Some of the places we recommend seeking relief are any of the music venues, rock bars, or concert halls around Metro Phoenix, most of which have the A/C going at full blast practically day and night these days. Another incentive to visit said establishments? All the can't-miss concerts happening this month.
And the shows coming to the Valley in July include newly minted talents like indie pop singer-songwriter BØRNS and old favorites like Rasputina, Boz Scaggs, Stephen Stills, and KMFDM. And it being summer and all, there will also be tours by '90s alt-rock radio faves such as like Smashing Pumpkins, Marilyn Manson, 311, and Social Distortion.
All the aforementioned bands and performers are among our 25 concert picks for July, as are gigs by innovative hip-hop act Death Grips, alt-country band Seryn, and even a McDonald's-themed Black Sabbath tribute band. No joke. (Even more concerts can be had via our online concert calendar.)
The Appleseed Cast - Wednesday, July 1 - Crescent Ballroom
The Appleseed Cast are pioneers in the emo and post-rock genre. Lead singer Christopher Crisci's lyrics are packed with emotional yearnings, the drumming is quick and nifty and the guitar licks alternate between arpeggio flurries or being downright loud and searing. Many of the foundations of the emo genre are found in the Appleseed Cast's music. They're touring in honor of the 15th anniversary of their acclaimed and influential 2000 album, Mare Vitalis, and will pay a visit to the Crescent Ballroom at the beginning of the month. Fellow indie acts Adjy and Coaster open the evening. H. DREW BLACKBURN
311 - Thursday, July 2 - Talking Stick Resort
Is there a less likely location for reggae-rap-rock to emerge from than Omaha, Nebraska? That’s the birthplace of 311, the band whose genre slurry produced a string of hits on alternative rock radio in the late ’90s and early ’00s. But the band’s career stretches back to the early ’90s, when 311 moved to Los Angeles and released its debut album, Music, in 1993. That first album was Red Hot Chili Peppers-esque in terms of riffs and vocal style, but there were hints of the sound that would propel their better-known songs to the top of the charts later in the decade. The group’s breakout release didn’t come until its self-titled 1995 album, the 311’s third full-length, which would eventually go platinum three times on the strength of singles “All Mixed Up,” “Down,” and “Don’t Stay Home,” the start of an extremely successful four-album run. Though it’s been awhile since the band produced a radio hit, it dropped an album on March 11, 2014 (get it?), and its appearance at Talking Stick Resort is practically just another stop on the album tour. DAVID ACCOMAZZO
Jerusafunk - Thursday, July 2 - Crescent Ballroom
The only klezmer-funk band in Phoenix, Jerusafunk, is about to hit the road on a 20-day jaunt across the Southwest, but before they leave, they’re ready to celebrate along with like-minded local acts Pro Teens, the Hill in Mind, and the Stakes. All four acts bear a certain resemblance to other, more established Phoenix groups. The Stakes’ two-pronged MC attack is reminiscent of Drunken Immortals; Pro Teen’s brand of psyche dream pop recalls the band’s recording pals in Wooden Indian; the Hill in Mind brings the musical precision of groups like The Haymarket Squares, while Jerusafunk’s klezmer side shares roots with Dry River Yacht Club’s gypsy leanings. But though all the bands are similar in one way or another to some of their more tenured contemporaries, these groups are in no way, shape, or form intergenerational knockoffs. They are using what came before to help push forward a more active and vibrant Phoenix music scene. This eclectic show definitely shows off these particular bands’ dedication to growing a scene and not just themselves. JEFF MOSES
BroLoaf - Friday, July 3 - Yucca Tap Room in Tempe
Remember that certain monologue from The Newsroom? The one in which Jeff Daniels was asked what makes America the greatest country in the world? He raised some valid points but forgot about what is most important about the good ol’ U.S. of A. — fireworks, beer, babes, barbecue, and a couple of Clintons. Fortunately, BroLoaf has your back for its sixth annual Patriotic Meltdown. These local punk bros love America more than the Tea Party does, and they party harder than Andrew W.K. armed with a T-shirt cannon. “The truth for BroLoaf is that we love our country and we love to party,” says frontman Ben Brah. “Every year for Independence Day, BroLoaf has made it a point to have a party, a free show, and a celebration in the name of freedom, justice, and liberty for all.” Last year, guests included wrestlers fighting terrorists, Hillary Clinton snorting cocaine, Lady Liberty getting eaten out, and cheerleaders doling out beer bongs, so this year is sure to be bigger and better than ever. Plus, the band will serve up a bunch of free barbecue, so arrive early and celebrate ’Murica. MELISSA FOSSUM
Mitski - Sunday, July 5 - The Rebel Lounge
For Brooklyn-based songwriter Mitski, a penchant for acting hastily has made her a popular figure on social media. It also explains certain facts about the singer: why, for example, her cellphone has an Austin area code (she happened to be in the Texas capital when it came time to finally buy a mobile device), or how the 24-year-old came up with the title for her third album, Bury Me at Makeout Creek, her first with Don Giovanni Records. “All of my important decisions aren’t really thought through,” she says. “I was watching a Simpsons episode, and between recording and taking a break, Milhouse said that line in that one episode, and I was like, 'That’s the title!'?”
