By Spike Brendle
Another sold out “school night” show at Valley Bar, count this as two in a row! Albert Hammond, Jr. is on tour supporting his new album, as well two weekends of shows with The Strokes at Landmark Fest and Austin City Limits. He landed in Arizona after the second weekend of his own ACL performance. Bringing along Day Wave from Oakland, the show had sold out a little over a week prior.
The show was running about a half hour late when Day Wave came out right as the crowd started chanting, “ALBERT, ALBERT”, which started things out a little awkward. Another crowd member yelled “Hey! You’re not Albert!!” Lead singer Jackson Phillips giggled as they took their spots on stage and started the show. It wasn’t until after the third song that they introduced themselves, and told us that this was their first time to Phoenix. A few songs in, I realized the vocals are severely monotone. Sometimes this works, but their recordings do not reflect this at all. The only thing that could make this worse is multiple monotone voices attempting to harmonize, which definitely happened. Maybe the Arizona heat was confusing their harmonies. Their music was awesome; don’t get me wrong, but when three dudes are singing the same note, in the same vocal style and tone, that is a recipe for boring and also annoyance. There were a few songs where some “Ooohs” were thrown in, which created a little diversity, but the rest of the set blended into itself with the same beachy riffs and monotone men singing. Their single “I Made a Mess” found its spot at the end of the setlist. Although performed well, it still presented itself just the same as the others, lacking in vocal diversity. Maybe it was an off day (that does happen), maybe the sound was off, but I have faith in Day Wave. Their music is super good; they just need to step up their vocal game a lot.
A very calm, soothing piano soundtrack filled the space between Day Wave and Albert Hammond Jr. The kind of piano you would hear in a dramatic movie where someone is alone and crying, while raindrops form on the window of a high rise apartment on a gloomy day. I’m not sure what captivated me about this to earn it a mention in my article, but it was deep.
Albert Hammond Jr. and his band emerged from backstage to an excited crowd ready to dance and sing along to some better arranged music. I had been questioning what The Strokes side project was my favorite after hearing his new album, Momentary Masters, and tonight’s performance confirmed that this definitely is. Even before starting his first song, he says, “I’m having too much fun already!” “Born Slippy,” the first single from his new album to make it to the set list, was played third. The crowd went nuts at the pluck of the first guitar string, and was literally jumping up and down during the whole song. “PHOENIX!!!” Hammond yelled, “I should come here more often! Here’s a little diddy from our second album.” “GfC” was said song, from the cleverly titled “Como Te Llama?” which was released back in 2008. “Losing Touch,” the latest single from his new album, was next, and I think this one may be my favorite. Yes; it does sound a lot like a The Strokes song, but The Strokes were the band that tipped me over into the endless wormhole of music: listening, performing, and now writing about. He even plays the same cream-colored Strat from the first time I saw them, the video for “Last Nite.” I spent countless nights staying up until 4am watching MTV2 and waiting for any The Strokes video to come on, which rarely happen. But yes, The Strokes are for sure the foundation of my musical background.
Albert Hammond Jr. came packing a nineteen-song set list that blew me out of the water and also ended in what seemed like twenty minutes, even though he did play for about an hour and a half. Who would have thought Monday could bring us such a good show? I’ll just go ahead and say it: thanks Monday.