Jugheads
Dubbing itself "Arizona's Underground Hip-Hop Movement," Southwest RapStock is the brainchild of Sassy, a west-side promoter and vice president of local label Topp Notch Records. The monthly RapStock event is the culmination of Topp Notch's weekly "Hip-Hop Thursdays" event at J-heads, which packs dozens of Valley MCs onto the stage in a single night (always the first Thursday of the month). Each rapper performs about two songs, hoping to impress the crowd and potential talent scouts who may have dropped in unannounced. Local artists like Influence, Fetti Profoun, Big Yo, Loc Dawg, BobKatt, Thee Originals, The Hood Cartel, Candilicious, Golden, and J-Slugg have all honed their skills at RapStock, and the event just keeps getting bigger. Promoters are currently booking acts for the 12th RapStock show, and competition is getting fiercer, as the event has drawn the attention of Cali acts like G-Bundle and JT the Bigga Figga.
Blues Alley Hidden House
DJ Al Page is P-town's impresario of hip-hop. Since starting The Shop back in 2001 because no one was playing the true hip-hop he wanted to hear, the funky pool hall — the Hidden House, at Seventh Avenue and Osborn Road — where it all goes down has become the place for outstanding underground and above-ground DJs to flex their skills on the wheels of steel, and for old- and new-school heads to appreciate same. Friday nights are for Page's Friday Night Live spectaculars, featuring any number of MCs and DJs doing their thing. On Saturdays, resident she-jays Robyn and KGB rock the house, keeping it funky, fresh and as ill as an AZ rattlesnake. Also, you never know when Page himself will step to the decks and start mixing classics from a pre-nose-job Michael Jackson or Marvin Gaye with joints from Blackalicious or The Roots. Without Page, the PHX would largely be left with top-40 hip-hop nights sans soul or authenticity. We just hope the playa doesn't get a hair up his ass and move to Denver, San Diego, or some such shit. As long as he keeps spinnin', we'll keep attendin', drink in hand.
Bruno Mali's Cafe & Gift
It's a fact of life in our overworked, career-driven climate that Mondays are usually not fun days. If the days of the week had to go to high school, Monday would be the socially inept kid with headgear and zits. But here in Phoenix, there's a killer little club that has given that day a new lease on life. At Bruno Mali's (the club right next door to the Hidden House), they party it up with "A Foreign Affair," a weekly Monday DJ night. Turns out, there are plenty of downtown kids who are singing a tune other than "I Don't Like Mondays," because the place is usually packed with attractive twentysomethings, ready to get down and dirty. This dark hole in the wall is decked out from floor to ceiling with paintings by local artists. If that's your thing, you'll surely dig Monday nights because among the spinning beats and dancing, there's usually an artist on hand, painting or drawing live.
If you happen to be a weekday worker, Wednesday nights usually mean dinner and TV at home. If you really want to punch it up, maybe you watch your latest Netflix and stay up past 10 p.m. Sexy.

We recommend ditching your midweek rut to get funky. "Groove Candy" at the Door in Tempe has been going strong for over a year and has managed to hook in loads of folks looking to drink, dance, and get a little wild. The small club, decked out in posters of pin-up girls, fills up quick and stays bumping right through to last call, surely making for some tough Thursday mornings at the office.

We're thinking that everyone should ditch their typical Wednesday routine for Groove Candy. After all, a dry hump on the dance floor seems the perfect way to wrap up a hump day.