The simplistic, straightforward nature of the music she was introduced to at clubs and DIY shows made for a revelation. Mitski quickly became immersed in punk and realized that she didn’t need to record in a fancy studio or play with a big orchestra to create music she liked. Bury Me was the game-changer. Her work was soon lauded for bending song structure and fusing orchestral elements while retaining a punk-rock edge. Nearly seven months after Bury Me was released, the singer-songwriter is seeing her place in the music world at large change. She recently completed a tour with Speedy Ortiz and played a ballyhooed set at SXSW; next she'll be embarking on her first headlining tour, sharing top billing with Elvis Depressedly. Even as Bury Me continues to gain traction, Mitski says she’s already finished her fourth full-length, and she remains adamantly dismissive of the compliments that have been bestowed on her. “None of that is real; hype isn’t real,” she says. “It’s very flattering, and without publicity I can’t get people to come to my shows. On the same token, hype doesn’t write my music and hype doesn’t play my shows. And it doesn’t pay me.” DANIEL KOHN
Juan Wauters - Wednesday, July 8 - Valley Bar
As the singer and songwriter for the Beets, one of the DIY era's biggest bands, newly minted solo artist Wauters Juan is one of the most sought-after musicians in New York City. Fashion designers whisked him away to play at parties in Montauk (fashion designer Cynthia Rowley famously called the Beets "a rock 'n' roll protest"). Pavement picked the band to open for them at their massive, sold-out Central Park show in 2010. If there was a show at an illegal NYC venue between 2008 and 2011, his band was probably on last. Yet no matter how popular Wauters or his music has become, he remains a dedicated outsider. He's smart and genuinely himself, and has a way of making everyone else in the room seem like they're trying too hard. And he barely listens to any modern music to boot.
He's also prone to speaking in curious, Yogi Berra-esque epigrams that Sniper calls "Juan-isms." For instance, here's Wauters on identity: "I try to be who I think I am." On living in New York: "There's lots of people, but you're kind of by yourself." But the word he uses most is "friendship." It's something that fuels his music, but it also tore the Beets apart. The relationship between Wauters and his Beets bandmate and friend Jose Garcia was central to the Beets; when the two began to have problems, the band quickly fell apart. It first broke up in 2012; Wauters attempted reconcile with Garcia to get the band back together in 2013, putting his personal feelings aside, only to see things fall apart again. That was then. Today, The Beets' future is highly uncertain, and Wauters is focused more on his solo work, including releasing his first proper album, NAP: North American Poetry, last year. Where The Beets was DIY, punk, and "a rock 'n' roll protest," NAP is a record from a man who's thinking about life, who's been hurt and is trying to move forward. And NAP makes it easy to go along with him. CHRIS CHAFIN
Machine Gun Kelly - Thursday, July 9 - Livewire
He's gone wild with Steve-O, shared paint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and sparked up with Juicy J and (most likely) Wiz Khalifa. He was signed by Diddy. He covered XXL magazine. And his track, "Invincible," has been used as theme song by both the NFL and the WWE. (Heck, he even got to perform for 75,000-plus people at WrestleMania in 2012 and got punked out by wrestler Kevin Owens last month on WWE Raw.) His claims to fame aren’t just limited to the hip-hop world, however, as he’s covered Rise Against's "Swing Life Away," partied hard and collaborated with Avenged Sevenfold, and shared a stage with Linkin Park at a Vans Warped Tour stop in 2013. Born in Houston but raised all over the world, he found a home in Cleveland, not the first city to spring to mind for those who've gone global. His name is Machine Gun Kelly and you can ride along with him after he rolls into Livewire in Scottsdale on July 9. JOHN HOOD
Mac Sabbath - Friday, July 10 - Crescent Ballroom
Heavy music, like heavy food, is best consumed voraciously and without much thought. But the McGenius behind the McDonald's-themed parody metal/tribute act 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 L.A. 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” and “Frying Pan” to tune of “Iron Man”), these happy meal menaces sizzle live, and always serve up more than the empty calories of most cover bands. LINA LECARO
JD Souther - Friday, July 10, and Saturday, July 11 - Musical Instrument Museum
