Eclectic is defined as “composed of elements drawn from various sources.” It tends to be descriptions of the weather in Denver and my music tastes. Similarly, it can be used to describe the bill that assembled at Yucca Tap Room with Devon Kay and the Solutions. Just to touch on how eclectic it was, the night of music included the ska offerings of Bowcat, the punk funk of Okinawa Plane Crash, and the indie rock sounds of Celleste. The four of them combined with what I call the Indie Punk Rock sounds of Devon Kay and the Solutions to make for a memorable Wednesday night.
This was a show that when it was announced I had self-professed on social media I would make it through hell or high water. If you have followed me the past year, I have been fighting long Covid symptoms that include chronic fatigue. However, Devon Kay and the Solutions were a band that even if the date had landed on a worse fatigue day, I was determined to be in attendance.
For background on why, let me start in 2016 when Direct Hit, another Devon Kay joint, was coming through on a NOFX tour. I made an enthusiastic Facebook post about finally seeing Direct Hit live. Within the comments, there was this suggestion from Will Anderson to check out Devon’s other band. Luck have it that Devon had that first full length Solutions album, Losing It, at their merch booth that tour. I immediately loved that music on first listen. The only catch was they were not actively touring around here then.
Flash forward to 2020, the live music had stopped, and I was looking for outlets while I was home. One of the best things to happen was finding Devon had started up his Twitch streams, straight forwardly titled Devon Kay Twitches, interviewing musician friends and bands he was fans of. With it came his friends and members of the Solutions joining him on occasion to celebrate new music releases and occasionally just hang out playing video games. Initially through the chat on the streams, I got to know other members virtually including Jacob, Ian, Joram, and Jake. A little more through Twitter too. I ended up creating additional personal ties to the band in the process. So, between the personal ties and additionally two more full lengths and a ska punk EP I can keep on loop for days, I was not going to miss their first visit to the Valley of the Sun.
As for the night, it began with the surprise addition of one of the best ska bands in Phoenix, Bowcat. It was a little different look for the band with Aronda filling in for Katie on the keys and Steven’s trombone absent. Conversely, Rick, who stepped away from the band, was back filling in on drums.
It created a different dynamic with only Dane’s saxophone. It was a fun change for the band I have caught most this past year. There were a few hiccups, but nevertheless, it made for another wonderful time watching Bowcat.
Okinawa Plane Crash were next to follow and began what was the originally announced lineup. The biggest thing to note here is that it marks my first time catching them with Jason on lead vocals. The last time I watched them, they had a fill in for him. Jacob brought the same energy and bouncing around as I saw that first time.
Him and Zach, on guitar, gave amusing introductions to setup songs about wanting to be Michael Cera and their alternative version of Spongebob. Between the creative songs and the blending of punk rock and funk, Okinawa Plane Crash continues to stand out to me as a band to catch.
Next it was catching a local that I was excited to see their newest project, Celleste. Part of that stems from watching Elle for a few years with her old project, The Ladies. In that one, she brought the danceable up strums of ska to many happy ears. For a contrast, with Celleste she went a new route with an indie rock and pop sound. They brought big hand drawn clouds that adorned the stage, slightly hiding Tristen behind the drums.
It added to the atmosphere of her music. They started on a slower and more “sad” song, per Elle, and moved into bouncier and higher energy tracks. I was told this is not the normal lineup of the band, but there was an additional saxophone played by Aaron, once of The Ladies and currently in Mr. Incommunicado, that added depth to the songs. It was an enjoyable and superb set for only Celleste’s second show.
Finally, we hit the moment to watch Devon Kay and the Solutions for the very first time. From the get-go to hear them use Devon’s Twitch intro song modified to describe what we might expect from their set gave me a big smile. The setlist itself included all awesome tracks spanning the releases from “The Space In-Between” to “Pump Fake,” off their newest Fine: A Ska EP. It was an indie punk rock explosion of energy, horns and keys filling the Yucca Tap Room this Wednesday night. The amount of animation and charismatic characters spanned that entire stage. Strike that. You could say the stage could not hold it all as we found Jacob, trombone, and Ian, trumpet, on each side of the Yucca bar doing a little brass dueling during a song. Devon, by the end, would be sitting on top of the corner of the bar.
Amongst all the excitement of the set, Devon made sure include important messages as trans rights are human rights. It just delivered on everything and exceeded what I hoped for from their set. That combined with seeing Devon again and finally meeting everyone else in person, made for the absolute joy of a night. From here, I can only hope that this will not be the last time Devon Kay and the Solutions comes to Phoenix.