By Allyson Bills
Friday night was a night of celebration of sorts in the Valley's local music scene. There were two local bands having release parties on the same night: There Is Danger for their EP Goldmine at the Valley Bar, and Vinyl Station for their CD Still Open Eyes at Crescent Ballroom. Such conflicts of having the opportunity to attend multiple music events on the same night was not a reality when I moved to the Valley eight years ago. The Downtown Phoenix scene has grown exponentially in the last few years, and I’m really happy to see people embracing this growth. With that being said, I chose to attend the Vinyl Station show because I have taken a liking to their sound within the last two years, and I wanted to see how their new material sounded live.
I arrived at Crescent Ballroom to a packed house - even dudes with man buns (it's a new trend with men) - just in time for the second opener to play, Snake! Snake! Snakes! . This is the third time I have seen this band since they reformed their line-up. I was still having reservations as to how I liked their new sound, and wanted to give it another chance, so I made it a point to arrive early. While watching their set, I thought that eliminating the keyboards lost the band's magic as to what made their sound unique in the first place. Despite seeing Snake! Snake! Snakes! three time now, I still feel unfamiliar with their new songs' almost like I don’t recognize them because they all sounded the same to me. Unfortunately, I think Snake! Snake! Snakes! is like every other band currently doing that beachy, garage, low-fi trend like Fidlar and Wavves. This was especially apparent on their older song "We Come Out At Night." The guitar-driven version just doesn't have the same appeal. I really miss that melodic, big sound I actually left to go outside and talk with friends after they finished "We Come Out At Night" because I was so underwhelmed. I really tried to like Snake! Snake! Snakes!’s new direction, but it wasn’t my cup of tea.
Next up was the headliner, Vinyl Station, who was recently hand-picked by Rob Thomas to be the opening band on his upcoming U.S. tour. The album release show for their third studio effort, Still Open Eyes produced by Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World, gave the band the opportunity to test the new material live before embarking on tour. I have seen Vinyl Station play a few times with just the two members, Matthew Thornton and Brendan Cottrell. This was the first time that I have ever seen Vinyl Station play with a full band. They played a good hour with mostly songs off their new album, as well as older favorites such as "That Man," "No One Notices" and "You Forget." I was blown away of how beautiful "No One Notices" sounded with a full band. I fell in love with that song over again. I definitely needed tissues after seeing that song live again!
Vinyl Station singer Thornton admitted to the crowd that he was a bit nervous for this show as already broke three guitar strings mid-set. However, Thornton's nervousness didn't phase the crowd as one lady standing near me screamed "Vinyl Station loves me." In all the shows that I have attended, I have never seen so many guys dance at concert in my entire life. The song "Take You" appeared to be a favorite track off Still Open Eyes among those in attendance.
However, this was a tough crowd for the Vinyl Station’s slower songs on the set list. A majority of the audience around me was chatting loudly while any of the slower songs played to the point of it being disrespectful to the band. The crowds loudness during "Taken" even prompted Thornton to state in the middle of the song to "shut the fuck up or go outside." The crowd quieted down after Thornton advised them to do so.
Overall, I enjoyed the show, and was happy with my choice to attend this show on my Friday night. At the end of the show, Thornton told the audience, "There was an encore, but we are not cool enough." I disagree. I thought they were cool enough for an encore, and know that they will do just fine opening for Rob Thomas this summer. It was a night of celebration indeed for everyone who enjoys the Valley's local music scene.