Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra @ Valley Bar

Valley Bar 11/14/15

Valley Bar 11/14/15

As usual, downtown Phoenix parking leaves something to be desired, and on a Saturday night, that’s no joke. We were lucky enough to find some parking only seven blocks away and felt we were doing pretty good. When we approached the San Carlos Hotel, I knew we were near, but I had never been to Valley Bar. For those that don’t know, it’s a bit difficult to find. It’s in an alley, around a corner. There were dumpsters, and double doors, with no sign. I thought it might be the entrance, but I wasn’t sure. There was a guy sitting next to the doors.

Valley Bar 11/14/15

Valley Bar 11/14/15

“Is this Valley bar?” I asked.

“It sure is,” the guy responded.

“Wow. You really have to be a special person to even find this place!”

Valley Bar 11/14/15

Valley Bar 11/14/15

“Well, aren’t you special?” he asked without hesitation. I laughed and opened the door, which led to stairs that descended into what I would soon find out to be one of the most unique places I had ever been in Phoenix. Valley Bar is reminiscent of what you might find in Nashville or San Francisco or somewhere that has 100 year old buildings. Once you have arrived, the idea that you are in Phoenix quickly fades.

There are games to be played: darts, skee ball, pool, shuffle board, and a pinball machine. The bar is a curved, semi-circle ordeal with silhouette animation overhead, which is quite fanciful and amusing. If you don’t want to sit at the bar, there is a fine selection of tables and chairs, including a couple couches. I sat at a couch that had a painting of Rose Mofford hanging above it, which made me feel at ease and at home, and reminded me that in fact, I am in Phoenix. We ordered drinks and promptly drank those dranks and returned for another round. Soon, some other people that we didn’t know came around and sat down with us. The party ensued. A couple gals raged about Taylor Upsahl and how good she is. We mingled, people talked. The bar was buzzing.

Taylor Upsahl

Taylor Upsahl

I noticed people were heading to the stage in the next room. I realized it was time for the music. The thing about me and bars is that once I enter one, time usually just goes away. I just don’t care what time it is from the moment I ask the bartender for my first drink. I don’t look at my phone unless someone texts me. I don’t want to know what time it is. And once I have a buzz, it’s all gravy. Time is just a bummer at that point. Rather than looking at the clock, I look for indicators. Like when people are heading for the stage.

First up was Taylor Upsahl. During the set, there were some sound problems and she handled it in stride, and made the crowd feel warm and fuzzy – a sign of a good performer. She gained my respect and I will be looking forward to hearing more from her.

There Is Danger

There Is Danger

Next up was the band that I was really there to see: There Is Danger. Their songs are quite amazing. Some people might describe it as Shoegaze, others might say Indie-pop. I don’t know, and I don’t care. It’s one of those bands that I don’t want to define. I don’t want to diminish it. It’s the kind of stuff I like if I’m not into listening to hard stuff. It’s like Califone meets Calexico. Maybe. I don’t know – maybe with a little New Order for the cherry on top and a drizzle of Passion Pit. That’s just my take. Either way, it’s dreamy, dreamy stuff. It’s like laying in bed on a lazy Sunday morning with the person you love. Their performance was fantabulous, but I’m biased.

There Is Danger

There Is Danger

After their set, I went to make a pit stop and get drinks and the bar was slammed. This place was busy. When I got back, these crazy guys were playing music in the crowd. I thought there was a spontaneous jam session like I remember when I lived in Berkeley or like when I went to Dead shows. These crazy peeps walked by me… And oh! There was Henri Benard! When I saw Henri, I realized that this was decker.. They played and sang as they walked towards the stage. I immediately recognized this performance technique that has been used by many, including one of my all time faves, House Of Freaks. I love when the band interacts with the audience, so decker. had my attention immediately. They continued to lay down a set with scorching energy that was infectious, despite my original reservations. Brandon Decker, the front man, dropped a pile of dynamite on the stage and let the embers burn. Fantastic showing for this band.

After that sizzling set, and a moment to get more drinks and shake it off a little, Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra came on. From the first note, I was mesmerized. It was like they were slowly weaving a spell on the audience. The heady, dripping honey filled tones drenched the audience. On the 3rd or so song, I had to put my camera down, turn around to wrap my arms around my date and got down to some groovy business. Swaying my hips and jerking my shoulders like I was shirtless in a Puerto Rican festival, doused with Rum and feeling the rhythms of another world, half way around the globe. I turned around again to watch the singers swaying and moving which made me more dizzy than I was before. I turned around again to face the crowd and moved my hips. The music moved me with the energy of life and brass and beat and bass. Bam!

Element

November 19, 2015admin Comments Off on Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra @ Valley Bar
FILED UNDER :band , events , nightlife , performance
Comments are closed on this post!.