Indeed, Viva PHX

I’ve been going to Viva PHX since it started. I think it is hands down, the best music festival that is put on in the Phoenix area all four years. The price proposition to the amazing amount of great music in about twenty places certainly contributes to it. That is in addition to that I love it more due to the atmosphere of music around downtown Phoenix. Viva PHX is the hearing music bouncing through alleys and off buildings walking through downtown Phoenix. This year was no different, just bouncing from music to music, hoping to not miss someone you wanted to hear.

I kicked off my night at the outdoor Crescent Ballroom stage, with the awesome guys in Rozwell Kid opening it up. The personality of them alone was supurb. This goes from the band telling us how they thought the AT&T logo on the building in front of the stage was the moon to the dedication of a song to the guy probably taking a crap in the porta-potties next to the stage. There was incense, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to keep it from the noses of the audience or the band. They are champions though, because it didn’t affect the fun and great set. Sticking in my head was a description Robbie, of Playboy Manbaby, told me before the set of Rozwell Kid and it is accurate. They are like Weezer with more guitars. I can’t wait to see them when they come back later this year.

Following them was the biggest reason I was at this show, and that was to see Jeff Rosenstock. This man has climbed the ranks into near the top of my favorite musicians since discovering him a couple years ago. Plus the band around him is amazing, and includes the fantastic Dan Potthast, of Dan. P solo work and MU330. There is a ton of personality in that band. For example, when they were changing an amp out during the set, Jeff said there was only one appropriate song to play and it was covering 311 on 3/11. They played two of my favorite songs off the new “Worry.” album with “Festival  Song” and “Rainbow.” It was the first of a couple bands I was bouncing around the pit for. That Jeff Rosenstock set was one of the biggest highlights of my night.

I still didn’t leave that stage however, as the Menzingers were on next. It still is weird, though oddly appropriate, that their latest album “After the Party” lines up with my age to reminisce about my twenties. At the same time, they have my early favorite album of the year. Riding the excitement of watching Jeff, I was back in that circle pit. They are so engaging to watch, and full of energy themselves. They had a microphone malfunction mid-set that was appropriately while The Menzingers were singing “Good Things” that asks “Why all good things should fall apart?” The first three bands had me already happy with my Viva PHX this year.

Up after them was Joyce Manor, another band with an amazing new album last year. All four of the bands I had watched up to this point are perfect matches of personality. Joyce Manor’s lead singer Barry matches and beats some of the previous bands in energy. They are tremendous to watch live. This is the biggest stage I’ve seen them on too. Joyce Manor is one of the best bands I’ve watched perform. However, this is the part where I try to catch more of the overlapping music, so I watched about twenty five minutes before my attempt to catch Playboy Manbaby. Unfortunately, I got in line for Valley Bar and got to listen to Playboy Manbaby’s last two songs. By the time I found out I couldn’t reach the Punk Rock Alley and ran around the corner to the correct line, their set was over.

After some deliberating of my multiple options nearing eleven, I made my way over to catch some of the legendary, original Punks of X. The sound is more of a mix of that Ramones punk rock with the rock ‘n roll and rockabilly of our current sounds. Some great musicians up there, and happy they are still playing. This was the original line up together for the show too, so that was an addition to how special it was to catch them tonight.

Even though, like I said, there was a lot of music I wanted to see, so I made my way to see Fucked Up after a recommendation from my friend, Jenn. This time, I had no issue finding the correct line to the Punk Rock Alley. What was amazing was the first thing I saw when I got up near the stage was the lead singer, Damian, standing on top of the electrical box. Then the energy he brings, just crawling across the barrier, going into the pit and down the alley, was fantastic. Plus, that was the hardest hits I took in any pit that night. The stage presence and songs of this band made them my favorite thing I saw during Viva PHX. They didn’t have merch there that I could find, but I have proceeded to purchase music from them today. I wish they played more often here, but that performance will stick with me.

I closed out my Viva PHX watching the Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra, known as PAO. They were on a list of local music I knew I needed to catch, but haven’t managed to catch before tonight. First, the amount of people on that stage performing in PAO was just amazing. It had to be in the teens, and here I thought Ska bands had issues when trying to get all members together to book a show. Second, PAO is an experience. Kind of a soul meets jazz meets cumbia meets a large mixing of music sounds. It creates this musical atmosphere that is amazing to take in, and watch the audience partake in. It was a excellent way to close out my Viva PHX, and, funny enough, back at the outdoor Crescent Stage where I began this year.

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