Two very different festivals this weekend: One, Desert Uprising, will fill Ak-Chin Pavilion with metalheads and hard rock fans for acts like Alice in Chians, Jane's Addiction, and Avenged Sevenfold. Lushfest, the other, will fill The Sail Inn with local music fans ready to see Future Loves Past perform its new album and host a ton of other bands.
We report, you decide [which one to go to.] (View our complete concert calendar here.)
Lushfest - The Sail Inn, Tempe - September 13-14All The Luscious Plants
, as a first album, is a statement of purpose, and a successful one. It distills the most important things about Future Loves Past into 10 songs and leaves the rest for the second album that now seems inevitable.
Which is good. Because if All The Luscious Plants weren't a success, things might become a little uncomfortable at Lushfest, the full-blown event that's grown out of the band's record release party. On two stages over two days at The Sail Inn 19 other local bands will join Future Loves Past, who will play the new album in its entirety.
After Future Loves Past finishes performing All The Luscious Plants Friday night the show will continue until two in the morning, with Snake! Snake! Snakes! and Instructions continuing inside. Saturday's bill features bands like Wooden Indian, Sundressed, St Ranger, and Vial of Sound, all of whom have attracted attention outside Arizona for their own success stories.
In a weird way, Lushfest is both a celebration of Future Loves Past's new album and a reminder of just how much talent is out there right now, and how many great albums don't find the larger audiences they deserve. All The Luscious Plants, and Future Loves Past, certainly deserves find a larger audience; over the weekend the audience they have now will come out in force to celebrate that fact.
Desert Uprising - Ak-Chin Pavilion - September 13-14
I admit I have an issue with mainstream, commercialized heavy metal. Some of the musicians possess undeniably impressive technical prowess, but most of the time they seem determined to adhere to strict marketing regulations, or develop a meathead attitude, further perpetuating the stereotype known as "jock metal."
A first glance at the bill for the second annual Desert Uprising could leave fans convinced the majority of the main stage bands fall into that category. But this year there's one other thing those acts share: They're not all about indulging in the industry standard of excessive testosterone. Their sound is more concentrated on the historical influences behind the music, as well as its inherent vulnerability. Which is good: Some of the best music is created while emotions are running high.
The headlining acts--Avenged Sevenfold, HIM and Volbeat--have all released new records this year that are influenced by sounds going back 50, 75, even 200 years. Plus, for each of the bands, the lyrical content was all inspired by that one little thing you're not supposed to talk about in metal: love. --Lauren Wise
Mickey Avalon - Crescent Ballroom - Friday, September 13
Mickey Avalon is constantly loaded.
He's loaded with clever rhymes and catchy hooks, played by DJs to writhing Hollywood club kids who don't understand that half of the dark memories Mickey shares are actual experiences. When he started out around 2004, he was loaded with the burden of family members dying; of drugs and that all-too familiar feeling of being lost. In 2012's Loaded, he brought us a soundtrack to live out our most debauched rock 'n' roll fantasies, dripping in hedonistic energy and comical admissions. And during our interview, he's loaded with "whatevas" and "I don't knows" as he rambles on about his new EP I Get Even that will be released on October 1.
Anyone who is a Mickey Avalon fan--or foe--knows about the electro-influenced Hollywood glam-rapper's past. Some would say it's drenched in decadence, but to me it's the opposite. Even now with his success, he seems to relish the gritty, back-alley way of doing things. Sometimes it seems to relate more to rock music than rap, so maybe that's where his broad appeal comes into play. 30 years after Iggy Pop described himself as "a street-walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm" on the Stooges' 1973 hit "Search and Destroy," Mickey Avalon has brought that same stance to the stage--as well as Iggy's tradition of upholding an underground following early in his career with a somehow sickly sweet yet forbidden lyrical imagery.
Titus Andronicus - Crescent Ballroom - Saturday, September 14
A band that repeats "you will always be a loser" toward the end of a five minute song may be a little discouraging, but the put downs are worth it. Titus Andronicus finishes its magnum opus "No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future" by singing "you will always be a loser" a whopping 30 times, always with the kind of fervor you hear during last call in a karaoke bar when patrons stumble over each other to sing "Don't Stop Believin'."
Frontman Patrick Stickles makes being a loser into a point of pride, surrounding himself with his loser company and finishing the song with three assuring words--"and that's okay."
Such a personal issue might not obviously translate to the live format, but like the enthusiastic loser chants of "No Future Part Three," fans seem to understand Stickles' plight: They're just as comfortable screaming along to the tail-end of "My Eating Disorder."
When the band played Crescent Ballroom on Election Night Stickles apologized before playing the band's longest song, "The Battle of Hampton Roads," even encouraging fans to get up and refresh their beer, but nobody stirred. 14 minute songs might seem like a risk live, but it was clear the band's diehard fans, who weren't expecting it, really saw it as a treat. --Melissa Fossum
Buena Vista Social Club - Mesa Arts Center - Sunday, September 15
The Buena Vista Social Club is not so much a musical ensemble as a brand name encapsulating the golden age of Cuban music. This period flowed from the 1930s to 1950s, when large orchestras developed the moving, often jazz-influenced rhythms of son, Guajira, rumba and salsa, performing openly and to much popular acclaim.
With Fidel Castro's rise to power, the music moved underground and, for many--especially those off the island nation--was largely forgotten. Eclectic guitarist Ry Cooder resurrected the music in 1996, recruiting many of the old-time musicians--Juan de Mariscos Gonzalez, Compay Segundo, Ruben Gonzalez and Ibrahim Ferrer--to form the Buena Vista Social Club, named after a popular '40s nightclub.
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This infectious, traditional Cuban sound regained its popular foothold, this time with a worldwide audience. Though the afore-mentioned musicians have all since died of old age, the band continues to enliven audiences, still fronted by original members Barbarito Torres, trumpeter Manuel "Guajiro" Mirabal, and trombonist and conductor Jesus "Aguaje" Ramos. This trio leads an ensemble of relative youngsters intent on keeping the spirit of Cuba, and its lively musical history, alive for the next generation. --Glenn BurnSilver