Originally published on COTMA
A line of people stretch out in front of Crescent Ballroom on Sunday night. A chalkboard near the entrance read “The Frights, SWMRS, FIDLAR – SOLD OUT.” AltAz 93.3 had a tent pitched outside asking music lovers to sign up for contests and join their mailing list. The block in front of the venue was blocked off to prevent cars from entering. From the various times I have watched shows at Crescent, I can honestly say that I have never seen the room so packed as it was that night.
Since it was the night before Halloween, there were of course those who were in costume, There was a Spinelli from the cartoon show “Recess” and a pair that was dressed as Wednesday and Pugsley Addams. If you’re not familiar with this venue, there is an all ages section which is closest to the stage and a bleachers/sit-down area that has access to a bar. Security had to repeatedly pull back the barricades separating the two because no one wanted to miss out on the circle pits, stage diving and moshing that was to come.
The San Diego punkish doo-woppers known as The Frights were the first to get the show started. You don’t expect a crowd to know the opening act too well, but that wasn’t the case here. These fans were singing along to every word, to every song by every band. SWMRS’s guitarist Max Becker nickname the tour the “ohana tour because we’re all family here.” FIDLAR did have the largest attendance in the pit, but there were still a surprising number of fans bearing shirts supporting the two opening acts.
If you have never listened to The Frights, imagine a verse from a typical high school slow dance. Now add that to a chorus that is heavy and punk and makes everyone want to scream. That’s The Frights. Mikey Carnevale, the lead singer, repeatedly slipped in his ex’s name, making it clear to everyone that their latest album, You Are Going To Hate This, at its core is about getting over a bad breakup. There was some tension about losing fans after releasing the last album because it’s more mature sounding and more polished than their previous work. The fans that night were screaming along to every word, showing that they’re sticking with this band no matter what.
SWMRS have worked to reimage themselves over the last two years, and they were finally able to do it after releasing Drive North, the first album under the band’s name. The band was originally known as Emily’s Army, but they were high schoolers at the time. Now that all four guys are 20 and over, they have some newer ideas that they wanted to express. They’ve done so by dyeing their hair different colors, painting their nails, wearing a dress on stage as a stand against gender roles, voicing their political opinions and bringing back the grunge rock sound with a modern twist.
Before their set began, lead singer Cole Becker reminded everyone not to grope anyone or make anyone uncomfortable. Cole is the most interactive with the crowd, stage diving during the first song and somersaulting into the audience during their finale. The guys expressed their love for the punk atmosphere by encouraging fans to open circle pits, and they even had the pit participate in a wall of death (the pit is split in two, when Max said “GO!” everyone charged at each other). Chanting “Drive North,” the band ended their set with the album’s title track and the crowd surprisingly had another mosh in them.
Before FIDLAR joined the stage, a fan in front of me described the band as a “heavier Weezer” and that sums up the band pretty nicely. Their style is classic skate punk with heavy guitars and angst-ridden lyrics. They have nearly 300,000 followers across their social medias, and it was obvious that the band was still coming down from the high they got after playing at The Palladium in front of thousands. It’s true what Max said about all the bands being a family. Lead vocals of FIDLAR Zac Carper produced both opening acts’ latest albums. During the show, I even saw a couple guys from The Frights and SWMRS make their way into the pit to watch the headlining band.
The stage design immediately stood out with giant rope-like glow sticks hanging from the rafters, illuminating both the stage and giant blow-up letters spelling out FIDLAR. From the moment the first chord was struck, everyone from the front barricade to the bleachers were jumping on their feet. Even the security guards were nodding their heads to the beat. The mosh pit was a blur of headbanging and flailing with a crowd surfer every now and then jumping on stage only to stage dive back into the sea of people that would catch them (most of the time).
Phoenix was the third stop on the Too Much Tour. The bands performed in Tucson on Halloween night, and then they set off to play in other major cities around the country. The tour will end on Nov. 22 in Denver. If you’re interested in learning more about the bands visit their websites: fidlarmusic.com , swmrs.com and thefrights.com .