Feb 21

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Allstage Crawl: Norma Jeans

Allstage Crawl: Mad Moxxis

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Breakloose Entertainment does a great job of putting on Indie shows with multiple acts. Each show I have gone to at Norma Jeans has had a great crowd in support and some really good bands performing onstage – and this past Saturday February 16th, 2019 was no exception.

Eons Away, Trusty Fox, Nostalgic Brightlights and Mad Moxxis were the bands this night and all of them did a great job – but for the purpose of this blog I’m going to zero in on Mad Moxxis.

The band consists of Nikki May as lead vocalist, AJ Marsh on drums, Jordan Olsen on guitar & vocals, and Mark Newcombe on bass. Now I saw them quite awhile ago when I ran the Allstage Wednesday Jam at The Eastside but haven’t seen them since then – man, how time changes things.

The first thing I loved was their theme of black & yellow onstage. They dress in black and yellow clothing and Jordan and Mark have yellow guitars. Now some people might think that that is tacky, but I applaud them for digging into their creativity to come up with something aside from the boring old jeans and t-shirt ensemble. This theme gives the band an automatic jolt of onstage presence and uniqueness for the better that sets them apart from other bands I see live.

Then we get down to the meat and potatoes of what Mad Moxxis are all about “live”.

This band is a serious contender for being a great rock act, and why they don’t get offered gigs on bigger stages in bigger venues as an opening act or as part of the London Music Office program of “Host City Music Exchange” is mind boggling at the very least.

This band is the whole package.

Onstage Nikki has transformed from what I remember as a “good” singer to a “great” singer. Her voice is powerful, and her range has expanded greatly since I last heard her. She totally dominates the stage with her singing, there is no being on a cell phone when this lady has the mic – it’s all eyes on board. Add to that her exceptional stage presence – and that is a gift all its own. Nikki commands not only the stage but an audience with her presence. She’s a gorgeous young woman – don’t get your hopes up guys, she’s happily married to AJ the drummer - who can transform from slinky siren to rock goddess in a millisecond and pull it off with authority hooking the audience to focus on her every move and every note she sings. She moves all over the stage interacting with Jordan and Mark and there is never ever a dull moment or a lull in energy – she is the real deal.

Jordan Olsen on guitar has also improved immensely at his craft since I last saw him play in a band. Being the only guitarist in the band Jordan has a lot of ground to cover and he does it very well. I love Jordan onstage – he is an excellent guitarist, he has a commanding stage presence and doesn’t stay rooted in one spot all night. His guitar playing plays to the song and yet at the same time when he lets go of the reins, he lets rip with very tasty lead guitar solo’s that are just what is needed for the song. Like a large blanket his playing drapes the entire band with a guitar sound that is fat and heavy – a perfect foil to Nikki onstage.

Mark Newcombe on bass is the foundation of the rhythm section who compliments AJ’s playing perfectly. I remember Mark from a cover band years ago and he was a player who was average but solid – now he is an excellent bassist and even more solid in his playing. I’d like to see Mark move around more onstage personally but that is a personal preference by me and not a criticism of him onstage. Mark is a drummer’s bassist – he’s solid, plays to the song and never ever is tentative in what he is playing. His skill has improved dramatically over the years and he is an asset to the band in all regards.

This leads me to AJ Marsh on the kit. AJ wears a few hats – from husband of Nikki’s, to having his own recording studio, to playing guitar to being behind the kit.

AJ is a high energy player who contributes on multiple levels to the band from drumming to songwriting which makes his value to any band let along this one invaluable. In tandem with Mark on bass they bring the thunder to the band and drive the train that is the rhythm section behind Mad Moxxis. While Nikki and Jordan are sparring up front, AJ along with Mark are providing the solid groundwork for the band’s high energy show. At times AJ grimaces like he has been shot multiple times but it’s a barometer into how much he is pouring his soul into his playing and his passion for the band and what they have all created.

I love this band and regret not seeing them more often from the time I saw them years ago to now – their growth in playing live and song writing as a band has grown dramatically.

This is a band that is very deserving of playing festivals and larger venues without a doubt.

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Jim McCormick - Allstage