December 15, 2015 Lights & The Mowgli’s Heat Up Marquee Theatre Tempe, AZ 12-12-15 w/ K. Flay
Rising to new heights in 2015, Alternative music artists Lights and The Mowgli’s have made quite an impact on radio airwaves. Canadian born Lights, of the Synthpop realm, released her impressive third studio album, Little Machines, back in 2014, so impressive it reached number 34 on the Billboard 200. SoCal band The Mowgli’s, more of Alternative Rock elk, saved their third album release for April of 2015, and the album entitled Kids in Love struck a number one spot on Billboard Heatseekers Albums. That is why diverse music lovers rejoiced back in the Summer when the announcement came down that Lights and The Mowgli’s would be teaming up for co-headlining late Fall US tour. Begun back on November 4th, the initial tour announcement had the run ending on December 8th, but additional dates were tacked on, making the tour extend to December 13th. With the first half of the tour including support from Phases, K. Flay joined on as of November 24th, and the second to last stop came on Saturday, December 12th, when all three acts arrived at Marquee Theatre in Tempe, Arizona. A popular venue in the valley area, a large-sized crowd of all ages arrived to enjoy an evening of music that was bound to stimulate.
Up first was K. Flay, a Stanford graduate of Psychology and Sociology turned Rock musician. With a mindset of originality and determination, K. Flay (real name: Kristine Meredith Flaherty) has placed all she is into her various and unique passions. Mixing the sounds of Hip-Hop, Indie, and Electronica, K. Flay has brought a sound that cannot be classified under one particular genre. Her influences have included Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliott, Garbage, Royal Blood, and, having toured with Snoop Dogg, Third Eye Blind, and Dashboard Confessionals, she certainly shows her diversity. Releasing her debut full-length record Life As A Dog back in 2014, K. Flay has made an impressive statement in a short period of time.
Approaching the stage, K. Flay’s outward projection of music and fashion was refreshing, and to the average fan, simply unexpected from what they may have read of her. Opening with “Turn Around” from Life As A Dog, K. Flay performed a total of six from her new album, including “Thicker Than Dust,” “Can’t Sleep,” and, of course, single “Make Me Fade.” Amidst it all, she also mixed in other cuts from her EPs and two covers, Claude François’ “My Way,” and Louis the Child’s “It’s Strange.”
Her set jelled and she kept the audience moving and ready for a whole night of music. Linking all her persona’s of musical strategies perfectly, it was energizing to the audience to hear a performer be able to move all within a whole performance and mix her signature styles. Not only can she deliver on the Hip Hop structure, but she can sing and her voice carries a solid relationship of smooth and gravely. K. Flay made many new fans after her set and chances are many would be purchasing some of her music to learn more about it.
K. Flay had the crowd of over 600 music fans ready to continue rocking out the evening as the first of the headliners, The Mowgli’s, took the stage. Forming in 2010, band members Dave Appelbaum (keyboards/vocals), Colin Louis Dieden (vocals/guitar), Katie Jayne Earl (vocals/percussion), Josh Hogan (guitar/vocals), Matthew Di Panni (bass/vocals), Spencer Trent (percussion/guitar), and Andy Warren (drums) came together in March of that year to introduce their music to the world via thecollectiveca.com and bandcamp. Taking their name after a band member’s dog named Mowgli from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, they started a collective sound, and a band with a charity mission began its due course. In fact, “Be A Mowgli” has become a fan-based battle cry to work with the band members and their compassionate involvement with several fund-raising organizations to help others. With three studio albums, including their most recent, Kids in Love, The Mowgli’s stirred the crowd to dance, and sing along.
Opening with “Say It, Just Say It” from their 2013 album Waiting For The Dawn, The Mowgli’s held the stage in motion and interacted with one another as well as reaching out to their adoring fans. Dieden called out to the audience a couple of times to ‘sing along with us’ and mentioned that even though their vocals might be tired at the end of their tour, they wanted everyone to join in. Their fans were more than willing and the venue rang out in unison together over several songs including “Love Is Easy,” “Through the Dark,” and “Summertime” to name a few.
