Do you like music but hate overly large crowds? Is Tempe Beach Park your idea of hell? Do you hate everything you hear on AAA and alternative radio stations? Never fear. There are other things going on this weekend besides Summer Ends Music Festival, and we've got the six best alternatives right here. And be sure to check out our comprehensive concert listings for even more options.Futuristic - Friday, September 26 - Club Red
Futuristic is the Valley's hottest hip-hop act these days, which, predictably, means that he's now the Valley's latest musical export to Los Angeles. But up until this summer, Futuristic was all local, and his rapid-fire attack, delivered over producer AKT Aktion's excellent beats, caught the attention of rappers like Hopsin and Layzie Bone, and as such, he's opened for everyone from Snoop Dogg to Mickey Avalon. --David Accomazzo
Vermont's King Tuff might have synesthesia (the neurological phenomenon that activates multiple senses at once, i.e. smelling words or hearing colors) and not even know it. Speaking to Spin, the King (real name: Kyle Thomas) described the grungy sounds on his latest album, Black Moon Spell, in vivid colors -- "silvery . . . volcanic sparkles . . . oily orange," a typical account of so-called "synesthetes." But when we called Sub Pop's garage rock superstar, Tuff said he didn't think he had synesthesia, despite describing the symptoms perfectly. Hearing color is why Tuff chose a purple album cover, which he also designed. "We kept thinking it was purple. It was totally because of the music that I made it [that way]," he says. Those colors that come flowing from songs like the Edgar Winter Group-inspired "Eyes of the Muse" or the Rolling Stones-inspired "Loser's Wall" are as scuffed and faded as the classic rock anthems they pay homage to. With King Tuff, you'll find good company. --Troy Farah
The cassette connoisseurs of Rubber Brother Records are throwing another party Friday night at Trunk Space, and tapes are the name of the game. Tempe band Instructions is releasing its EP in tape form during the party, and Rubber Brother will make available its contribution to national Cassette Store Day, a compilation featuring the label's many local bands. There will be plenty of live music on the bill, too, with performances by Gymshorts, Instructions, Playboy Manbaby, Treasure MammaL, The Thin Bloods, and Leonardo Dicapricorn. --David Accomazzo
There is no dispute, Mr. Riley B. King embodies the blues moreso than anyone has ever embodied anything, ever. He was born in Mississippi, cut his teeth in Memphis, has won countless Grammy Awards (including a Lifetime Achievement award), was inducted into both the Blues and Rock and Roll Hall of Fames, and is friendly with President Obama.
King is a man so respected and lauded for his talent, charm, and contributions to American music history, that when the last note rings out from his guitar Lucille, when he finally "packs my suitcase and move(s) on down the line," that's when the real blues will commence. --Marco Torres
Location, as the saying goes, is everything -- and that's certainly true of any manner of live music experience. When paired with just the right sort of epic, illustrious, or acoustically faultless setting, good bands can become great, while great bands can become unforgettable, particularly if there's a subtle interplay of artist and venue that helps accentuate the music. The starlit milieu offered by the outdoor amphitheater at Arcosanti, the experimental commune and art incubator built by visionary urban designer Paolo Soleri on a windswept vista outside Mayer, certainly qualifies as epic, while its towering avant-garde architecture dazzles the eyes and tends to focus sound on the audience. It's a surrounding as unique as the eclectic selection of sounds that will swirl through the amphitheater from the bands participating in Crescent Ballroom's Family Road Trip, an excursion to be taken by the proprietors, staff, and regulars of the Phoenix venue that will offer a fitting mix of bands, each of which will likely to vibe with the venue in its own way. The often-spartan electronic ambiance and emotive indie verve of guitarist Jimmy LaValle (of San Diego post-rockers Tristeza) and his sometimes-solo side project The Album Leaf seems apt for Acrosanti's laidback feel, while the vibrance of Cuban-influenced act iCaray and high-energy tempest of the Phoenix Afrobreat Orchestra is just as colorfully funky as the trademark bronze bells that are crafted on the premises. Plus, North Brother Island has enough free-spirited soul, glorious harmonizing, and plucky banjos in its chamber folk offerings to be conducive to the hippyish bent to the place. --Benjamin Leatherman
.Bad Rabbits - Sunday, September 28 - Club Red
Bad Rabbits sounds like the best dance party you went to last year. The Boston-based funk outfit combines the technical mastery of university-trained musicians with the attitude and airtight live performance of Morris Day and the Time. The result is an album, 2013's American Love, that plays like pure joy recorded, digitized, and burned onto a CD. The album opener, "We Can Roll," features moody synths that build into dramatic hits, and just when the tension becomes unbearable, the song explodes into a hard-hitting groove. Singer Fredua Boakye has an archetypal classic R&B voice reminiscent of Marvin Gaye after a five-day bender, effortlessly switching between sky-high falsetto and soulful rasp. Guitars, bass, drums, and keys lock together seamlessly, creating a powerful sound fiendishly designed to get people moving on the dance floor. "Take It Off" and "Dirty" offer a playfully raunchy take on the classic R&B seduction song, while "Fall in Love" deals with the inevitable aftermath of such physical encounters. Bad Rabbits doesn't offer any particularly new take on their genre of choice, but they have taken the lessons of their funk forefathers, internalized them and refined them to near-perfection. --David Accomazzo
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.