Oh, to have been a fly getting high on the wall of JD Souther's L.A. pad in the late '60s. His roomie was Glenn Frey, and his neighbor was Jackson Browne, and the tunes that fermented there would become the sweet wine of California country rock. Souther's co-writes for the Eagles — "Best of My Love" and "New Kid in Town" — had a dreamy sheen and unabashed sentimentality that, like his biggest solo hit "You're Only Lonely," sounded great on early FM radio. Blame him for soft rock if you must, but just try to resist humming along. There's probably no better tour guide to the SoCal scene of the '70s, so bet on Souther to cover all the hits, just as he did on 2011's revisionist albumhttp://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/event/social-distortion-7360608 Natural History. ROY KASTEN
Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas - Saturday, July 11 - The Rebel Lounge
On a wide-ranging debut album, Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas bring together gripping soul ballads, New Wave sheen, throwback Motown vibes, Gypsy punk, and amped-up rockabilly. The Detroit-born and -raised singer-songwriter presents Secret Evil as a collection of her musical roots and ever-evolving influences. Hernandez’s soulful voice is at the core of every song, creating a fluid album that springs out in a number of stylistic directions. After moving back to Detroit in 2009 after stints in Chicago and Kansas City, Hernandez transitioned from solo singer-songwriter to bandleader, putting together the Deltas and working out the songs that would form her latest album. After the success of Secret Evil — which included a television debut on the Late Show with David Letterman — Hernandez and her band began writing and demoing songs for a new record, working at a cabin in northern Michigan. One potential direction for a sophomore album is in the style of “Don’t Take My Man to Idaho,” a sharply humorous punk-soul hybrid written from the perspective of a woman who’s lost her man to cocaine. Hernandez and the Deltas released the single in April (backed with a choice cover in Le Tigre’s “Deceptacon”) prior to a summer of performances at major festivals like Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza as well as smaller nightclubs. ERIC SWEDLUND
Smashing Pumpkins & Marilyn Manson - Saturday, July 11 - Comerica Theater
Despite all our rage, our inner angsty teenaged selves are pretty damn excited by this summertime tour featuring both Smashing Pumpkins and Marilyn Manson. Just imagine all the beautiful people who will come out to see both acts share the stage at Comerica Theatre for arguably one of the hottest summer shows of 1996 — uh, we mean 2015. (Hey, whatever. '90s goth and alternative is timeless, which is why we always think that today is the greatest.) Being a fan of Billy Corgan isn't always the easiest, we'll grant that. But just because we sometimes catch ourselves pretending that he stopped making music after "1979" doesn't mean we aren't still excited to see the avowed cat-lover bring the Pumpkins back to town. Throw Manson into the mix and it's like we get to relive the old days of Lollapalooza. As far as double bills go, this ranks right up there with Courtney Love joining Lana Del Rey this spring. This particular tour, dubbed "The End Times," is part of the Pumpkins' promotional run for last year's Monuments to an Elegy. (Credit where it's due: Corgan has never lost his knack for overwrought titles, God bless him. JEFF GAGE
Boz Scaggs - Saturday, July 11 - Wild Horse Pass Casino
Throughout his lengthy recording career — now clocking in at five decades — Boz Scaggs has been a tireless sonic alchemist, whose output is the epitome of musical amalgamation. While best known for the blue-eyed soul and dance grooves of the monstrously successful 1976 Silk Degrees record, a casual listen to his discography also shows dips in the waters of blues, R&B, jazz, crooning, Latin, and rock styles. On his last effort, 2013's Memphis, Scaggs tapped the essence of that city with a record largely of old soul covers. They were laid down in the city's famed Royal Recording Studios, where producer Willie Mitchell and singer Al Green did their seminal work. Scaggs continues his elegant musical meanderings, tracking mostly further southwest this time, in A Fool to Care, released earlier this year. The dozen songs feature covers written by Al Green, Curtis Mayfield, Huey P. Smith, members of the Band, and bluesman Jack Walroth. This one was put together at Nashville's Blackbird Studio in just four days. The material — from a funky, greasy "Rich Woman" and the torchy "Love Don't Love Nobody" to the Latin-infused "Tango on 16th Street" to the '50s balladry of the title track — covers a lot of ground, just like Scaggs himself. BOB RUGGIERO
Gov't Mule - Sunday, July 12 - Marquee Theatre
