The first Sunday of September, Gift & Thrift turned Jarrod’s Coffee, Tea, & Gallery into an unlikely venue for local music of every genre. They call this event Serotonin Sunday, and I had the pleasure of attending as an artist, and avid show go-er. On the days in which I have a show I’m playing in I find myself tense and heavy with the weight of my own expectations. However, this wasn’t the case for Sunday.

I don’t know if it had to do with the fact that we were playing in the serene settings of a coffee shop, but upon arrival I found myself feeling exceptionally chill. Unfamiliar with the settled state my stomach was in, but definitely not complaining. There’s always people in Jarrod’s, and Sunday evening wasn’t any different. Whether they were there for the coffee, art, or music didn’t matter. I just liked that immediately we had an audience to play to. I shift my gaze from the folks at Jarrod’s to the stimulating canvases that cover the walls, then to the showcase of handmade jewelry that’s in the center of the shop.

There’s so much to look at.

I’ve only been to Jarrod’s once before and thought I saw everything. I was wrong. While scoping the place out I’m greeted by an employee who lets us know we can start setting up, so we do.

The stage at Jarrod’s was different in the best way possible and perfect for GUSHR. There was less room in the back of the stage, but just enough for a couple of amps and Destin and Em (guitar and bass player for GUSHR). At the front of the stage we have a round platform that sticks out a little more than the rest of the stage. Perfect for drummers who wanna be in front for a change! This satisfied me, and I found myself even more stoked to play our set.

After setting up I ordered myself some coffee and waited for the event to begin. Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait long at all. Adrian D of Smokey D Palmtree arrived shortly after, and brought a good crowd with him. It wasn’t long before we were all engaged in his music. The combination of Adrian’s alternative rock guitar mixed with jazz beats and lyrics that often flow like rap was enough to have the crowd hooked. But what really made this performance memorable was Smokey’s ability to infuse native American flute throughout his music. It was relaxing, yet energetic. When you can cover Red Hot Chili Peppers and Black Sabbath in a way that does the song justice, then that’s it. You’ve nailed your set!

Now it was time for me to try and nail ours! I think this might’ve been the only time I wasn’t nervous before a show. Maybe it was Smokey’s tranquil set, maybe it was Jarrod’s laid back lounge, maybe I took a chill pill and forgot all about it. Either way, I was in fearless mode and ready to go. After a few mic checks and once the guitars were all tuned, we were ready for our first performance at Jarrod’s.

I’m Neci Nite. On guitar we have Destin Fuller, and on bass we have Em, and we are GUSHR without the E. This first song is called Over It and it’s about how I hate everyone in Phoenix but love the people of Mesa!”

Although it wasn’t our biggest crowd, it was easily one of our favorite performances. Not only did we get through our set with little to no slip ups, but we had some fans come out to see us! The fact that these kids went out of their way to see our set that night blew my mind. How could I not play with pride after that? I like to give every set we play the benefit of the doubt. I believe this was my first time being genuinely happy with our performance as a band. Maybe it was the lack of nerves, or seeing our two fans in the crowd that hyped me up. Either way, our first set at Jarrod’s was a memorable success.

Once I was off stage I fueled up with more coffee and started socializing with the folks who were in the crowd. Our friend Savvy, who is also a tattoo artist and local vendor for Gift & Thrift was there selling her art, as well as a few other vendors. I was able to chat with Jarrod himself about the history of his shop, and was even interviewed by one of the kids who came out to see us!

As the night went on, more and more people showed up to see what Serotonin Sundays have to offer. Next up to take the stage was new wave, dream pop band, Details of Eating.

People gathered around the glass jewelry case in the middle of Jarrod’s as dreamy synth pop filled the house. Immediately I felt as if I time traveled back into the eighties. Transfixed by the melodies, I stood and watched as they managed to hold the attention of the crowd throughout their set. Afterwards, the front man of Details of Eating (who admittedly I didn’t get the name of), generously handed out stickers to everyone in the audience. Ending their awesome set.

