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Rock to Cure Cancer 2017 in Arizona

There is no better way to fight a persistent and deadly disease than Rock to Cure Cancer. Started in 2009 by Donna K. Kelsey (A.K.A. Kimmi Ramone), Rock to Cure Cancer is a fundraising event that donates all their proceeds to the Lymphoma Research Foundation. Musicians and volunteers alike donate their time and energy to put on a show to raise awareness and raise funds to fight back against lymphoma. Here, in Arizona, we turned it into an all-day festival of music. Split between three venues, there was good music, good friends, and a good cause.

The whole thing kicked off at Double Nickels with the Ganderers. Getting a wheelchair anywhere near the back of the record store was a tight fit but the employees there were considerably helpful. Once settled, I really got to hear these guys jam. Boasting themselves as doo-wop punk in between songs, I found them to be a bouncy mix of humor and movie references. I doubt a band could get much better than that. After every few songs, Big Bad Brooks (Vocals), lost an article of clothing. Really, I couldn’t blame the guy due to the lack of AC. Though, I must commend him for his disrobing without missing a word. By the end of their set, Brooks was belting out notes in boxers and socks which made for an electric start to the whole event. Their performance left me wanting more. Though I hope it’ll be somewhere where I can see the rest of the band.

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As Double Nickels started helping one band pack to make room for the next one, it was off to 51 West. It was pleasantly convenient to have the next venue only one door down. On the other hand, I’m certain the venue felt noticeably warmer. Here, just getting started, was Innocent Eyes. Now, don’t let their looks fool you. Sure, they look innocent at first glance. Once they start playing, all that goes out the window. The hardcore punk band played their first show earlier this year and I want to see where they go. While I felt they are still getting used to the stage, it’s obvious they aren’t going to let anything or anyone slow them down. Capping off their performance, they rocked an appropriate cover of “Blitzkrieg Bop” by the Ramones that marked the moment I fell in love with this band. Innocent Eyes will be back at 51 West on July 21st, 2017, opening for L.M.I.

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It was back to Double Nickels for Forming Stories. At first, I wasn’t sure what to think about this instrumental duo. Then it hit me. I wanted to close my eyes and hear their music paired with some of my favorite video games. The idea of saving the galaxy or fighting back waves of enemies was only enriched by their tunes. It felt like their music could be paired with anything. As their name implies, Forming Stories weave a tale through sound alone. If you want a taste of what they are all about, Forming Stories will be opening for Burgundy Jurk July 14th, 2017 at the World Famous Nile Theater.

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Back, again, at 51 West, I expected to see Andy Warpigs. Yet, it is my understanding that he did not show.

The night had a small hiccup. As few bands were scheduled against each other, this left a pocket of nothing. So, I did what movies have taught me to do. I went to the pub, grabbed a pint, and waited for the whole thing to blow over. That is if you’d call Yucca Tap Room a pub, and a can of PBR a pint.

After a drink and a breather, I found myself back at 51 West for We Might Be Wasted. I’ve had many opportunities to see them before but something always comes up. Seeing them live was absolutely awesome. The unbridled energy urges you to start a pit and not ask questions. Having a drink in hand while listening to We Might Be Wasted could possibly be dangerous. It’s an invitation to adventure while running the risk of being a night of chaos and bad life choices. Any band that gives me the desire to run amok is always a plus in my book. We Might Be Wasted will be opening for Rum Rebellion on August 6th, 2017 at the World Famous Nile Theater.

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On the way to Yucca Tap Room, I caught the last few songs by Leigh Dekay. A man with a guitar, Leigh can be mellow without sapping all the energy out of the room. No matter if he’s playing with Krovak or on his own, it is a performance you have to see. Leigh will be performing with Krovak, opening for the Addicts August 27th, 2017 at Marquee Theatre.

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I moved up to the stage in preparation for Skull Drug, marking the beginning of the end of their Bae is Fam Tour. These boys have made Yucca Tap Room feel like a second home. Once they get on stage, there is no telling what might happen. In the past, I’ve seen Evan William (Vocals) nearly pass out and Justin Waldrop (Guitar) start an intimate circle of punks while he was still jamming on his guitar. Wyatt Clark (Drums) always looks like he could kill with a stare and I’m always happy to see Roger St John (Bass) bring his sparkling pink bass. What I can guarantee is the pit will start moving once Skull Drug starts playing. The real surprise of the night was watching Justin play on his back while half off the stage. I should have seen it coming as he fell on his head but he never missed a note. Skull Drug will be playing again on July 8th, 2017 with Call the Cops at RatsAss.

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The train of wild antics didn’t end there. Terminally Ill caught me off guard with their rap punk sound. Yet, with the explosive force they have on and off stage, I had no choice but to like them. When they got Evan and Justin from Skull Drug up there with them, it was a wonder they all fit. With all the rowdy chaos on stage, everything became a blur of yelling and laughter. Terminally Ill’s set was less of a performance and more like a group of friends at the best house party of your life. The only thing I could ask for is more.

 

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My wish was instantly granted with Downtown Brown. With a little bit punk, a little bit funk, and all rock, I wasn’t sure what to really expect in the beginning. I was not disappointed as Downtown Brown kept the momentum going with elevated levels of unbridled energy and goofy antics with a bunch of friends. The sentiment can easily be summed up with the reoccurring phrase of the night: “Bitch, yeeeaaah!” Funk was never really my thing but with Downtown Brown, I can confidently say funk’s not dead.

 

 

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Keeping with the groove but slowing things down was H.B.H. or Huntington Beach Homegrown. This ska band took me out of the moment but I started enjoying their sound upon revisiting their music. The sound alone is very relaxed. I would love nothing better than to sit back with a cold drink, close my eyes, and let them conduct my dreams. So even though I couldn’t quite get into them while watching them live, I discovered they are a sound that’s best taken home. H.B.H. recently released Homegrown EP, also available on iTunes as well as Amazon, and will be performing again with Downtown Brown and Terminally Ill at the Doll Hut in Anaheim, California on July 27th, 2017.

 

 

 

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Closing out the night of amazing music and fighting cancer was Torn at the Seam. Another ska band, they started picking things up again and gaining momentum. The sax is what really did it for me. To my ears, it was the glue that brought it all together and breathed life into a relaxing sound. My only regret was having to leave early as the Missus needed to work the next morning. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any upcoming shows for Torn at the Seam but I hope to see them again soon.

 

 

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Overall, I felt that the night was a great success. With all the amazing people, friends, and music, I can only hope it kicked cancer in the teeth. The next Rock to Cure Cancer event will be in Lubbock, Texas on July 15th, 2017. If that’s in your neck of the woods, I’d highly recommend you go, enjoy the live music, and do what you can to fight back against cancer. This was an amazing show for a great cause, here in Arizona. I can only hope there will be more events like this soon.

 

All photos are taken by Pardo Photography.

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