Gov't Mule formed in 1994 as a side project of Warren Haynes and Allen Woody, who were then members of the Allman Brothers Band. While both men continued to play with the Allman Brothers, Gov't Mule became quite a viable entity on its own, rooted in a similar blend of blues, jazz and rock, with a penchant for improvisational elaborations on a theme. The Mule has long had a rotating cast of guest musicians with an exhaustive list that reads like a who's who of the improvisational rock, blues and jazz world. With the untimely death of Woody in August of 2000, the same year as the release of the band's critically acclaimed album, Life Before Insanity, Gov't Mule might have called it a day. But it didn't and as if to celebrate Woody's life, the group has since written music and been involved collaborations that would have made the bassist proud. TOM MURPHY
Tanlines - Wednesday, July 15 - Valley Bar
In the opening lines of "Slipping Away," the first single from electronic music/indie rock act Tanlines' sophomore record, Highlights, Eric Emm's plaintive vocal rings out over an exuberant bassline akin to the Cure's "Close to Me": "Was I running backwards? Was it all just a dream?" Emm's lyrics could easily be a reference to the whirlwind in which he, along with bandmate Jesse Cohen, began their career as Tanlines. Situated in an already buzzy scene in their hometown of Brooklyn full of bands with an electronic bent and a slightly nostalgic take on indie pop, their breakout EP, Settings, was a succinct, six-song statement in a sea of idiosyncratic remixes for like-minded bands such as Glasser, Au Revoir Simone, El Guincho, Memory Tapes, and Telepathe. Circa 2010, Tanlines and their contemporaries were a who's-who of newly minted bedroom composers, and yet as these acts began to release full-lengths and fads in genre changed, many of them were relegated to Where Are They Now? Status. Tanlines, it seems, are not content to fade away.
They released full-length debut Mixed Emotions in 2012, and though some critics docked points for the LP's failure to push many boundaries, it reached No. 2 on the Billboard Heatseekers album chart and earned Tanlines a slew of fans who came out in droves to dance themselves into a frenzy at their shows. As a duo, there wasn't much else to do at those gigs besides dance; Cohen's clever between-song banter made performances a bit of a low-key comedy routine, but their stage plot was far from that of a traditional rock band. Highlights does not signify a total departure from the feel-good anthems of a late-night dance party, but it does build them up into something more substantial, with more instrumental arrangements, more complex song structure, and more introspective themes than in Tanlines' prior work. LINDSEY RHOADES
BØRNS - Friday, July 17 - Crescent Ballroom
When Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Borns (stylized as BØRNS) plays in support of his recently released EP, Candy, or performs its first single, the infectious and sunny synth-pop gem "10,000 Emerald Pools," he proves himself to be an accomplished showman, poised to become a bona fide star thanks to his Jeff Buckley-esque falsetto and charismatic stage presence. After moving to L.A. on a whim in 2013, he was quickly snatched up by Universal Music's Interscope Records. "I was kind of floating around," says Borns. "I came out here on a whim to clear my head, write music and meet some people. I gave myself a month to do that and that turned into a few more months."
While still relatively new on the scene, Borns has been honing his performance skills for years. Back in his home state of Michigan, he played piano for his parents' friends at parties and was already a paid magician at just 10 years old. But he says he never sat around dreaming about stardom. "I never pictured myself as a professional musician. I knew it was something I always wanted to do because it made me feel good, but I never thought I'd be living in California and doing all of this. But I wouldn't have it any other way." Borns laughs off prestigious terms like "star" and "prodigy" with a deferential, "Have you been talking to my mom?" PAMELA CHELIN
Billy Joe Shaver has always been a seething mass of contradictions. Half exquisitely sensitive poet, half dumb-as-dirt hillbilly, Shaver is a deeply spiritual man who has also, in the course of his 75 years, sinned and transgressed so ceaselessly and so vociferously that it is a wonder he is still able to walk the earth, let alone get on a bandstand and preach his marvelously idiosyncratic honky-tonk gospel. The Texas-born troublemaker has long been a significant force in country music — his songs have been recorded by Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Tom T. Hall, George Jones — and his current album, 2014's Long in the Tooth, was perpetrated at as high an artistic altitude as Shaver’s ever achieved.
