Grayscale Dazzles @ The Nile Theater

Grayscale at the Nile Theater in Mesa, Arizona on Sunday, July 17, 2022. (Photo credit: Jess Beck)

BY JESS BECK | Go Venue Magazine

07.17.2022 Grayscale Dazzles @ The Nile Theatre

You know it’s gonna be a good show when you drive up to the venue and there’s a line down the block. But I wouldn’t expect anything less from Grayscale fans – they know a good show when it gets announced. And the line was BEAUTIFUL. Everyone from the goth geeks to the chipper cheerleaders, from people as young as 12 up to…well…my age (yes, I’m to that point now and making peace with it) made their way down to the Nile Theatre on Sunday, July 17, 2022, to see what would be a wide range of talent and playing styles as The IvyBearingsGuardin, and Grayscale converged together to put on a blistering display of lights, movement, and incredible music.

Alright, time for my famous backstory portion of the article.

I covered Grayscale back in Omaha, Nebraska in 2019 at a venue called The Waiting Room…and I was hooked. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a fan for a long time (I have a tattoo for their song “In Violet” for reference), but any chance I can get to a Grayscale show…I’m gonna do it, and since it had been a few years, I jumped at the chance to get to this one.

Walking into the Nile Theater that night, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know the opening acts. I purposely chose to not look them up before they played because I wanted to be surprised.

And surprised I was!

Kicking off the night was a band called The Ivy, a pop-synth nostalgic sounding trio from Oklahoma. They weren’t at all what I was expecting, but in such a good way. They laid down a series of smooth, solid tunes that really set the mood for the night. They’re like if electronic 80s tunes had a baby with an Indie producer with lyrics written by Deaf Havana (who are still on my bucket list, don’t worry).

Fucking insane, and stupid good.

The band as a whole looks like they could all either be your plug, work at a local pet rescue, or both. I had a chance to chat with keyboardist Shawn (who looks like A.C. Slater from Saved by the Bell) after the show to thank them for putting on such a good show, and he was such a nice dude. So get your blunts out, get a few cold brews (they better be craft brews you know), and check them out on Spotify as they’ve got a new EP dropping on Friday. Notable tracks for me were “Better In My Head,” “Have You Ever Been In Love,” and “Gold.”

Up next was a band called Bearings – and holy shit did they pick up the pace! They are arguably the next big thing coming through on the pop-punk wave, and they are every bit worth a listen. Singer Doug Cousins put on a blistering performance, and it was so cool to see the younger generation singing along and getting invested in good music early on (at least it keeps them off my lawn). “Sway” was a big hit for me, and it might be the track I play on repeat this week. The 5 piece had so much energy, and you could tell that they were excited to play, which is something I look for in bands.

Their music however is hauntingly human. They’re messy. They are, in every sense of the word…US. They encourage their listeners to embrace the haphazardness of life, and it certainly comes across in their passion and performance. Notable tracks for me include “Sway,” and “Shaking Your Mind.” Their new release “Hello, It’s You” is on every major streaming platform under Pure Noise Records – give it a spin and embrace the chaos of life!

Ok – this is where things got weird. So, if you’ve been following my articles for a while now, you know that I’m still sort of new to the Phoenix Metro. And weather-wise right now, we are in what the locals refer to as “monsoon season.”

Well…as Luke Combs says, “When it rains it pours!”

After Bearings wrapped up their set, the Nile made an announcement that there was going to be a possible power outage due to the amount of rain that was coming down, and although there was a little flicker here and there, they encouraged everyone to stay hydrated, and to take it easy for a few minutes. And it shows the level of respect that people have for this venue and for each other (which is one thing I love about pop-punk shows). People started sitting down next to each other, having conversations, playing UNO, and it was just a really cool thing to witness all of these humans huddled together inside the venue making sure everyone was alright. And thanks to the top-notch (and hilarious) staff at the Nile, we made it through the worst of it without incident!

Next up was Guardin (pronounced like ‘garden’ but I guess spelling isn’t a concern for this generation), and I have to be honest, I think that his set would’ve been better placed for a different tour altogether. I’m not saying that the dude was bad by any means, but it certainly wasn’t expected to have mumble rap open for the likes of Grayscale. Just seemed like an odd choice, especially since every band that had played before him were storytellers, and then Guardin came out and from time to time it sounded like he was stuck on repeat.

Sure, you could argue that he fit in the sense that his lyrics are self-deprecating, depressive monologues, but the beat was so heavy that he was difficult to hear (something that drives me insane), and his stage person (hype guy?) who looked like a TMNT reject kept using flash on their camera which was really distracting. If he had opened up for the likes of Post Malone, that would’ve made more sense to me, but I don’t get to pick the bands, so…here we are.

After a changeover though, and with much anticipation, Grayscale graced the stage.

And they were BETTER than when I covered them in 2019. The light show was still amazing, but their performance felt tighter than when I had seen them last. The band from Philly took control of the whole room, pumping out hit after hit in such a Grayscale way that only they could deliver. Frontman Collin Walsh left it all on that stage. They played hits from “Adornment,” “Nella Vita,” and their new project “Umbra” released on Fearless Records.

One thing I appreciate about Grayscale is that they aren’t afraid to try new things. Nella Vita is arguably their best production, but Umbra has some bangers on it too, and I really enjoyed hearing stories from each album during their set.

Another cool thing about this band is that their fan base is LOYAL. They knew the words to every song (I mean, I did too, but that’s not the point), and the crowd brought the energy to match the performance. It’s not necessarily music you’d expect to find people moshing and crowd-surfing to, but people did it anyway, and you could see a smirk from Collin as he witnessed the enthusiasm of those he was there to entertain. They’ve got a few more dates left on the tour, and if you’re in one of the cities that they have left to play – GO SEE THEM – you won’t be disappointed. Notable tracks for me included “In Violet,” “Baby Blue,” “Forever Yours,” and “Painkiller Weather.”

As always, a big, BIG thank you to the awesome and personable staff at the Nile Theatre. You guys really do a stand-up job of making sure everyone’s taken care of, safe, and having a great time. Also, big props for kicking that AC on full blast for the show. I know I gave ya hell for Neck Deep, and that was probably premature criticism, being from Nebraska and still figuring out how outside factors can play into venues down here. I absolutely love photographing in this venue, and you all should be proud of the environment you’ve created down here for music lovers!




The Ivy

All images © Jess Beck

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