It's become a tradition around here. Every week, on Monday -- the worst of all days -- we bring you our Top Five Must-See Shows in Phoenix this week. You know, to help make it all bearable. Dig in, kiddos.
The Airborne Toxic Event's pulsing, chilly music -- with the moody sweep and swirling keyboards of '80s dark-wave revivalists the Killers and Interpol -- moves with majestic aplomb. (Frontman Mikel Jollett even cites the Smiths in "Strange Girl," off the band's second LP, All at Once.)
Once an aspiring novelist, Jollett dove into music after his girlfriend broke up with him around the same time that he was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder and his mother was diagnosed with cancer. All at Once retains the band's initial cinematic mope-pop grandeur, but producer Dave Sardy (Jet, Snow Patrol) reduces the languor, punching up the vitality and pace to counterbalance the gloom -- but not too much. The band is set to release a brand new album, Such Hot Blood, this year. -- Chris Parker
Proud adult/indie rock musician John Roderick managed to puff down some hefty straw men in his March 6 rant for Seattle Weekly titled "Punk Rock Is Bullshit": "It's time we stopped hating ourselves, our ambition, and our sincerity, guarding our integrity credentials in fear of interrogation by the secret punk police."
Though he skims off the top layer of Courtney Love, for one example, and conveniently bypasses, say, the substance of the riot grrl movement, it's not worth completely writing Roderick off as a cranky grownup. Such criticism also comes from within: Prismatic noise lifer Pete Swanson's new dance floor-inflected album for Software Records, an offshoot of über-hip label Mexican Summer, is called Punk Authority, a playfully sharp oxymoron regarding double-edged self-righteousness. The album's 13-minute seizure-house finale is titled "Life Ends at 30."
Denmark's Iceage is a quartet of kids barely in their 20s who play crooning, lurching post-punk. They're the perfect age for that kind of thing, enjoying the Kool-Aid of youth that hasn't been fermented by the inevitability of adulthood. However, the boys are seen as sincere in their conviction and as ambitious in their scope by those who champion them. They're leading a slew of multi-faceted bands and art enclaves that embody punk not as an endangered counterculture or mere aesthetic peripheral, but as a quest for shared candor among like-minded peers. -- Chase Kamp
Golden, Colorado, features a bar called the Buffalo Rose. Bands are flanked on stage by stuffed standing polar and black bears. The walls are lined with animal heads. About 200 people squeeze inside. It's where once-popular top-selling, stadium-filling bands go to die. Soul Asylum hasn't yet played there, but the band's concerted effort to keep going while hanging on to the shred of success generated by the maudlin "Runaway Train" almost assures them of one day having their former greatness eclipsed by those giant bears.
In the meantime, the band continues juggling members with former Replacement and late-edition Guns N' Roses bassist Tommy Stinson and founding guitarist Dan Murphy leaving late last year. Frontman and vocalist Dave Pirner trudges onward, hoping to lead the Minneapolis grunge band back from the abyss and rekindle the glory days that saw "Runaway Train" win a 1992 Grammy Award for Best Rock Song off the triple platinum-selling Grave Dancers Union, garnering an invite to play Bill Clinton's 1993 presidential inauguration. Last year's Delayed Reaction was a good effort, offering a glimpse of that early raw energy, but it's too little, too late. There are, of course, worse places to end up than the Buffalo Rose, and it's probably the sort of place where fans would be fine witnessing the band aim for past glories and blow through potential new ones. -- Glenn BurnSilver
There are many perks to being a member of Rebel Disco. As we've previously reported, the half-dozen or so participants in the local DJ crew regularly engage in group hugs and may have "seen each other's penises." And according to the ensemble's Edward Navarro, who Up on the Sun recently interviewed, it also has a killer 401(k) plan.
All snarkiness aside, membership in Rebel Disco does have a few bona fide benefits. On of which is getting to spin swank tunes for a typically packed house (and usually with a marquee-level guest DJ) on the rooftop of Bar Smith every Wednesday night. On Wednesday, April 3, they host Tensnake.
Navarro is definitely looking forward to the night and plans on augmenting the experience with tracks from his enormous music collection that Rebel Disco czar Jake Goldsmith says is filled with "old school electro, boogie, and rare disco gems."
Why did you decide to bring in Tensnake?
He's never been to Phoenix and if you've been to a pool [or] daytime party in the past few years, you probably heard "Coma Cat." This is huge not just for Push Push, but for Phoenix because a show like this is foundational to the development of a stronger presence in the dance music scene other big cities have. He's also our first artist not doing a DJ set but instead performing live.
Is he a kindred soul since he's a lot of the same genres as y'all?
We admire his work and it's exactly the kind of sound Rebel Disco wants to bring to Phoenix. Seeing him will be fantastic, but having the opportunity to bring him will be a memorable experience for us.
Are Wednesdays the ideal nights for partying?
Who's Aaron Carter, you ask? What, you have more important things to do than check what's trending on Twitter? It's been a very long time since this little blond-haired boner of a Backstreet brother (his big bro is Nick Carter of BSB) burst on the scene with bubbly pop jams about beating Shaq at basketball, wanting candy, and inviting us to his kiddy party, but the guy's a positive ace at Twitter.
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The 25-year-old can thank the ridiculous but efficient world of social media (and a particular hashtag that ranks -- on a scale from 1 to 10 -- how horny he's feeling; no, really look it up) for the inspiration to kickoff his comeback tour called the "After Party," a reference to Carter's third album, Aaron's Party (Come Get It). No matter how ridiculous his shirtless twitpics and flirty tweets may seem, you gotta hand it to the dude for using his resources (or his hard-on) to welcome us back to his party. -- Nicole Smith