Melvins - Tuesday, July 21 - Crescent Ballroom
The Melvins still bring the thunder in their latest incarnation, joined now by Butthole Surfers’ Paul Leary and Jeff Pinkus on their most recent album, Hold It In. The group’s trademark sludgy, metallic opuses are twisted into further weirdness by the inclusion of the Buttholes, with a new tune such as “Bride of Crankenstein” living up to its title via plenty of horrific volume and menacing guitars. The strangeness multiplies on the cryptically titled tracks “Barcelonian Horseshoe Pit” and “Onions Make the Milk Taste Bad,” as Melvins separate themselves from their hard-rock peers by fully embracing the savagery and hostility of punk, mixed with a little prog braininess. FALLING JAMES
Death Grips - Thursday, July 23 - Marquee Theatre
On their signature album, 2012’s The Money Store, Death Grips made postindustrial hip-hop noise relieved by brittle hooks and a few fanged riffs that wouldn’t have been turned down by the Troggs. The Sacramento, California-based trio has remained capricious and challenging. If you find yourself scanning headlines in a storm shelter, the group’s jittery nihilism might sound like the spirit of the times. It might also sound ridiculous. Their latest release, The Powers that B, is a double album featuring two independent parts. The first part, builds collages around Björk samples and showcases Zach Hill’s virtuosity on Roland V-Drums. On the second and fuller part, shirtless frontman Stefan Burnett again captures the sound of a man chasing angrily after a bus, as he prods Hill, Andy Morin, and a pair of guests toward grandly bruised psychedelia. DYLAN HICKS
KMFDM - Friday, July 24 - Livewire
KMFDM (originally Kein Mehrheit Für Die Mitleid) started as a performance-art one-off in 1984 that evolved into an ongoing endeavor. Founding member Sascha Konietzko was joined by drummer and vocalist En Esch, who formed the core of the band until its temporary split in 1999. With various collaborators, KMFDM developed its signature melding of electronic industrial music and hard rock, which has often been imitated but seldom equaled. The peak of the band's commercial popularity came following the release of Nihil in 1995, which spawned the soundtrack-friendly hit single "Juke Joint Jezebel." What has kept the group interesting is its visceral live shows and its songs, which feature tongue-in-cheek, genuinely clever lyrics that take aim at sociopolitical ills in the world. TOM MURPHY
Seryn - Saturday, July 25 - Musical Instrument Museum
"Have you ever been in a serious committed relationship before?" Trenton Wheeler asks. Wheeler, Seryn's lead vocalist, ukulele player, and co-writer, is talking about "Disappear," their single, and its lyrics. The song's final line of "For you, I will try" is stark and sincere, as is every moment of the lush folk rock of Shadow Shows, the band's latest album. Wheeler continues on about relationships, saying, "We knew each other for a while before we got married." He could just as easily be talking about his marriage to his wife (which he was) or the intimacy of being in a band together. It's hard to tell, actually. You put so much of your time, energy, emotion — so much of your spirit — into making music that it becomes like a serious relationship," Wheeler says. "[Your band members] become more than just your friends...but we're family."
So when he and the four other members of Seryn sing, "Every part I lose is a part worth letting go" in anthemic unison on "Disappear," they fucking mean it. It's the collective voice of a band fighting for its life, affirming that, yes, this is all really worth it. Seryn started when Wheeler and guitarist/vocalist Nathan Allen met at college in Denton, Texas. With bassist/vocalist Aaron Stoner, the band released its 2011 debut, This Is Where We Are, and toured heavily on the release, barely taking a pause through lineup shifts in 2012 and 2014. The changes resulted in creative blocks, resulting in a four-year gap between debut and sophomore releases. It's a delay that could've killed any other band just learning to walk, having gained momentum with press and touring coast to coast with an acclaimed live show. PAUL DE REVERE
Social Distortion - Tuesday, July 28 - Marquee Theatre
Aging well is remarkably difficult in the world of punk rock. Can you imagine Sid Vicious in his 50s? But Mike Ness of Social Distortion still has it going on. Ness continues to win the hearts of pompadour-sporting gals because he is a textbook example of the sensitive bad boy. He's broken hearts and gone to jail (face tattoos!), all the while celebrating and staring down his demons. He's a roughneck, but tender, too, able to croon with equal parts romance and danger. He's the symbol that sums Social Distortion as a whole.
