Article and Photos by: Jason Robey
PHOENIX, AZ — The Stone Foxes may be from San Francisco, but any time they play in Phoenix, the crowd treats it like the return of local heroes. This Saturday’s energetic show at the Crescent Ballroom, which also featured two bands that are actually from the Phoenix valley, was no different.
When Japhy’s Descent took the stage around 9pm, the room was still starting to fill in, but their infectious, classic rock-inspired music got people on their feet dancing in no time. It was easy to see the effect the crowd’s vibe had on the band as well, as they got more pumped up and rowdy right along with the audience. By the end of their half hour set, Travis, Japhy’s vocalist, was running into the room to sing amongst their fans. Japhy’s Descent played several songs from their three albums, in preparation for their fifth anniversary show later this month.
After a short break, Wyves, another popular bluesy rock band from Phoenix, picked up right where Japhy’s Descent left off. As the room got closer to full, the intensity on both sides of the stage grew. Vocalist/guitarist Corey Gloden, in his white leisure suit, worked the audience into a frenzy before taking his own trip into the crowd, as they ran through a half hour of favorites of their loyal following.
Following one more short break, about a quarter after 10, the lights went low, revealing a giant “SF” made of light bulbs on the side of the stage, the Star Wars theme began to play over the house speakers, and The Stone Foxes walked on stage, greeted by a now-capacity crowd cheering them like long lost friends. As the band tore into the opening chords of “Everybody Knows,” fans sung along so confidently, one would think it was number one hit.
The Stone Foxes played an hour and a half of high octane, blues-tinged rock n’ roll, hardly slowing down at all, tearing through fan favorites like “Psycho,” “Patience” and the Slim Harpo blues classic, “King Bee.” They took the tempo down a notch, while bringing up the intensity, for the dark and haunting “Cold Like a Killer,” from their latest album, Twelve Spells.
Throughout the evening each of the five members of the band played at least two different instruments. Shannon Koehler was most often the vocalist, though he switched to drums for a couple songs mid-set, when usual-drummer Brian Bakalian picked up a guitar. Ben Andrews showed off his blues guitar prowess throughout the night, even picking up a cigar box guitar and a slide for a song. He also traded his guitar for a violin on a couple songs, showing off equal skills. Guitarist / bassist Vince Dewald traded off lead vocals on the sing-along, “Stomp,” while keyboardist Elliot Peltzman got to cut loose on stage with a tambourine.
After a raucous jam on the single, “Locomotion,” the band took a short break. They returned with “Passenger Train,” the only other slower song of the night, introducing by saying they hadn’t played it in a long time, but several people asked them if they’d play it. They closed the show with “Mr. Hangman,” bringing up their friend Sara Robinson, of the Phoenix band Sara and the Midnight Special, to share vocals with Koehler. Robinson’s incredible voice was the perfect compliment to Koehler’s, as they jammed smoothly into a cover of The Doors’ classic, “Five to One,” before calling it a night.
Catch The Stone Foxes on tour all over the U.S. throughout the summer.