Having everyone in high spirits and enjoying themselves, their set moved on and Earl stepped forward to share with the audience The Mowgli’s latest partnership in compassionate fundraising efforts, International Rescue Committee. Stating that there is room for all of us and we need to be reaching out to help others who may not have a home. She encouraged the audience to become more involved and the band then began to play, “Room For All Of Us,” and the crowd showed they believed.
Playing an extensive set that lasted sixteen songs in total, other highlights included “Whatever Forever” and “I’m Good” before they finished out their set with “San Francisco,” off of 2012’s Sound The Drum. Interestingly, the closing song was a tune the San Francisco Giants baseball club use quite often during their games and for some of their team videos. All in all, The Mowgli’s are a delightful band filled with hope, energy, and textured, catchy songs. Those who missed their touring in 2015 now hope the band will be back around in 2016 spreading more social awareness and music.
With the fervor of music and the outreach of connection to the fans, K. Flay and The Mowgli’s complemented what was soon to be the complete evening of music before closing act Lights. Begun working professionally at a very young age of fifteen, singer/songwriter Valerie Anne Poxleitner is Lights. Honing her style and sound over the course of the last decade plus, Lights won the Pop Juno Award in 2009, toured extensively to support her music, and reached peak chart positions which each of her three studio albums, including Little Machines. A fountain of positive and uplifting attitude, she brings a solid Pop music stance to a wide range of fans. Even with the addition of a little one in 2014, Valerie with her husband, Beau Boken of Blessthefall, maintain a rigorous schedule of doing what they love, songwriting and performing.
In a dash of dramatic stage presence, Lights opened up her act under a darkened stage, with a spotlight silhouetting half of her body. Screens covered the drummer, keyboardist, and guitar player in the background behind her and bright lights donned the squared surroundings of the musicians hidden behind the screens. Her adoring fans screamed with elation and Lights opened up with, “From All Sides.” Having everyone completely entranced, she moved into a mixture of tunes including “Toes,” “Siberia,” “Speeding,” “Muscle Memory,” and “Same Sea.” Offering ambiances, melodies, electronic sounds, and a smooth voice, Lights, with the help of her excellent live band, brought each song to the crowd full of life.
About halfway through the set, Lights paused in a more relaxed and laid back approach of performance with two of their songs, and played them acoustically. The first was “Meteorites” in which she took a seat and spoke with her fans that she was suffering from, ‘Bus Plague.’ Valerie said, “I have bus plague, which is worse than the Black Plague,” and she laughed it off because nothing was going to stop her from giving her fans what they came for. She then proceeded to captivated the crowd as they joined in singing with her. The second acoustic song performed was, “Cactus In The Valley” before they transitioned back into the full electric set.
A nice break, fans were lead back into songs like “Drive My Soul,” “Portal,” and “Timing Is Everything” with a cleansed palate. Continuing to bring texture and depth, with a visually appealing live performance, Lights and company also offered recent hits like “Running With the Boys” and “Up We Go” while sprinkling in a surprise in between with 2009’s “The Last Thing on Your Mind.” Exiting the stage after a delightful performance, the audience applauded loudly, ushering in an encore where Lights performed fan-favorite “Banner.”
Lights take a fun spin in motion and movement all around the stage, dancing and incorporating a beauty to the stage that fits the overall picture of what and who Lights is. Working hard, playing hard, and a positive mix was what the Lights Tour brought. Lights herself is a genuine Pop Rock artist who has the ability and the wherewithal to bring her music to the masses; a music experience of happy and positive sounds all mixed with talent. While each act a part of the Lights Tour may have been tired, fighting flu’s and such that go with music and tour life, they triumphed through pleasing the large audience. There have already been some international tour dates announced in March of 2016 for Lights, so keep an eye pealed for more announcements bound to come down soon.