It makes sense that A Tour of the Heart is booking intimate venues, places where it’s easy to connect with the fans. The smaller settings facilitate comfort, gathering fans who support the vulnerability shown on stage — the heart behind the music. And there was certainly plenty of it from Phangs, Moontower, and PIAO at Mesa’s The Underground on Thursday night.
Singer-songwriter PIAO kicked things off with her self-described “sad girl summer” music. Eager to make an impression, she broke out the choreography for her early, upbeat songs, earning cheers from the crowd. And once her nervous energy was out, she told stories about her new single, “SFL” (searching for life), her educational path (ending with graduating from the Berklee College of Music), and her excitement around being on this tour. The crowd fell in love immediately.
Pop trio Moontower were next, declaring they missed Arizona despite being in town just a few months ago. Lead vocalist Jacob Berger spent most of their time hanging off the stage into the crowd, and the fans ate. it. up. Cruising through tracks like “Guess I’m Jaded” and “Who Knew”, the group didn’t even need to encourage singing along and participating — it was a given. In a quieter moment, Berger sat on the edge of the stage and asked for everyone’s phone flashlights to spotlight them as they talked about a new song that explores gender expression and identity. We were also treated to “Poolside”, which officially released earlier this week and is a fun peek into Moontower’s debut album.
All eyes were on Phangs to close out the show, making his triumphant return to Mesa after his last appearance at Pop Culture Music Festival 2019. Without introduction, he launched into “A Hurt Like That”, giving everyone a reason to dance. And even though he swore he doesn’t like talking, there was commentary between most songs and stories about the music: “Mandy Moore”, named for a childhood crush, and “Good Now” about optimism. The latter has been adopted by the LGBTQ+ community, he said, and he asked the crowd to sing along despite all the bad happening in the world right now.
That’s A Tour of the Heart in a nutshell — dance-ready, upbeat, feel-good music for combatting that chaos.
Check out all the photos from the show!
Story and photos by Taylor Knauf