Arizona alternative radio station ALT AZ 93.3 threw their annual Ugly Sweater Holiday Party on Tuesday, bringing morgxn, Flora Cash and LANY to a sold-out Van Buren.
Morgxn, ALT AZ’s 2018 darling, opened the evening. His brand of positivity, acceptance and empowerment dominated the set, and he definitely brought the energy early in the night. Clad in his signature Vital jumpsuit and psychedelic glasses, morgxn gave a “big fuck you” to all the fake friends and false lovers out there, drawing huge cheers from the crowd.
Morgxn is best known for his out-and-proud approach to queer identity in music, and his message seemed to resonate with his audience. His music is honest and straightforward, touching on subjects like love, loss and the death of his father. Attendees sported handmade shirts and sweaters and morgxn declared his love for Phoenix, saying “You are what’s vital to me!”
Swedish duo (and real-life couple) Flora Cash occupied the middle set, filling The Van Buren with neon light and ethereal pop. Flora Cash’s music can best be described as the soundtrack to your wildest daydreams, but they failed to capture the attention of a good portion of the crowd. Mixing acoustic guitar with electronic experimentation, the lengthy set seemed to blur together as the audience broke off to talk or hit the bar in anticipation of the headliner.
It’s been over a year since LANY visited Arizona, and they wasted no time in creating the same atmosphere as last time- and with new music in tow, the fans were there for it.
LANY has truly captured their niche. Power pop meets a distinctive 80’s sound to create a band that wants you to dance and cry, preferably at the same time. Opening with “Thick and Thin” from their latest release, cell phones were hoisted high and voices raised for LANY’s dance party.
Singer Paul Jason Klein dominated the focus of the crowd with his dancing and personal interactions with the front row of adoring fans. Many brought bouquets of roses, which Klein accepted- the audience’s Prince Charming from Malibu.
LANY’s set was a mixed bag of old favorites and new tracks from this year’s Malibu Nights. “4EVER!” and “pink skies” are fan favorites from the early days of the band, but the singing was loudest on recent single “Thru These Tears” towards the end of the night.
Klein, flanked by guitarist Les Priest and drummer Jake Clifford Goss, gave the fans silly and sensual in turns, directing bedroom eyes at the front row before picking up the energy with his dance moves.
The sold-out crowd spent LANY’s 16-song set dancing and swaying, as the band slowed things down with “Hericane”. Klein expressed the band’s gratitude to ALT AZ for taking a chance on them when they were first getting started, playing their early music on the airwaves before LANY’s superstardom exploded. Fans continued to throw roses at Klein, and he returned to the barricade to snap pictures and video from fans’ phones.
All too soon, the daydream was over. LANY closed with the standard “ILYSB”, closing out ALT AZ’s concert season to perfection and promising to always return to Phoenix.
Story and photos by Olivia Khiel