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Show Review: The Rocket Summer celebrates 20 years of ‘Calendar Days’ with jubilant AZ tour kickoff

It was just a calendar day- but the second one spent with The Rocket Summer’s Bryce Avary in less than one year. Phoenix fans packed The Rebel Lounge on Tuesday night to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of Avary’s debut album, Calendar Days, and were treated to an extra special set full of favorites from every record in his discography.

Los Angeles-based Arizona native Cali Rodi opened the show with a short and sweet set of songs from her debut EP. Rodi’s energy was infectious and she got the growing crowd giggling and swaying along before closing her set with a throwback cover of Miley Cyrus’ “7 Things”.

Hellogoodbye’s Forrest Kline hopped on this tour with Avary as well, providing an acoustic interlude before the main event. What started as a lighthearted meandering through Hellogoodbye’s hits quickly turned into Kline’s version of the Shrek rave- complete with EDM remixes and flashing lights. After a Smash Mouth sing a long, Kline successfully had the full room pumped for Avary’s headlining set. 

Avary has been teasing this tour for some time and he decked out Rebel’s intimate stage with a backdrop of the mural art painted in commemoration of the Calendar Days album artwork. Combined with the LED setup and Avary’s plethora of pedals and instruments, the tiny venue was transformed into his traveling studio. He joked that this tour kickoff was the first official run through of the complete set, making it a night of firsts for the upcoming series of shows. 

Starting off with one of his signature instrumental loops, Avary got behind his drum kit, picked up a guitar and tickled the keys before segueing right into “So Much Love” and- because he was in Arizona- “Hills and Valleys”. With that warm up behind us, it was then time for the Calendar Days album playthrough. Many of these songs have not been heard in a live environment in the better part of 20 years so getting the chance to revisit such formative tracks was clearly emotional for both Avary and his fans.

As is tradition, he picks a song to head out into the crowd and this time it was a soulful acoustic rendition of “That’s So You”. A respectful audience formed a polite circle and sang along softly before Avary picked the energy right back up to close out the first half of the set.

Watching Avary perform has always felt like hanging out with friends and jamming around someone’s backyard campfire and this show retained those perfect vibes when he re-emerged to take requests to kick off part two. Plenty of titles were thrown around but Avary eventually settled on an abbreviated version of “200,000” before jumping into “Brat Pack”.

Phoenix also marked the debut performance of Avary’s latest single and, despite the song being out less than a week, the crowd raised their voices for “Don’t Be Yourself”- prompting an ear to ear grin from the man onstage. As promised, he delivered at least one song per album and it was a joy to sing along to “Shatter Us” and the classic “Do You Feel”.

The Rocket Summer’s setlist was indeed a marathon of songs but it still felt like the night came to a close far too early. With a stunning and emotional final song of “So In This Hour”, fans took that last opportunity to harmonize with Avary and cross their fingers that he’ll return to Arizona very soon.

Check out all the photos!

Story and photos by Olivia Khiel