Top Five Must-See Phoenix Shows This Week
I can't really blame Yes for not thinking about this back in 1968, when they formed, but if I were their SEO consultant at the time I would have strongly suggested they go with something that was a little easier to Google.
Like "Future Loves Past" or -- even better -- "Small Leaks Sink Ships," although that one might be too long for a good Twitter username. "Jackson Difé" would work, too, though you've got to worry about people who didn't play Pokémon growing up not knowing how to bring up the é character.
Of course, Steve Howe has never asked Up on the Sun about it. We feel that snub acutely, but we won't keep it from discharging our duties -- here are the Top Five Must-See Phoenix Shows This Week. (Click here for our complete Phoenix concert listings.)
Yes - Celebrity Theatre - July 9
Being a rock fan in the early '70s meant never knowing a year when rock wasn't moving forward -- when newer and bolder innovations weren't always just around the corner.
Yes took the burgeoning progressive rock movement further -- and with a longer running time -- than anyone else had dared to before. Album-side suites, cosmic lyrics inspired by yogis, circular chanting, odd time signatures, squiggly synth sounds -- if there was a glass ceiling to this thing we still called rock, Yes was going to smash through it. Some said prog rock was excessive. Well, so was going to the moon -- but someone had to try, and thank goodness Yes got us there musically, bless its starship-trooper heart.
"Everyone has to do their homework before heading into rehearsals," Steve Howe tells us. "You have to dazzle up the part, you have to study the arrangement on the record -- that's your Bible, and you learn it very thoroughly with no compromise."
"Because," he says, with some severity, "there will be questions." --Serene Dominic
Jackson Difé - Last Exit Live - July 9
Jackson Difé -- named for the main character of their songs , surprisingly enough -- plays riff-y, reflective rock that might remind you of the parts of the late-'90s post-grunge era you liked -- the appealing, straightforward frustration that launched a million Rob Thomas singles, the not-quite-bluesy not-quite-breakdown in "Left Over Drive," even the Pearl-Jammy way in which some songs seem to terminate, having exhausted the possibility of actual lyrics, in an appropriate-sounding yowl.
Rock history is punctuated by movements that wore out their welcome not because they were never interesting, but because repetition and the calculated hangers-on wrung all the interesting out of them. Jackson Difé finds what was admirable in the heavy and jammy pop-rocks of the '90s and pulls it together into something novel and interesting.
Small Leaks Sink Ships, Wooden Indian, Future Loves Past, decker. - Crescent Ballroom - July 10
That is maybe the longest H2 I've written in three months as music editor, and the full headline on the flyer is longer still: Joanne Yoshiko PRESENTS A RED CARPET EVENT STARRING: SMALL LEAKS SINK SHIPS / WOODEN INDIAN / FUTURE LOVES PAST / DECKER. / NICHOLAS VILLA & FRIENDS WITH SPECIAL GUEST DJ: SEAN WATSON.
Sometimes that's all you need to do to sell people on a show: List everybody who's going to be playing there in all-caps.
Read More: - Wooden Indian explains why the desert makes you drink too much. - Download Future Loves Past's new single, "Grow Up Tall." - decker. talks spirituality, last year's tour accident, and Kickstarter.
Dessa - Crescent Ballroom - July 11
Last month was an absolute juggernaut for hip-hop releases, with new records out from Kanye, Mac Miller, J. Cole, and Quasimoto, among others. The downside to the flood was the world-class work of Dessa getting overlooked in the wave of hype. The Minneapolis-based MC (and slam poet and author), born Margret Wander, issued Parts of Speech , her third record, on June 25.
Like A Badly Broken Code, her stunner of a debut, Parts is heavy on the range: Dessa uses the album to alternate between the roles of regretful softy, wise narrator who glides over human scenery and cocksure fire-starter who is ready for a confrontation if you really want to go there. Beats crackle, weep, whir, sway, levitate and wink. Dessa's overarching thesis statement is that she doesn't have a thesis statement--or at least no one imposing enough to follow closely on Parts--but her potency has always come from projecting that three-dimensional, chameleonic character.
She also happens to be the smartest and most affecting vocalist in Doomtree, her close-knit clique who are a crown jewel in Minneapolis' thriving indie hip-hop scene. Considering just how stacked with talent Doomtree are, that's quite the testament to this perennial underdog. --Reyan Ali
The Protomen - Pub Rock, Scottsdale - July 11
Full disclosure: I am friend-of-a-friends with the Protomen through what is perhaps the nerdiest possible avenue. Some of my closest internet friends got together after years of playing the same Super Nintendo RPG and founded Tucson-based socially-acceptable-nerd-apparel outlet Fangamer . They're videogame-convention-circuit pals with The Protomen, which is how I first heard about them.
You may have first heard about the Mega-Man-based theatrics-rock band because they do a remarkable "Bohemian Rhapsody." Thursday's show is being billed as a Night of Queen, which is also the title of a 2012 live album.
Joining them--in case you're more a Flash Man guy than a "Flash" guy--are Phoenix's own The Minibosses, pioneers of the Mega Man/prog-rock combination.
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