The 20 Best Things to Do in Metro Phoenix This Week

This documentary follows frontman Brandon Decker’s journey from Sedona’s red rocks to the Big Apple.EXPAND
This documentary follows frontman Brandon Decker’s journey from Sedona’s red rocks to the Big Apple.
Andrew Pielage

This week, Phoenix takes a walk on the wild side. Which means boozing it up while bird watching, a dance troupe exploring man's relationship to beasts, and cheering on the Arizona Rattlers as they take on the Screaming Eagles. Here's your guide to all the best Phoenix has to offer. For more things to do, see our curated calendar of events

Snake River Blues
Last September, the psychedelic folk band decker. took up a monthlong residency at New York City’s Rockwood Music Hall to celebrate Snake River Blues, their latest release. Local filmmaker Matty Steinkamp captured frontman Brandon Decker’s journey from Sedona’s red rocks to the Big Apple in a documentary short that shares the record’s name. Embedded with the group for a year as Decker recorded and toured with his latest opus, Steinkamp captured a determined creative who hustles hard to make his dream come true. The film not only serves as a document of Decker’s exemplary songwriting but also as an inspiration to creators of all stripes to take that next step.

Snake River Blues premieres on Thursday, May 18, at 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. at Film Bar, 815 North Second Street. Admission is $6, which includes a meet-and-greet after each showing. For more information, visit the Film Bar website. Jason Kiel

R. Hamilton Wright and Noah Racey get things strait in Arizona Theatre Company’s Holmes and Watson.EXPAND
R. Hamilton Wright and Noah Racey get things strait in Arizona Theatre Company’s Holmes and Watson.
Tim Fuller

Holmes and Watson
You can enjoy some version of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Holmes and Watson oeuvre just about anywhere you look, anytime in the past century. Personally, we like to watch Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law gradually age in Guy Ritchie’s films. (However, Iron Man has aged enough.)

Scads of dejected fans pointed out to Doyle that Sherlock Holmes ought not to have died when he plunged over Reichenbach Falls with Professor Moriarty, and the author eventually caved and wrote more adventures. Jeffrey Hatcher’s play Holmes and Watson, in a production by Arizona Theatre Company through Sunday, May 28, picks up the timeline at an imagined point in that gap when three unidentified patients at a typically creepy asylum on a Scottish island all claim to be Holmes. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 18, at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe Street. Tickets are $25 to $64 at the Arizona Theatre website or 602-256-6995. Julie Peterson

Get down with your bird self.
Get down with your bird self.
Bill Timmerman

Birds n’ Beer
It’s not always easy to tell whether there’ll be beer at an event, so it makes things easier when organizers call it something like Birds n’ Beer.

The Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center, 3131 South Central Avenue, and Audubon Arizona host their signature happy hour event each month (except in July). From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 18, the topic is “Top 10 Urban Birding Tips.” Birding enthusiasts and activist Kathe Anderson will teach May’s Birds n’ Beer audience how to spot and identify the most common birds in the Phoenix area — including hummingbirds and burrow owls.

Admission is free, and beer will be served by Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. Call 602-468-6470 or see the Rio Salado Audubon webisite and the Facebook page. Lauren Cusimano

Sporting body paint costumes at Mad Monster Arizona 2016.EXPAND
Sporting body paint costumes at Mad Monster Arizona 2016.
Benjamin Leatherman

Mad Monster Arizona
Under normal circumstances, we wouldn’t recommend getting within slashing distance of any horror film villain, let alone one as insidiously evil as Pinhead from the Hellraiser series. At this year’s Mad Monster Arizona, however, folks who’ve got the gumption (as well as $260 for a group of up to four) can meet the actual character IRL. That’s because Doug Bradley, the actor who played the Cenobite leader in the first two Hellraisers, will become the character and interact with fans in a creepy setting straight from the films. A slew of other actors and actresses from horror will also appear at the convention, albeit not in character, which takes place from Friday, May 19, to Sunday, May 21, at the We-Ko-Pa Resort, 10438 North Fort McDowell Road in Scottsdale. The lineup includes Zach Galligan from Gremlins, Exorcist star Linda Blair, and Judith O’Dea from Night of the Living Dead. Daily admission is $25 to $35 in advance, $30 to $40 at the door.  A weekend pass is $60. Event hours vary. See the Mad Monster website for more details. Benjamin Leatherman

Come see the dark side of Taliesin WestEXPAND
Come see the dark side of Taliesin West
Andrew Pielage

Taliesin West Night Lights Tour
You know what happens when the lights go down, but do you know what happens at Taliesin West after dark? Per those in charge of the Frank Lloyd Wright property in Scottsdale, the Night Lights Tour is the “perfect date night activity” and also “not intended for children under the age of 13.” Come explore the Midcentury Modern masterpiece at 12621 North Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard in the night glow and see what happens under the cover of darkness. On Friday, May 19, tours leave at 6:30, 7, and 7:15 p.m. Tickets are $40. For reservations, call 888-516-0811 or visit the Taliesin West website. Lindsay Roberts

The baby-faced, suit-wearing silliness advocate and comedian Michael Ian BlackEXPAND
The baby-faced, suit-wearing silliness advocate and comedian Michael Ian Black
Courtesy of Crescent Ballroom

Michael Ian Black
Do you ever spend hours watching the same old Stella shorts and searching for favorite sketches from The State? Were you all over Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp when it premiered on Netflix and more obsessed with Michael & Michael Have Issues than most? Well heads-up: One of your faves is coming to town.

