ARIZONA with Mikky Ekko and Electric Guest - October 27, 2018, Hill Auditorium
By: Matisen Douglas
“ARIZONA along with openers Mikky Ekko and Electric Guest treat Ann Arbor to a night of indie pop and sweet harmonies”
Arriving at Hill Auditorium on October 27, the excitement in the lobby is hard to miss. Several girls with glitter sprinkled in their hair chatter like they’re trying to keep their voices down, attendees staring anxiously at the doors, waiting for them to open, and security discreetly side-eye one another, waiting for their cue. A few moments pass in the dim, warm lighting—a welcome change from the drizzly cold outside—and soon my heart starts to beat faster in anticipation of finding my seat. Someone eventually asks when the doors will be open, and, not knowing the answer, security becomes more anxious as time stretches on.
Finally, the doors open and the lobby-dwellers become audience members in their plush, velvet seats. When Mikky Ekko takes the stage, screams from his fans welcome him. “This is my first time here,” he remarks before diving immediately into his set. Throughout, he moves his entire body in a tightly fitted leather jacket and displays an intense connection with his accompanying musicians. His sweet falsettos join in with his easy-going vibe, which was backed up by his constant reminder that we all “have a friend in Nashville.
By the end of his set, everyone is ready to sing along to the song they know best: “Stay,” the iconic song he wrote and recorded with Rihanna. “It took a long time for me to come to terms with this song right after I wrote it,” he admits before walking through the crowd, hugging everyone as they sing the bittersweet lyrics right back to him.
When Electric Guest walks onto the stage after a short intermission, everyone seems ready to dance. Each audience member stands, so quickly that it feels like royalty has just walked onto the stage. Asa Taccone, the lead singer, saunters out wearing a glittery mask that seems as though it would be quite obstructive, a hunch that he later confirms, ripping it off: “I knew this was going to be a terrible choice.”
As they make their way through their well-known songs like “Oh, Devil” and “This Head I Hold,” along with some that seem new to almost everyone, the audience is moving with the high energy of the bandmates as we’re constantly being told we’re beautiful by the gleeful Asa. Their music feels uplifting, retro-inspired, and their harmonies are even better in person, a perfect transition from Mikky Ekko’s slightly more indie vibe to headliner ARIZONA’s animated feel.
What’s interesting about ARIZONA (the band, not the state, as they kindly remind us) is that they’re newer to the music scene than both of their openers: they released music together for the first time in 2017. In between reminders to stay hydrated, the sound system fails us. Fortunately, impassioned fans and the spirited band members keep morale high by continuing to sing, demonstrating just how much circumstance has very little to do with the enjoyment of music itself. As long as there’s music and people to play it, people will listen and sing along.
Eventually, it was the end of their set—a sad moment for extreme fans and general concert-goers alike, but an inevitable one nonetheless. Yet, we left invigorated; the band made sure of that. After playing “People Crying Every Night,” a song that didn’t make it onto their debut album, but is one that holds intense meaning for the band, lead singer Zach Hannah reminds everyone how important it is to be chasing a dream, no matter what it is: “If you’re not doing what you love, you’re wasting your time.”