D.I.Y., “Do It Yourself”, venues bring out a few of the most creative spots I’ve watched music and a conducive environment for it. Over the years there have been a few that pop up and disappear around Phoenix. More recently we’ve had the Rats Ass and Krusty Palmz. Now the Krusty Palmz legacy moves into Ground Zero, run by the same people. This was the setting for Noogy’s latest visit to the desert with the local Standing at the Back, Ass Wipe Junkies and Rejected Monsters.
Up first was one of our newer bands, Standing at the Back. They formed back in 2020, made up of Jesse Yonkaz, Kat O Strofik, Lars Petrini, and Bill. Current times looks like it is now a three piece with Lars no longer performing with them for the moment. Taking lead vocals duty is Kat while dually drumming.
Over on bass is Bill, with the now two years’ worth of epic beard growth, and Jesse has those guitar and other vocals duties. The set was a mix of their own songs and covers, like that of Creedence Clear Water and Johnny Cash. Standing at the Back was a fun beginning to the outdoor night.
Up next was our touring artist and, my friends, in Noogy. It is their first visit to Phoenix in a couple years and since losing their drummer Nick Helm. Their last visit in 2019 was on tour with TSOL and the last time I got to spend time chatting with Nick over the course of the night. We did a shirt exchange with the Noogy shirt I still have. He wore my Every Show Joe shirt all over their shows from there until we lost him in 2020. Just trying to write about him brings out a little water works, but he was wonderful and miss him. I did not want to go without mentioning him here. Of course, they felt it was more to honor him continuing forward with the band. Their last release S/T includes all his last recorded drum tracks further remembering him and his great drum work.
For this set it was energy out of the gate. It wasn’t a surprise, as I expect no less out of these guys. Andre, lead vocals, powered through a broken string and tendinitis with such passion. Anthony, second guitar, and John, bass, with that similar pizzaz up there while sharing vocal duties.
For the current drummer, Carter, who has taken over for Nick, he is doing a fantastic job back there. Appropriately, the pit went crazy for the first time of the night with this set. Songs played included “Grandma’s House” and “2017.” These guys bring what I love in punk rock, with personality, high energy and just look like they are having a blast playing it. If you can get the chance, always try to go catch Noogy. They will not disappoint.
Having to follow that up is a hard task, but the Ass Wipe Junkies were fully assembled for that task. This meant main vocal duties, and most facially expressive member of the band, Jullian was in good form. I feel like songs including “Space Coke Nightmare” just don’t have the extra vocal flair without him. Plus occasionally Andy, bass, on the microphone while giving Kyle, second guitar, a break after his major vocal debut at the Skatercon afterparty.
If you haven’t seen, Saul is now the full-time big man on the Ass Wipe Junkies drums. However, this night he did get a break as they brought up Mark to get back in on the old action for a song. The pit action continued through their set and those Ass Wipe Junkies brought the continued fun into the night.
Last up was my first time catching the band Rejected Monsters. They come with their own blacklights, dressed and face painted up to bring the flair underneath it. Their songs bring monster movie and science fiction inspired lyrics with political commentary messages in a horror punk rock wrapper.
As a longtime fan of Doctor Who, my ear was attracted to the references of Daleks in one of their songs. They would finish out the set instrumentally with a little technical issue of feedback that couldn’t be found. For first impressions, Rejected Monsters were a cool watch and a solid end to this punk rock out in the Phoenix desert.