The first time I saw Playboy Manbaby it was stumbling into them on stage at the Long Wongs location near Apache and McClintock. I was at Tempe Tavern and the friends I was hanging out with decided let’s jump over to see what was a walk down the street. What first drew me to them was immediately the brass section. That accompanied by the misidentifying them as another ska band in an otherwise starved local Ska band scene in 2012 in Phoenix. However, the tunes they played were punk with this energy and flamboyancy not seen in many bands. While not exactly ten years ago for me, this night’s show was for Playboy Manbaby celebrating their ten year anniversary. They did it joined by a stellar lineup of Together Pangea, Okilly Dokilly, and Mega Ran.
Opening up the night, and it seems crazy to think of them as an opener, but Mega Ran was the one to start this celebration. He did it with a splash, no not that splash quite yet, but opening up performing his song “AVALANCHE” with a microphone in one hand and a replica gun arm, fashioned after Barret from the game Final Fantasy VII, in the other.
He brought out a trumpet for the occasion alongside DJ Ash 10, a usual staple of his sets here in Phoenix with the backing mixes. The set looked like one of just joy for Mega Ran to be back on the stage. Still pulling it off from the larger stage, Mega Ran peered across the Van Buren barricade to do his patented freestyle rap on things audience members presented. Then yes, he closed the set on the crowd favorite “Splash Woman” to round out just the beginning of this night of music.
It only seemed complimentary to Mega Ran that the lineup then brought out our local Neds of Okilly Dokilly. If somehow unfamiliar with these forest green sweater wearing mustachioed guys from Phoenix, they are a hardcore metal, or “Nedal,” band performing songs based on Ned Flanders of the Simpsons. If high energy was what you needed, then Head Ned and his crew had you covered tonight.
However, I’d say Zed Ned may take the crown for the most energy on the keys. They spoke of their appreciation of appearing on the Simpsons with “White Wine Spritzer” as they went into performing it. A cool and heartwarming moment in the set was a song dedication to the late Andy Warpigs, who played their very first show at the Trunk Space. While Head Ned stripped down into Ned’s iconic ski suit leaving me only thinking about how it is like he is “wearing nothing at all,” the night’s set just a reminder of how much fun Okilly Dokilly brings to that stage.
The only question mark in the lineup and band I had not seen before was our next on the bill, Together Pangea. Going in blind probably lent to this feeling, but they were super impressive. I want to add how cool for Playboy Manbaby to get them to travel here from L.A. to perform their anniversary show too. Compared to Okilly Dokilly before, Together Pangea was a bit mellower with an indie garage rock sound to their tracks.
William Keegan, vocals and guitar, just looked like he was grooving as he sang vocals. A surprise for me was just seeing Brandon Schwartzel, of Fidlar, up there on backing guitar. I can’t find if a permanent addition or just for this tour, but totally added to the additional excitement I got from watching them. When their set was all over, Together Pangea had made me a new fan of theirs going forward.
I don’t know if it was just an amalgamation of ideas built up over the past two years or just because they wanted to go all out for celebrating ten years, but Playboy Manbaby made sure this set would be a spectacle to remember. They are known for doing elaborate stage and costumes over the years and yet, this night they upped the ante once again.
They filled the night with old members brought back that ranged from our MC who sat in a recliner playing Sega Genesis between introductions, to their original drummer Anthony Thrialkill on a song during this extended set. It was good to see Austin back on saxophone. Speaking of extended, they expanded on instruments with Mickey, on keys, Scott on Percussion, and pretty much an entire additional brass section later on. They pulled out recorded cameos, such as local lawyer Rafi. The set was divided into sections and set changes by acts including Dadadoh and a Church of Playboy Manbaby choir in the mezzanine. The word extravaganza might be the better word to encapsulate this night.
For the tenth anniversary, Playboy Manbaby pulled out songs from across the catalog. Old favorites such as “Funeral Pizza” and “End of Time” to new and crowd favorites “You Can Be A Fascist Too” and “Last One Standing.” Heck, performing “Choppy Chad” this night proved very relevant in current times with the chorus including “Go vaccinate yourself” repeated.
On the topic of changed relevancy, in the time since Covid hit, Robbie and the band have blown up doing quick songs over on their TikTok and social media. So, of course, it was appropriate a couple of those songs were in the set list too. There was a moment where Robbie asked the crowd who was seeing them for the first time and an abundance of hands flew up reinforcing just how much they have grown in this time. There was so much excitement in the room from TJ flying everywhere on the large stage to the crowd just exploding in movement, dancing and moshing along. This was hands down a show I needed in my life and one of the best I have seen Playboy Manbaby put on to date.