Halloween is only a couple of weeks away and – as you’d expect – 'tis the season for sporting kooky costumes, madcap masks, and freaky face paint. And, fittingly enough, some of this week’s best concerts in the Valley will include artists and acts who are famous for their costumes, masks, and face paint.
To wit: Insane Clown Posse and its juggalo circus are rolling into town tonight for a gig at Club Red in Mesa, followed by a visit from gonzo tribute/parody act Mac Sabbath on Tuesday, and close encounter with the space knights of Magic Sword on Wednesday.
There are plenty of other great shows happening over the next several nights involving bands of a non-costume nature, of course, some of which are included in our list of the best concerts to check out this week.
Danny Brown – Monday, October 17 – Crescent Ballroom
Danny Brown is one of the strangest figures in hip-hop. He doesn’t inundate his fans with new music in order to stay relevant, having only released four albums in the last six years, with some mixtapes sprinkled in. He will pretty much be a feature on any album if you ask him nicely enough. Brown has worked with a litany of artists, including Das Racist, Ghostface Killah, Busdriver, Ab-Soul, Kendrick Lamar and Vampire Weekend. He possesses a unique cadence in his voice that can sometimes make even the most complex of topics seem a little light-hearted, which may be more necessary than before thanks to his newest release, Atrocity Exhibition, a politically and emotionally charged opus that might be his most powerful work to date. That being said, it won’t prevent him from bringing his usual dose of raw energy to his performances. Given his track record, this may be the best time to witness Brown: at his most fired up. TAYLOR FRANTUM
Insane Clown Posse – Monday, October 17 – Club Red
Let us be honest with each other for a moment, dear reader. The reality is that when it comes to high culture thinking there is nothing left to say on the subject of Insane Clown Posse and/or Juggalos. As a musical group, ICP exists in that same world that Nickelback and Miley Cyrus inhabit, which is to say if you've heard of them you already have an opinion on them and there's a good chance you're just reading this for freak-show value. Unless, of course, you like ICP and just want to see them live when they run amok at Club Red in Mesa this week. As for Juggalos, all rational, well-mannered folk know that they're just a bunch of regular people who happened to find a family of like-minded individuals all united by the fact that they really love when clowns sing about murder. So yes, I guess I am sort of saying that the FBI aren't rational and that making fun of Juggalos for having passion for something on a level we should all be jealous of is a bit lame. And they’ll be enjoying all the Faygo-spewing, chaos-causing, horrorcore-loving action when the ICP circus rolls into town. They’ll be performing their 1995 album, The Riddle Box, in its entirety. CORY GARCIA
Mac Sabbath – Tuesday, October 18 – Crescent Ballroom
Heavy music, like heavy food, is best consumed voraciously and without much thought. But the McGenius behind Mac Sabbath is that they obviously put a lot of thought and skill into their quirky musical cookery, which roasts greasy fast-food corporations as much as it pays tribute to the pummeling rock of Ozzy and Sabbath. Like many gimmick-driven grinders, the members shroud themselves in secret sauce. Mike Odd of local costumed rock legends Rosemary's Billygoat is involved, which explains Mac's ferocious metallic flavor and demented props. From their elaborate, super-sized costumes (Grimalice, the Catburglar and Slayer McCheeze back up creepy clown crooner Ronald Osbourne) to their clever, freak-fried takes on Sabbath's lyrics ("Pair-a-Buns" to the tune of "Paranoid," "Frying Pan" to the tune of "Iron Man"), these happy-meal menaces sizzle live, and always serve up much more than the empty calories of most cover bands. LINA LECARO
Magic Sword – Wednesday, October 19 – Valley Bar
Magic Sword is a synth-rock band based in Boise whose members dress as space knights from a galaxy far, far away. It’s the kind of high-fidelity synth rock that embodies everything glorious about 1980s epic science-fiction movies. Sound-wise, think Wendy Carlos’s work for Tron, Tangerine Dream’s soundscapes for The Keep and Mike Moran’s score to Time Bandits. The band’s members keep their identities secret, but there’s nothing alienating about their presence. Concert-goers are encouraged to join the fun, with merch like light swords on offer. Yes, the theatrics are a gimmick, and so, perhaps, is the retro synth sound of the music. But in an era when many bands only go halfway with a gimmick, Magic Sword commits to the whole experience, which is reflected in its unusual, powerful and unforgettable shows. TOM MURPHY
Brujeria – Wednesday, October 19 – Club Red
