Where they lack in air conditioning, they made up for in culture: that was apparent as I squeezed my way through the red door that donned the words “The Trunk Space” and was immediately greeted by a ocular goldmine for music junkies and hipsters alike. There were carts of dollar records for sale, hand-made necklaces and varying books about hot pop culture topics pinned in an absurd and ironic way that attracts the smart asses of the world.
This tiny haunt in the heart of Phoenix, was hot. Just so very hot. Sweat was pooling on my face as I surveyed my surroundings, and checked out the sites, namely the snow cone machine and the $3 dollar photo booth. The free programs that lay strewn on a bookshelf near a wall, served as a hand fan for the night ahead. Barely large enough to contain seventy people, The Trunk Space caters to smaller local bands and their devoted following: make a sharp turn and you risk elbowing someone in the gut.
The first band to play was One Four Fives, the quartet was comprised of four boys, a few of which I recognized from my days in high school. Their loud and intense set was full of energy and ear-piercing guitar riffs, the banging drums drowned out most of the vocals, but it did not hinder their performance, it just lent to the cataclysmic, raucous affect that the music delivered. After a short twenty minutes, One Four Fives was done playing. The crowd dispersed for some smoke and gossip in the small parking lot that was segmented off with ominous barbed wire and featured a bed of gravel for the cars to rest.
I stayed inside and snatched up a seat before they were claimed, I needed that perfect spot to photograph the next band, Colorado-born septet Ska Skank Redemption. The front line of musicians appeared from the side door and set up the instruments, a menagerie of pretty brass: trombones, saxophones, and trumpets; along with the usual stuff like guitars and a pristine drum-set. Vocalist, Mark Kinz, riled up the crowd immediately, rousing everyone to get energized as the music began to play; the crisp slams on the drums rendered a perfect upbeat sound that had the small audience clapping within seconds.
The trumpeter, the pixie-haired and adorable, Hannah Lewis, played off to the right side of Kinz, dancing in all her bare-footed glory to each song. Ska Skank Redemption is a smooth blend of ska, rock and reggae infusions, which combined with infectious, thrilling energy had their fans captivated: by the third song, the front of the crowd started a congo-line around the small venue, led by Kyle Etges, the alto saxophonist/vocalist. The band was directly involved with each passing second of the melody and crowd reception, Kinz even jumped to the ground as he played the trombone, spinning on his back to the uproarious respond of the fans: both old, and you new enthusiasts would be impressed. Their music swept up the room in brassy, funk energy that I can only compare to that of Sublime at both their “Caress Me Down” and “Seed” moments. I was thoroughly impressed with the performance. Proceeding the encore, they thanked the audience and complimented us on our ability to withstand the summer heat in Phoenix, for they were set to leave the valley the following day, to travel to the next stop on their tour.
After a brief chit chat with the Ska Skank Redemption, I went out to bask in the swampy August air before returning ten minutes later for the final band, newcomers Rabid Whole Logic who played an alluring blend of indie trip-hop infused with funk rock. There synchronized playing would often be broken up by rap verses similar to early Gym Class Heroes. The ginger-haired violinist was absolutely captivating, along with the rest of the musicians who maintained exciting energy and expressed immense gratitude for the audience from the first song to the last. A friendly and jovial group, they passed out free CDs to the spectators and promptly disbursed as the lights went up. The crowd vacated The Trunk Space and vanished into the night, “great show, yeah great show” I could overhear the many conversations, as I left the venue with free music in my hand and a smile on my face.
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