I, admittedly, tend to listen to. the same music on repeat that I've listened to since 2005. Sometimes, I don't give new music the fair opportunity it deserves to maybe end up on my rotation. That's what nights like this are for (and a perk of being a concert photographer).
I've seen my friends post about K.Flay, but until tonight, I hadn't even known I heard her in a Sabrina trailer (a great song that deserved the hype it got, by the way). And tours like the one she constructed for the Inside Voices Outside Voices tour, that came through Phoenix on its final night, show exactly why the music scene deserves every stream and TikTok replay it gets.
First up was Corook. She stepped out in a bucket hat and rapped about student loans - which had everyone nodding in agreement about the pain of being fifty grand in debt over a degree. The struggles of edging on barely paying rent, surrounded in pop music. Honestly, it's the best way to handle that situation, in my experience. Other notes: if you love pizza and/or hate snakes, don't worry - she's got songs for you, too.
Next up was Kid Sistr. A three-piece band that made every instrument count, filling the Van Buren with their raw energy.
Each member took their turn with the vocals, each with a unique but unified sound. They covered "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys in a way that you didn't know you needed in your life, with each of the band members taking a verse.
Kid Sistr found their way onto my personal playlist, with their punk energy mixed with understanding of catchy riffs.
Then, the room goes dark, the energy climbs, the crowd starts cheering, the cell phones come out - in anticipation for the moment of the first look of K.Flay in person.
People reach out their hands, in hopes to get a moment of connection with their idol. (This is when it sometimes feels weird to be a photographer at a concert - you're fumbling with lighting changes and shadows, until you turn towards the crowd for a moment to see the pure joy and energy shared between an artist and their fans.)
I have this to say: K.Flay is a captivating story teller. There was a moment where I started to connect so well with her stories between songs that I momentarily forgot I was standing in the pit with a heavy camera around my neck. She created an environment where everyone in that room felt like they belonged there, even those of us that didn't know the words to sing along.