The baby-faced, suit-wearing silliness advocate and comedian Michael Ian Black will perform at Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue, during his Shut Up & Comedy tour. Doors open at 7 p.m., and the show starts at 8 on Friday, May 19.

Tickets for this 21-and-over event range from $22 for general admission to $28 for reserved sections. Call 602-716-2222 or see the Crescent Ballroom website for more information. Lauren Cusimano

Tripping the light fantastic inside Squidsoup’s installation at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.EXPAND
Tripping the light fantastic inside Squidsoup’s installation at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.
Lynn Trimble

Ocean of Light: Submergence
You’d need thousands of night lights to create anything even approximating the newest light-based art installation at SMoCA, 7374 East Second Street. Called Ocean of Light: Submergence, it’s an interactive, digital media piece that fills an entire gallery. It’s the work of Squidsoup, an artist collective based in the United Kingdom.

Explore Submergence from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday, May 19, as Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art presents its Summer Opening Celebration. The piece is one of three exhibitions on view that evening.

While you’re there, check out Electro-Symbio Phonics, an iconic mixed-media sculpture by Nam June Paik, which grounds an exhibition titled “I’m Sorry But It’s Hard to Imagine.” Finally, there’s “[dis]functional: Products of Conceptual Design,” a show that considers notions of what makes good design. Artists and curators will be on hand to talk art and design with visitors that night.  Visit the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Arts website. Lynn Trimble

Experience Polynesia
It’s not the same as staring into clear blue waters while letting your feet sink into the sand, but a trip to north Phoenix for Experience Polynesia does get you immersed in island-oriented fun.

This annual celebration of Pacific island culture features performances of dance and music, including guitar and ukulele playing by Patrick Ki. Take a ukulele lesson and learn how to play traditional sounds. Get crafty and decorate your own slit drum to take home. The museum’s café offers Polynesian fare. It’s all a pretty good way of pretending you’re not in the desert from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 20, at the Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 East Mayo Boulevard. Admission is $10 to $20 for adults, and free for kids 3 and younger. Call 480-478-6000 or visit the Musical Instrument Musuem website. Amy Young

See "Facing West" by Faith Christiansen Smeets at Megaphone PHX.EXPAND
See "Facing West" by Faith Christiansen Smeets at Megaphone PHX.
Faith Christiansen Smeets

“Facing West: The Feminine Perspective of the Frontier”
There’s no shortage of artworks by men exploring Wild West themes. But how often have you seen women tackle similar subject matter? That’s just what Phoenix artist Faith Christiansen Smeets does, but through the eyes of pioneer women rather than men. See her works inspired by diaries of frontier women, plus academic texts, during an exhibition titled “Facing West: The Feminine Perspective of the Frontier.”
The free opening reception for “Facing West” happens from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, May 20, at Megaphone PHX. It’s a studio and gallery space operated by artist Andy Brown, which is located at 4700 North Central Avenue. Smeets will be showing abstract works inspired by the “hope, tragedy, and triumph” of women who traveled westward during the mid-19th century. Visit the Faith Christiansen Smeets website. Lynn Trimble

The young lovers of unexpected, before it hits the fan
The young lovers of unexpected, before it hits the fan
Shelby Maticic

John Perovich’s unexpected
So many literary traditions have given us the star-crossed lovers — a couple whose love is as epic as it will later become fucked up. Greek mythology is no different, and all you can hope for is that after you’ve angered the gods, and your innocence, hubris, or inept bad luck has separated you from bae, you’ll become constellations in the sky.

Brelby Theatre Company throws Cupid, Psyche, Pyramus, Thisbe, Orpheus, and Eurydice into a fresh plot in John Perovich’s unexpected. Three of the characters are now sisters whose mom would rather they stay at home unwounded than step into the world of love. Then a ship lands, as they do.

Upcoming Events

The play’s directed by venerable theater artist Gerald Thomson and continues through Saturday, June 10. Showtime Saturday, May 20, is 7:30 p.m. at 7154 North 58th Drive in Glendale. Tickets are $17 to $25 at the Brelby website or 623-282-2781. Julie Peterson

Arizona Rattlers vs. Salt Lake Screaming Eagles
When the Arizona Rattlers made the leap from the Arena Football League last offseason, they knew well what they were leaving behind — a floundering league that they had dominated for years. This season, however, they’re discovering what they’ve gotten themselves in to. Not only is the competition stiffer, there’s also twice as many teams to contend with in the Indoor Football League. Still the Rattlers have fared well in their inaugural run, winning six of their first 10 games. And with conference punching bags the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles visiting Talking Stick Resort Arena, 201 East Jefferson Street, at 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 20, the Rattlers face a golden opportunity to pad the win column as they battle for their first IFL playoff berth. Tickets are $8 and up. Visit the Arizona Rattlers webiste or call 602-379-7800 for details. Rob Kroehler

Read on for more of the best things to do in the Valley — including a Scorpius Dance show, a geeky lit gathering, and Book of Mormon.



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