Tucson's Best Showcase at Rialto Theatre, Sunday, July 14

Marking the Tucson Rock Alliance's fourth anniversary of staging concerts, the TRA and Miss CJ Promotions held another "Tucson's Best" showcase at the Rialto Theater—this time without any genre theme—featuring five local bands they presumably wanted to celebrate with.

Up first were Whiskey Knuckles, a quartet with a self-consciously dangerous stance. While they're obviously going for a garage-punk sound with echoes of outlaw rockabilly and risqué blues, at the end of the day they sound closest to the Cult's late '80s college rock/AC/DC hybrid. Their strongest song sounded like Mötley Crüe, complete with a close-your-eyes-and-it's-Vince Neil vocal workout. They also dedicated their hard rockin' cover of Hall & Oates' "Maneater" to a fan named Wes. Happy Birthday, Wes!

Powered Wig Machine performed a tight set of total rawk, not to be confused with its cousin, regular rock. Their hybrid of Kyuss' stoner metal and the pop sensibilities of Stone Temple Pilots was enhanced by Danzig-style singing and loads of wah-wah guitar. Powered Wig Machine is similar to a lot of bands that say they sound like Black Sabbath's music but are more informed by Sabbath's aesthetic, which makes for great meat and potatoes rock.

Up next was power trio The Wolfgang. I don't think they're named after Eddie Van Halen's son, but you never know. The band's songs, with the exception of a few instrumental fly-aways, were concise and catchy.

Instrumental four-piece Shattered Systems introduced themselves with a faux-classical nightmare perfect for a horror movie. Sometimes they resembled King Crimson's discordance; at others DragonForce's Euro-metal bombast. After every song the guitarist asked, "How was that one?" If I were a music theory professor I'd say, "A+!"

Closing out the night was Blueshift Odyssey, a metal band in transition. When I last saw them play in January, they were name-checking Syd Barrett but playing blast-beat grindcore. On this night as an instrumental trio (I was informed by a fan that their singer was out of town), they finally integrated '60s psychedelia into an improbable fusion of Ummagumma and Napalm Death. Fascinating, to say the least.


More by Joshua Levine


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