On December 20th, a cherishable night of Rock music was hosted inside Pub Rock Live– an immense dive bar in Scottsdale, Arizona. There were fans of each performing band, as well as some who were simply diving towards the live music alone.
The night began with performances from Blanche Baby and Viper Club. At 6pm, Blanche Baby (Taylor Saxton) took the stage with C. March, a musical pair lighting the stage with a production of spacious vibrations and intimate vocals. The following act was Viper Club, a modern / glam rock band from Phoenix, previously known as ‘Sunday at Noon.’ Viper Club grasped the energy in the room and stirred it up with bold, tumultuous rock and roll with their youthful buoyancy. The lead singer had a bold stage presence, dancing and jumping, while enforcing distinctly energized vocals throughout the Viper Club performance. Younger fans danced and sang along to their songs, including “Beatrix” and “Reese Witherspoon.”
Hailing from Los Angeles, California, The Jacks took the stage for their final performance of their tour with Wade Cota. The band is made up of Johnny Stanback and Tom Hunter, guitarists / vocalists, Scott Stone, the bassist, and Josh Roosin on the drums.
The Jacks have a rough rock and roll sound, something that feels nostalgic down to my core. Though I had only briefly listened to their discography, there was a familiar feeling vibrating through my eardrums as the amp went up—like I had known their music all along—and the 4-man band boldly rolled and rocked the stage in unison. I could tell they had been on tour for 6 weeks, each individual had a unique stage presence, but somehow all their energy was in synchronization. It was a deep experience of flavor variety—if you could only hear the taste of that perfect entrée with an even amount of hot sauce, serving the perfect kick.
The Jacks began their set with “Who Are You?” the first song from their self-titled album, released summer of this year. The set list continued, including “Are You Looking for Love?” “Cold Hard Ground,” “Hello My Friend,” “Holy Roller,” a cover of the Strokes’ “Last Night,” and they wrapped it up with their original song, “Understand.” The synchronicity between the guitarists on each track played was satisfying to say the least. Without skipping a beat, they utilized the stage to the fullest. I’m talking swinging hair, bouncing feet, and full-body dancing, all while striking their instruments with intentional energy that moved all throughout Pub Rock Live. It sounded like they brought remnants of the rock genre from the 60s and 70s, but The Jacks cast their own path with this upbeat, fun-loving style of rock and roll in the 21st century.
As a fairly small bar, Pub Rock created a personable experience of musical indulgence. It didn’t matter where I stood, or sat, I could hear each instrument being played, and had a clear view of the stage.
On tour with The Jacks was Wade Cota, accompanied by his band, Sugarwater. If you didn’t know, Wade Cota is a self-taught musician, and was a contestant on American Idol—the show ended with him tied for Fourth place. Wade Cota and Sugarwater Band comes out to be 5 talented musicians: a swaying pianist, soulful guitarist, playful bassist, robust drummer, and Wade in center, using his voice as an instrument in itself. Wade has a wide range, belts out the high notes, similar to a metal band vocalist, and in the lowest note, Cota brings a layer of what reminded me of a slow whisper.
The band has been together for a couple years, and everyone in Pub Rock Live could feel the collaboration between each member on stage. They played originals, “Without Me,” and completed an encore with a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man,” a track close to the heart of Wade, as it was the song he performed when he made Top Ten on American Idol. The singer mentioned a few times that this show was his homecoming performance, after 6 weeks of touring, this was the finale prior to celebrating the holidays with his friends and family.
Pub Rock Live was packed with fans of all ages because of the variety of bands, and surely the inclusion of an American Idol contestant attracted many. From Blanche Baby, Viper Club, The Jacks, and Wade Cota with Sugarwater band, bands of the night loaded ears with a diversity of music to last us years.
Photo Gallery from Bernard Smith