Ever have one of those days where you know things just aren’t going to flow your way? Pretty sure that was the thought of three band mates sitting in Blythe, CA, whose trailer decided to not play nice. Crash Kings members Tony, Mike and Tom had to be wondering if their day was destined to travel through the pits of hell before night fell. They must have angels on their side as they somehow managed to work their way to Tempe to headline the KWSS TMI Radio Show’s annual Phochella Festival at The Sail Inn. You’d think that would be the end of the story. But no, sadly, as Antonio Beliveau wired his keyboard it became apparent something wasn’t quite right. Brother Mike came to assist the calm-on-the-surface Tony. Lids were lifted. Wires were checked. And rechecked. T-minus 15 to the show and no sound. Wires were rerun. Rechecked again. Acoustic music in the outside courtyard played on. Even radio show host Beef Vegan came over to help with whatever he could.
Watching this unfold, my husband and I remarked that if that was our two sons up there on stage, one would have decked the other already while fighting – desperately trying to come up with fixing the problem. Fact! But no, the consummate professionalism of these two brothers was unparalleled. Never did they break a sweat, thought their hearts had to be racing two-forty. Eventually, hope was lost for the keyboard which undoubtedly had seen a rough day in Blythe. The Technicolors, if my guess is correct, must have come to the rescue with a borrowed board. Low and behold, sound was to be had. Relief poured off the brothers who were already late for their set. Honestly, the music loving crowd at The Sail Inn batted not one eye the entire time. Waiting patiently for their beloved band, they stood waiting for the first chord to be struck. And from there, it was solid gold.
Striking first with “6 Foot Tall,” Crash Kings showed the fans exactly what it was to be at one of their live shows. Unrelenting energy from the outset! Flying straight into “1985” brought anyone who wasn’t already at the outdoor stage there. Tony’s insanely quick keyboard action along with Mike’s ripping bass had everyone singing along throughout the chorus. It was at this point I took hard notice of their drummer, Tom, who I had not seen live with the band. Now, I have to admit, I was skeptical. I mean, he just didn’t have the whole standard drummer vibe going for him. I couldn’t really put my finger on it, but he just didn’t scream, “I kick ass on a set!” Yeah, I definitely need to re-tune my drummer radar. The boy has mad, mad percussion skills. (Andy Ziker, you would love his drumming style!) He thoroughly rocked the entire set leaving you thinking he was a brother from another mother with Mike and Tony. Honestly, they were tight the entire set! And this was after Blythe and after a keyboard on the fritz, and after coming on late as the headliners while feverishly working to get their gear to work. Self set-up and all. No throng of roadies, just them after a crazy day. Professional to the Nth degree! These amazing live musicians just plowed through song after song with such ease, grace, and vivaciousness! I guess that’s just testament to Berklee College of Music, all three are graduates of one of the world’s finest musical institutions.
From there, Crash Kings flowed into “Non Believer” and then ripped up “It’s Only Wednesday” which continued to set the tone for the rest of evening, being clearly one of the crowd favorites. Between each song, shouted-out song titles could be heard through the cheers of the crowd, many of which were played within their set. The sound board was balanced and reset when the audiophiles requested the lead mic be turned up so Tony’s crisp vocals could be heard by all. And as the set carried on, not a soul wanted them to stop until they played every song in their arsenal. Unfortunately, their time was limited by the city of Tempe, but not before we heard the newest tune “Hot Fire,” and then a bit later “14 Arms” leading into their massive hit “Mountain Man.” Capping off the set was “Saving Grace,” most definitely the most requested song from the Phochella gathering.
The lesson from this concert set? Never surrender. Give it your all. Future, and current, bands take note: this is how it’s done. Oh, and play like it’s the last time you’ll ever play for a crowd of your adoring fans again. Crash Kings left the crowd wanting for nothing, except maybe the rest of their songs. Guess we’ll have to catch those next time, and hopefully Blythe will let them pass through unscathed.
However, if you’re in the mood for a sweet road trip, Crash Kings will be in Las Vegas this Saturday, April 26th, 2014, for the Great Vegas Festival of Beer. They will definitely be worth every mile under your tires or added to your flight points!
set list: 6 Foot Tall, 1985, Non Believer, It’s Only Wednesday, Hot Fire, Dressed to the Nines, You Got Me, Hesitate, Come Away, New Song, Inside Upside Down, Lonely War, All Along, 14 Arms, Mountain Man, My Live, Saving Grace. (Disclosure: due to time constraints, a few songs on this list were not played. From memory only, I believe Inside Upside Down and Lonely War were left off the set. But I could be mistaken on that, so don’t quote me!) And Thanks, Arielle, for correcting me about All Along!