“We’re the people’s band,” Kenny Vasoli said genially towards the end of a dreamy Vacationer show in Phoenix on Sunday.
Based on the late Sunday turnout, this was just a statement of fact. Valley Bar was packed for the late weekend show, with an early arrival for Sego, the evening’s only opener.
What started as indie rock quickly turned into a quirky, funky 45-minute dance party. There’s no doubt about it- Sego is, simply put, weird. It’s impossible to stick them in one genre’s box and that’s what made their set so much fun.
“Those cats are goddamn geniuses,” Vasoli said during Vacationer’s set later. While the term might be subjective, Sego is nothing short of a great time. Stick around long enough for them to bring out the cowbell and the funky piano-synth noodling. It’s worth every minute.
The crowd pressed even closer for Vacationer’s entrance. Backed by a plethora of color, Vasoli and co. jumped right into “Paradise Waiting.” The fans immediately got moving, though none could out-dance Vasoli who was clearly already having the time of his life in the intimate setting.
The former vocalist of pop-punk heavyweight The Starting Line, Vasoli has been playing in Vacationer for eight years now. 2018 saw the release of the band’s latest album, Mindset, after three long years away. Sunday was a celebration of this new creative endeavor, along with a stellar mix of the band’s older work.
Vasoli’s energy was infectious, getting eager fans up from the bar and into the crowd. One particularly excited guy yelled out loud as the band launched into “Trip” a mere three songs into the set, and the back of the room even started their own dance party as the night went on.
He constantly thanked the room for their “unconditional love” and good vibes. In a moment of cheeky fun, the band acknowledged their tour manager’s birthday by having the audience chant her name until she made a chagrined appearance onstage.
The vibe of Vacationer is very relaxed but the band made sure that the setlist kept the crowd moving. Highlights included “Everyone Knows,” “In the Grass” and Vasoli’s cute ode to his dog with “Strawberry Blonde.” As the end drew near, Vasoli raised his mug of tea and made the people’s band’s declaration.
“Encores are bullshit!” he said, before announcing they’d play through to the end without forcing the audience into the “illusion” that they’d be getting a longer set with an encore.
Vasoli was struggling with his voice towards the end of the set, but finished strong with “Good as New.” Vacationer’s floaty electro-pop and indie sound, combined with the psychedelic backdrop, felt like a trip through Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. The evening was one you’d have to experience to properly understand, and every fan left with a smile on their face, worn out from dancing the night away.
Vacationer is on tour with Sego through August 17. Several dates have sold out and tickets are moving fast, so don’t miss your chance to see this project live.
Story and photos by Olivia Khiel