by Brian McKay
Honestly, this is the review I never planned to write and wasn’t prepared for. Last night my daughter asked me to take her to a concert at the Venue at Deathproof. What seemed like it would be like the high school concerts I used to attend in the 80’s, blew me away.
Before getting into the band that has more potential than any I’ve ever seen, I must mention the venue and opening act.
There was a lot of unexpected last night. I only knew we were off to see a band that had recently played at Boise Fry Company now playing at a coffee shop. That’s nothing new. As a teen, we attended shows at private houses, Brass Lamp pizza and basically anywhere that’d let or favorite local bands play. A lot of us that grew up here remember watching Methods of Dance at Brass Lamp on Vista. That’s how it was.
That’s not how it is now. The coffee shop is called Deathproof Coffee. It sits between Savers thrift store and the Idaho Youth Ranch thrift store at Five Mile and Fairview. Looking around inside I expected the band would be playing in the open area where they were selling their merchandise (kids call it merch). Wrong. This isn’t just a coffee shop. The doors opened to a concert room big enough for about 350 people and it was amazing. Folks, this is seriously one of the best stages in town. Little bands can perform on a stage that has all the lights and effects to mimic a major concert venue. The audio engineers have their own, large, professional booth at the back of the concert area. Lasers, smoke, lights, acoustic paneling; holy shit! This place was created for concerts. Teenagers have it very good now.
Nope. Never expected that.
The opening act, College Level, was good. Really good. They were tight, accomplished with their instruments and had some great original music. Essentially, they were as good as the best bands I would go see when I was young. Some more time spent in practice together, and they deserve to be seen in some more well-known venues and hopefully at Treefort next year.
Taylor, I know you told me you were having some voice issues, but I’d still like to hear it a little more over the guitars. Tone them down just a bit. Your lyrics are really good and deserve to be heard.
Time for the The Phrets.
I never, ever, ever expected that from three kids that just graduated high school.
Fronted by Thomas Salazar on guitar and vocals with Hayden McCandless on bass and Cameron Elgart on drums, I am about to say something I never thought I would and probably never will again. These kids could literally be a top tier, national act right now.
My daughter had played a single they cut in 2018, called “I’m a Fool”, frequently in the car. It’s good. It sounded like a really impressive local band track with lots of potential. Yesterday, she had me listen to their new EP, called Dark Again, that they were celebrating with their show. Simply put, it’s very good. It doesn’t near prepare you for their live show though. That’s ok. Eventually these guys will be in front of a producer that handles major acts.
This show rocked. While I haven’t spoken with the band and don’t know their major influences, I heard tones of everything from Artic Monkeys, Muse, a little Radiohead and even some guitar riffs that might have been Black Sabbath. Despite hearing potential influences, it was all their show. Yes, they could play with any of those bands.
These kids are tight. Really tight. McCandless is an exception bass player and Elgart is diversified in approach and perfectly timed on drums. They know their instruments. Salazar is exceptional with his guitar. This isn’t a four-cord guitarist. His ability really reminded me of the excellent guitar playing at the Muse concert in fall of 2017 in its intensity and flexibility. His vocal range is very wide and so impressive. His approach can almost be sultry at times; think Artic Monkey’s latest album, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.
The songs Annabelle, Deja Vue and After Dark were a rock fan’s dream. Salazar is an engaging performer through and through. Where did he learn this stage presence at just 18?
As 18-year old’s, there was a little bit of the expected teen melancholy and maybe a little teen drama with a poem or two. But hey, they are 18. And that is what made this so unexpected. Kids that just graduated high school put on an hour and forty-five-minute show that was every bit as good as the major national acts I have seen. Only about 100 people (mostly high school kids) saw it and, apparently, it was their biggest show yet.
While their website shows no upcoming shows, I have a feeling that will be changing very shortly. I also have a feeling a few people I know might be contacting them soon. Whoever signs them first is the smartest person in the room. Let’s hope to see them at El Korah or the Main Stage next year during Treefort with a full album out.
Check out their EP on Apple Music and Spotify and know this will someday be the biggest act to ever come out of Boise, ID.