After skirting around the Valley on their Away We Go Tour, Bad Suns treated Tempe Marketplace to a free show on Wednesday as a conclusion to their tour and a preview to their new album.
Opener MRCH started things early with their brand of ethereal indie pop. The sparse crowd could be seen swaying slightly during the band’s set, but they failed to hype up the audience. The local addition to the lineup, allhumans, promised a rowdy time and it was clear who arrived to watch them play.
The group combined hip hop and rock elements for an interesting blend of genres that certainly created a more energetic atmosphere as attendees danced and huddled together to stay warm in the uncharacteristically chilly evening. They ran through a set of mostly unreleased material, throwing in a cover of the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” at the conclusion of their set.
With the arrival of Bad Suns, the crowd pushed even closer to the stage, determined to get as close as possible to charismatic frontman Christo Bowman. The band dressed to the nines in sharp suits, presenting their image straight from the cover of their latest single.
Having built a niche following early in their career, Bad Suns now inspires a juggernaut of excitable fans, all of whom knew every word to the songs in their abbreviated tour setlist. The band opened with the fitting “Away We Go” and proceeded to take us on a journey through their discography. “Swimming in the Moonlight” elicited screams of approval before transitioning into the highly danceable “Transpose”.
Bowman, guitarist Ray Libby, bassist Gavin Bennett and drummer Miles Morris played a show befitting their final night on tour. The night grew colder so the band upped the tempo to keep everyone moving through “Cardiac Arrest” and “Disappear Here”. They injected moments of their new album, playing “One Magic Moment” and “Hold Your Fire” as well.
It was almost more entertaining to watch the audience at this show – the dance moves alone distracted from the men onstage. It takes a special kind of band to draw a crowd in the cold, and Bad Suns certainly didn’t disappoint. They even dipped slightly into pop punk themes of “growing up and leaving” with “Violet”.
Bad Suns closed out the slightly shorter set with a pair of songs from 2016’s Disappear Here before adding in their typical encore tracks of “Rearview” and “Salt”.
A Bad Suns show is something that can turn casual fans into full-blown stans. The band is electric onstage, whipping the audience into a frenzy with their mere presence. And there’s simply nothing fake about it – the band is stoked to be playing and the fans feel genuine love and connection to their So-Cal faves. Arizona is a regular stop on Bad Suns tours, so the appreciative crowd left knowing it won’t be long before the band returns to rock Phoenix.
Story and photos by Olivia Khiel