Words + Photos By: Angela RoseRed
It was a dark and stormy evening for Spotlights’ stop in Arizona on their Love and Decay North American tour. Those who are familiar with warm Phoenix summer nights know that intense rain showers are few and far between. Taking this into account, it was almost as if the music gods had carefully choreographed dreariness to create a perfect metal-infused ambiance. Streets were empty, but despite the weather, there was a decent turnout at the Valley Bar for an intimate Tuesday night show.
The lineup commenced with Phoenix’s own Sorxe. Although the local band was not direct tour support, one could have easily mistaken that notion. It was undeniable why they were chosen for the bill. Their robust sound and psychedelic nuances had the crowd hooked. The sludge trio proved themselves right away and played a solid doom prelude throughout, which unapologetically set the show’s tone.
Next up was Austin’s Vampyre who came in fast, hard, and violent. Their piercing thought-provoking lyrics and intense sounds surely summoned some darker metal forces. The bassist thrashed steadily from start to finish. Meanwhile, the guitarist raged in his own right. He used many pedals to distort and create complexity in his output. The lead singer also used a tape deck to cleverly modulate sounds in between his colossal screams. During the set’s crescendo, the drummer had a possessed wide-eyed stare as he gazed beyond the audience. The glare was reminiscent of Bela Lugosi, which could make one question if there is some truth to the band’s name. This was not an act on anyone’s account, rather the band being truly being encompassed by its performance vibes.
Finally, headliners Spotlights took the stage. The room quickly transformed to pitch black. Adorned on amp cabs were small beams of neon blue lights, which created a spacey atmosphere. There were no disputes with this creative choice since crowd members were eagerly waiting to be truly enveloped in the experience. Trance like instrumental echoes juxtaposed with soft, harmonious, vocals and a side of screams really took the audience to another place. The guitar and bass distortion alongside the heavily steady drumbeats created a full dream-like state that still had an essence of metal glaring in your face. There was a natural ebb and flow that authentically allowed each member to have their own “spotlight” musically, but the synergy was never lost. Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, Spotlights has an impressive following, which was proven on the unlikeliest of weekday show nights outside of their hometown. It was a transcendent experience and ignited a unified force, drawing listeners into their intense sound. Each member played as if they were presenting to a crowded stadium, instead of a cozy venue setting. That commitment to the performance was an intrinsic reflection of their dream sludge narrative.