The night was chilly but the city of Phoenix was buzzy and buzzing. That weekend was about to be an epic one, and Friday night was no exception. The people of Arizona had many great shows to choose from that night as a way to “pre-game” for Zona. Arizona’s own music festival!
I made my way to Valley Bar. It’s a really cool small underground, hidden bar. I walked down a small alley and made it to the entrance of the bar, as I made my way down the stairs, the hustle and bustle of the city quieted. The hall way was dimly lit and the vibe of the bar was chill and quiet. Slowly people made their way down, and they got drinks as they waited for the bands to perform.
Tonight was going to be extremely special for me. The last time I saw Phantom Planet was in 2008. They were part of the Honda Civic Tour. Phantom Planet and Motion City Sound Track were openers while, Panic! At the Disco was the headliner. Entering the venue was brining back many memories from that night in 2008, with my best friend Dylan.
As I made my way to the front of the stage, I was getting more and more excited. The fans all around me were all buzzing with excitement. They were all talking amongst each other, smiling and giggling.
The first artists to perform that night was AVIV. AVIV came onto the stage and began to perform. The crowd was small but participated. They began to scream with joy as the band played their first song. Their sound is unique, not something I would have normally attended. They have a very calm alternative, jazzy type feel. Watching AVIVA perform has a very relaxing and tranquil feel to it.
AVIV is a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumental artists based out of Toronto, Canada. By the time she was six years of age, she was learning how to play the piano and she began to write her own songs after her 14th birthday when she was gifted a keyboard. After the first song she began to address the audience. She mentioned how great it was to be able to perform along side Phantom Planet, as well as how nice it was to be in Phoenix.
“I haven’t been in Arizona since I was five, so its been a while!” AVIV stated as she moved over to her keyboard. She began to play more songs and the crowd sang along. She then addressed the audience again and mentioned that she wrote a new song about a trip to Los Angeles. Her song reflected back to a memory when she first became aware of suicide. She had approached her mother about what had happened and her mom explained that sometimes people make that choice and eased her daughters mind. Her mother gave her some advice, “‘Sometimes the best thing to do is sleep it off’, so the next song is called ‘Sleep It Off'” AVIV said.
AVIV’s set ended up being the beautiful quiet before the storm that the audience needed before Phantom Planet took over the stage. I would love to see them in a headlining set to see what other songs they would include. As AVIV left the stage I looked around me and the crowd had grown significantly. People of all ages had shown up.
The house lights finally dimmed and Phantom Planet came out to the stage. Phantom Planet formed in 1994 in Hollywood, California. The band is made up by members Alex Greenwald- Vocals/guitar, Sam Farr-Bass/backing vocals, Darren Robinson-guitar/backing vocals, Jeff Conrad-drums and Chris Lorentz-bass. Lorentz was a touring member for this current run, he was filling in for Farr.
The audience began to scream with joy. People were bouncing off the walls with excitement. Phantom Planet began their set, everyone became silent and let the music flow through them. As they played my mind traveled back to when I first saw them perform live.
It was 2008 and I was just 17 years old. My best friend, Dylan, and I dragged my sister to the concert with us. Dylan and I had been going to concerts together since we met freshman year of high school and she was the perfect concert buddy. Although we really did not fit in with the crowd. I was very gothy where Dylan was more alternative, but we were ready to have the time of our lives.
I remembered how excited we were. We just laughed and screamed with joy, discussing the songs we wanted to hear and who we were most excited for. Once we we were at the show we found out that we were able to meet Phantom Planet! We were ecstatic! Dylan and I ended up meeting Phantom Planet, getting autographs from Alex(including his towel that he used during the show, fun fact I still have all the items and autographs from that night). It was seriously one of the highlights of my high school years.
My mind came back to the show that was performing in front of me. Greenwald addressed the audience, he talked about this being their first time playing at Valley Bar. The audience chimed in and helped Alex remember where their first concert in Phoenix took place. He was using this to stall while he plugged in his guitar pedal; he had accidentally stepped on the cord unplugging it. He also mentioned that their next song was going to be a big one, in G. They then played “Geronimo” off their 2008 album Raise the Dead.
During “Geronimo”, a string on Greenwald’s guitar broke. Greenwald said into the microphone “Fucking emo is what that is, I could bore you all while I change my string”. Then Robinson interjected that Alex had written a Christmas song. Robinson then suggested that Greenwald take his guitar, play the Christmas song while Robinson changed the string. Greenwald performed his Christmas song for everyone while Robinson changed the string to the guitar and the audience grinned from ear to ear while getting to hear this special song. It was the treat of the night.
Phantom Planet played all of their biggest hits including “Do the Panic”, “Dropped”, and “Big Brat”. During “Big Brat” Greenwald jumped into the audience and began to walk around and sing with everyone surrounding. The Final song of the night was “California”. During this last song Greenwald jumped into the audience and began to crowd surf on his stomach with his microphone. The audience ate up every minute of it.
At the end of the night I was smiling from ear to ear. I felt like I had relived that concert from high school, but this one was slightly better. I felt like the band was more comfortable with who that had evolved into and that they interacted more with their audience than they had back when I was in high school. They made the audience feel special, like they were performing a concert for you and only you. As I left the venue, I ended up reaching out to Dylan and reconnecting with her. Thank you Phantom Planet for brining back those amazing memories and reconnecting me to my estranged best friend!