They say the universe works in mysterious ways. If you’ve been following me, I’m on a now five-month journey of experiencing long Covid and chronic fatigue. So, about a month ago I received an email about doing possible photos for this show and responded if I felt better, I might be able to at this Zona Nights show. Zona Nights the name for club shows playing around the inaugural Zona Music Fest. I am not exactly feeling better, but last week I received an email saying I’m approved. I thought about perhaps just letting them know I was continuing feeling this chronic fatigue and could not do it. However, I decided this is probably the universe saying give it a shot. I mean, it is AJJ, one of my all-time favorite locals that have just blown up across the world, and the amazing Veronica Everheart opening the show.
Up first was an artist I last saw in 2019, Veronica Everheart. This trio of a band plays an upbeat indie rock with a little folk music inspiration to its melodies. It is comprised of fantastic voice of Veronica on vocals and guitar with bandmates on bass and drums. Her songs go from faster, bouncier tunes to calmer, more getting lost in the moment lyrics about life’s struggles.
The once Phoenix living artist touted how awesome it was to open for AJJ, especially in light she will be joining Sean for his tour in the coming month. The packed Crescent crowd was happily receptive to it, showing support when her pedals failed on her later in the set. Veronica Everheart made for the perfect crowd-pleasing opener to the night.
Then, and last, was the Phoenix local folk punks AJJ. The circle pit opened in both the over and under 21 sections in front of the stage as the crowd immediately heard favorite after favorite. Just a glance around that crowd you saw excited arms pumping in conjunction to people singing all the lyrics they know by heart. If you are unfamiliar, the five piece is made of Sean Bonnette on the main acoustic guitar and iconic voice. Ben Gallaty on the bass, this show without his normal standup.
Plus you had Preston Bryant doing keys and guitar, and a little dancing, on one side with Mark Glick the master of many doing keys, guitar and cello opposite. All of them backed by the amazing percussion, and man of a few bands including Jeff Rosenstock they noted during the set, Kevin Higuchi. When you watch AJJ, you can always catch someone always flashing a smile or a laugh to show just how much fun they have performing.
Their set was well over an hour long. It consisted of favorites, like, “Linda Ronstadt” and “Body Terror Song” to “Mega Guillotine 2020.” Thrown in the over twenty song mix was their newest single release “The Baby Panda” too. All of it was greeted with happy faces and a lot of jumping around in the crowd. They closed their main set on the appropriately titled “Goodbye, Oh Goodbye” before giving the audience two more as an encore. This was wonderful for a tone setting start to the Zona Fest to follow the two days after. While the fatigue took stronger hold as adrenaline wore off and I left, I am happy I got to spend three hours watching AJJ and Veronica Everheart this Friday night at the Crescent Ballroom.