Hey ya, the weekend is here. So get off the couch and go dancing, Phoenix. Maybe these shows: Our Top Five Must-See Shows in Phoenix This Weekend.
If Wolfgang Gartner were to compile a list of his biggest moments of 2012, the 30-year-old electro and progressive house producer would have plenty of fodder from which to pick. He not only collaborated with such EDM heavy-hitters as Deadmau5 (on the spectacular club banger "Animal Rights") and Tiësto (co-producing "We Own the Night," which scorched both the UK and Beatport charts), he also was ranked seventh on the annual "America's Best DJ" poll, beating out the likes of Mad Decent founder Diplo and Duck Sauce's A-Trak.
And then there's the fact that Gartner got to perform at Spike network's 2012 Video Game Awards, where he not only was suspended above the audience on an aerial stage (all while being strapped into a testicle-crushing body harness) but also got a pimp introduction from Mace Windu himself, ceremony host Samuel L. Jackson. It's not the only quasi-Star Wars connection Gartner's got going on recently, however. During the 2012 HARD LA festival at the legendary Hollywood Palladium, he provided a showstopping set from atop a custom-made globe-shaped and LED-covered DJ booth that he dubbed "The Death Star."
And with all the bank that Gartner -- a lifelong Star Wars fanatic -- has been pulling down these days, we wouldn't be shocked if he somehow owns an actual Imperial Shuttle. He's headed to Scottsdale this weekend. Hope there ain't any delays at the spaceport, er, airport. May the force be with him. -- Benjamin Leatherman
There's nothing stately about Mariah DeRaet. She's an unassuming character offstage, a 25-year-old barista with a warm demeanor that could belong to any college-aged girl next door. Yet when she straps on a parlor-sized Martin acoustic as the vocalist of Tempe's Avery, she and her band (drummer Eric Estrada, guitarist Matt Safranck, and co-founder/cellist Allison Galbreath) turn heads.
Avery straddles the line between folk, pop, and alternative country, at times recalling Rilo Kiley at its most wistful. For a young outfit in a scene as eclectic as Tempe's, it's Avery's combination of down-home sound and DeRaet's songwriting sensibilities that sets the band apart.
When Avery takes the stage, people notice. For a quartet that only cemented its lineup two months ago, they play with panache that belies both their age and their longevity. The interplay between DeRaet and Safranck is just as fun to watch as it is to listen to, and the complementation of Galbreath's classically trained cello skills adds dimension and character to an already original show. -- Kristian C. Libman
When Atlanta garage rock hellions The Black Lips visited the Rhythm Room, they nearly tore the place down. Their weekend stop at the Marquee looks to nearly double the mayhem, because they'll not only have Phoenix psych monsters Destruction Unit and folk punkers Andrew Jackson Jihad in tow, but their gig will serve as the official PHX AM after-party, which, coincidentally, nearly tore down the Yucca Tap Room last year.
You've been warned. -- Jason P. Woodbury
Ryan Leslie is a smooth operator. The rap/hip-hop artist's rhymes melt like butter on toast -- actually, given Leslie's penchant for upscale video shoots in Paris and other exotic locales ("People ask me my address and I say global," he raps on "Swiss Francs"), make that butter on a baguette. But whatever he's eating, music comes first.
A boy genius who graduated from Harvard at 19 and delivered the prestigious Harvard Oration despite having landed on academic probation three times when beat-making got in the way of studies, Leslie always knew his calling. Yet he's clearly not as comfortable as he lets on, frequently singing of "being underrated" and demanding glory: "I love my story / No matter what it takes / Gonna get my glory."
It's standard to brag in rap, but Leslie ups the ante with deft namedropping: cars (Ferrari Dino, Lamborghini, Pantera, Mercedes Gull Wing); clothes (Gucci, Chanel, Versace), and cash (Swiss francs, dollars -- "grands" -- euros). "That's how I know I'm a professional / Six Os on the left side of the decimal . . . That's a million." So what does Leslie have to fret about? Underrated or not, Leslie's doing music for a living, and he's doing just fine. -- Glenn BurnSilver
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Some guys have all the luck, and Steven Chung is one of them. Things have been rosy, to say the least, for the Scottsdale house music guru who performs as DJ Tranzit.
When EDM superstar Bad Boy Bill swung through the Valley recently, it wasn't just to perform at Axis/Radius or conduct a spin symposium at one of Scottsdale Community College's DJ classes. Turns out the Chicago house legend took a meeting with Chung and inked a deal to release Tranzit's new Strike EP, which drops this Friday. Having one of his projects come out on Bad Boy Bill's imprint, Menage Records, is a lifelong dream that's been fulfilled. "It's been my main goal ever since I first started DJing 14 years ago," Chung says. -- Benjamin Leatherman