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Rubber Brother Records step up with Crescent Ballroom performances

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The crowd that filed out to see Playboy Manbaby and three other Rubber Brother-related bands this past Saturday night at the Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix quite impressed it's lead singer Robbie Pfeffer.

"I must say, we usually fill spaces that are about one-fifth this size," Pfeffer said to the audience of a couple hundred young faces and legal-age drinkers.

Those in attendance mainly consisted of an under-21 crowd, evident by endless fair complexions that filled the tear-shaped divider which molded itself around half the stage. After each show, the audience in the barricade grew more bloated as the number of teens spread closer and closer to the bleachers in the back.

Two of the main acts, The Thin Bloods and Playboy Manbaby recently released new albums and the performances at the Crescent acted as a release party for the bands.

Every one of the four acts built off the last, with the live performances being gradually fine-tuned. The two opening acts, including The Thin Bloods, received the brunt end of it, requesting the sound technician in the back to modify the audible levels of vocals or stage lights. The bands, on average, played about six to sevens songs apiece.

Snakes! Snake! Snakes! was the least effective act of the night, although, in their defense, it didn't help they went first and preceded Boss Frog. The band carried a psychedelic aesthetic, yet their sound is richer than that description.

Saxophonist Austin Rickert's segments recalled Andy Mackay's early work with Roxy Music, while lead singer Jack Bennett had a playful blues-frontman presence funneled through Danny Elfman.

Despite a larger venue, the underground aesthetic of small spaces carried over to the show at the Crescent. People actively moshed, jumping up and down, often tipping into adjacent audience members, and moving them forward a few inches. Stage-diving occurred wholesale. The closer you were to the stage, the unmistakable scent of humid pressure-cooker sweat was apparent. It was appropriate, yet glorious.

The Thin Bloods followed afterward, faithfully replicating the sounds from their latest album, "Twin Tumors, Vol. 1," including the single "Marty," which somehow concerns the protagonist from the Back to the Future film series.

Boss Frog and Playboy Manbaby proved the best acts of the night, both immensely engaging in their music and personalities. As the lead singer, Pfeffer owns the stage — both on recordings and live — singing with an incorporable devil-may-care authority.

The band were in top form for the night with a slightly quickened live performance of "Killer High Life," off their new album "Electric Babyland," an album only recorded last week. They exuded supreme confident musicianship in lines such as "You oughta try it, it's a new sen-sation" and whenever David Cosme's parts on the trumpet started.

It was a night of polished sounds that somehow included psychedelic and alternative rock, along with punk rock, which somehow meshed beautifully. The kids finally got one right!