The next band to take the stage was Tracers. A lo-fi rock band that got my attention as soon as I heard that guitar tone. Our guitarist Destin had mentioned his liking for the band prior, so I was looking forward to seeing these dudes. They did NOT disappoint. This was exactly the kind of music I was into! Gritty yet light, raw modern rock with just enough melody to stay stuck in your head. Tracers had the crowd on their feet with their phones up recording. There’s a couch in front of the stage at Jarrod’s. This is where I was during their set. I’m not sure what their second to last song was called, but the notes in my phone say the guitar solo on that track was face melting! I found a new favorite band that night.

Bringing the night to an end was indie rock, retro pop duo, Blu Joy. These guys were the perfect band to close out. Every riff was an indefinite ear worm. Every song had the audience boppin’ their heads and singing along., One particular track had everyone (myself included) singing “doot doot do do doot” and clapping along. At one point, one of the members hopped on a house piano that Jarrod’s had. The crowd loved this, and almost every phone went up to record the epic moment.

Every time I think I’ve found my new favorite local band, Gift & Thrift throws another event that leaves me thinking otherwise. With that being said, Serotonin Sunday at Jarrod’s was not only a pleasure to play, but to attend as an avid show go-er as well.

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Updated: Sep 4

The feeling of missing out is a lousy one to say the least. We’ve all felt the regret and envy veer in our veins as we scroll through social media and come across the post. Ya know, the one about that insane party or show we should’ve been at, but instead have to live vicariously through Instagram stories or reels? Footage is great for looking back on things, but to be able to say “I was there!” is arguably a lot better. Which is why I strongly suggest attending the events thrown by Gift & Thrift.

Most recently I found myself at the HANDSXFEET show which was just this past Thursday at The Nile Underground. From the moment I arrived I was greeted by one of the band members in Earamore, a Paramore cover band that would later go on to not only impress me, but a floor filling crowd as well. As I walked down the iconic stairs of the Underground, I was enveloped by the wonderful sound of Wallace Hound, who already had the crowd singing and swaying to the music. Their set left me in awe, and I was quickly introduced to my new favorite band!

There’s an area in the Underground next to the bar where all the bands showcase their merchandise. This is where I was in between sets. Each band had a variety of merch they had to offer. From shirts, to stickers, to buttons, and pins. I found myself wanting it all!

As the evening progressed, I guess you could say it turned into a reunion of some sorts for me. I met up with some friends, who I actually met at the Underground, about ten years ago!

I’ve never time traveled, but if I did, I’m sure it would feel a lot like that moment.

The crowd settled and the lights dimmed, Earamore took the stage, as well as everyone’s attention. The energy that they brought took everybody by storm! There wasn’t a single person who wasn’t singing along or dancing to frontwoman Shannon's voice. It was the closest I will ever be to seeing Paramore in their Riot! era, and it was an incredible experience!

Up next, the one and only MattstaGraham and his Mattsaband, who brought everyone closer to the stage for a high energy intimate set. You may know Matt from his hit song on TikTok, ‘Gotta Be Productive’

As we stood around the stage, a single note rang out and a stillness spread over the crowd, which was growing with anticipation. As the song continued it grew louder, and everyone sang along and moved to the music. MattstaGraham came all the way from Tucson, AZ to get the crowd ready for the next band that really took my breath away, Young Misery.

What really set Young Misery apart from the other bands was the way they set up before their performance. Bringing a banner onto the stage with their name helped me recognize who they were and showed me they meant business! Frontman Nick Baldenegro put on one hell of a performance and even dressed the part for the first couple of songs. Wearing a dark hooded almost cloak like jacket with the lights turned down brought a certain ambiance into the room. The cloak came off, the energy shifted, and it was time to party!

Young Misery went on to play a couple of songs from their new EP, For Better or Worse which I highly suggest you check out.

Last, but definitely not least we had HANDSXFEET with two surprise special guests (me being the first)! I was invited on stage to share a couple of poems about trauma and healing under the moniker, yesterdayssoup__. The support and encouragement I felt as someone who was a surprise performance was simply amazing. Gift & Thrift has always made me feel welcome and included within the music scene and community they are building despite my physical limitations, and I am beyond grateful.

