There is a lot of new music hitting my ears weekly these days. Perhaps it is the exponential growth of bands I follow or just the coincidental concentration of bands releasing new music. With that comes the album release shows. It is a get together of musicians and a few of their favorite musical friends to celebrate their latest lyrical creations. This time around a few guys I’ve been watching since I was a teenager were celebrating their latest music, NEATO, with a few of their favorite friends.
The show opened with Johnny Lee Gowans, a regular to the stage and festivals around Phoenix. He is the epitome of the nice guys I know performing music. In many ways, exact same to the guys of NEATO. Although, his music is more of an acoustic rock and not the reggae they play. Johnny’s sets are a pleasant mix of excellent originals and a couple alternative rock jams you may recognize. If you haven’t seen Johnny Lee yet, no better time than looking up his latest show and checking him out.
Speaking of a staple of the Phoenix scene, Skull Drug was next. One difference this night was that Evan looked a little more dressed up. I was shocked not to see his traditional attire on that stage. Though I’m sure he could play dressed as a Power Ranger and his performance wouldn’t be affected.
Of course, you had Justin, Roger, and Evan running around that stage, playing back to back at points, and occasionally on the ground. Per the status quo, Justin ended up playing from the floor at the end. Skull Drug’s set was the blast I come to expect each and every time I catch them.
A new, old band that I had never seen when they were last active was Off the Mark. Made up of Cole, Paul, and Marty, two of which I’ve watched play regularly the last few years. Their sound is a familiar style of the southern California skate punk bands. The personalities of Paul and Cole felt like they worked the best I’ve seen of bands Paul has been a member. A reason for that is the onstage conversation felt more like they were chatting like old friends.
Of course, that includes the exchange when Paul fell backwards and kept playing bass on his ass until the song finished. Surely a set that reinforced that it is a good thing Off the Mark is back playing.
Only the middle of the night, it was time for Coyote Tango. Here is a band that I’ve met Brian on a couple occasions with the guys from NEATO, and never realized he played music. In retrospect, it makes sense given how many of their friends plays music. It just never crossed my mind.
These guys play a brand of alternative music that is a little slower and influences of indie rock and rock ‘n roll intertwined. It made for an enjoyable set of music with one of the slower paces of this night to it. I’ve since already seen Coyote Tango again, and aim to try for more in the future.
After that was Miles to Nowhere, a band that I got spoiled seeing regularly for a couple years, but now the rare sets make it more of a delight. This wasn’t a full band set either. Rather, it was an acoustic one with Kristen and Katie both playing guitar. Which is perfect, because the dynamic between these two has shined since Katie joined the band a couple years ago.
The set was the Miles to Nowhere mix of pop punk tracks. Plus I got to be part of their usual introduction to a song about guns. The good news is the break between times playing is shorter this time, as Miles to Nowhere will be back in less than a month at the Rebel Lounge.
Then it was the time for NEATO to get up there to celebrate the new “More Is Less” album release. An excellent five song EP, with lyrics that are a clear representation of the minds and values these guys hold. I’ve watched Andy since his Point Nine Percent days and Johnny since his Oktober days. Granted, those were punk bands, and with NEATO they play their brand of reggae rock.
Over the past year or two, they have added Katie, of Miles to Nowhere and We Happy, on guitar and Cristian, from more bands than I can name here, on bass. It all brings a personality and happy atmosphere. Later in the set, Kristen joined on stage to play and sing along too. Congrats once again to NEATO on the excellent new music, and look forward to what more will come.
Last for the night were the excellent two piece punk rockers, Hollowpoint Vigils. Making waves now in the punk scene, and having made waves in the local hip hop scene, both influences show in their performance. I want to say there is a little garage rock in their sound too. This is another band this night full of animation and energy. Sean takes on guitar and lead vocals, while Dana contributes to vocals while hammering the drums.
On one song, Sean sets down the guitar, pics up the microphone, and shows off his skills rapping. Having their fast paced punk sound with hip hop influences mixed in is exactly the sound needed to keep energy going at the end. Hollowpoint Vigils has new music coming that I can’t wait to hear. Plus that loaded night of music was a fantastic way to celebrate NEATO’s release.