I’ve always thought if I had a couple million dollars, part of my goal would be to get a few local bands recorded and promoted out to the larger audience they deserve. One of the best examples of that would be Acne Superstar. This idea has roots in after the band took a little break from performing, when their lead singer, Nav, went to Florida for a summer. They played their first show after a couple months, once again standing out from the crowd that night. It had me questioning why I didn’t buy their album up to then. It turned out they had not recorded one yet. Despite that, so far I don’t have a few million to invest in that idea, but luckily they did finally go record music to a brand new album. To celebrate the release of said new album, Beer And Loathing In Tempe, AZ, Acne Superstar put together the stellar show accompanied by Pop Icons, Troubled Minds, and Cheap Hotels.
Up first was a band I had only listened to in recordings with Pop Icons. If the name already had you guessing, they are more of a pop sound to their punk rock. I’d actually group them into that Midwestern punk rock sound, like the faster Lawrence Arms tracks. Since going in I was familiar with Pop Icon’s songs off their 2020 EP release, Prelude, I recognized three tracks in the set.
However, the rest was all new to me. One thing that has changed in the time since that EP released is they have become a four piece, adding an additional guitar and vocalist to the mix. The addition worked perfectly up there. Pop Icons made for an enjoyable opening act to an already exciting lineup.
Troubled Minds would be next for this night. It being the first time seeing them since Covid hit made it more special to watch. If looking for a sound, I’d throw them in that shared sound of Pop Punk and Pop Emo that has people wanting to bounce and sing along.
Even with the gap in time between performances, Troubled Minds looked just as comfortable on the stage. This set included a couple of their newer singles like “Burn” and teased new music with a few crowd favorites. Troubled Minds left a great impression on the audience once again. I’m happy to see them back.
This show was a little bit of a few music styles, Cheap Hotels taking us down another path. Think more like the Strokes but with the grooving faster songs mix in calmer, a little more romantic influence too. They make it easy to bob your head to the rhythm. This is music that if you have a partner you may find yourself dancing with them to it.
Also different from the earlier bands is Cheap Hotels incorporate a keyboard into a few of the songs, with their bassist alternating instruments. You got Ian, on guitar, providing the smooth lyrics on the microphone with Jordane back on the drums. Cheap Hotels is another perfect example of the amazing local music scene we have in Phoenix bringing another cool set.
Last up was the Acne Superstar, the band I was long anticipating getting the new album they were releasing tonight. They all came out decked in sunglasses and suits for the occasion. Although within a song, Nav was already shedding the jacket for comfort. The setlist consisted of the album as you probably suspected. Their influences range from song to song, but I have to say the lead off track to the set and the album, “Beer and Loathing,” totally reminds me of Naked Apes. Overall, Acne Superstar mostly pulls in influences from indie punk rock artists and alternative rock for a good range.
The set’s atmosphere was just exciting on stage and off. Jack over on guitar almost looks like he is just modeling looking good while he plays. Jake was filled with so much joy and smiles anytime you looked at him on the drum kit. Ryan was bouncing around with his long hair over on bass. They did add one additional song to the setlist on top of the album list to close it out. It was the one most appropriate to their album art’s influence, the Refreshments’ King of the Hill theme. The release show was such a cool night of local music and what an enjoyable way to celebrate the new Acne Superstar album.