Normally we showcase five interesting shows in Phoenix each week in this space. This week, Prince is playing four shows. It is, therefore, with the public interest in mind that we condense all four of those shows down to one White-Dwarf-dense ball of concert-recommendation.
That and more after the jump:
Prince - Marquee Theatre - April 30, May 1
Pop music is obsessed with youth, but it's also obsessed with itself. Result: An endless procession of youthful musicians from pop golden ages who are rapidly becoming capital-h Historic figures. The MTV era's counterculture heroes are now culture heroes.
Bruce Springsteen is an institution. Madonna is an icon. Prince is the kind of guy you have to see when he comes through Phoenix -- not because you love Prince, but because you'll want to have seen Prince. So why will you want to have seen Prince?
One reason: People operate under the assumption that seeing Prince is important. An implicit reason for seeing him is that you will want to tell your grandchildren, let alone your friends, about the time you saw Prince at an intimate concert at the Marquee.
This one has also been in effect for as long as Prince has been famous -- unlike some other acts of his caliber, though, the impression has only gotten stronger over time that you Need to See Prince. Where his contemporaries have slouched toward nostalgia-act-dom, he's remained someone vital, someone you go out of your way to watch. -- Dan Moore
His Name Is Alive with Wooden Indian and Beauty Drugs - Crescent Ballroom - April 29
How do you feel about pop music? Okay -- how do you feel about pop music that doesn't sound, right away, anything like pop music? Through more than 20 years of albums and touring, 4AD Records vets His Name Is Alive have sounded, at times, a little like an art project that uses pop melodies and tics as its materials. (Which isn't as intimidating as it sounds.)
Meanwhile: Locals Wooden Indian bury conventionally lovely melodies inside unusual tempos, sounds, riffs -- basically anywhere it will fit, which is more places than you might have expected. (They're also playing The Lost Leaf on May 2.)
Together they mean you'll hear a lot of really lovely pop songs at the Crescent Ballroom on Monday, even though you might not realize it right away. -- Dan Moore
Fayuca (CD Release Party) - Martini Ranch, Scottsdale - May 3
"Fayuca" is Spanish slang for the contraband markets that spring up in Mexico. These are places where any assortment of illicit goods can be found and purchased, from televisions to leather jackets, prosthetic limbs to staple foods. And it is where that Phoenix's reggae-punk-Latin rock band gets its name.
"We're kind of the same as the black market, where everything is imported from other countries and sold in one specific market," band leader and guitarist Gabriel Solorzano says of his cross-cultural outfit. "We thought we would import genres from different cultures and then sell it to the people. You can find anything in us, too."
That much is true, as Fayuca deftly merges roots reggae, vintage punk, and traditional Latin music. Cumbia and salsa rhythms propel the music, adding another layer to the always-shifting set of styles. -- Glenn BurnSilver
Paramore - Comerica Theatre - April 29
Paramore is looking lighter these days. Since the band released its most recent album almost four years ago, it lost founding members Josh and Zac Farro. The experience is documented on Paramore's newly released self-titled disc, which contains several songs about singer Hayley Williams' feelings about a split the brothers blamed on her. "I could be angry, but you're not worth a fight," she sings in "Moving On." Later, in "I'm Not Angry Anymore," she admits, "I don't think badly of you -- well, sometimes I do."
Now a trio, the band's sound has expanded to include everything from country-tinged twang on "Hate to See Your Heart Break" to gospel on "Ain't It Fun." Sure, it's evident in some songs that the new Paramore is still finding its way, but it's nice to see the group experiment musically while keeping one foot in signature pop-rock tracks like "Anklebiters."
In Paramore's new video, "Still into You," Williams is practically giddy to proclaim her love for her partner. The new album already has hit number one. But back on tour after the Farros' departure, Paramore will learn if their fans are still into them. --Nicki Escudero
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Fu Manchu - Pub Rock, Scottsdale - April 29
You're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but fuggit, man -- you can go ahead and judge Fu Manchu by its album covers. It's all there: launching dune buggies, UFOs, shredding skateboarders, babes in bikinis, hot rods, vans. It's not rocket science; it's simply Southern California rock 'n' roll.
It's been a while since these riffers have put out anything new, but that hasn't stopped a flood of reissues -- stretching as far back as the band's pre-Fu incarnation, the hardcore punk band Virulence -- from cementing the band's pedigree as a heavy rock staple. The band's last record, 2009's Signs of Infinite Power, is as stoned and confident as their debut, 1994's No One Rides for Free, with cranked rockers like "Gargantuan March" and "Webfoot Witch Hat" finding all feet firmly on the fuzz pedals.
Being a "stoner rock" band might seem a little confining -- it's a firm stylistic mold, to be sure -- but the Fu doesn't seem to mind, passionately thumbing its nose at trends, doing its own thing, and having the stones necessary to emblazon their records with such precise imagery. --Jason P. Woodbury