METROnome: Cigarettes After Sex sells out its first Phoenix show



With no greeting or comment, Cigarettes After Sex walked onstage seemingly clad in all black and let the music do the introduction at its first Phoenix show at Crescent Ballroom.

Playing to a sold-out crowd with a wide age bracket ranging 16 and older, frontman Greg Gonzalez dove into songs from the band’s self-titled debut album.

The group transitioned from one ethereal tune to another, interrupted only by the eruption of applause between songs.

Visually, the show was reminiscent of black-and-white ’60s French new-wave films, filling the backdrop of the room with recurring projections of grainy stills, an active winter scene and flashing lightning. All scenes shifted with the cadence of the music in perfect tempo.

If one was to compare the recorded album with the live rendition, it would be hard to find any difference — not an easy feat.

During ‘K.’, the sound of the drums and guitar echoed throughout the room, as if in a large cathedral, and the clear bass presence carried the verse from one to the next.

As Gonzalez commented briefly before some songs, attendees would have found it hard to miss the juxtaposition between his deep, gravelly speaking voice and his soft, androgynous singing voice, hinting at his wide vocal range.

Song after song served as a testament and soundtrack to match the band’s moniker, with one added bonus, a rendition of R.E.O. Speedwagon’s ‘Keep on Loving You’.

Comparing both interpretations, what stands out most in CAS’s slowed-down version is the shift from the original’s ’80s arena-rock anthem sound to an almost nostalgic inner monologue.

Cleverly ending the show with ‘Apocalypse’, a song which lyrically alludes to endings, the band went from a verse that evokes the feeling of being comfortably numb to calamity, and then shifted into a chorus sung by Gonzalez with a type of swing-pop melody.

In predictable concert fashion, the band exited the stage shortly after ‘Apocalypse’, before returning to perform two more songs, ‘Please Don’t Cry’ and ‘Dreaming of You’, as if truly saying goodbye with song titles.

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