Black Forest Mill German Restaurant & Bar

When you're getting a little long in the tooth, it's all about strategy. You've gotta embrace your age during the day (mostly because there's no other choice with that damn sun highlighting your wrinkles) by playing it classy and conservative. Then at night, go away from the light — get as far away as you can and stay there. Black Forest Mill Restaurant understands. It's a nice German restaurant by day, but transforms every Saturday night into a dark, debaucherous club with DJ Jared Alan's biggest weekly DJ night to date, Cheap Thrills.

Those of us who are pushing 30 (or even 40) love it there. The lights are way, way low and the club is big. Keeping your face veiled by darkness and distance, Cheap Thrills provides a perfect combo to hide your age.

Then, by the time everyone's good and sauced, you can lure a young fawn to a darkened booth for a little ageless make-out. Not to mention, the music is current and so danceable that you'll be shaking it as if you're 25 again. Or even 35, depending. Just make sure you catch a cab before the house lights come on at 2 a.m. and expose your shame.

Myst

Bar and club owners have a love affair with the underage crowd during these threadbare times. Though barely legal types cant pop bottles or down a few drams of Stoli, they can clean a place out of Red Bull and other non-alcoholic drinks. No one knows this better than the cats of Platinum Nightlife, whove seen big turnouts at their weekly 18-and‑over shindig at Myst. DJ Breez and his partner Slippe rain down electro hits and Top 40 songs for the hundreds who cough up $15 of mommy and daddys money for the chance to hang out at the Scottsdale nightclub each and every Thump Day. Guest DJs like Swerve and the party monsters of Silver Medallion occasionally drop to help add to the raucous, off-the-hook atmosphere. Party on post-adolescents!

Best Rock Club Without a Liquor License

Chyro Arts

Chyro Arts Venue

Chyro Arts has booked some amazing shows in the past year — including an unforgettable night with banjo-playing bluesman William Elliot Whitmore — and it has a cool vibe. Plus, the sound is great in this dark and cozy room. Oh, and we love the collection of mismatched couches and futons lining the walls, which tend to make seeing a show a lot like hanging out in your friend's basement as a teenager. Because Chyro makes its home at the dark end of Papago Plaza, there are plenty of bar options nearby, including Papago Brewing and British Open Pub, a fantastic tavern just two doors down and crawling with folks from the show.

Historic Heritage Square

Tucson's Calexico, a Western- and Latin-tinged rock act that's arguably the biggest indie band in the state, plays Phoenix only every few years. When they do, though, they go all out, as evidenced by their April concert at Heritage Square. The show was promoted by Stateside Presents and Chris Bianco, proprietor of the famous pizzeria next to the wooden structure that sheltered the crowd. Everything from the candle-lit merch tables to the high-end beer to the gorgeous custom tapestry behind the stage was first-class, and Calexico, along with their opener, a classic Latin Big Band called Sergio Mendoza y la Orkestra, put on a magical show. After a night like that, it's a shame we don't see more of Calexico, and more shows at Heritage Square, probably the most beautiful outdoor concert space in town.

Modified Arts

When a band's latest album is less than a half-hour long (as Los Angeles-based noise-pop act No Age's is), it's not surprising when their headlining set comes in under an hour. Actually, the band behind Nouns — one of the best-reviewed releases of 2008 — played only 45 minutes in Phoenix. But, oh, what a 45 minutes it was, packed with Dean Allen Spunt's largely unintelligible but still effective vocals and Randy Randall's rattling guitar. It was short, sweet and very, very memorable — the way great club shows should be.

Charlie Brand works the self-deprecating-artist shtick better than any other musician we've met. Where most artists may brag about touring with marquee-level acts or getting their faces on TV, the soft-spoken guitarist/vocalist for indie quirk-poppers Miniature Tigers tends to shrug off their numerous successes. So we estimate that Brand's been shrugging a lot over the past 12 months, as he and bandmate Rick Schaier have been on a major roll since last fall. After having the infectiously catchy songs as "Cannibal Queen" and "Dino Damage" broadcast on taste-making SoCal college station KCRW, the Mini T's (who are signed to Sony-funded indie label Modern Art Records) performed to packed houses at October's CMJ Music Marathon in New York. Earlier this year, they were chosen by Ben Folds to accompany him on an East Coast tour, and they followed that up with an appearance at South by Southwest and by winning an online contest that got their videos played on MTVu. We're betting that if you're a frustrated musician in an unsigned Valley band, chances are you hate Brand even more than he detests himself.

Hundreds of Valley bands toured this year, but no one did it with as much panache as Jimmy Eat World, who played their 1999 magnum opus Clarity front-to-back in 10 cities across the country. Sure, those confused, lovelorn teenage anthems like "Can You Still Feel the Butterflies?" sounded great in the suburban bedrooms of a typical Millennial's childhood, but the record that forever linked "Arizona" and "emo" has also aged surprisingly gracefully. We were the tour's last stop, a sold-out Marquee show where Jim Adkins and Company tapped the same opening bands as they did for the CD release party 10 years earlier at the now defunct Green Room. That's classy. The show was nothing short of phenomenal, making many folks who are probably a little too old to lose their inhibitions at a rock show sing along like Gorbachev-era Russian teens seeing Bon Jovi for the first time.

Though they were already signed to a record label — and quite probably already tapped to make an appearance at California's Coachella music festival — before their Texas adventure this year, local indie act Dear and the Headlights seemed to make a breakthrough at Austin's South by Southwest music industry showcase. Leading a contingent of seven Phoenix bands, Dear and the Headlights played four shows in four days and networked like crazy. Like a lot of bands, they went there more to impress industry types than the handful of casual fans shelling out $600 for a badge, and it seemed to work, as something they did this spring opened up doors at the east coast's big festival, Bonnaroo, the Vans Warped Tour, and several influential blogs.

Best Grammy-Winning Group You May Have Never Heard (or Heard Of)

Phoenix Chorale

Quick. Name an Arizona-based artist who scored consecutive Grammys for 2007 and 2008? Alice Cooper, George Benson, or DMX? Nope. It's the Phoenix Chorale. Never heard of them? Then you need to wake up, because the choral ensemble formerly known as the Phoenix Bach Choir is a heavy-hitting enterprise in the classical music world, taking home a bronze phonograph statuette this year for Best Small Ensemble Performance. With eccentric artistic director and composer Charles Bruffy leading the 25-plus-person ensemble, they perform blow-you-away a cappella music roughly a dozen times each season, which runs from October to May. The group also opens up its home base, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral at 100 West Roosevelt Street, for free First Fridays rehearsals.

Okay, so the timing was bad: The Medic Droid broke up a week after we put them on our cover. But, we've gotta hand it to this MySpace success story. They broke up in style, starting with onstage spats and continuing through an exchange of online barbs. This electro-pop act (imagine if Perez Hilton had a band) was poised for serious success, having completed its first national tour and slated to play king-making indie fest South by Southwest. Instead, they flamed out quickly and beautifully, all in the public eye. If we have to have a band break up while an issue featuring them on the front cover is barely off newsstands, we're glad it could happen in such a gloriously entertaining way.

Best Of Phoenix®

Best Of