As you've probably heard a million times by now, it's going to be phenomenally hot this weekend. Phenomenally. Hot. So much so that it’s probably best to do the vampire thing and stay inside while avoiding sunlight at all costs.
After dark, however, it will be a bit more tolerable outside (with temps hovering around the 80-degree range), which should permit you to get out of the house and do something this weekend. Like, say, go to any of the must-see concerts happening around Phoenix, such as iconic horror film director John Carpenter performing live renditions of the soundtracks from his biggest movies, a gig by enigmatic axeman Buckethead, or Body Count’s return to the Valley.
There will be a lot of other shows to see around town, of course, which you can find in our extensively updated online concert calendar.
Summer Cannibals – Friday, June 17 – Valley Bar
In the current music environment, in which the quest for new sounds has turned into a Pro Tools and Ableton plug-in-fueled arms race, sometimes it’s nice to just hear a band making uncomplicated rock ’n’ roll. Summer Cannibals is the antidote to the guitar player staring down at the 12 pedals on the board at his feet; no hyphens are necessary to describe the music coming from the amps and drums of the Portland, Oregon-based band.
The guitar-bass-drums combo is about as basic as rock music gets, and when the band launches into bass-heavy, almost sludgy, high-energy power-chord riffs, you’re absorbing the music so easily and quickly into your blood that you’re practically freebasing it. Frontwoman Jessica Boudreau’s voice recalls singers like Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker, capable of aggressive attacks and gentle runs. But most importantly, Summer Cannibals offers songwriting so strong it doesn’t need the fancy studio tricks and audio adornments favored by so many of their contemporaries. Frankly, that’s a little refreshing. DAVID ACCOMAZZO
Body Count – Friday, June 17 – Marquee Theatre
It had been slightly more than eight years since Body Count’s last speed/thrash metal assault on the world’s eardrums. Two years ago, Ice-T — or Ice, as he frequently calls himself — decided that then was the time to again awaken the beast. He thought this as well in 2005, when Body Count went to work on Murder 4 Hire. Still reeling over the recent death of guitarist D-Roc the Executioner from leukemia (two other original band members previously passed away), founding guitarist Ernie C. fused together a band and wrote a dozen songs. Ice-T, in turn, was primarily focused on his acting career.
The album lacked focus and true conviction; Ice freely admits as much. But what Murder 4 Hire lacked, Manslaughter, the group’s 2014 and most recent album, more than makes up for. Sonically and lyrically, the album frequently channels the power and enraged energy of the band’s 1992 eponymous debut. With songs glorifying crime, violence, and freaky sex, along with tracks fighting the establishment or slamming societal issues, Ice-T sounds as pissed off as ever 24 years later. GLENN BURNSILVER
Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires – Friday, June 17 – Yucca Tap Room
Dereconstructed, the sophomore album by Birmingham, Alabama's Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires, opens with a greasy guitar riff and a gospel-inflicted howl from Bains: "Yessir, tell me why, tell me why." The drums and bass kick in and it's pure boogie, undeniably "Southern rock." But it's crucial to note that the album's 10 songs, recorded live in a friend's basement studio by punk legend Tim Kerr and pressed to wax by indie stalwart Sub Pop, defy typical Southern rock tropes. Instead of relaxing in Dixie cliche or historical revisionism, Bains tears apart and examines the South's past, reflecting on the oppression that took root in the place, and the resistance movement that disrupted it. "We were raised on ancient truths, and ugly old lies," Bains sings on the title track, twang thick in his voice.
Bains sings about a South where profits were "put in the pockets of businessmen on Sunday," while "prophets" were beaten "black-and-blue" in the street. He sings about a South divided, turning rallying cries like "We Dare Defend Our Rights" on their head. "[Any time] a culture establishes a sort of singular identity or narrative, or takes on one, it can be really destructive and very misleading," Bains told New Times in 2014. Often, Southern rock bands focus only on the BBQ, beer, and Southern Comfort — great subjects for rock 'n' roll songs, for sure — but Bains spends the length of his album examining privilege, history, and class. "That process of reconciliation has a deliberate energy that has to go into that. It's more pleasant and comfortable at times I think to just put it out of mind, but the act of reconciliation is rewarding," Bains says. JASON P. WOODBURY
Jeremy Underground Dirty Dave – Friday, June 17 – Club Palazzo The members of the Stellar Well collective are probably big believers in that one chestnut about good things coming to those who wait, considering that a long-awaited opportunity is coming true for the local collective. To wit: After spending half a decade trying to bring acclaimed Paris-based dance music selector Jeremy Underground – whose dynamic sets are filled with R&B, soul, rare grooves, and house sounds – to the Valley for a performance, it’s finally about to happen. And Stellar Well couldn’t be happier about it. “We are very excited about this one, as we've been talking to Jeremy about booking him for nearly five years now,” members of Stellar Well have stated online. “At long last, we get to make this dream a reality.” The gig takes place on Friday, June 17, at Club Palazzo in downtown Phoenix and will feature opening sets by Stellar Well’s Jake Goldsmith and Owen S., as well as special guests Jock Club and Edward Navarro. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
UPDATE: Looks like Stellar Well is going to be waiting a little longer, as they announced on Thursday afternoon that Jeremy Underground's gig has sadly been cancelled. Instead, they'll be bringing in Dirty Dave, a resident DJ at The Standard in L.A. and onetime Valley resident, to pinch hit. Partial refunds will be available to those who bought tickets to see Jeremy Underground and admission is now $5 before 11 p.m., $8 thereafter.
