spot_img

The Happiest Band On Earth Visits AZ: An Evening with The 502s

-

- Advertisement -spot_img
MusicLive CoverageThe Happiest Band On Earth Visits AZ: An Evening with The 502s

The Happiest Band On Earth Visits AZ: An Evening with The 502s

Bookmarked post

As the summer season rapidly approaches across America, there are few better ways to relax and unwind than a pool day, evening bonfire with friends, or a roadtrip with the windows rolled as far down as they’ll go. Though, for anyone who needs something to hold them down in the meantime, spending an evening taking in the bright harmonies of indie-folk ensemble The 502s will get the job done just as well, maybe even better!

The happiest band on Earth visits AZ: an evening with The 502s and their radiant indie-folk sound. Break out the banjos!

Following the April release of their self-titled album The 502s, the Florida-based band brought their sunny disposition to Phoenix for one of many dates on their Great American Road Trip tour. The group itself is composed of frontman Ed Isola (lead vocals, banjo), Matt Tonner (keys, electric guitar), Joe Capati (saxophone, trumpet), Sean Froelich (drums), Nick Melashenko (bass), and Graci Phillips (guitar).

Walking into The Van Buren, one would expect the numerous fans to have been lined up for entry to a tropical beach rather than a Saturday night concert. The group’s reputation and brand clearly preceded them with the unofficial dress code of Hawaiian-print shirts and vibrant color pairings. Delivering constant waves of coastal vibes that firmly grip your attention, their music does an incredible job of transporting you to a better place in time through masterful arrangements that bring out the best of each member’s respective instruments.

The happiest band on Earth visits AZ: an evening with The 502s and their radiant indie-folk sound. Break out the banjos!
The happiest band on Earth visits AZ: an evening with The 502s and their radiant indie-folk sound. Break out the banjos!
The happiest band on Earth visits AZ: an evening with The 502s and their radiant indie-folk sound. Break out the banjos!

Following a heartfelt performance by opener Zach Seabaugh, abundant with a different kind of Southern charm, the stage darkened as final preparations were made to create the space needed to contain the band’s contagious energy. After a long, excitement-filled 15 minutes of waiting, the music from the venue speakers cut out as all the lights dimmed.

The happiest band on Earth visits AZ: an evening with The 502s and their radiant indie-folk sound. Break out the banjos!
The happiest band on Earth visits AZ: an evening with The 502s and their radiant indie-folk sound. Break out the banjos!

Within just a few seconds, the first notes of “If Good Times Were Dollars” were already sailing through the air as the 6-person ensemble assumed their positions across the entirety of the stage. As rays of lights sprung to life and lit up the entire concert hall, the right side of the stage commanded attention with an immense, lit up motel-style sign reading “The 502s – Happiest Band On Earth”. Directly under the sign was Capati, who had immediately jumped into the triumphant saxophone riffs that define the most upbeat parts of the song. Clearly, the band was intent on putting a smile on every fan’s face as soon as possible, not wasting a second of their time onstage and treating every moment up there as if it were their last. The energy is well summarized within the lines of the chorus.

If good times were dollars, we’d have a million bucks.

Keen to keep their momentum going, Isola paused for barely a second before he began strumming his banjo again with the fervor of a man whose joy could never be contained. The second song of the evening, “Friday Night”, shifted the mood from purely lighthearted to more intentionally uplifting and motivational. It was a reflection of the group’s own commitment to not letting self-doubt and imaginary rules hold them back from living their life, featuring lines like “Don’t you know we’re young right now / All the doubts living in your head / Kick ‘em out babe / Tonight we live”. Each word was rapidly taken in and savored by the adoring crowd, many of whom were reaching out over the barricade as they sang along. After a wave of cheers that shook the room at the end of the song, the band again wasted no time in transitioning to their next hit. Shifting back to songs off their most recent album, the band’s gaze also shifted inward with “Perfect Portrait of Young Love”. Recounting the aura and beauty of a mystery girl that inspired the song, Isola serenaded the room once more.

Within just these first three songs, the band had already more than lived up to the moniker printed on their bright sign. As the set progressed further into the night, the stage was often little more than a trampoline for Isola and Capati as they danced and jumped around in between verses of each song. The setlist itself took the crowd through various eras of the band, including throwbacks to their debut and sophomore albums like “Like My Father”, “You Belong”, and “Olivia”.