Now it was time for HANDSXFEET to take the stage and share with us his powerful words. Wearing a Jason mask to really set the tone and mood. The Underground was filled with people from different backgrounds, ages, and abilities, but Anthony’s music was what brought us all together, to relate and know that in this moment we could let out our feelings. Next Niño Rizado was brought on stage to share a song about love and heartbreak. I personally related and felt touched by the lyrics and beautiful voice that came out of this amazing human who took us all by surprise.

HANDSXFEET closed his set by letting us all know that he is thankful for each and every one of us and he is a safe space to come to if we are ever in need.

Overall, it was an amazing, inclusive, and welcoming event for everyone involved. If you have not been to an event hosted by Gift & Thrift I highly urge you to participate. You will be welcomed with open arms and be blown away by the talent that the local Arizona music scene has to offer you. From poets, to singers, and songwriters, to cover bands, and rappers. We have it all here in this desert oasis, and we would love for you to be part of it.

Thank you to Brian for the rad photos! brianbutonline

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Last weekend at The Nile Underground, my band played in front of our biggest crowd yet. Cove red in sweat and clearly engrossed, I first had the thought while watching opening act Jezebela belt out the hook to Take Me To Church by Hozier.

Oh man, oh geez, look at how many people are already here!’

And just when I thought the adrenaline from my previous performance was wearing off.

I was coming from Market on Main. Another event put together by Gift & Thrift that was conveniently across from The Nile. Right on Main & Macdonlad. My band GUSHR played on the blocked off corner about an hour before our Femme Fest set. It was the perfect warm up for what was to come.

I knew I had a long night ahead of me, I was prepared for that. I wasn’t prepared for whatever feeling came post show, but we’ll get to that later.

After Jezebela’s set, there was applause, there was whistling, and there was an exciting energy spreading through the Underground and it was like

everyone collectively had the

same thought.

‘This is gonna be exciting.’

I looked around, able to see the crowd more now that the lights are up and I’m no longer fixated on the stage. First thing I noticed were the outfits. Everyone looked so cool. I see a Bikini Kill shirt. ‘Nice.’ I notice someone with the sides of their head shaved, leaving just a mohawk ‘Sweet.’ I notice another queer couple. ‘These are the kind of people I want showing up to my shows.’

Following Jezebela was Sophie Dorsten. A singer/songwriter with a soaring voice and flair to deliver a chorus that’ll surely be stuck in your head for days to come. Accompanying her was sibling Alex Dorsten, who played lead guitar and while it looked like he was just tapping his foot to the tunes, he was actually playing a kick drum. A decked out one with a QR code to their Instagram page. ‘That’s such a great idea why didn’t I think of that?’

I move my gaze from the kick drum over to the crowd again and this time I notice a couple dancing! This excites me and I smile, wondering if more people will be dancing later as well.

Sophie announces her last song and I’m not smiling anymore. I’m squatting against the wall, near the side stage with my hands clasped together, trying to stop the ropes in my stomach from knotting. I have to play drums for The OxxyMorons, and they are the next act. As the last chord rings out, I stand up and start making my way towards the stage. I let Sophie and Alex know they did a fantastic job, and then I’m sitting behind the kit. We start soundcheck, which eases the nerves a bit. The Underground has incredible sound (shout out sound guy Jordan!) so I know we’re in good hands. The rest is up to us. I’m handed the setlist.

“You guys ready?”


The lights go off, and we go on. I prepare myself for the first song as our lead singer Krys talks about the patriarchy. I take one last look at the crowd, then a deep breath, and count us in. “1, 2, 3, 4!”

Immediately I’m no longer nervous. I’m having fun. I’m hearing this song that we practiced so much in the garage and it sounds so different. It sounds amazing! I’m singing along, I’m headbanging. I squint through the sweat that’s covering my eyes and see the crowd doing the same thing. They are actually enjoying us! This encourages me, and I start playing even harder. Before I know it there’s a rupture of applause and the loudness of it is enough to push the words right out of my mouth.

“Holy shit.”

The remainder of The OxxyMorons set went just about as smooth as any band could hope for. I could honestly say it was the most fun I’ve ever had on stage. At this point I’m used to singing and playing drums, which requires more concentration. This was a chance for me to give drumming all my energy, and I did just that.

