Live: Bleeker and Night Riots in Phoenix

Bar shows always have an interesting dynamic. A smaller stage means the members are up-close-and-personal, and the lack of a barricade means the only parties separated are the drinkers and non-drinkers. Pub Rock is arguably the most relaxed venue in all of the Phoenix area. With friendly staff and a chill atmosphere, it was the perfect place for a rock concert. Rival Coast started the night off with a punchy set, gaining encouragement and a little head banging from the audience. What the four-piece may lack in developed writing skills, they more than make up for in technical precision and stage presence. They’re still very much still in their Soundcloud days, but if they keep playing like they did at Pub Rock, they may not be for very long. The last time this reporter saw Bleeker, they were opening up for Dirty Heads and Sublime at the Lawn and White River in Indianapolis. Going from a stage fit for Sublime to a tiny stage with no barricade actually seemed to suit the band, interestingly enough. Unlike their show in Indy, they were able to engage with the audience much more directly, and frankly, have more fun. Front man Taylor took a few opportunities to explain the meanings behind songs, and ask the crowd how they related. Most notable was the disparity between the performance in Phoenix to their recorded tracks. Taylor took several liberties in inflection, breaks and commentary, and instrumental variations were added as well. It gave the show personality without straying from the Bleeker identity. One of the most comical aspects of Bleeker’s set was the set list situation. They explained that they had indeed created a set list, but had too much to drink, and left it in the hotel. Thus, drummer Chris Dimas was the designated “human set list” and got to pretty much call the shots. They opened with “Free,” and rather than ending with “Highway,” decided to close out with “Where’s Your Money” (a note to all those in attendance, the song title does not actually contain “bitch.” Some lib was added.) The Night Riots were certainly a dream come true for some, but may have fallen flat for others. Their stage presence was definitely targeted. Front man Nick Fontinakes certainly knows how to get a crowd of teenaged girls whipped into shape, and flexed his expertise for the entire duration of the set. Special elements such as drum duets with illuminated sticks definitely kept the show interesting from a visual standpoint. Some felt, however, that the sound just wasn’t up to par. The acoustics or vocals may have been limited by the small venue, but it just didn’t seem like the Night Riots really brought their full, kickass force. All in all, Monday was a great night to be a rock fan in Phoenix. Stripping talent to their bare bones by placing them on a minimalistic set brought forth true colors, and all three bands put together a weekday to remember. -Kelly Fox