In between songs, Phillips took a moment to deliver a heartwarming speech to the crowd, asking us to air out our troubles, whether it was a hard week at work or the throes of recent graduates entering adult life for the first time. She gently encouraged everyone to raise their hands in the air for a moment and squeeze as hard as they can, as if they had a stress ball, before letting it all go. Taking a few steps back, she soon began strumming as the uplifting tones of “Something’s Gonna Go Our Way” began. It marked a shift to a more sentimental portion of the set, one charged with an inherent sense of gratitude for the hundreds of fans that filled the concert hall just to see their music performed live. This was verbalized by Isola as he reflected on the year prior, when they had come to Phoenix and performed at the nearby Crescent Ballroom for a crowd roughly a third of the size of the current one. Seeing such drastic growth in such little time was awe-inspiring for the band, shown clearly by Isola’s smile that widened a bit more with each passing moment.

It was the perfect transition into a fan-favorite song, likely one that first introduced many people in the crowd to The 502s in the first place: “Just A Little While”. With its TikTok virality having drilled every last word into our heads, the crowd was soon belting out the chorus alongside them: “Wait just a little while and tell me where you’ve been / I’ve been staying up all night / Thinking about it / And it’s been oh so long that I’ve been feeling like this / And I know that I’ve never been more sure”. While the room had already been full of movement, the crowd exploded with joy as they bounced up and down alongside Isola. It was a touching sendoff as the set began winding down to its last few songs.

Undoubtedly, the signature upbeat folk tunes of The 502s come as close to the feeling of sunshine on your skin as a sound possibly could. The relationships between the self-proclaimed “Happiest Band On Earth” extend far past just being a band. It’s clear that the group has become each other’s chosen family and the camaraderie translates beautifully into their music. This brilliant, shining star of a band will always have a place in our sunny city of Phoenix, Arizona. We can only hope they return to share their joy with us again soon.

Show Date: 05.18.24 // Phoenix, AZ @ The Van Buren // The Happiest Band On Earth Visits AZ: An Evening with The 502s
Photos & words by Brian Mecinas

Brian Mecinas
Brian Mecinas
Based in Phoenix, Arizona! Environmentalist by day and concert photographer by night <3

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Meet The Author

Brian Mecinas
Brian Mecinas
Based in Phoenix, Arizona! Environmentalist by day and concert photographer by night <3

Let's Be Friends

- Advertisement -

Read More

An Unforgettable Night on “The Don’t Forget Me Tour” with Maggie Rogers

Maggie Rogers' The Don't Forget Me Tour descended upon Dallas, Texas, on May 31st, transforming the Toyota Music Factory...

An Exhilarating Night of Frantic Raw Emotion With Friko

Hailing from Chicago, indie-rock darlings Friko brought their hard hitting discography to The Rebel Lounge on May 29th for...

Sueños Music Festival 2024 Recap: A Weekend of Latin Music and Celebration

Sueños returned to Chicago's Grant Park this past weekend. It is quickly becoming one of Chicago's biggest music festivals,...

Categories

Bookmarked Posts

Editor's Picks

An Unforgettable Night on “The Don’t Forget Me Tour” with Maggie Rogers

Maggie Rogers' The Don't Forget Me Tour descended upon Dallas, Texas, on May 31st, transforming the Toyota Music Factory into a haven of musical...

An Exhilarating Night of Frantic Raw Emotion With Friko

Hailing from Chicago, indie-rock darlings Friko brought their hard hitting discography to The Rebel Lounge on May 29th for an exhilarating night of raw,...

Sueños Music Festival 2024 Recap: A Weekend of Latin Music and Celebration

Sueños returned to Chicago's Grant Park this past weekend. It is quickly becoming one of Chicago's biggest music festivals, drawing in a record-breaking 70k...

Get ready for Outside Festival 2024: Everything you need to know before the festival!

The first-ever Outside Festival will take place in downtown Denver from June 1-2, 2024. This new event is a one-of-a-kind celebration of everything outdoors,...

Mannequin Pussy Sold Out I Got Heaven Tour

In music, there’s something incredibly powerful about the unexpected companionship between two contrasting elements. One does not have to remain separate from the other...
- Advertisement -

You might also likeRELATED
Recommended to you