GIG REVIEW: Avatar & Painted Wives Live at Joes Grotto, Phoenix, AZ
The demented circus came to town on Monday October 24th. The one and only Avatar came to play their first ever show here at Joes Grotto in Phoenix, Arizona. The guys had support from a few local bands Lethal Injektion, Stands with Fists and their touring mates in Painted Wives. I was completely surprised at the amount of people that showed up, it was close to a sold out show for a Monday night. It was great to see that so many people were excited to see Avatar. Unlike everyone there I was fortunate enough to say this was the second time I got to see them perform as I caught them at Bloodstock back in 2014. So I was thrilled to see their whole entire set for the first time on a smaller stage.
The first two bands were Leathal Injektion and Stands with Fists. Both were very different styles but did an amazing job opening the show. Stands with Fists had very many interesting details from what sounded like Mongolian throat singing with a Didgeridoo and interesting screaming vocal ranges from singer Jonathan Russell. Over all the crowd was into their set and had a great time.
Up next we had Painted Wives and they really shifted the energy in the room. This is the second time I was able to catch the guys and they really have a dark ambient tone and style to them. They are very old dark rock and roll with an earthy organic sound. Justin Suitor has a very captivating hypnotic voice which is really great live. The guys obviously stood out because they were polar opposite from the rest of the line up. But they gave the show a bit of musical balance. Everyone appreciated and loved their performance and that dark doom metal energy they bought to the stage.
Finally the moment everyone was waiting for had arrived. As we all stood waiting with anticipation the air in the venue grew hotter and hotter. Avatar had its 2 stage hands come set up what looked like a circus tent. After a bit Johannes Eckerström appeared on stage eager and happy as could be. He was dressed as Ring Master and proceeded so smile big and cheer the crowd. He marched with his 2 stage hand helpers who were also dressed up and they shot confetti into the air. They opened the tent and there was the band marching along to the circus music they were playing over the speakers. It was a very thought out awesome introduction that set the mood. The guys began to play and were very enthusiastic and energetic on stage. They were radiating and the fans were just as excited to see them. As they played on stage I noticed the vast amount of detail that they put into their stage clothing. Every single member looked amazing with tailored clothes that had the whole circus theme to them. From the coats, long sleeve shirts, to the buckled shoes they looked great. The guitars & bass Kungen, Tim Öhrström & Henrik Sandelin were playing on were very colorful and had intricate designs. It’s great to see a band that cares and coordinates every small detail to make sure the fans get an amazing show not just musically but visually. Although the venue became very hot all the guys powered through. They played several songs off their current new album “Feathers & Flesh” and a few other classics. The crowd response was impressive as there was never a dull moment. Everyone cheered and were pumped to see them. Over all I along with everyone in that venue were blown away by their performance. It was there first time in Arizona and we already loved them.
Over all the show was amazing. It was a very diverse line up but the combination between Painted Wives and Avatar really worked. It was an incredible unforgettable night and no one will ever forget Avatar’s first show in Arizona.