Phoenix’s own Lydia celebrated the 10-year anniversary of Illuminate with back-to-back sold out shows in Phoenix this weekend.
Atlas attended the second night, where the indie rockers were joined by fellow Arizonans Anarbor and New Heat for an evening of warmth and nostalgia.
New Heat may have only entered the scene in the last year, but they’ve quickly established themselves as a talented musical force. Singer Austin Jones started the set with “Keep on Talkin’”, a new track infused with elements of hip hop, steady beats and a cacophony of sounds and effects that got the room bobbing to the rhythm. Bassist/keyboardist Chris Crimmins provided vocal backup, effortlessly switching between instruments. The band played songs from their debut EP and made sure to add in their ever-popular (and unexpected) cover of Kendrick Lamar’s “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe”.
Crescent Ballroom filled to the brim as the night continued its homage to hometown heroes with a set by Anarbor. The band opened with “Freaking Out”, starting a party of a set. The audience was prepared, singing along to their classic tunes and rocking out to their new material.
Vocalist Slade Echeverria thanked Lydia for continuing to support them as musicians and friends and waxed poetic about the influence of Illuminate on the Arizona scene and beyond as the record enters a decade of existence. They played “Paint This Town” and “Already Dead” in Lydia’s honor, before closing the set with “Who Cares?” and “Can’t Help It”.
Lydia took the stage to a roar of approval, with each member smiling widely at the reception. Frontman Leighton Antelman was loose and comfortable onstage, his signature breathy vocals nearly drowned out by the fans singing along. Antelman embraced it, turning his mic towards an eager crowd.
The band played Illuminate in order and the opening notes of “This is Twice Now” plainly brought back memories of much younger days for the audience. Much of the room stood, drinks in hand, reminiscing on high school and beyond between songs. Shouts of “Leighton, you saved my life” echoed after “Hospital”, as pianist Matt Keller expressed the band’s gratitude for their decade-long career.
Halfway through the album, Antelman took the stage solo for a beautiful acoustic rendition of “All I See”. The band closed out their most popular record with “Now the One You Once Loved is Leaving”. The bond between Antelman, Keller and Shawn Strader seemed visibly stronger than ever. They shared excited smiles and jokes onstage, leaning on each other in the way that 10 years together encourages.
The excitement was far from over. Forgoing a traditional pause before an encore, Keller instead returned to officiate a sweet proposal between two of the band’s biggest fans.
“ I was in the back, did she say yes?” Antelman joked after the band returned for a four-song encore. They made sure to touch on each era of Lydia, adding in songs from 2013’s Devil, along with Run Wild and the recently-released Liquor. Even after this career-spanning set, the crowd wasn’t ready to let their local favorites go. The band obliged by sticking around for drinks and an impromptu meet and greet with every fan eager for a moment with the elusive trio.
This celebration of Illuminate brought show-goers out of the woodwork, reminding longtime and brand new fans alike why Arizonans are endlessly proud of their local music scene history.
Story and photos by Olivia Khiel