“Frenzy” is the best word to describe the process of getting through the door and positioned as close as possible to the stage for The Band CAMINO’s sold out show at downtown Phoenix’s Valley Bar on Thursday night. The mostly-underage crowd was drunk, sweaty, and hyped to see their new favorite band.
The Love of the Game Tour, which also features Nashville pop rock group Hardcastle, actually sold out entirely by the end of January. The Band CAMINO blew up seemingly overnight, skyrocketing from opening slots on smaller tours when the core of their original fanbase had to show up to 200-cap clubs on quiet weeknights. Now, though, they have their own pack of screaming girls and are thriving.
Hardcastle is an easy sell to that kind of crowd, creating similar melodic pop songs with the rock edge that gets your heart pumping. They strive for authenticity and build songs by letting each band member add their own touch to a basic blueprint, and the final product is well-produced on their records and equally resonant live. Their music is enough of a draw, but frontman Graham Laderman’s good looks seal the deal for unfamiliar showgoers. Shouts of, “Take your shirt off!” peppered the cheering.
The band, which comprises brothers Graham and Miles Laderman, Val Hoyt, and Noah Christian, lives on the same street as their tour mates, and the groups are now friends. As a headliner, The Band CAMINO is repaying the favor of bringing their friends on tour, just as they were brought on The Dangerous Summer’s 2018 tour with Microwave. The bands showed genuine appreciation for each other during their respective sets, reflecting on the tour that ends in Austin on March 2nd. And that realization that the tour is coming to a close—boosted by the rowdiness of the room—inspired both bands to rip through their sets with gusto.
Hardcastle was the perfect primer once the infectious energy spread to them. The band members took turns hamming it up at center stage and leaning above the crowd while rocking out, and the singalongs were aplenty. The then-converted fans had released some of their excitement, sure, but they caught their second wind before the headliner even made it to the stage.
Shrieks abounded professing love for the trio, who seemed equal parts shocked and excited about the state of their crowd. They wasted no time launching into the anthemic “What I Want,” building into a crescendo of effortless harmony.
There were quick introductions and thank you’s, but frontman Jeffrey Jordan was mostly baffled by how loudly the crowd was singing their songs back to them. In response? A shy shout of, “You’re so beautiful!” Spencer Stewart (vocals/guitar/keys), and Graham Rowell (bass) grinned at each other with knowing expressions while Jordan tousled his hair and tried to stay focused.
The Band CAMINO pulled from their two EPs and multiple singles dating back to 2016 and even played some yet-unreleased material—“The Internet,” which is a live staple—that they’re contemplating not even recording so it can be exclusive to their shows. There was also some commentary about the tour and an extra bit added to “California” that went, “Drove all the way from California…literally!”
It’s hard to say that any one song was the crowd favorite, but “Berenstein” and “I Spend Too Much Time in My Room” were early contenders. Phones filled the air, and the “Whoop whoop!” chants and wannabe moshing paused for a few minutes where fans just watched, starry eyed and captivated. The hype was clear, but nobody could have predicted the moment of pure magic when all chatter and background noise died during “The Black and White,” and the mesmerized crowd’s chorus of voices filled the venue.
The spell gave way to early track “My Thoughts on You” and a high-energy encore of new release “Something to Hold Onto” and the self-described ‘punch you in the face’ guitar-driven rock song “Daphne Blue” that left band and crowd alike hot, sweaty, and out of breath. The building almost shook with the final uproar of cheers.
80s-inspired pop rock is nothing new, but a few bands are changing the game and defining the next generation of the genre that’s rife with power riffs and creative melodies. These artists are the ones with the fans who sell out venues, and they’re the ones worth paying attention to. Their records give a hint, but the live show tells the rest of the story. Don’t miss the memo: The Band CAMINO are poised for stardom.
Story and photos by Taylor Gilliam