BEST PLACE TO HUMP BLOWUP GODZILLA DOLLS

A NunZilla show

Valley punk band NunZilla knows how to bring out the party animal in people. At any given show — from gigs at Casa Blanca Lounge to the Zombie Ball performance at The Sets in Tempe to their early shows at Hollywood Alley in Mesa — the members of NunZilla encourage audiences to get hammered (Sister Kenyattasaurus Rex once poured her whiskey down some dude's throat) and act the fool. And the best tools for fools are kids' toys, particularly giant, blow-up Godzilla dolls. NunZilla's got three of 'em at every show. They're supposed to be props, but they become plastic whores, as audience members ride them around mosh pits and hump them for drunken photos. Some people get quite attached — at one show, one very ardent fan grabbed a Godzilla, proclaimed it as his date, and waltzed off with it to God-knows-where and to do God-knows-what, a direction violation of the "Thou Shalt Not Steal" commandment. Let's hope the Nunz don't start showing up with giant rulers at shows to start rapping our knuckles.
Jugheads
It's a small club, bands are always complaining about the crappy PA, drink specials are usually along the lines of 25-cent cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon, and your feet usually stick to the floor. Punk fucking rock. J-Heads (formerly known as Jugheads) has been a component of the Valley's punk rock scene for years. Members of another scene staple, the Web forum AZPunk.com, refer to J-heads as "THE place to go to find the heart of punk rock in Arizona" and give it props for "best show energy, best beers on tap" (the jukebox is crammed with cool, old-school punk tunes, too). And local horror-punks Calabrese call it their "venue of choice." While larger clubs usually nab the big-name national punk bands, J-Heads still books more local punk shows than any other venue, playing host to a slew of Phoenix's finest. Bands like Numbers On Napkins, Labor Party, The Complainiacs, Blanche Davidian, and Drunk On Tuesday have all played multiple shows there. Hell, even senior citizens like Sun City punk rockers One Foot in the Grave have rocked the stage. J-Heads hosts some of the best underground national punk acts, too, like Canada's Motorama, Oregon's Ugly Litter, and Denver's NoPlotKill. Now, if they could just pimp their PA.
Listening to Vomitando's unique "Metalachi" sound is quite the pleasurable experience, and something we have never quite heard before. Originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, and currently based in Mesa, the band, as described by frontman Puncho Villa, sounds like "Julio Iglesias and GWAR made love and gave birth to a five-headed child named Vomitando." Their current performance schedule is limited, especially after their original drummer was deported days before a Christmas Day show at Strokers (for real), but don't fret because their MySpace page is chock full of band news and punch-in-the-face tunes sung in Spanish and English. One of the best examples is the bare-bones "City of Tacostan," which makes light of the Arizona/Mexico border strife with the lyrics, "Just came to sell some tacos/Until the break of dawn/But until I find my tacos/Well, I guess I'll mow your lawn." A full-length release is scheduled this year on Shedtunes Records, a label whose name comes from Vomitando's early recordings that were made in a shed.
If you happen to miss the Free Street Band's sidewalk performances outside Carly's Bistro at Second Street and Roosevelt during First Friday in downtown Phoenix, don't worry. You can also catch the marching musical group at the corner of Garfield and Third Street, or McKinley and Fourth, or even... Well, you get the point. Like local rockers the MadCaPs, the pipe-and-drum trio stays on the move during the monthly art walk (except they're on foot instead of the back of a pickup truck), bringing their wailing brand of music to the masses. Led by abstract painter and bass drummer Joe Axton, this kilt-clad quintet of aging hippies also includes a bagpiper, snare drummer, bodrhán player, and bass player who perform such standards as "Scotland the Brave" or anti-war favorites like John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance" all over the Evans-Churchill neighborhood. Unlike the MadCaPs, who always seemed to be getting tailed by the cops, we're betting the fuzz won't bother with these guys. Just try to catch them — The Free Street Band doesn't even have a MySpace page. Leave word at collins.fowler@cox.net.

BEST BAND WHO USE MOM'S POTS AND PANS

Tent/City

When we were young, the sounds of mom's clinking pots and pans signaled chow time was coming right up. Those clanks never held any musical value. But maybe they should have.

That's why we dig the creative mini-geniuses John Ryan Nelson, James Fella, Ashlea Hohm, Marla Thyer, and James Roemer of local sensation Tent/City, who incorporate objects such as saucepans and kitchen cutlery into their atmospheric sound. The playing of these "instruments" is only part of the ensemble's full sound. Live gigs normally feature one 20-plus-minute composition, where several members sample live sounds from woodwind instruments or human vox, which are then thrown into a digital sound processor to create ambient loops. These sound collages are played while the sextet are huddled under some sort of makeshift tent structure, such as a PVC pipe assemblage with colorful streamers, a pillow fort with blankets and sheets for the roof, or inside a camping tent on the Grand Avenue sidewalk.

If you can't catch this wonderful circus in person, recordings of these performances are available for purchase at www.gilgongorecords.com/tentcity.html.

BEST LOCAL BAND TO GET SOME NATIONAL RECOGNITION

Psychostick

How did the nation get hit over the head with humor-core metal band Psychostick? Was it because of the chicken-head hats and cow costumes? The smarmy back-and-forth banter with fans? The tours and shows with folks like Bobaflex, Indorphine, Army of Anyone, and Three Days Grace?

Well, those things are all well and good, but the two things that really put Psychostick at the forefront of Phoenix bands were 1) Having fans that play in bigger bands, and 2) That damn "Beer!!" song that they're probably sick of playing already.

When Psychostick's debut, We
Couldn't Think of a Title
(Rock Ridge) came out late last year, members of L.A. metal band Otep — specifically bassist eViL j and singer Otep Shamaya — started singing the praises of the wacky quartet, steering thousands of Otep's fans to Psychostick's music. Then, XM Satellite Radio station Squizz 48 put "Beer!!" in heavy rotation, and the song dominated the No. 1 spot on the station's top-10 countdown for seven consecutive weeks. The video for the song then popped up on Web sites like Ebaumsworld.com and Collegehumor.com, forcing Psychostick to identify as "the band that does that 'Beer!!' song." We can't wait to see what their next accidental hit is going to be.

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