Last night’s performance by Future Loves Past at Day 1 of the two day mini-music festival, Lushfest, put to rest any doubts of the local band’s community clout. The Sail Inn was in perfect form with over 100 people present to help celebrate Future Loves Past’s CD release. FLP personally invited a mix of up-and-coming acts alongside some of the bigger names in the Valley to create a balanced mix of musical talent making it hard to believe this is just the first night.
Marking a successful feat for local music, hordes of people had no issue with shelling out $10 a ticket for purely local fare. The crowd migrates back and forth between the indoor and outdoor stages judging for themselves who they prefer. As the event progresses, a steady stream of people continue to flow into the Sail Inn until late into the night. Soon, it becomes difficult to navigate through the masses. The audience is one of the most receptive ones we’ve seen in a while, not counting bigger name touring bands. Cheers, chanting, and applause echo in the night and increase with each band that takes the stage.
Here’s a list of the Top 3 songs of the night since there was so much music to hear between two stages featuring bands playing simultaneously. It was literally impossible to catch every single act, but we judged these to be the best of the night of what we witnessed. Apologies to some of the other great bands we missed out on (We’re looking at you, Snake! Snake! Snakes!).
1. “Eyes Bigger Than Your Stomach” – The Madera Strand
I happened to be talking to someone when this song came on and my ears immediately perked up. The Madera Strand is composed of guitar, bass, drums, a female vocalist and the occasional viola. An eclectic mix of more sophisticated rhythms, spectacular bass lines, effects filled guitar, and sweet yet sensual vocals, the band held their own tonight alongside some of the other heavy hitters. “Eyes Bigger Than Your Stomach,” showcases lead singer d’Averill Demetrulias’ falsetto and socially conscious lyrics. She cites Fiona Apple and Imogen Heap as her vocal influences. Their stage presence is solid and Demetrulias’ sweeter and more reserved personality comes across as likeable, not awkward. The Madera Strand’s set proves to be enough to keep a majority of the audience outside in 100 degree mugginess to have a listen. To fully see what they have to offer, see them live.
2. “Paper Cuts” – Banana Gun
“The next band is so great,” a photographer discloses to me as Banana Gun begins to set up their equipment. I was not disappointed. Banana Gun has such a tight, solid set and it is obvious that all of them have been honing their craft for quite some time. Psychedelic rock with a reggae and ska flavor, the band puts on a fun show. Not to mention the killer lead vocals that echoes Bob Seger with an edge. “Paper Cuts” sums up the band perfectly with its full bodied blend of classic guitar riffs, soulful saxophone, and on point vocals. Banana Gun opened with the song and drew the whole crowd in. I chuckle to myself to see everyone move forward towards the stage within the first two minutes of them playing, leaving no room in front of the stage. Their music, stage presence, and consistency definitely put them at the forefront.
3. “Lupa” – Future Loves Past
Obviously, Future Loves Past is going to be on this list not only because tonight is their CD release show, but also because they absolutely brought it on stage. Performing on the larger outside patio, the band draws a crowd big enough to pack the place wall-to-wall. The Sail Inn sound man is gracious enough to let me stand in the sound booth to see, it is so packed out. Future Loves Past plays the entirety of their new album, All the Luscious Plants and countless people in the crowd know all the words. Thunderous applause and cheering follows every song and the response rivals that of a well-known touring band. For new listeners, the band utilizes the three part harmony, more complex rhythms, catchy lyrics, and electronic essentials. Definitely heard a little Two Door Cinema Club, The Beatles, and The Flaming Lips . Hard to choose I standout song, but “Lupa” merges the best of the all songs on the album. Unfortunately, the song is available on their album only (those teases) so I included another standout from the night.
Special Mention: “Grow Up Tall” – Future Loves Past
Unbelievable how responsive everyone in the Sail Inn was. Kevin Loyd, the vocalist/guitarist for Banana Gun, said it best:
“The music scene has changed in the past 10 years. No one would show up for local shows and there were only a few venues open. It’s great how the community has come together to support local music. There’s a lot of great bands in Phoenix right now.”
If tonight is any indication, people are catching on that local music has evolved and bands are stepping up their game.
Photo Credit: Steven Burkhart