Curious about what's going on around town this weekend? Need some suggestions where to rock, dance, or krump in the Valley of the Sun?
Don't fret: These are our Five Shows to See This Weekend.Friday, October 19: Chicano Batman @ the Lost Leaf
If there ever was proof that the world is becoming a smaller, closer-knit place musically, look no further than Chicano Batman, the Los Angeles indie band that blends myriad global elements into a wonderfully grooving and hypnotic sound. With this high-energy, do-it-yourself quartet -- Carlos Arevalo (guitar), Eduardo Arenas (bass), Gabriel Villa (drums), and Bardo Martinez (guitar, organ) -- no musical possibility seems beyond reason when massive organ swells collapse on flick-and-pick guitar riffs, Brazilian tropicalia runs headlong into American garage psych, and gritty wah-wah guitar finds comfort in age-old cumbia and norteño rhythms on the group's self-titled debut album and recent EP, Joven Navegante.
In fact, twist your head around the idea of what Harry Belafonte could have sounded like had he joined forces with Doors organist Ray Manzarek and soul-jazz guitarist Melvin Sparks and only played juiced-up beach parties -- that's "Pomegranate Tree." "The Ballad of Raymundo Jacquez," alternately, goes south to tackle Venezuelan gozadera head-on, spicing things up with a spinkle of vintage popcorn soul.
The band's admonishment of being "on a quest to reclaim and represent the musical roots of . . . past generations" more than holds true, and it's something of a challenge -- one that hopefully continues to succeed. (Read our Q&A with Chicano Batman.)
The transformation of Los Campesinos! from a sprightly indie-pop group into something far more wicked and weird has been a gradual one, but thankfully the band haven't lost their penchant for writing catchy, clever songs. The prodigious, Cardiff-based band is touring in support of an excellent new album, Hello Sadness.
As the title indicates, these new songs are darker and more introspective than the group's exuberant earlier work. But the band's consistently dynamic live show should give these somewhat despondent new tracks a vibrant buoyancy. Los Campesinos! have amassed quite an impressive back catalog in a short amount of time, and should draw on a full complement of songs both new and old. -- Erik Thompson
Ask any of the whippersnappers who make up the majority of electronic dance music's current fanbase to name some of the superstars of EDM's previous heyday, more a decade ago, and you'd likely get nothing but blank stares in return. Their heads are filled with the names of today's biggest tastemakers: Deadmau5, Avicii, Calvin Harris, or Duck Sauce. As for the producers and DJs who dominated the clubs during electronica's last big era, from the mid-'90s up until the early Aughts? Meh.
Russell Ramirez, however, remembers those years as he ran the Valley's best outlet for DJ culture, Swell Records. For the better part of 13 years, his bygone sTempe hop, which closed in 2006, was the epicenter of the local scene, offering the latest wax (both import and domestic), turntable gear, and info on all the hottest club gigs and underground shows. On Saturday, October 20, Ramirez will resurrect Swell's glory days with Eclec'tech, a one-off DJ, EDM, and BPM extravaganza featuring a lineup of local old-schoolers as well as some more recent favorites, at The Monarch Theatre, 122 East Washington Street, and the neighboring Bar Smith.
Former Swell regulars like Pete "Supermix" Salaz and Radar (who both served as record buyers) are scheduled to perform at either venue, as is a laudable list of venerated turntablists, selectors, and mixmasters from Phoenix's past, including Kevin Brown, Sonique des Fleurs, Fact, and Robbie Rob. -- Benjamin LeathermanSaturday, October 20: Nas @ Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the Arizona State Fair
Nas' 1994 effort, Illmatic, is an enduring hip-hop classic, the kind of album that showed that his wordplay put him in the master class.
He's still at it, and his 2012 record, Life Is Good, finds him navigating one of the most difficult roles modern hip-hop has to offer: that of elder statesman. Nas pulls it off with aplomb, ruminating over nostalgic beats about fatherhood and responsibility, while never stooping to preachy, syrupy rhymes. -- Jason P. Woodbury
Northwest label Off Tempo has got something of a Phoenix-minded heart. The imprint has released records by French Quarter (2011's exquisite Desert Wasn't Welcome, featuring New Times contributor Chase Kamp) and a charming single by Mesa-via-Portland band iji.
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Label head Kenneth Piekarski has his own sounds, too, in the form of Slashed Tires, a taut, disorienting dance outfit. On the Assure cassette, he mines spacey dub echo, off-kilter bass, and minimalist pop-funk to great success, creating the sort of thing you could meditate to or dance to or both -- because why shouldn't those things happen at the same time? "Half Try" is hypnotic, with Piekarski's vocals sliding between keys, like Alan Vega fronting the Talking Heads, while tracks like "Weather" aim for more overt pleasure, like a Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam record stuck in the cassette deck of your mom's car, warped and melted but still beguiling.
Oh, and don't worry -- the cassette features all the trombones you could ask for.--Jason P. Woodbury