When it all boils down to it, this weekend is the calm before the storm. The holidays officially begin next week, which means everyone’s going to be plenty frantic with friends, family, feasting, and feting from now until the end of the year.
In other words, enjoy the next few days and nights of relative peace and calm before you have to go full-tilt boogie with yuletide celebrations and whatnot. You might even want to check out a show, like any of the ones contained in our online concert calendar or on the following list of the best gigs happening this weekend.
Rise Against - Friday, November 20 - Marquee Theatre
These guys didn't invent melodic hardcore; they spent their early years releasing albums on Fat Wreck Chords. This included 2003's Revolutions Per Minute, recorded at the Blasting Room in Fort Collins, Colorado — where the band has recorded most of its subsequent albums, like its 2011 offering, Endgame. The foursome's anthemic, infectious hooks probably make it seem like just another pop-punk band.
And yet, even though Rise Against has become one of the most commercially successful of its peers, its songs are informed by a vibrant social consciousness that goes beyond the usual punk-rock tropes. Without resorting to hackneyed conceits, Rise Against seems to find a way to humanize serious issues facing people on an individual and global scale — thus proving that punk rock done big doesn't have to dumbed down. TOM MURPHY
Indie Gold Revival Show - Friday, November 20 - C.A.S.A. Lounge
Mumford and Sons is one of the leading revivalist bands in the world, but just because they suck doesn’t mean that all the revivalist bands are trendy-ass posers. There are some people out there creating folky revivalist tunes who aren’t actively causing the death of folk music. And naturally Arizona, with its dusty streets and cowboy heritage, is a hotbed of musical acts trying to bring the past to life. Phoenix-based painter Deon Doughty is rounding up his favorite indie revivalist bands to play the Indie Gold Revival Show at Tempe’s C.A.S.A. Lounge.
Doughty has been around the music scene for a long time, and one of the greatest honors a Phoenix musician can hope for is to be immortalized in painting as part of his Phoenix Gold series. Getting the nod for his personally curated concert is a pretty good consolation prize, though. The Senators, decker., Huckleberry, The Riveras, and Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold were Doughty’s picks this time around, and the painter himself will be in attendance providing live art for the event. The party gets going at 7 p.m. and will rock until 2 a.m. JEFF MOSES
Mr Little Jeans - Friday, November 20 - Valley Bar
Mysterious electro-pop crooner Mr Little Jeans is nothing like the groundskeeper in Wes Anderson's Rushmore, which is where her musical moniker originates. For one thing, her real name is Monica Birkenes. She grew up listening to Mariah Carey and Simon & Garfunkel records in her hometown of Grimstad, a woodsy village in southern Norway where she developed her vocal range singing in church choirs at the age of five. L.A. has been her home for the past several years, where she's been busy recording and building a hoard of obsessed followers on Facebook. Not bad for someone who was discovered on MySpace in 2008. "MySpace, remember that?" she says, chuckling about the archaic social network that landed her a recording contract with EMI's Harvest Records in 2013.
Since that time, her sound has solidified into something special. Mr Little Jeans' vocals contain a childlike, almost mystical sweetness that's absent in most of the icy productions of Northern European electro-pop. Early Mariah Carey, more than any of her other influences (including Charli XCS and Lykke Li), spurred her interest in pop music (with St. Vincent being another salient influence). The song "Oh Sailor” from her 2014 album, Pocketknife, is perhaps the best showcase of her distinct style. Its opening melody is played on a toy piano, its metal bars ringing over the sound of footsteps and a synthesized flute. It's the dream-pop equivalent of a Legend of Zelda song, with a much more personal touch. ART TAVANA
Global Dance Festival Arizona 2015 - Friday, November 20 - Rawhide
Rawhide in Chandler is in no danger of running low on electronic dance music or off-the-chain dance parties anytime soon, what with several major EDM events in the last year, including both the Crush Music Festival and the annual Mad Decent Block Party tour. The clamor of beats and bass coming from the Western theme will resume on Friday, December 20, when the Global Dance Festival, one of the region's biggest up-and-coming dance events, rolls into Rawhide boasting EDM thrills and plenty of opportunities to rage.
The tour, which originated in Colorado in 1999 as a one-off called Rave on the Rocks, has become a multi-city electronic wonderland and rage fest and made its Arizona debut last year at Tempe Beach Park with showstopping performances by Steve Aoki and Adventure Club. This year’s edition will be just as loaded up with superstar EDM artists, Big Gigantic, Cashmere Cat, Deorro, Gener8ion, NGHTMRE, Gesaffelstein, Marshmello, RL Grime, SBCR, Sweater Beats, and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. Homegrown EDM favorite Mija will also offer up a set, as will locals like Sean Watson, Dark Mark, Silent J., and others. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Author & Punisher - Friday, November 20 - Club Red
When’s the last time you saw a one-man band? And when is the last time you saw a one-man band that single-handedly influenced such legends as Phil Anselmo? Well, Tristan Shone is Author & Punisher, an industrial doom and drone metal one-man band. He utilizes a range of dub machines, bass guitar, and custom-fabricated machines, controllers, and speakers. Supporting act Muscle and Marrow is a worthy kick-off, as well. The two-piece, influenced by everything from literature to light, is full of fuzzy, droning, lush guitars, heavy hypnotic drumming, and vocals that range between guttural and operatic. LAUREN WISE
Murs - Saturday, November 21 - Crescent Ballroom
Have a Nice Life, the ninth solo album from underground rap legend Murs, comes on the heels of a series of collaborative records. Projects with North Carolina producer 9th Wonder, fellow California MC Fashawn, punk-rap crossover band The White Mandigos, and Miami hip-hop collective ¡Mayday! tugged Murs in multiple directions over the past four years, but also served as a palate cleanser.
