As we're sure you're well aware by now, Phoenix Comicon is happening this weekend, which means hordes of geeks decked out in cape and cowl will be invading downtown.
Thing is, they won't be the only ones getting goofy while clad in costume. Downtown Phoenix venue Monarch Theatre, which is within fragging distance of Comicon, will host mask-wearing dance music freaks Black Tiger Sex Machine on Saturday night.
The gig is certain to be as packed as a Billie Piper autograph session and is one of a half-dozen high-profile shows taking place this weekend. (Our online concert calendar features even more live music options.)
Here's a rundown of all the "can't miss" concerts happening around the Valley over the next few nights.
Buddy Guy – Friday, June 3 – Marquee Theatre
By definition, there are only four spaces allowed on the Mount Rushmore of blues guitar players, and the same goes for blues singers. It's a rare club and an enviable position. Buddy Guy's face, though, with its large brown eyes and bright, clean smile, would likely land on both chiseled monuments — an even rarer distinction. Even at 79 years old, the man delivers booming, avalanche-like vocals that immediately fill a room, his guitar licks brightening that raging force like myriad lightning strikes.
In fact, at a 2013 show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre outside Denver, Guy shook the massive crowd of thousands, strumming effortlessly with his thumb (no pick needed!) as if he were just as hungry and determined to make a name for himself as when he was fresh out of school. "I love you! Y'all gonna have to stop me tonight!" he yelled into the microphone that night. Born in 1936 in Lettsworth, Louisiana, Guy is noted as an influence of Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Eric Clapton, who once described Guy as the "best guitar player alive." The man, as evidenced by the 2013 Colorado show, is a better guitar player one-handed than most people are with two. He can even make sweet tones by rubbing the strings against the buttons of his shirt. JACOB UITTI
Guttermouth – Friday, June 3 – Yucca Tap Room
For more than two and a half decades, Guttermouth has been putting out a consistent brand of relentlessly taunting and taut SoCal pop punk. From a band with a name like Guttermouth, you get exactly what you expect: a tenable testament to truth in advertising in the form of lowbrow tunes, a seemingly exhaustive and endless catalog of songs with titles like "Pee In the Shower" and "Surfs Up Asshole," taken from nearly a dozen albums, including three live albums, issued on at least three prominent punk imprints (Nitro, Epitaph, and Volcom). Oh, and lest you worry, age hasn't made these dudes any less cantankerous.
Black Tiger Sex Machine – Saturday, June 4 – Monarch Theatre
It's going to be an absolute rager at Monarch Theatre when Canadian electronic dance music trio Black Tiger Sex Machine (aka BTSM) hits the Valley of the Sun. Their ridiculously aggressive style of dark EDM is accented wonderfully by the band's one-of-a-kind LED lighting rig and their custom-built light-up tiger masks. While the ornate technological tiger masks are an obvious nod to their electronic forefathers Daft Punk, BTSM are not trendy hangers-on copping another group's style. Their bellicose dance tunes are about 10 notches more abrasive than anything the famed French duo have ever produced, and the tiger masks add just the right amount of mystique to the mix.
But it isn't just some fancy stage props that have earned the group consisting of Marc Chagnon, Julien Maranda, and Patrick Barry spots at some of the country's premier music festivals. Their live shows come with a raw energy that is so transcendent it can even be felt through a computer screen watching their live videos online. Though the group has been putting out original tunes since their debut EP, Drama, in 2011, their newest record, Welcome to Our Church, released on February 2 of this year on the group's own label Kannibalen Records, is the group's first full-length effort. With the group still touring on the juice from their debut release, it will definitely be a raucous night of dancing when BTSM comes through the Copper State. JEFF MOSES
Genre – Saturday, June 4 – Bud’s Glass Joint
Not to imply the members of Genre have big heads, but it's not exactly humble to name your debut record Legendary Rock Act. But hey, being confident is definitely not a bad thing in the music racket, and honestly, Genre has better reason than most to hold their heads so high upon their debut. For one thing, they are not some upstart teen beat band making music for the fun of it. They've been around since 2010, and even when the group was just a two-piece consisting of Zac Markey on guitar and vocals and Corey Gomez on synth, they took their songwriting and lyrics seriously.
Now, with the addition of bass and drums, their tunes are sounding bolder than ever. Another reason they can hold their collective chin up is that they were able to get Phoenix-born but LA-based Bogan Via to come into town to play their all-ages, free record-release party on Friday at Bud's. The record is the logical next step in evolution for pop punk. It contains a lot of that "Screw you, we don't want to grow up," attitude of Genre’s influences like NOFX while still recognizing that by occupying space in the real world, growing up is somewhat of an inevitability. It's pop punk for the older crowd. JEFF MOSES
Dwight Yoakam – Sunday, June 5 – Celebrity Theatre
Second Hand Heart, Dwight Yoakam's 14th studio release, stays fiercely true to the honky-tonk, hillbilly aesthetic and sound that made him famous in the late 1980s. You could throw this record into any of the four decades that Yoakam has been making music and it would make perfect sense and still top the charts. But with this record, Yoakam manages to somehow maintain his classic sound while recording one of the most stylistically diverse records of his entire career.
He'd been relatively quiet since the release of 3 Pears, a woefully underrated record that was somehow great even though Kid Rock was involved, in 2012. Yoakam's songs haven't been country-radio material since the 1990s, so he's been functionally tossed over into the Americana bin, which mainstream music happily ignores until it's ready to let folksy bands blow up the charts for a while. (See: Mumford and Sons.) Yoakam's relevance, though, has really never waned. On Second Hand Heart, he furiously makes the case that he still very much belongs in a country music world where authenticity is an endangered species. AMY MCCARTHY