in Rundown Roommates. I’ve never seen these guys live before tonight, only heard some recorded stuff prior. They blew away my expectations up there. Tyler alone has to have one of the best on stage dialogs I’ve seen. The way he was talking to the audience, getting excitement, and tone of his voice was exciting alone. Then their music was fast paced, fun to watch, with his brother moving everywhere he could on stage. They did a cover of one of my favorite Rancid songs, “Fall Back Down” which was like putting the cherry on top of an already great sundae for me. I can’t express how much fun I had watching their set. I am certainly making it out to see them more this year.
Last of the locals, outside of Authority Zero, for the Marquee show was Madd Dog Tannen. First, let me say, I already love that they are named after a Back to the Future reference. What better way to follow up Rundown Roommates than with another band that loves to move around the entire stage as they play. These full of energy, probably best dressed of the night dudes brought the punk. They even work in a little bit of ska into their music, at one point in the set trying to get people to skank in the pit. These guys are a band I hadn’t even known about before the show, and now I want to see them play more.
The next band came highly recommended from multiple people I knew, Hey Smith. They toured with Authority Zero when in Japan, and now Authority is helping them do their first U.S. tour. Talking to two of them backstage alone was one of the things that made this night so great. I met their drummer Task just between Perfect Sense and Constellations set, and hope I didn’t talk his ear off too badly. I met Ken, trumpet, because he saw me showing someone my Zelda tattoo and that it had Kanji on it. He was super nice, and the man that got my CD signed by the entire band.
Hey Smith is a high energy band that takes inspiration from a couple genres. A lot of it sounded like ska and punk, but at times it seemed some harder metal and swing music influences mixed in. They actually sing in English from what I could tell too. All of Hey Smith had a lot of emotion and dancing around on that stage. This was a set that after taking pictures for the first three songs, I ended up hanging on the floor of the Marquee to watch. It gave me more room to dance and skank to their set. I still made my way backstage for the last song that was followed up with high fives as they left the stage. The high recommendations were warranted, and I cannot recommend these guys enough. I hope they come back to do a U.S. tour, or that I can finally make it to Japan to check out there.
Following up them was one of the biggest local favorites, Authority Zero. One of things I noticed from the photo pit is how much Jason and the entire band loves performing. You can see it in their faces and how they move on that stage that this is their element. The local crowd returns it in the energy and excitement from screams to the mosh pit. The energy is infectious at a Authority Zero show, and I’ve never been able to stand still for an entire set of theirs. I, myself, ended up in the mosh pit for two songs until the sinus issues from the day prior decided to show back up in coughing. I stuck around a little more than half of the set before I had to tear myself away to make it to the Hammy’s. It didn’t keep the song “Sky’s the Limit” from being stuck in my head the entire drive.
I was scheduled to present the award for voter’s choice “Worst Band” at the always entertaining Hammy Awards somewhere between eleven and eleven thirty. This faux award show presented by the local band Ham, presents awards ranging from the least deserved attention to previous years’ categories of the least improved guitarist and most likely to be thrown out of a venue. Presenting that award was certainly one of the most entertaining moments of my night. What I thought I had memorized, seemed to escape me when in front of people and the entertaining banter from Ham. There were some improvised sections that had me more just laughing, and losing track too such as our discussion about how to hold the microphone.
When I got there, it was during a roadie competition as Torn at the Seam was setting up. If unfamiliar with Torn at the Seam, this band leaned reggae with a punk tone to the lyrics in the past. Since the addition of Saxy Tuff, it has sounded more ska with that same tone. They played a solid set that included some of their upcoming songs that they plan to release this year. Wyatt was on drums because Sho Wie was at the Marquee, where I had just come from, and playing drums with Perfect Sense. A solid set from them, and I look forward to hearing the full album this year.
Last up on the music side was the Bloody Rogue Bastards. This band to my ear with that accordion reminded me more of watching Gogol Bordello and the gypsy punk they play. However, at times felt it still leaned more Celtic punk too. Lars, lead vocals, loves to move around as he sings and brings energy to the performance. I certainly learned more about genres as he described their last song as a “thrash grass” song. They were a great last band of music for my night to see play. This entire Saturday was one of the best times of music going I’ve had.