Top Five Must-See Phoenix Shows This Week
Only one of the shows in this week's Top Five Must-See Phoenix Shows This Week will feed the homeless, but I don't think you should really hold that against the other four.
I guess it's harder not to hold it against the other four when it's framed that way. But if you find yourself at any of these shows -- or anything else on our concert calendar -- and suddenly feel guilty about that, remember that you can donate to Feeding America after non-benefit shows, too. Remember, also, that if you only went to benefit shows, Kid Rock would eventually be homeless himself.
California Wives - Rhythm Room - Tuesday, July 22
One of my favorite fake rock genres I just made up is "Generally Happy Guys Who Like The Strokes Rock." It's characterized by clean, interlocking guitar riffs; complex, precise drumming; and not being nearly as depressed or cryptic about youth and decay as the guy who wrote "But kids are always honest / 'cause they don't think they're ever gonna die" is.
California Wives probably owe more to a super-relaxed, alternate-universe version of U2 than they do the Strokes -- there's some "chillwave" in songs like "Photolights," though it's there precisely because that term has rapidly become so vague that we have to quarantine it in scare-quotes -- but it's the combination of that strangely pleasant loneliness and instrumental care that sets them apart from similar bands.
They'll be joined at Rhythm Room by fellow Chicagoans My Gold Mask, whose latest album, Leave Me Midnight, manages to make its new wave revival ingredients sound a little like the backdrop to a movie-cultist's arcane rituals.
brotherun - Crescent Ballroom - Wednesday, July 24
Weirdly hard-to-pronounce sibling duo brotherun is from Phoenix but not in Phoenix--the band formed in Nashville, where they live now. If you can forgive them that not-uncommon trespass, you'll find two sides of really well-formed whatever-we're-calling-synth-heavy-pop-now in debut singles "The Dissonance Between Us" and "Wishful Thinking."
They've dutifully tagged their Bandcamp singles "ambient" and "chillwave" and "dreampop," but these two songs -- particularly "Wishful Thinking" -- sneak away from those tags a little by avoiding the pillowy 8-bit sounds they typically call up. Everything here is sharp and present and pleasantly reminiscent of a time when everybody was still pretty sure compact discs sounded better than all their hissing fuzzy records.
Rancid - Marquee Theatre, Tempe - Wednesday, July 24
Rancid is the perfect starter punk band. The group has the punk image down pat -- just look at frontman Tim Armstrong's liberty spikes and numerous tattoos. The cover of . . . And Out Come the Wolves is enough to make any aspiring young punk pick up the record to find out more about the mohawked guy hanging out on the steps.
These kids may have heard "Ruby Soho" or "Journey to the End of East Bay" online, or perhaps they saw the band's skull and crossbones logo printed on a T-shirt at Hot Topic. How fans discovered Rancid doesn't matter -- what's important is that they go beyond the image to listen to the band. Rancid formed from the ashes of fellow Bay Area trailblazers Operation Ivy and continues to pioneer the signature ska punk sound that has since been imitated by countless bands since.
They've has been going strong since 1991, and their legacy will likely continue to bloom as more and more teenagers discover . . . And Out Come the Wolves in old record bins. From there, they'll find themselves falling further down the rabbit hole of Epitaph Records' iconic catalog. -- Melissa Fossum
Kid Rock - Ak-Chin Pavilion - Wednesday, July 24
A few years ago, Kid Rock was at a concert, watching T-shirts sell for $40. He had more reason than most stars to wonder why they were charging so much. He has a T-shirt company of his own, Made in Detroit, and he knows exactly how much it costs to produce and transport the shirts.
"So I had banners made that said 'F the economy,'" he said in a later interview, "and sold all my T-shirts for $20, and people responded. And I thought, why couldn't we do this with concert tickets?"
The "$20 Best Night Ever Tour" kicked off June 28 and includes Kid Rock's longtime friends ZZ Top and Uncle Kracker, along with -- strangely enough -- Kool and the Gang. His business model may be risky, but there's a genius in it that's peculiarly Kid Rock: The idea is to make each show pulsate with endless, upbeat energy, providing the feel of a gigantic backyard barbecue, diverting his fans from their everyday lives and the struggling economy. -- Lauren Wise
Feeding America Benefit Concert - Crescent Ballroom - Thursday, July 25
Feeding America and watching a bunch of really good local bands are typically two things you can't do at the same time, which I think is why you rarely see Monsanto executives at the Sail Inn. Thursday night's benefit show at the Crescent is a rare chance to discharge both obligations in the same night.
The Senators, Dry River Yacht Club, Sara Robinson and the Midnight Special, and Flamenco Por la Vida will be playing to support Feeding America's network of food banks. Your ticket is support enough to get inside the venue, but an extra non-perishable food donation will net you a copy of the Senators' debut album, a raffle ticket, and a concrete good deed you can remember next week after you give that old lady the finger in traffic.
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