There isn't a Coachella this weekend, so far as I can tell -- neither a real Coachella nor The Real Coachella, which honestly seemed like a better time. That leaves us, globally, with a notable shortage of people listening to music in weird outfits and from strange campsites.
These five shows might not be the best place to put on your ridiculous headdress, but they are a chance to see live music. So: Here are five must-see shows in Phoenix this week.
Wednesday, April 25 - Molly Ringwald - Musical Instrument Museum Music Theatre
Are you a little surprised that it's actually Molly Ringwald who's performing music at the Musical Instrument Museum this week, and not some '80s-loving pop-punk band that appropriated her name while you (and she) weren't looking?
Well, me too, to be honest. But I shouldn't have been, apparently -- John Hughes' gamine muse (and Duckie's girl-that-got-away) began her child-star career performing with her father, jazz pianist Bob Ringwald, and released her first solo album, Except Sometimes, earlier this month. (Less than a year after the release of her first novel, 2012's When It Happens to You.)
Best of all, she's well-adjusted enough about her indestructible teen-dramedy image -- or at least a good-enough sport about it -- that the album features a cover of "Don't You (Forget About Me)." Like her novel, it's impressive (and pretty entertaining) for something you didn't know existed a couple of minutes ago. -- Dan Moore
Tuesday, April 23 - The Gaslight Anthem - Marquee Theatre, Tempe
Every year, more young bands seek to inherit Bruce Springsteen's legacy of brains-meets-brawn heartland rock. One of the best is the Gaslight Anthem, who not only hail from The Boss' native New Jersey but also tapped his current producer, Brendan O'Brien, for their latest album, released last July.
Aside from a string-draped acoustic ballad called "National Anthem," Handwritten didn't add much dimension to the band's familiar aesthetic. Its best moments, particularly "45," are right up there with anything off 2008's breakout The '59 Sound -- all bar-chord pound and skyward solos. -- Mike Madden
Wednesday, April 24 - Sir Sly, JMSN - Rhythm Room
2013 is a good time to be a little dreamy, pop-wise. While EDM gets more popular and more abrasive, a strain of modern pop music has gotten quieter and more contemplative. The increasingly buzzy Sir Sly is a fine example of the form, with pensive, nearly anthemic melodies sung quietly while synths play through cheesecloth.
JMSN's music is similarly subdued -- no matter how loud you listen, you'll be struck by the strange feeling that you're hearing it from a few blocks down, at a party where you weren't invited. I'm not sure how that will play live at Rhythm Room, but I'm interested in finding out. -- Dan Moore
Tuesday, April 23 - Crystal Castles - Marquee Theatre, Tempe
Few acquired tastes have ever been acquired so unexpectedly fast as Crystal Castles. Alice Glass sings and yells and otherwise makes noise over a bed of conspicuously dated synthesizers.
It sounds like a recipe for a devoted but permanently limited following -- but the music, as it turns out, doesn't sound that way at all. Add in their reputation as a band that's much wilder on stage than on record and you've got a recipe that appeals to more picky eaters than you might think. -- Dan Moore
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Thursday, April 25 - Blackberry Smoke - Marquee Theatre, Tempe
Southern rock is not hard to find on the radio, and if you like Southern rock that's a good thing. But there's an unfortunate corollary to that fact: You've probably heard most of it a million times already, on the radio.
Which is where Blackberry Smoke comes in. With a sound that sits somewhere between KSLX standard-bearers and that alt-country mix-CD your cool, world-weary friend gave you in high school, Blackberry Smoke hits all the old country-fried high points -- fatalism, drinking, regional pride, the kind of jilted beaux who can only be addressed as "woman" or "mama" -- without ever winking or sounding like a cover band.
So when you're ready for a break from the Southern Rock playlist, give them a look. -- Dan Moore