This Los Angeles band of bandanna-masked musicians have spent 25 years spinning twisted death-metal tales of drug-fueled chaos and violence, dating back to their early days featuring members of Fear Factory, Faith No More and Napalm Death. Vocalist/lyricist Juan Brujo and bassist Pat Hoed have remained constant links between Brujeria’s formation and their current incarnation, showcased on their newest record, Pocho Aztlan. The band’s all-Spanish concoctions still rely on a balance of musical heaviness and lyrical irreverence, but the urgency of Brujeria’s insanity has been re-energized by the current political landscape. It probably should be no surprise that members of a Mexican-American death-metal band are not fans of a certain presidential candidate. It also should be no surprise that new songs centered around that candidate fit snugly alongside the already-sordid material that has fueled their entire catalog. JASON ROCHE
Opeth – Wednesday, October 19 – Marquee Theatre
Straight out of the halls of Valhalla, Swedish metal band Opeth has spent the past couple of decades perfecting its sound and transcending the guttural growls of death metal. Each of their albums balance distorted tremolo picking and rapid-fire beats with melody and subdued shifts in tempo. Jazz and psychedelic injections add to its epic feel. Frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt has been at the helm of Opeth since the band's first album and is solely responsible for the lyrics and music on Heritage (he shares writing duties on "Pyre," a bonus track exclusive to the special edition version of the album). As with every entry in the band's catalog, the focus here isn't on a single; instead, the band homes in on the old-school idea of a long-player. In a journey that has spanned two decades, Åkerfeldt has made one thing clear: the goal is perfection. ANTHONY SANDOVAL
Rebirth Brass Band – Wednesday, October 19 – Crescent Ballroom
You hear them before you see them — a sunny, brassy and sassy expulsion of horns and clattering drums welling up in the distance, growing ever louder and more percussive as they approach in a second-line parade down a New Orleans street. The horns are too loud and leering, a boozy cacophony of pent-up exultation, while the drums are too scattershot and shuffling to be militaristically formal. Instead, the drums groove like a drunk swaggers — loopy and seemingly chaotic, jerking in every direction, pulling themselves up smartly and tightly just before falling into the gutter. This is no mere Crescent City tourist music; Rebirth Brass Band unselfconsciously pour a whole lotta funk and a little hip-hop into their jazzy, Treme-tastic gumbo. FALLING JAMES
Hinds – Thursday, October 20 – Valley Bar
Hinds is a quartet from Madrid, Spain, but listening to their debut album, Leave Me Alone, aside from some alternative pronunciations, it sounds like something straight from the Burger Records catalog of Southwestern and West Coast garage rock. There's something very innocent and vulnerable about the band's music, which leans on the shared vocal abilities of Carlotta Cosials and Ma Perrote, who call and respond to each other's vocal lines with a sort of lo-fi grace. There's also a playful element to their songs, which are all sung in English. There's an intimacy to their music too — "Warts" is a plea to a friend in a bad relationship who can't seem to pick on the fact that his new partner is awful. "Don't let her waste your smile," goes the chorus, and the melancholy song sounds a bit dreary but mostly upbeat — the feeling you might get when you know there's nothing you can do but watch your friend sink into a bad relationship. You just shrug, put hope in your friend's ultimate judgment, and hope you can be there for them in a few months. DAVID ACCOMAZZO
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The Vibrators – Thursday, October 20 – Yucca Tap Room
Like their contemporaries in U.K. Subs, who lived in the same building, the seasoned pub musicians who formed the Vibrators in 1976 brought a blues tradition to the infantile punk scene. But while the scene was highly politicized and angry, the Vibes got their kicks from sexually charged fun; tunes like "Whips & Furs" and "I Need a Slave" brought the post-disco kids to the dance floor without a single reference to Britain's footballers. The lasting effect is evident, from punk stalwarts Stiff Little Fingers to garage-gothers the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. On last year's Punk: The Early Years, the Vibrators covered songs by both their influences and their followers, including the Ramones' "Beat on the Brat," the Damned's "New Rose," and — their namesake — Motörhead's "Vibrator." TOM MURPHY
The Dear Hunter – Thursday, October 20 – Crescent Ballroom
The Dear Hunter was a side project launched in 2005 while Casey Crescenzo was touring with his now-former band, the Receiving End of Sirens. He had been writing songs on his laptop and recording them in his spare time; his first collection was dubbed the Dear Ms. Leading demos, and only ten copies were distributed, to friends and family. Crescenzo eventually devoted full-time attention to his solo album, which was released by Triple Crown Records. Stunningly prolific, Crescenzo has cultivated quite a catalogue, with three concept albums providing a fictional account of the Dear Hunter's evolution (Act I, Act II, and Act III), followed by nine conceptual EPs — filled with songs penned to match specific hues, the best of which appear on an album titled The Color Spectrum — and 2013's Migrant, was surprisingly, not a concept record. A ten-song live album with string quartet was released last March and Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise dropped in 2015. LEE ZIMMERMAN