From Alice Cooper's onstage beheadings to Iggy Pop's broken-glass surfing to the robotic samplings of those Venetian-blinds-headed dudes in Devo, rock has seemingly exhausted its conceptual toy box. Or has it? You might change your mind after experiencing Quem Quaeritis and Weirdo Begeirdo, two bands from Riverside, California's "freak-pop" scene. Quem (pictured) utilizes "cheap instruments, but never guitars, because geetars are geetarded." (Some of the "cheap instruments" the band does use include Astroturf, wheelchairs, thumb pianos, and puppets.) The result, according to the band, is "obnoxiously palatable music from [inside] a camping tent, complete with lots of trash found in the street, plus candy and werewolf masks."
Quem's compatriots, the "avant-twee" group Weirdo, also use installations of handmade junk, combined with "mini-drum sets and toy instruments," to create what the band terms "quirky pop with tape squeals and toy-percussion freak outs."
The bands perform Tuesday, October 4, at Trunk Space, 1506 Grand Avenue. Also on the bill is "Atari pop" star Coitus (who "rocks out on an actual Atari and Commodore 64" game modules, says Trunk's JRC). Showtime is 8 p.m. Cover is $5. Call 602-256-6006 or visit www.thetrunkspace.com. -- Clay McNear
Interactive action on Jackson
Have you ever wanted to just walk all over a piece of art and feel it cracking beneath your feet? Now you can, thanks to local artist Jen Urso's large-scale "Fractured Thought" installation, which encourages visitors to "walk on a path of tiles cast in cement, sand and local soil. Each step causes the tiles to crack, mimicking images of branching and connection along the sides of the path." In other words, you make the art. The exhibit opens Tuesday, October 4, at the Icehouse, 429 West Jackson. An artist's reception is scheduled on October 8. Viewing -- sorry, participating -- is free. Call 602-257-8929 or visit www.theicehouse.com. -- Clay McNear
One Spank for Them
Four turns one
With all the fun, artistic insanity going down on Grand Avenue, it's a wonder the Four White Walls gallery at 1023 Grand isn't called "Four Padded Walls." On Saturday, October 1, the gallery goes crazy for its "One Year Anniversary Party," packing the place with colorful, cutting-edge local art, giveaways, and live music by Class Act, The Dietrichs, The Chase, Male Pattern Radness, and 42 Eternal. The birthday bash starts at 7 p.m. Admission is $5. Call 602-705-4936. -- Niki D'Andrea
Queer and Present Danger
Jade Esteban Estrada recently obtained his first-ever driver's license. "I've always had a car and driver in my contract," says the gay Latin pop star and actor. "Not because I'm Diana Ross, but because I've never had a driver's license. It would be great if Phoenix was the first city I drove to." Estrada gets his chance on Thursday and Friday, September 29 and 30, when he brings his one-man musical comedy ICONS: The Lesbian and Gay History of the World, Vol. 1 to the Paper Heart gallery, 750 Grand Avenue. The former lead dancer for Charo imitates a canon of homo-culture heroes in his show, including Sappho, Michelangelo, Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein, Sylvia Rivera, Ellen DeGeneres, and Billie Jean King. And while Estrada's long been an admired figure in gay culture, his ICONS show has earned kudos from all sorts of groups. "Everybody understands oppression in some way, shape or form," says Estrada. Catch Estrada's drift at 8 each night. Tickets cost $15. Call 602-262-2020 or visit www.thepaperheart.com. -- Niki D'Andrea
Doom With a View
Dark stars in .anti_space
Dayvid LeMmon ain't afraid of the dark. In fact, the local photog chooses to channel murky chiaroscuro gloom into his pictures of abstract objects and abnormal people. "I labor to give my images an aged, surreal, and dreamlike appearance of times past and yet to come," says LeMmon on his Web site (www.mechanizedeye.com). LeMmon's bleak snaps will be right at home in the darkened domain of .anti_space, 815 West Madison, as part of "Refuge" on Saturday, October 1. The event also includes the body-modifying stunts of Life Suspended, a sinister slate of musical acts including industrial rockers AcidicA and gothic "darkwave" band Reliquary, and a slew of local DJs. Doors open at 7 p.m. Cover for the 18-and-over show is $10. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for a complete lineup. -- Benjamin Leatherman
Celts shamrock the house
The Three Tenors in ball gowns? Charlotte Church and Sinéad O'Connor hoofing it up in Riverdance? No, but close on both counts. Celtic Woman is a five-woman Irish troupe that started life as a one-off PBS special, then morphed into a full-fledged touring phenomenon. The band's beautifully rendered stage show highlights the pristine pipes of vocalists Ôrla Fallon, Méav N&icaute; Mhaolchatha, Lisa Kelly, and Chlöe Agnew, plus the violin airs of Máiréad Nesbitt. "We have a broad spectrum of styles -- traditional, classical, and songs we wrote ourselves," Fallon said in a recent interview, adding that the group's performances appeal equally to "musical highbrows" and the "young and very cool." Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 5, at Dodge Theatre, 400 West Washington Street. Tickets range from $25 to $53. Call 602-379-2800 or 480-784-4444. -- Clay McNear