Now 37, the prolific Murs returns with his first solo album for Tech N9ne’s Strange Music. Have a Nice Life is typically far-reaching in terms of subject matter, with Murs’ lyrics blending humor with intensity and tales of gang life with songs about marriage. He touches on the Black Lives Matter movement and comic books. And based on the song titles alone, “Pussy and Pizza” and “P T S D” stake out opposite poles of Murs’ world. The intention of Have a Nice Life isn’t to emphasize those contrasts, but to emphasize that it all fits together, precisely because that’s what makes up Murs. As an artist, Murs has put together a mature and thoroughly engaging album that’s a better representation of this hard-to-classify rapper than any single record that’s come before. No matter how well you know him, consider this an introduction. ERIC SWEDLUND
Mac Miller - Saturday, November 21 - Marquee Theatre
Mac Miller refuses to remain confined to the style of hip-hop that sparked his rise. Ditching frat house rap for a more ambitions goal, the Pittsburg MC swings for the fences on his new studio album, GO:OD AM, by enlisting Ab-Soul, Lil B, Miguel, Chief Keef, and the Swedish electronic-pop group Little Dragon for assistance. Track “Brand Name” condemns the 9-to-5 lifestyle before fading out with some saxophone-led tranquility. Mac Miller is trying hard, and you can hear it in these results. SILAS VALENTINO
The Good Life - Saturday, November 21 - Valley Bar
“Rise up, rise up. Live a full life. 'Cause when it's over, it's...done.” Tim Kasher was 32 when he first sang those lyrics, the final verse of Cursive's church-shunning epic Happy Hollow. With that 2006 release, the band was riding in the wake of its breakout LP, The Ugly Organ, and Kasher had already amassed another respectable following with his project the Good Life, which started in 2000.
The Good Life began as an outlet for songs that didn't conform to Cursive's disjointed art-rock catharsis, but it grew among indie circles on the strength of full-band singles like “Album of the Year” and “Lovers Need Lawyers.” In 2007, they released Help Wanted Nights, an album meant to complement one of Kasher's unreleased screenplays. It's easy to see why, even after penning Happy Hollow's closing remarks, Kasher's own life didn't seem so finite. But whether you interpret those words as mantra, warning, or both, the lines seem to loom heavy now for Kasher, who celebrated his 40th birthday last year. But in Everybody's Coming Down, Kasher's not marking the end of life's timeline, nor the end of a relationship. On this LP, he's weighing the beginning of life's second act. TYLER R. KANE
Richard Thompson - Saturday, November 21 - Musical Instrument Museum
Richard Thompson was once called the Jerry Garcia of England partly because of his mastery of the guitar, but more for the cult following that hangs on his every note, much as Grateful Dead fans did with Garcia. But Thompson takes his guitar playing to a place Garcia never could have considered, even in his most tripped-out moments. Is it because Thompson’s career began with British folk rock icons Fairport Convention and because he still frequently performs acoustically that he remains woefully overlooked by the masses?
Perhaps this works to his advantage, allowing Thompson the freedom to explore a plethora of styles, from folk to blues to rock — even soundtracks, including Werner Herzog’s documentary Grizzly Man — in formats as varied as family bands, large ensembles, solo, duos and, for his latest go-round, the power trio, featuring Taras Prodaniuk on bass and Michael Jerome on drums. This group, performing at the Musical Instrument Museum, finds the oft-black-clothed Thompson at his hard-rocking best, laying out intricate solos and lightning runs from a songwriting catalog that spans more than 40 albums. How does his signature tune, “Vincent Black Lightning 1952,” work in this format? There’s only one way to find out. GLENN BURNSILVER
Toadies - Sunday, November 22 - Crescent Ballroom
Toadies are one of those bands that even if you don't know them, you still know the music. Since the release of the group's brilliant 1994 album, Rubberneck, Toadies have been on the rock 'n' roll radar of just about anyone who has listened to a radio, thanks to the hit "Possum Kingdom." Luckily for those of us who relish the charm of good (and fucked-up) Texas rock, Toadies are still cranking out excellent music, even if now they look more like four mild-mannered gents getting ready for a night of craft beer and Wilco than a group of rock 'n' roll animals.
Their crushing blend of straight-up rock and haunted honky-tonk has carried on over the past 20-plus years. Most recently, Toadies have released Heretics, a wonderfully stunning departure from the group's sound: big guitars and vocals on the verge of unhinged. Heretics finds the band reimagining some of its biggest songs in a quasi-acoustic mode, including the aforementioned "Possum Kingdom," and adding two new songs and a killer cover of Blondie's "Heart of Glass." A lesser band might just be padding its discography by re-releasing acoustic versions of its best songs, but Toadies are doing anything but on Heretics. Now, the band is taking its acoustic experiment on the road to give fans the opportunity to hear it performed live and experience a different take on Toadies' exquisitely frenetic live show. TOM REARDON
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