by Logan Lowrey-Rasmussen
On Friday, April 12, I pushed my body closer to its limits as I decided to cover two shows in a row. With just 24-hours preceding my review of Sunday At Noon with Almost Awake, Arlington, and HeadStrum, I realized this was a show I would have to compromise my mental health for. Not only was 2000 Foot Turtle scheduled, a personal favorite of mine, but the mysterious Spectrum Hues I hadn’t seen since my early days in photography last year dictated the final decision of my attendance. Aside from fresh punx 2KFT, groovy jam-band Spectrum Hues, and “modern psychedelia” LoTemps, this would also mark the very first performance of local self-described indie punk “ear candy,” Olympic Games — what a low-key clever name to spot on a flyer.
The venue operated by 2000 Foot Turtle is a modest bungalow nestled in the suburbs of Chandler. As I entered the already-swinging event, guests lined the perimeter of the yard as roommates prepared a fire pit. Random members of each band and assorted guests took up instruments as they lounged on a couch to the side of the driveway; light samba and blues measures intermingled with the hum of the crowd as we waited for Joseph Park and Conner Shumway, (along with drummer Dillon and Sam on bass filling in missing spots) to begin their set.
Unlike the usual sets I cover, this one had a catch: Joe explained to me that the band would play three Spectrum Hues songs, but then leave the remainder of the set as an open mic, inviting other crowd members to come jam with them. The wishy-washy, psychedelic riffs permeated through the performance space as I felt the same feeling of nostalgia for a time I had never lived through and my days of doing a tab of acid or two came back to me. Before I knew it, more musicians joined the fray as the melodies and beats morphed into a similar, yet grungier sound I had not heard from the band. After a lengthy jam session featuring groovy and gritty sounds played by various valley musicians, Spectrum Hues made way for the straight-out-of-the-gate newcomers, Olympic Games.
Before the show, I had a lively conversation with Olympic Games about their origins, when they informed me this would be their very first show as a single unit. Out of their already released material dating back on Bandcamp to November of 2018, their set was mixed with former demos “Demure,” “Uptoyou,” “Kumbayah,” and “Confetti Sweeper” along with tracks that have yet to make a recorded appearance in their catalog.
Songs like “Confetti Sweeper” featured the guitar and drums bopping along to the enunciated vocals. Even in the condition of performing inside a residential home with limited sound, each member fought for their life through technical issues. Humorously, the band even broke into “La Bamba” and a few other snippets of well-known covers masterfully while guitar tuning took place. The band touched on demos like “Demure,” a rougher take on surf-rock, emphasizing a noisey guitar with mixing with the tenor of the vocalist, and classic Motown “clap beats” in the form of a drum set. Much of their catalog blends vocal harmonies and aggressive riffs, but comes together with the hints of surf rock scattered throughout.
While I would have been nervous if that was my first time performing live with my band, their ice-cold demeanors guided the crowd through the rougher parts into the high points of the set. I am eager to see how the band will fine-tune their act by the next time I catch them.
Gnorts, Mr. Alien
Hosts Clay Knutson and Max Ade (sans new bassist Nick Ellison) took the stage in their original 2000 Foot Turtle duo to once again bang out the swampy, party-fueled hits. While they only played “Apocalypse Blues” from their recorded catalog, Knutson and Ade brought out a series of yet-to-be-heard studio tracks, along with some live favorites which highlighted Clay’s gritty, blues tenor. While I believe I’ve heard some of these tracks at their other gigs, the on-stage antics of Clay always define the show as an uncertain variable. Much of his vocal performance and intensity during solos are always underscored by an emotion of yearning — for what, I can’t say. It’s one of the traits that make a true 2000 Foot Turtle gig “predictably unpredictable.”
For instance, at the last house show, Clay tried to shove the mic stand into a potted plant during a song. Musically speaking, the guitar solos are always dank, yet crisp, while Max on percussion easily flows with whatever vibes the crowd and set are throwing at him. In some strange universe, I sometimes see this band as a swampy, bayou cousin of The B-52s (minus the camp and female vocals): they both share the trait of being incredibly serious about partying it down.
Roll the Dice
Tap yer feet/Jam on Spider Man Theme
Dreams of Jehovah
The night concluded with my first experience with the ever-chill lo temps. With offerings from their demo2018 EP, tracks like “MUM” and “Seem To Care About Nothing” bled classic rock composition and jam-rock sensibilities, patterned with occasional alt-rock. As for the tracks that haven’t been released in recorded form, the band utilized lackadaisical, comforting tenor vocals from Jake Huber on lead vocals among the various funkier aspects of the song scattered throughout.
Unlike the Spectrum Hues, lo temps have a cleaner, funkier approach to the psychedelic aspects of the genre paired with the calm, yet deliberate riffs provided by the ensemble. Like the show from the night before, lo temps was also a band who possessed a bassist with attitude: Patrick Vitato had passion and facial expressions that just wouldn’t quit. Davis Carpenter also carried the mix on percussion with sharp timing to carry the pleasant melodies, while Danny Friedlander on rhythm guitar rounded out the mix.
For a show which began which cool jams, the relaxed demeanor of lo temps was the perfect foil for the in-your-face 2000 Foot Turtle and Olympic Games, especially when the crowd energy calmed down. While I may have exhausted my bodily resources covering two shows in one weekend, I can at least say I had one hell of a time as I caught bands I wouldn’t have heard if I didn’t attend.
Here’s to you, Phoenix, and all the bands I have yet to hear.
Seem to Care About Nothing
Man in the Mask