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We don't want to jinx it, but a string of cooler nights and balmy afternoons has us feeling comfortable saying "summer's done." The festival season has come to a close, and it's time to unpack that neglected denim jacket and put away your jorts and Coachella Crocs for the season.
Of course, this summer ruled in Phoenix music. It seems an appropriate time to look back fondly on what's gone down in the world of Phoenix music, as we look ahead to more cool shit to come. Here's our 10 Favorite Concerts of Summer 2012.
There was a moment Thursday night during Drake's bombastic, flashy performance when I wondered whether Drake was going to review me. It was during an extended (10- or 15-minute-long) audience-appreciation segment, where Drake turned the lights on the crowd and shouted out girls he found sexy, guys he wanted to clown on, and little kids (who'd "better not go home cussin' and shit").
As his razor-sharp band -- a stellar drummer, keyboardist, guitarist, bassist, and DJ -- played an languid, soft jazz groove, Aubrey Drake Graham called out to his fans: the girl in the Sade shirt (he's a big fan), the girls with their hair looking all "Afrocentric and shit," and the dozens of fans wantonly violating the "don't wear a band shirt to said band's show" rule, sporting Young Money, OVOXO, YOLO, and Take Care shirts.
The spectacle that is Roger Waters' The Wall tour deserves more than a cursorily run-through. The concert is as much theater and cutting-edge theatrics as it is a musical production, and each aspect deserves -- requires -- equal respect, as the masterful merging of sound, imagery, and imagination went off without a hitch.
For those not familiar with Pink Floyd's double album The Wall, released in 1979, the story chronicles a fading, troubled rock star dealing with issues of childhood and authority, but with misguided visions of leading a fascist-styled authoritarian society. Pink, as he's known, builds a wall to hold it all in before eventually breaking out in a return to sanity.
Last night's lineup was strange, to say the least.
Noise rockers The Icarus Line drew comparisons to Iggy Pop while Against Me! played its first Phoenix show after singer and guitarist Tom Gabel announced the decision to start living her life as a woman, going by the name Laura Jane Grace. Headliners The Cult toured in support of Weapon of Choice, which fit right in with the band's illustrious catalog.
Triumph was in the air as Florida punk rockers, Against Me! took the stage to the Rocky theme song and tore right into two new songs dealing with Laura's transgender identity- "True Trans Soul Rebel" and "Transgender Dysphoria Blues." Both songs sounded like an extension of the White Crosses material, and will probably become anthemic singalongs once fans learn the lyrics.
50 songs for 50 years. It's hard to imagine any band getting away with it, right?
It's even harder to imagine it being exceptional, but that's the best word I can use to describe what The Beach Boys (Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, David Marks, Bruce Johnston, and their crack nine-piece backing band) did last night at Grand Canyon University.
So it looks like not even the transplanted Phoenix-via-South Africa rock 'n' roll band Kongos knew just how big their "local" contingency had grown. The four brothers, born to popular '70s South African singer-songwriter John Kongos, have been plugging away at their own music legacies over the years, starting with a meteoric rise on South African airwaves thanks to a slew of singles off of their latest album, Lunatic, and culminating in last night's official album release party hosted by local radio station KWSS 106.7 FM and Last Exit Live.
"Who are all of you people?" bassist/singer Dylan asked early in their set. "We had no idea we had this kind of love, so thank you."
The Valley's revered no-charge hip-hop night, The Blunt Club at Yucca Tap Room, stayed true to its reputation for rocking the roof with DJs on the ones and twos, and live performances by local rappers Creed Chameleon and Mouse Powell, as well as a special performance by Luckyiam of Living Legends lore.
With a more than eager crowd, the club was poppin' long before Luckyiam hit the stage.
Tricky T, LES735, and FACT135 dropped dope beats while Dumperfoo and Queenloopy provided the visuals via live art paintings.
With a career that's spanned four decades, immensely popular norteño group Los Tigres del Norte has plenty of practice making Grammy-award winning music. So when I say last night's show was riveting, electric, compelling, or any other positive adjective I've ever used to describe a concert, it should come as no surprise. But for the sold-out crowd that filled the Ovations Live Showroom at Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino it was more than any one word can surmise. It wasn't a vanity concert that groups like Los Tigres are often afforded after reaching certain heights: it was a fan's show.
Comprised of Mexican-American brothers Jorge, Hernan, Eduardo, Luis Hernandez, and cousin Oscar Lara, the quintet ran through their expansive inventory of hits while indulging every fan that approached the low-sitting stage for a handshake, photo op or handwritten song request.
I challenge anyone who thinks that Phoenix has a faltering music scene to go to the second night of Los Dias de la Crescent tonight. Go ahead, I dare you. You'll most likely see that this so-called Tempe versus Phoenix rivalry is non-existent (or at least not that big of a deal) as long as great bands are playing and the beer is flowing.
The first night of the festival went off without a hitch thanks to a packed venue and all of the bands playing on time. The transformation of the back parking lot into an outdoor stage was pretty impressive -- Joe Pagac painted a Los Dias mural on the back of the venue next to a large wall of posters showing off Stateside Presents' upcoming shows. The décor is what really brought it all together. The Grande Stage was accented by a large Arizona flag backdrop and a bunch of blue patio lights and streamers overhead. Also, there were a bunch of food trucks and booze vendors (including Four Peaks) that were all reasonably priced, providing the recipe for a successful event.
A eight-hour all-you-can-eat beat buffet was served up to a sea of rave fanatics, club kids, and EDM aficionados at the outdoor venue, offering a mix of acts and artists of the highest caliber ranging from electro-house, trance, hardstyle, drum 'n' bass, and dubstep (natch).
It has all the hallmarks of a primo rave, only in a much bigger venue with a far more star-studded lineup. (Sadly, one superstar who was conspicuous by his absence was Dutch electro-house bigwig Hardwell, who had to cancel several recent appearances this past week due to a bout with the flu.)
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The Trespass America tour, featuring a veritable who's who of modern heavy music including Five Finger Death Punch, Killswitch Engage, Trivium, and more, came with roaring noise and flashing graphics to Comerica Theatre Sunday night, delivering on the promise of pure, visceral entertainment.