I managed to be surprised by the audience’s reaction after every song.

Our last one was a cover of the feminist anthem, ‘Oh Bondage, Up Yours’ by The X-Ray Spex. The song that’s usually the most difficult for me during practice, ended up being my favorite of the set that night. Afterwards I watched as MJ from Bullet Babe asked Krys for her setlist. That was when I knew it. We nailed our first set ever.

Neci & Em

As Krys and Geo (guitarist for The OxxyMorons) walked off stage, Em and I stayed behind. Em is the bassist for The OxxyMorons. She’s also the bassist for GUSHR, and we were up next. I should’ve felt ready. If anything warmed up. But I didn’t. I felt nervous all over again. The ropes in my stomach from earlier have tied themselves into knots and I suddenly couldn’t feel my arms. I take deep breaths and remind myself to focus on them.

I bring my attention to Paul, who just learned our songs a few days ago, and ask him if he’s ready. He says yes and I believe him. I then turn to Em, and ask her if she’s ready. She nods and gives me a thumbs up.

‘Here we go…’

I start with introducing the band. I’m nervous. Because I’m nervous, my natural impulse is to make a joke.

Our usual guitarist Destin couldn’t make it out tonight, so we just decided to get the brown version of him. We are an all brown band now.”

To my surprise, there’s laughter.

“Anyways, I’m Neci Nite, that’s Em, and we are GUSHR.”

The second I start playing it’s tunnel vision, and that’s just how it’s always been. At least for GUSHR. I’m playing drums, I'm singing, I’m sweating, and there’s a million thoughts going through my head.

Do I sound okay? I wish I was in the crowd right now. Oh geez this is only the first song.’

Neci Nite from Gushr and The Oxxy Morons

Each song ends with a generous applause, and because I hate awkward pauses, I follow up with a joke. If not after every song, then after every other one.

“Follow us on social media! We have everything but TikTok and Facebook. We don’t believe in having a TikTok if you’re over the age of 20, or having a Facebook if you’re under the age of 50.”

“This one is called knee deep/tongue tied. If that sounds scary it’s ‘cause it is. Don’t do acid.”

That’s basically how every GUSHR show goes. There’s a lot of jokes. Some good, some bad. A lot of awkwardness, but also a lot of honesty. If someone leaves a GUSHR show feeling seen, that’s all that really matters to me. But if they can leave with the feeling of being seen, and also find themselves enjoying the songs, then that’s even better.

I wish I could have seen more of the crowd while I was playing. I have to take off my glasses while I play or else they’ll fall off, so everything I did see was blurry. I did however, hear all the claps and whistles, so I think it’s safe to say GUSHR had a successful set for the Femme Fest.

That was it! I was done! My job for the Femme Fest is over and I can enjoy the rest of the night as a show go-er! And that’s just what I did. Next up was Standard Deviance. A band I admittedly have not heard of until Femme Fest, but quickly became a fan of. I spent a majority of their set moshing, and when I wasn’t moshing I was admiring the stage presence and dynamic force of the band.

The evening felt lighter as the fest went on. All pressure was off of me now, and I was free to order a drink from the bar and scope out the rest of the scene. The art booths at the Femme Fest were accompanied by genuinely talented and nice people. I wish I could say I spent more time on this side of the fest, but I quickly found myself socializing with old friends who came out to the show, and people I have never met before. Other musicians, vendors, artists, punks.

Speaking of punks, Bullet Babe was next on the bill, and this was a band I have heard of and was excited to see. I also spent their whole set moshing. Short a guitarist but nothing short of entertaining, Bullet Babe killed it and I was not disappointed.

Bringing the Femme Fest to an end was post grunge/melodic hardcore band, Bite The Hand. Gift and Thrift knew what they were doing when they booked Echo Breen and company to close the night out. This was my first time seeing this band live, and to say I was impressed would be an understatement. Echo’s voice goes from enchanting, to gritty, and haunting in a matter of seconds. There was a mosh pit one minute, and a crowd of swaying bodies the next. Bite The Hand was a fantastic ending to one phenomenal night.

Huge thank you to Ray² Productions for capturing these memorable moments for all of us. Enjoy and share the rest of the photos.

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