By Spike Brendle
I showed up to a “casually occupied” Valley Bar on Friday night, just as Dosh was playing. I was not too sure of what he was all about, but was pleasantly satisfied after hearing a few songs. Dosh is one man behind some keyboards, a laptop and a drum kit (a very talented man, I must add) His music is beat heavy, but also bright and lively. I still can’t decide if the lack of vocals made the performance that much more special, or dampened the possibility of making the show that much better. Either way, watching someone play drums over loops is something that I do enjoy, and witnessing someone play keys over looped live drums is just out of this world, so that was nice. (I also learned by the end of the show that he has quite a history when it comes to studio/tour work, check out his Wikipedia when you have the chance).
When Eliot Sumner took the stage, the room was unfortunately still a little empty. I always feel for a touring band when this happens, also even a little embarrassed as a local. This did not discourage Sumner in the least, as she suggested that the timid Phoenix crowd step closer to the stage after the first song. One of my favorite things about Eliot Sumner’s music is the opportunity for jamming; not that “jam band” jamming, but actual bass driven jamming (yes I am biased as a bassist). Sumner does an amazing job letting loose at all the right times, and the crowd fed into this just as she had planned. The energy coming from the stage was the same from beginning to end, and by the time she got to her last song, (my favorite) “Information,” everyone in the room was dancing. The room had filled in the meantime, which for some reason gave me a sense of relief. I was super excited to see her perform live, and she definitely lived up to and over-exceeded every expectation. I would be a fool to not mention her super sweet Kenny G T-Shirt as well.
Once On An On started, they were playing to a (somewhat) full room. With Dosh joining them on drums, they opened the show with the first two songs off of their new record. If you are familiar with On An On, there is a distinct difference you can hear between the songs off of their first album and their follow up. Both very good records, their sophomore effort comes off a little more organic with a little more emotion in the song writing. “Icon Love,” the second song on the album and in the set list, gives a little boost of electricity to the feeling, which played the same in their live show. Hearing these new songs live definitely gave me a new appreciation to their new album, not that I didn’t love it already but just added to what was already there. The single from said album, “Drifting” fell about halfway through their set. Such a simple song, but so deep and, pretty. I feel like that is an appropriate way to describe the song. As emotional and slow as the song is, somehow the outro turned into a funky remix as they transitioned into “Horses” off of their first album. Following that, “Cops” re-ignited the crowd and by the end someone in the audience felt it necessary to shout “THAT SONG WAS FUCKING AWESOME!” which I totally agreed with. When “Ghosts” came on, I did get a little sad because I knew this was the end of their set. On An On gave Phoenix a great show, and expressed their gratitude by claiming it as the best show of the tour so far. There is something special about On An On, the way they can connect with the audience on a personal level. By the end of the show I felt like we were best friends.
Friday night, you were great. My second time seeing On An On, and first time seeing Eliot Sumner, after listening to her music pretty much non stop since I first found out about her. I will quote Derek Cooper, “She’s not just Sting’s daughter, she’s Eliot Sumner.” No truer statement, but was then followed up with “She knows Stewart Copeland, and I am pissed about that.”