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Show Review: The Unlikely Candidates kick off 2022 at Phoenix’s Crescent Ballroom

Not known for ever sitting still, The Unlikely Candidates rejected the idea of easing into the new year and instead brought their raucous energy to Phoenix’s Crescent Ballroom on Tuesday night.

Local blues rockers The Deadbeat Cousins rearranged their lineup after their drummer called out sick (“Not COVID,” they assured) and powered through an acoustic set to kick things off. It was a rare treat to see another side of the group, and they were making the most of it by joking with the crowd and thanking everyone for not boo-ing them off the stage. 

“Adapt & overcome” was the theme of the night, as openers The Criticals had to drop off the tour due to COVID just hours before their set. But the show must go on, and The Unlikely Candidates launched into their set early with “Your Love Could Start a War” and plenty of flashing lights. 

The Unlikely Candidates are a group whose music is a sneaky staple of any alt rock playlist, and this is never more apparent than when they play live. “Oh My Dear Lord” and “Novocaine” immediately come to mind, but deeper cuts like “Best Things in Life Are Free” and “Violence” are just as impactful. Just don’t assume there aren’t any surprises—their cover of The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” elicited wide smiles all around. 

New year, new opportunities for live music and a jam-packed 2022 with high energy shows like this one. Here’s hoping every gig is this fun. 

Story and photos by Taylor Knauf