I can count on one hand the amount of local bands that I followed in high school that still perform today. Of that handful, there is one that has elevated to an international success and I keep purchasing every release to date. That band is Authority Zero. When I first found them, it was twenty years ago when I got my driver’s license and started finding my taste in music. The first lineup I knew was Jason DeVore, Jeremy Wood, Bill Marcks, and Jim Wilcox. I made every effort to catch them, at the Tempe Tostitos Block Party, opening for Flogging Molly and Warped Tour over the years. The lineup would change later down that road, but they continued to make for performances and songs I always enjoy.
So, twenty years from when I first heard them and twenty five years since the band started the lineup around Jason is now Mike Spero, Dan Aid, and Chris Dalley. This feels like the best version of Authority Zero since the originals, down to the not only well produced, but well written songs on the last two albums. To celebrate the special anniversary, Authority Zero booked two nights at the building it all began, the Mason Jar. If the name unfamiliar, it shut down a couple years after I graduated high school. The venue reopened about a decade later as the Rebel Lounge, thanks to Psyko Steve. For the special occasion, they invited the talented Hit the Switch to play both nights with two different local openers for each night.
Night one brought one of my favorite up and coming punkers, Not Confined. I probably am a broken record at this point, but they are always improving each time. Most noticeably they are getting more comfortable on that stage. If they have nerves, they don’t show it. Instead it is moving around, laughing and having a blast.
Torri and Michael did a switcharoo of instruments later in their set. This put Torri on drums and Michael grabbing a familiar saxophone to anyone who has caught a School of Rock Sugar Skulls performance. It should not go unnoticed that despite all the punk, Bailey still politely puts the mic back to the stand between songs. I think that is symbolic for how awesome and polite these guys are off stage despite blasting out excellent punk rock when on stage. Let me just reaffirm you should be paying attention to Not Confined, if you aren’t already in the growing group that is.
Night two had our local Venomous Pinks open up the twenty one plus show. Speaking of reaffirming, Gaby and Drea look their happiest up there these days. Cassie is bringing a fast paced, additional positive energy to the new look band behind the drums. Whatever griefs you may have from events around the band lineup change earlier this year, I can’t argue with seeing people happier. With the actions, they’re touring more too. This was a needed move for them to grow, and any band actually to. Otherwise, they were likely to remain stagnant locally.
The sold out crowd was ready to eat up the performance and energy from the start of their set this night. They delivered and then some on that anticipation. Plus, if you were in attendance, you may find yourself in a future music video they were recording. This night, along with continued performances I catch, make me happy for the Venomous Pinks and where the path may lead them next.
The support that was on both nights happened to be Hit the Switch. This band is a blast to watch. To my own surprise, they haven’t got the recognition they should. Talking with a familiar face playing with them, Justin Van Westbroek from Guttermouth, they’ve been around a good decade. I just discovered them thanks to Authority Zero putting them and I loved every part of their performance.
One great portion of their performance on night one wasn’t even the songs, but in between. It was when Matthew Hawks, lead vocals, telling jokes between songs. He solicited if people wanted more after a few, which got enough applause to keep going. This carried over into night two’s performance, as people early on started chanting for more jokes which brought laughs and smiles from him and bandmates. Honestly Hit the Switch is fantastic, and I want you to go check them out the moment you’re done reading this.
Of course, the special occasion was for our local Authority Zero. Both nights they performed well over an hour set. Good enough to feed even the hungriest fan’s appetite for Authority Zero tracks. Night one I started out middle, front stage, and can say the crazy energy of this audience was one of the fiercest I’ve felt watching a show at the Rebel Lounge. People were going nuts, crowding to the front to sing along with every lyric Jason belted.
A circle pit opened up in a frenzy both nights moving to the chords played by Dan and Mike and kept on that exceptional pace by Chris Dalley’s drums. Both nights brought local celebrity and horn player, Danny Torgenson, to play trumpet on a track or two. Night two he came out during their encore, playing Mike’s bass while Mike played an acoustic guitar on the first song of the encore. It was a compression of bodies and enthusiasm all out to celebrate Authority Zero turning twenty five. Both nights were ones to remember with friends every way I looked and congrats to the guys in Authority Zero on hitting the special mark.
Not Confined – Night One
The Venomous Pinks – Night Two
Hit the Switch – Both Nights
Authority Zero – Both Nights