You've got less than a month of shopping days until you think about doing Black Friday for a minute and then just decide to go closer to Christmas instead.
In the meantime, consider giving yourself the gift of any of these five must-see Phoenix shows.
The Pistoleros - Last Exit Live - Saturday, November 9
He's being awful polite about it, but Lawrence Zubia has places to go.
It's Halloween evening, and he's sitting at a table at Casey Moore's in Tempe. He looks every inch the rock star. He's sporting a black vest and drain-pipe black Levis, a red bandanna around his neck, and hair slicked back stylishly. It's just about sundown, and he's wearing shades.
Lawrence and his brother, guitarist Mark Zubia, are entrenched in Tempe rock 'n' roll lore. In the late '80s, their band Live Nudes gigged around town, and in the early '90s, they teamed with guitarist Doug Hopkins, who'd just been booted from the Gin Blossoms during the recording of that band's breakthrough record, New Miserable Experience. Hopkins and the Zubias started kicking around tunes at the "Live Nudes house" after shows and on lazy afternoons, and before long they had a new band, The Chimeras, which embraced both the bluesy style of the Zubias and Hopkins' chiming power-pop style.
Hopkins didn't last long with the group, but the Zubias pushed forward with guitarist Thomas Laufenberg, bassist Scott Andrews, and drummer Gary Smith, recording their debut, Mistaken for Granted, in 1995. The record caught the notice of Hollywood Records, and the group was signed and rechristened The Pistoleros for trademark reasons. They released Hang On to Nothing in 1997, and despite great write-ups in No Depression and other critical outlets, the album failed to make a commercial impact and the band was dropped from the label.
It was a long time ago, and things are different for Lawrence Zubia. -- Jason P. Woodbury
Nine Inch Nails - US Airways Center - Saturday, November 9
At this point in Trent Reznor's career, a new Nine Inch Nails album is no longer just a musical statement--it's an album in a career that's been so picked over and scrutinized that every new move is instantly set against 20 years of context.Hesitation Marks
, this summer's return to the name after a brief hiatus, was no different; the first single, "Come Back Haunted," mostly pleased critics but put some long-time fans on edge.
The album itself got equally positive reviews, and the fans have mostly been on edge since With Teeth made a crossover success out of a sound that used to make parents nervous, so it's hard to say just where this latest Nine Inch Nails era will rate when the fan forums rank the albums for the final time. Until then, less devoted Reznor fans will have little choice but to listen to the album themselves and decide--or see him in the distinctly unfrightening US Airways Center, with guests Explosions in the Sky.
Kandieland - Arizona Events Center - Saturday, November 9
If there's one constant to the rave scene -- other than all the bright lights and booming beats -- it's kandie. No, not the sort of sugary confections that are sometimes sold by vendors and often munched on by hyperactive teens and post-adolescents at underground events. Instead, we're referencing the endless rainbow of plastic bracelets, necklaces, or baubles sported by said rave kids in abundance.
You're certain to see an excess of such trinkets being sported with pride throughout the Arizona Event Center, 1300 South Country Club Drive in Mesa, during the annual Kandieland dance party on Saturday, November 9. The event's promoters are bringing in some major names for the eight-hour affair, including such British imports as happy hardcore vanguard/trance specialist Darren Styles and hard dance producer Gammer. Quosh Records king Chris Unknown is also scheduled to perform, as a lineup of ultra-talented local DJs and EDM practitioners, including the Dulectro Thugs, Damien Helzcoming, Rize, Skull Kids, and Kromozome Zero. The party runs from 7 p.m. until 3 a.m. General admission is $25, VIP access is $35. Call 602-315-9023 or see www.purplepass.com. -- Benjamin Leatherman
Lyle Lovett - MIM Music Theater - Sunday, November 10
It's hard to figure out exactly what to make of modern country's flirtations with genres outside Nashville's rustic confines. Taylor Swift's Red incorporated an (ever-so-slight) dubstep wobble into her pop-country frame. The Zac Brown Band is covering Metallica live. Former Hootie and the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker gets as much mileage out of his old alt-bro hits as he does his new country ones.
"Accidental Racist," Brad Paisley's blundering buddy-cop outing with LL Cool J, is an unavoidable trainwreck, and will undoubtedly go down as one of 2013's worst hick-hop singles in a year when that designation isn't a rarity or outlier at all.
In light of such general weirdness, it's tempting to suggest building a "dang fence" to keep the "real country" safe from its mutant offspring. But that would put someone like Lyle Lovett out of a job, and considering the care and craft he's exhibited for more than three decades, that would be a shame. -- Jason P. Woodbury
Mike Doughty - Crescent Ballroom - Sunday, November 10
For Mike Doughty, revisiting songs he wrote in some cases more than 20 years ago felt like walking into a ghost town. The former frontman for Soul Coughing - the distinct 1990s alternative band he once described as "deep slacker jazz" - decided to record an album of reimagined old tunes, freeing them from the past and presenting the music closer to his original vision for the songs. Embarking on the project was both scary and surreal for Doughty - and unexpected for fans. Soul Coughing reached a devoted audience, but those were dark personal years for Doughty, who described the band relationship as a bad marriage in his 2012 memoirThe Book of Drugs
So, why revisit Soul Coughing now, at 43 years old, 15 years after the band's final album and five proper albums into a thriving solo career? "I think I found myself wondering who I was back then and wanting to separate the songs from the darkness and look at them in a purer light. It really had to do with excising the song from the past, as opposed to trying to cure the past." For Doughty, this trip back in time isn't, to borrow a phrase from his only top-10 single, just walking around in circles. "It's funny, but you live the song. It's not like you can hold it in your hand and look at it and see something from a long time ago," he says. "You're in the middle of it, it's like you're walking into a ghost town." -- Eric Swedlund