Joe Purdy – Friday, June 17 – Musical Instrument Museum
To say that Joe Purdy is prolific would be, well, exactly accurate — the singer-songwriter has released a dozen albums over eight years, all while touring. His workman-like approach has paid off in the form of devoted fans, and live shows often become massive group sing-alongs of melancholic road songs. Tapping into the same heartfelt place Cat Stevens once did and fitting in with contemporaries like Ray LaMontagne and James Morrison, Purdy's vocal simplicity has made his work television-soundtrack perfection, finding its way on early episodes of LOST and Grey's Anatomy. BREE DAVIES
Buckethead – Saturday, June 18 – Livewire
What secret shame binds the heart of Buckethead? What private disgrace compelled guitar virtuoso Brian Carroll to forsake his Christian name and perform under a Michael Myers-esque kabuki mask and unused KFC bucket for these past 20 years? There is scant evidence that he has ever performed with his face revealed. His interviews are handled through a rubber, disembodied head that may or may not be named Herbie. His official backstory involves a childhood in a chicken coop. Is the story a psychological defense mechanism? A marketing ploy? When Buckethead successfully auditioned for Ozzy Osbourne, his "fucking bucket" was the deal breaker.
Not that he doesn't have friends. His records are lousy with friends. Iggy Pop, Les Claypool, Bootsy Collins, actor Viggo Mortensen, System of a Down's Serj Tankian, and Man Is the Bastard's Eric Wood have all lent their talents to his recordings. The appeal to celebrity springs from one irreducible truth: He shreds. Buckethead's sweeping arpeggios and rumored 10-finger tapping system captivate guitar snoots worldwide, although there is far more humor and emotional weirdness in his compositions than in the songs of Yngwie Malmsteen or Steve Vai. Through his fingers, the gods of Frank Frazetta paintings and Guitar Center wankery are forced, by uncomfortable truce, into some greater synthesis. SAM MCPHEETERS
Ty Dolla $ign – Saturday, June 18 – The Pressroom
Ty Dolla $ign's life hasn't been easy. His little brother, TC, is serving a 64-year sentence for a gang-related murder, and the rapper maintains his sibling’s innocence. His album, Free TC, which came out last year, tells his little brother's story. Rebecca Haithcoat of our sister paper LA Weekly describes the album: "Its cover art is from TC's vantage point, Ty's 'Free TC'-tattooed knuckles pressed against a prison visiting room's glass partition. Ty, who maintains his brother is innocent, has been mentioning the case in his songs since at least 2008's "Ghetto," and he's announced that proceeds from the album's sales will go toward TC's appeal." He a rapper with a mission, a statement underlined by Kendrick Lamar's appearance on the first track of Free TC. DAVID ACCOMAZZO
John Carpenter – Sunday, June 19 – Mesa Arts Center
Famed director John Carpenter has made some of the most memorable films of the last 40 years, and one of the things that made them memorable was the music: Carpenter has been the composer for much of his catalog — and beyond. And now he's bringing his music into a different kind of theater for a world tour, John Carpenter: Live Retrospective, that will land in the Valley this summer for a show at the Mesa Arts Center.
The visionary director of such classics as Halloween, The Fog, Big Trouble In Little China, They Live, and Escape From New York will take the stage to play his masterful synth-driven themes from those films, along with new original numbers featured on his hit non-soundtrack album Lost Themes and its sequel, Lost Themes II. The latter project is a collaboration between Carpenter, his son Cody, and godson Daniel Davies (son of The Kinks' Dave Davies), and while the former is made up of original recordings collected over the years, Lost Themes II was recorded last year in one session. For many film fans, experiencing the director's musical works outside of the big screen — much less live and in-person — is a dream/nightmare come true. KEITH GARCIA
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Sunflower Bean – Sunday, June 19 – Valley Bar
One listen to Sunflower Bean's EP Show Me Your Seven Secrets and you can hear the blatant nods to Black Sabbath, Rolling Stones, and the Velvet Underground. You certainly can’t argue with the musical tastes of Saint Laurent model Julia Cumming, Nick Livlen, and Jacob Farber. “We’ve been music fans our whole lives,” Cumming states, “All of our parents showed us where rock music started out, and that influenced our lives a lot. I think what’s interesting is that all of these bands were as relevant to us as children as they were to our parents. One of the reasons we do what we do is we want to keep rock and roll alive.”
They formed the moody psychedelic rock band two years ago when they were teenagers in an attempt to save the music world from electronic dance music. This stems from a trip to a rainy EDM festival they experienced when they first started out. Cumming acknowledges her poor psychologist skills, but recalls her impressions of the festival’s audience. “People go these festivals to take drugs and get away from reality,” she says. “[EDM] is more about escapism than experience, and that’s okay to have that experience. It doesn’t really work for us. It will be interesting if future generations will find it touching later on. … There’s an improvisational element to playing instruments; even the possibility of musicians making mistakes is really interesting. It’s just a different thing.” JASON KEIL
Paul Gurvitz and the New Army – Sunday, June 19 – Rhythm Room
You may or may not have heard Paul Gurvitz, despite the fact he’s had a storied career in rock music. Along with his brother, Adrian Gurvitz, he played with Ginger Baker in The Baker Gurvitz Army and later with Moody Blues' timekeeper and poetry slammer in The Graham Edge Band. Y'see, back in the excessive '70s when even drummers put out solo albums, they needed frontmen to ensure you wouldn't get a whole album of "Toad," and that required hiring U.K. journeymen like Paul Gurvitz, who had U.K. chart success in Gun and The Knack, which didn't record "Banana Man" or "My Sharona." If you're still struggling for the whys, pull out that box set called Nuggets 2 and see Paulie G was the weepy lead vocalist in Rupert's People, who recorded a woe-is-he "Whiter Shade of Pale" imitation called "Recollections of Charlie Brown." You probably won't hear that gem, but just ask yourself, would Gurvitz be in showbiz 50 years if he couldn't at least pass for a rock legend? SERENE DOMINIC