In its smoothest anniversary party yet, The Trunk Space brought a solid third-annual Indie 500 to celebrate its 12th birthday, featuring AJJ, Playboy Manbaby and more than 98 other artists. This was the final two-day celebration at the Grand Avenue location, which will be closing in May.
I arrived in time to see the majority of RØÅR’s set and it was a wonderful surprise to catch one of the most successful downtown bands on the lineup. The band successfully introduced danceable beats and changed tempos with ease. RØÅR’s sound filled the entire room, captivating the attention of a considerable crowd of about 100 through driving drums and amazingly pitched vocals.
Father-daughter band Sugar Skull Explosion was one of the most lighthearted acts to take the stage. With a confident 9-year-old who could quite possibly grow up to be Phoenix’s premier punk-rock drummer, the music proved that full-on punk could smoothly meld with Jason Kron’s signature Hug of War-style rap. The duo’s onstage banter brought smiles to the audience and a huge cheer at the end of their set.
Drawing the largest crowd of the day, AJJ put on the best Trunk Space performance I ever watched. The entire crowd sang along throughout the 10-song set, passionately chanting along from “Rejoice” to “People.” Even with a minimal performance, only utilizing acoustic guitar and bass to back vocals, the band’s energy and unique, folk-punk melodies built an exciting set with no low points — even vocalist Sean Bonnette couldn’t seem to contain his excitement, as his feet never stopped dancing for the entire set. Particularly noteworthy were performances of “Bad Bad Things” and “Sense, Sensibility,” which easily kept the audience alive and attentive.
Like many others, AJJ made sure to thank The Trunk Space for being a start to their musical success several times before handing the mic to the next musician.
Novi Split was the most charming mess I have ever seen onstage. In between forgetting the song lyrics, a diarrhea joke and complimenting his own songs, the one-man act was hilarious, talented and the perfect 10-song act to follow AJJ. The entire set was well-received by all audience members — even a potentially offensive “tribute” about Prince. There were so many highlights in Novi Split’s calm, beautifully sung set that I was driven to listen to more of the band as soon as I left The Trunk Space.
Next, What Happened to Judy Winslow? brought a calming performance, which featured a musician who had the whole crowd sitting on the ground, listening intently. To contrast, Egg Princess followed with an electric set that incorporated the best of Trunk Space punk. The band played images on the wall during an explosive set, featuring perfected incorporations of each member’s forte and a solid final performance of “Pity Parties Are Shitty Parties.”
Logan & Lucille was an act that impressed far more than I expected, even if their virtual music already made them one of the acts I most looked forward to. They opted out of using the stage and amplification, creating an intimate, endearing performance that used the space of the venue extremely well. The duo stood out with captivating, catchy tunes and well-produced harmonies in “Volatile Heart,” while Lucille Petty truly showed off her exceptional vocal variety as she sang the moving “Max.”
My day at the Indie 500 soon found a strange conclusion as Harrison Hufman and Igloo Martian both ended up sprawled on the ground at some point during their sets. But these acts showed that the Indie 500 was never just about the music. It was about how Hufman could tightly surround himself with an entire crowd for five songs and how Igloo Martian had the guts to get his hands dirty (very literally) to enthusiastically perform. It was about how the audience appreciated each performance no matter what.
Owner Steph Carrico told me that The Trunk Space was ready for a change. The Trunk Space will become a nonprofit venture and look into new locations along the light rail for easy access. But after 12 years of proving the hard work and loyal community behind the venue, it’s doubtful that a good luck wish is needed for a strong comeback by the venue. All the venue needs is the promise of a “see you later.”
The Indie 500 truly raced through 500 songs for the 2016 fest, ending in less than 48 hours with a performance by Hi My Name Is Ryan. The final show at the Trunk Space will be held on May 7, featuring artists like Jason Anderson, Fathers Day and The Dietrichs in their first reunion since 2009.
Contact the columnist at Emily.Liu@asu.edu