This set of concert recommendations won't apply to everyone, because we don't have one that takes place in an airport on your way back to your parents' house. But if you're sticking around, like me, you've got some options.
DJ Green Lantern - Bar Smith - Friday, December 20
James D'Agostino has never slipped the surly bonds of gravity and traveled into outer space. Nor has he visited Oa, taken possession of a fabled Power Ring, battled the dastardly Sinestro, or bombed around with the other members of the JLA. Despite all these facts, the 38-year-old is known throughout the hip-hop world as DJ Green Lantern and possesses superhero-like skills as a producer and remixer, especially when it comes to his heavy-duty trap music creations.
Much like D'Agostino himself -- who has an extensive producing career in the rap world and has collaborated and toured with the likes of Jay Z, Ludacris, Skrillex, and Diplo -- his jams and mixtapes (including the popular "Altitude Mix") bridge the realms of hip-hop and EDM. D'Agostino will zoom into Bar Smith, 130 East Washington Street, on Friday, December 20, to join forces with the Foul Play crew for a night filled with hood-hop, trap, glitch, moombahton, and other serious sounds. Resident DJs Prince Money Money, J.Paul, Pickster One, Bigie Meanmugg, and Murk will rock the decks on both floors throughout the night. -- Benjamin Leatherman
Black Carl and Dry River Yacht Club - Crescent Ballroom - Friday, December 20
We've said a lot about both of these bands over the last few years, but both are just hitting their stride heading into 2014--which is kind of a scary thought given how strong they were before that.
Here's a Potentially Telling Anecdote: At our last freelancer meeting, we were talking over a possible list of the Valley's best local frontmen. Emma Pew and Garnet, of Black Carl and DRYC respectively, were among the first names on everybody's lips.
Tower of Power - MIM Music Theater - Friday, December 20
As the legend goes, in 1974 the commercially successful jazz and soul symphony band Tower of Power played a studio session in Long Island on the radio station WLIR. This might have been just one of countless performances in the history of a band that's conquered the ups and downs of the music industry for 45 years, but there seemed to be something special about this show. Their rhythm was on point, each song hit a little bit harder and more precisely than the last--in short they left listeners wanting more by the end of the set, or at least a chance to experience it all again.
Since that performance, the winds of change have brought many different faces to the line-up of TOP, but their drive and passion for music has always kept the core musicians grounded. Now, after nearly forty years, the band has stumbled upon the original master recording of the unique Long Island performance that was seemingly lost in the annals of TOP history, and die-hard fans can get their long-awaited fix with the release of Hipper than Hip.
"I was kind of floored by it myself," says TOP founding member Emilio Castillo when recalling the day he listened to the lost recording for release approval. -- Caleb Haley
Shurman - Last Exit Live - Friday, December 20
If you haven't seen Shurman before, it's hard to entice you by saying this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience; the Texas natives tour relentlessly, and they've been to Phoenix at least once already this year and last. Lead singer Aaron Beavers has a simple explanation: "We're not shoegazers... the interaction between our band and the audience is really paramount to us." Sever that connection and there's nothing going on, right? Not quite; their studio sound, much as it varies from record to record, is a fair-enough substitute for the real thing if it's been a few months since they came around.
But they don't play 20-plus shows a month because they like traveling--they're doing it because their country-soul-hard-rock hybrid is dependent on the energy the crowd is giving off. Your response to their performance could be the difference between a good show and a great show. Since they're back in town so soon, the energy in Phoenix must have been to their liking. -- Dan Moore
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The Wiley One - Last Exit Live - Saturday, December 21
After a 2013 spent playing approximately 75 shows, The Wiley One decided to take a break and assess their accomplishments. They decided one more show, something a little different, would be a solid ending to the year. "We've always wanted to do a live album," band founder Sam Wiley says. Despite being more than warmed up for another concert, the band has spent its time off working some newer songs into the set--including the unreleased "All in All" and the rarely performed "Seize the Day"--and adjusting arrangements for several of the tried and true numbers making more room for recent addition DJ P-Funk. "We want to add our new songs, but also improve on our older songs," Wiley confirms.
The results should be a fun-filled 90 minutes of The Wiley One's magic blend of blues, funk, hip-hop, reggae and dub that is nothing short of an infectious good time. Wiley's sound, often compared to Sublime and G. Love and Special Sauce, developed during a lifetime of music in a family of musicians, and influences as diverse as Pink Floyd, The Pixies and underground hip-hop. "I found a sound that just came naturally," Wiley says. And come Saturday, anyone will be able to add to it. -Glenn BurnSilver