Have you ever played a Final Fantasy game? If you have, you'll know that many-if-not-all of them involve collecting an arbitrary number of crystals that a megalomaniacal villain is also chasing, so that they won't fall into the wrong hands and be used to enslave the world or shoot down airships or whatever villains do in Final Fantasy games.
Now, look: I'm not saying that there are five crystals hidden throughout the Valley, or that a megalomaniacal villain is chasing them, but it would certainly explain why we call them must-sees, and why people keep trying to use their Limit Break at Martini Ranch. So I don't know, your call. (View our complete concert calendar here.)
Megafauna - The Sail Inn, Tempe - Friday, July 19
The weird thing is, I didn't even know I
a vaguely spacey, female-fronted version of Helmet. That, at least, rules out the possibility that I daydreamed Megafauna into existence, like in [anime reference deleted].
Another reason: Unlike most dream-logic mash-ups, Megafauna works, and kind of unnervingly well; singer/guitarist Dani Neff is somehow able to keep her airy vocals out from under her own lurching, wrong-footed guitar riffs. The result isn't a band you knew you needed, but it's definitely one worth hearing.
Hip Hop House - Hidden House - July 19
When Nick Norris and a few other locals launched Hip Hop House last summer, the semi-regular event involved pretty much what its name implied: a rowdy showcase of rap, boom-bap, and urban artistry taking place inside a residence, which in this case was funky domicile/music venue Funny World.
Once they found a home for Hip Hop House in July 2012, however, it blew up big. In fact, maybe a little too big, as Norris says they'd pack the place with upwards of 75 people or more. Hence, their relocation to bigger digs at Hidden House, 607 West Osborn Road, which is where they'll be celebrating Hip Hop House's on Friday, July 19.
Although the showcase has switched locations, its focus remains the same: providing an outlet for local burgeoning hip-hop artists and lyricists. That includes those cats scheduled to appear at the party, like Colorblind, Prophetiko, and both ZeeDubb and Lord Kash of The Stakes. --Benjamin Leatherman
Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk, The Prowling Kind - Pub Rock Live, Scottsdale - Friday, July 19
Fairly Odd Folk is both a Nickelodeon reference (?) and an extremely accurate bit of self-evaluation: Lauren Mann's music iskind-of
weird folk. It's mostly just extremely competent folk-pop of the variety that's all over the radio right now.
The fairly odd thing is that it stands out from an increasingly crowded field of doorbells-and-acoustic-guitar aspirants for reasons that aren't immediately obvious. There's no clear hook, no easy explanation for why their songs will stick in your head after everybody else's sound has been fully subsumed by whimsical car commercials -- it just happens.
It feels sweated over -- worked on -- in a way that a lot of this stuff doesn't. And that's enough; not everybody has to be Extremely Odd.
John Scofield's Uberjam Band - MIM Music Theatre - Saturday, July 20
It's almost scary to think about the music that guitarist John Scofield would have created as a heavy metal artist, or if he'd dabbled in psychedelic, prog, or surf rock. Instead, Scofield touches on all these areas together, with his mostly jazz-fusion-ish construct Überjam. Maybe deconstruct would be a more apt term -- Scofield and his current band, guitarist Avi Bortnick, drummer Adam Dietch and bassist Andy Hess, strip jazz to its most basic elements before building it back up into compelling, hard-hitting grooves that tackle the rudimentary rhythmic pulses and highlights of several continents.
No single song is beholden to any one musical form: Funk, soul, Afro-beat, reggae, house and tropicalia all find a way into the jazzy mix. Überjam formed in 2002 from the prototypical jazz-heavyweight jam session.
But after one self-titled, Grammy-nominated album, these jazz virtuosos simply moved onto other projects. Scofield, for example, did a stylistic 360 in releasing an album of gentle ballads, A Moment's Peace. Bortnick, however, never let go of the notion Überjam would reform, keeping those beats and grooves in constant upheaval, as the just released Überjam Deux reveals. A fine album, it's on stage where these musicians talents are truly appreciated -- wherever the momentary musical direction. -- Glenn BurnSilver
Cracker, Camper Van Beethoven - Crescent Ballroom - Sunday, July 21
If David Lowery were allowed only one word to describe his punk, Middle Eastern, folk, ska, Slavic, Indian, Spanish, psychedelic, country, rock band Camper Van Beethoven, it would be "weird." Weird that a band with a catalog of entirely dissimilar albums has survived 30 years. Weird that influences include hippies, gypsies and Ravi Shankar. Weird that fans run the gamut from punk rockers to indie hipsters, cowboys to old stoners. Weird that band members typically create more "conventional" music in other projects.
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"It's weird isn't it?" Lowery asks, while driving to a documentary film shoot (about him) in Virginia. "I mean, we're such a weird band. There's a punk rock element to it, but there's so much in there from the Beach Boys to the Grateful Dead, Eastern European to Spanish-sounding at times. It's just a weird collection of individuals. None of us makes music like that separately. We make odd music together. We're not hugely popular, we're still a cult band, but we happen to have people all over the world who like what we do." -- Glenn BurnSilver