Article and Photos by: Jason Robey
Phoenix, AZ — New York City punk and noise rockers, A Place to Bury Strangers, are on tour in support of their recently-released fifth album, Pinned. Everything about the evening felt like a classic punk show, from the bands to the basement venue with a ceiling so low the tallest people in the room could touch it, to the merch table full of vinyl records and cassette tapes.
The evening kicked off with a short set by Phoenix locals, Strange Lot. The room was already filling up when the trio launched into their half-hour of tunes from their first two full-length albums, as well as a couple from their upcoming release. Following a short break, Los Angeles band, Sextile, hit the stage with their blend of early ’80s new wave and punk, reminiscent of bands like Killing Joke and Public Image Limited, to a now-near-capacity venue. This show is their first night of a month supporting APTBS. The stage was lit with a single red light and a strobe for their entire 45-minute set, providing a mysterious aura for vocalist Brady Keehn to spit out aggressive lines under a strong delay effect, while drummer Melissa Scaduto bashed pounding beats, standing up at her drum kit.
After another short break, the crowd, now jam-packed and sweaty, were treated to the fuzz-drenched sounds of A Place to Bury Strangers they had been anticipating. Under pulsing strobe lights, the group brought the intensity to a new level from the first notes of their opening track, “We’ve Come So Far,” from their 2015 album, Transfixation. Vocalist / guitarist, Oliver Ackermann, moved around the stage with such speed and fury that the strobe lights made him appear in seemingly random spots throughout the band’s hour-long performance. As the heavily-effected music blared through the night, Ackermann swung guitars, slid metal strobe lights across them, and beat them on the stage. Bassist Dion Lunadon screamed and moved with frantic aggression, occasionally moving into the crowd to play. Drummer Lia Simon Braswell, who joined the band earlier this year, pounded her kit with a thunderous abandon, as the blinking strobe showed her wide-eyed, animated facial expressions to the awe-stricken crowd.
The energy built stronger and stronger over the course of the show, culminating with an extended feedback-and-fuzz fest to end their final song, “I Lived My Life to Stand in the Shadow of Your Heart,” from their 2009 album, Exploding Head.
Catch A Place to Bury Strangers, on tour with Sextile, across the U.S. through the end of June.