Top Five Must-See Phoenix Shows This Week
Every so often The Maine comes to town playing a slightly larger venue than it did the time before. Their goal, so far as I can tell, is to take advantage of this until, having played U.S. Airways Center and University of Phoenix Stadium in short order, local government is forced to rope off downtown and sell tickets there.
Or they could just be steadily building a following around town. I don't know, either way. (View our complete concert calendar here.)
John Mayer - Wednesday, October 2 - Ak-Chin Pavilion
It took a move to Montana and some lovin' from Katy Perry to get John Mayer back some of the credibility he lost from exploiting his "sexual napalm" exes and comparing his dick to a white supremacist. Since he bunkered down in his new secluded northern home, Mayer's shied away from salacious deeds, save for the occasional ogling of his girlfriend's goods, instead opting to pen more reflective tracks. Last month Mayer released the folk-rockish Death Valley , his second country-tinged album; it's slowly regaining Mayer the respect he all but lost years before.
Then there's the Perry collabo "Who You Love," with syrupy sweet lyrics like, "My girl, she ain't the one that I saw coming...I tried to run before, but I'm not running anymore." "Waitin' on the Day" shows Mayer's desire to mature and have kids. And though "Paper Doll" is rumored to be about past fling Taylor Swift, Mayer refuses to confirm the meaning behind the lyrics -- classy, indeed. One thing Mayer has never lost, no matter his past discretions: his jaw-dropping guitar skills. Rolling Stone named him a "new school guitar god," for good reason. When he hits the Valley, be prepared to get mesmerized as he deftly moves up and down the neck with never-ending solos. --Nicki Escudero
Youth Lagoon - Wednesday, October 2 - Crescent Ballroom
Bigger, louder, deeper and weirder, the second album from Youth Lagoon is the sort of follow-up that exceeds its predecessor in every way. Boise's Trevor Powers, 24, toys with expectations - both his own and those from the indie rock world that was watching his development closely - on Wondrous Bughouse , released in March by Fat Possum. While Youth Lagoon's 2011 debut The Year of Hibernation sounds like exactly that, this new record is pop at its most fragmented - an ambitious sonic exploration of the human psyche that's always in the service of the melody, filled with experimentation in the service of the song. -- Eric Swedlund
The Maine - Thursday, October 3 - Marquee Theatre, Tempe
Tempe-based The Maine has changed a lot in the six years since they released their first album. The dancey synth beds those early songs played in have been drained, leaving a dry, hard-edged sound behind, and they've gone from unhappy major-label residents to selling 10,000 first-week copies of 2013's Forever Halloween completely independently. One thing that hasn't changed is their fanbase--The Maine has always punched above its weight like that, with Tumblrs and Facebook likes and East Asian Twitter accounts swarming around its every move.
We can't explain that expression of fan love, but it's easy enough to understand why every show they do in the Valley seems to get a little bigger and louder: They're just really good at it. Lead singer John O'Callaghan sets the tone; unable and unwilling to hide behind a guitar, he slides and bounces and screams around the stage like a rock-and-roll-movie frontman come to life. "Let's get fucking weird together," he said, opening July's tour-closing show at Crescent Ballroom. Inasmuch as they have a mission statement, that's it.
Booker T. Jones - Thursday, October 3 - MIM Theater
While Booker T. Jones is no longer laying down organ funk and soul grooves with the M.G.'s, the bandleader and arranger behind such Stax Records greats as Otis Redding, Eddie Floyd, Wilson Pickett, Sam and Dave, and Albert King's "Born Under A Bad Sign"--and enough overly sampled solo compositions to provide a lifetime of royalty checks--still has a good thing going on. The Drive-By Truckers, with an uncredited Neil Young on lead guitar, backed his 2009 solo album, Potato Hole, which earned him a best Instrumental Album Grammy.
A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and overall four-time Grammy winner, Jones' solo career began in 1962 with the landmark instrumental song and album Green Onions. Jones' funky, soulful Hammond organ became the guiding light in the development of Memphis soul, and eventually spawned the soul jazz movement. More recently, Jones released Sound the Alarm on the revived Stax label. Though packed with guest artists, and filled with vocals instead of the usual instrumental work-ups, Booker T's unmistakable organ carries the load. Touring with a full band, Jones' current show is a harmonic convergence of past and present--and it's a glorious thing. -- Glenn BurnSilver
West Water Outlaws - Friday, October 4 - Last Exit Live
If you haven't heard West Water Outlaws playing through your speakers or on a stage, you're missing out on a refreshing gust of raw blues and classic rock. Fans of the Black Keys, Led Zeppelin and White Stripes will love this Boulder-based act, which has already shared the stage with the likes of The Stone Foxes and Dick Dale. West Water Outlaw's open writing dynamic and vintage sound layers elements like organ and lap steel over rhythm guitar, high-energy vocals, and a chugging rhythm section. The single, "Real Killer," is an unfiltered and adrenaline-soaked love-letter to the music of the '50s and '70s.
In 2010, vocalist Blake Rooker accidentally walked into the wrong statistics class and ended up reconnecting with a friend from his freshman year, guitarist Will Buck. They bonded over a love of blues and gritty rock and roll, and West Water Outlaws was born. The band began playing parties in Rooker's basement, a reinvigorating turn from the emerging DJ trend, which brought them into Boulder bars and local clubs in exchange for food and beer. Now they're rocking more than 150 shows across the country in 2013, bringing their brand of roadhouse jams to new audiences. With plans to release their first full-length this fall, West Water Outlaws is bringing visions of rock 'n roll's past to the future. -- Lauren Wise
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