Despite featuring the debut of one band and two others that are relatively new, Friday's crowded Plush show was full of longtime local musicians.
Between them, Brass Hands, Hollow Hills and Church Key represent membership in a host of great Tucson bands over the past decade—Sleep Driver, Blues, Is to Feel, American Black Lung, Holy Rolling Empire, Garboski, Gentlemen of Monster Island, Good Talk Russ and many more—and most of the musicians have played in each other's bands in the past.
Brass Hands led off, playing to an enthusiastic and friendly crowd. The band—Andrew Francis on keyboard and vocals, Adam Kirchler on guitar and vocals, Mark Williamson on guitar, Connor Woods on bass and Timothy Steehler on drums—plays a heavy brand of rock that makes good use of counterbalanced guitar and keyboard melodies, with two singers adding another layer of complexity. The set closer was the sort of brooding, slow-build epic that sets on a crowd like a storm.
Hollow Hills brought their own light show to accompany the head-banging riffs and heavy-metal wailing of light operator and singer Dave Mertz. The rest of the band—Nick Hoenig on guitar, Mike Roberts on bass and Rudy Bagalini on drums—shifted from thudding hardcore to swirling psychedelic rock, building to a wild set closer, "Death City."
Church Key thrives on the complex interplay between guitarists Corey Reidy and Beau Bowen and the nimble bass of Garth Bryson, with drummer John Gimmler leading the time-signature shifts that propel the songs forward.
On songs from The New Travel Plan EP like "Hey Remember" and "Or Cancel," the band can deliver catchy melodies as well as burst into careening instrumental passages. New songs like "Courthouse" build on that formula, tightly crafted songs that explode with nervous energy.
All three bands play across the quiet-loud spectrum, working in passages of tension and release, but they're all best when playing full throttle.