Over the course of a 37-year career, Social D has released seven albums, each one straddling common themes: nostalgia, the flirtatious relationship between rock and country, struggles with women and the law. The balance of bruised love songs and the band's rebellious ethos keeps attracting new fans to Social D's shows whenever they return to the Marquee Theatre in Tempe. The band's longevity is a benchmark for blue-collar punk 'n' roll acts like Lucero and The Gaslight Anthem. "We just got really lucky in that we've been able to [play music for a living] and it still is relevant," says guitarist Jonny "2 Bags" Wickersham. "I don't know what else I would be doing if I wasn't playing music." MELISSA FOSSUM
Rasputina - Tuesday, July 28 - The Rebel Lounge
The cello might be most often associated with orchestras and stuffy chamber-music ensembles, but in Melora Creager's hands, the bassy stringed instrument becomes a magic divining rod that ignites all manner of deliriously inventive flights of fancy. Some of Rasputina's albums from the last decade like Sister Kinderhook and Oh Perilous World are crammed with tangled riffs and knotty cello interplay, while Creager's demented lyrics place historical figures like Mary Todd Lincoln and Clara Barrus in fantastic shaggy-dog fables that, for all of their rampant surrealism, ultimately make some resonant statements about modern warfare and U.S. imperialism. Creager is the one constant member in the ever-evolving Rasputina collective; even as the group's arrangements shift from dense to minimal, she maintains a sense of playful subversion with her colorful, atemporal costumes and whimsically dark melodies. FALLING JAMES
Heems - Tuesday, July 28 - Crescent Ballroom
In December, rapper Himanshu Suri (a.k.a. Heems) booked time at a Mumbai studio operated by Bollywood machers, writing and recording most of his album, Eat Pray Thug, in a three-day whirlwind. The record is the first Heems solo album following a pair of well-received mixtapes that were unleashed during his tenure in the now-defunct alternative hip-hop act Das Racist. Whereas in Das Racist the rapper claims he hid behind humor, on the new disc he appears as a man unmasked.
He raps and sings of traumas personal (breakups, sobriety), political (drones, cops), and, especially, occupying the areas in between: say, his community's weird obligation to shop for American flags in the wake of September 11th. In "Home," the one song completed before his Indian trip, Suri dispenses with rapping altogether to sing, accompanied by Blood Orange's Dev Hynes. "You addicted to the H-man," he croons, addressing a former squeeze. "I'm addicted to the H, man." The most revealing track on Eat Pray Thug, however, is its most ostensibly celebratory and airheaded: "Sometimes," the leadoff track and single. Over a cavernous beat from Gordon Voidwell, Heems sounds off on his paradoxes. "Sometimes I got game/Sometimes I'm mad shy," he raps. "Being sad in the club/Weird when you're this fly." JAY RUTTENBERG
Say Anything - Thursday, July 30 - The Pressroom
Since their breakout album Is a Real Boy came out in 2004, emo/pop-punk band Say Anything has been the soundtrack to many a teenager's life. For this writer, Is a Real Boy skirted the clichés of many emo albums of the times by being more personal and honest. Frontman and principal songwriter Max Bemis didn't write universal songs, he wrote from his heart and mind about his life at the time. It connected more with me than other albums because while he was speaking about his experiences, not mine or any other fan's, we could relate to its reality. But people grow up and change. Just as Say Anything fans have outgrown our teenage angst, so has Max Bemis.
His band's 2012 album, Anarchy, My Dear, dropped last month to positive reviews and the highest chart showing in the band's history, while last year's Hebrews was equally well received by both fans and critics alike. (To wit: Alternative Press lauded the disc, noting that “Bemis may have grown up, but he's still a master at crafting poignant lyrics that take a sharp look at his fears of becoming irrelevant and thoughts about God.”) Both Anarchy, My Dear and Hebrews are mature albums that showcases Bemis shifting his lyrical focus to greater horizons. Even still, Bemis has a way of connecting with his fans that transcends their age or place in life. COREY DEITERMAN
Melanie Martinez - Thursday, July 30 - Valley Bar
Ultra-cute megababe Melanie Martinez will breeze through Valley Bar late next month, which is sure to be an anticipated live music event for her legions of fan-dolls. Many were introduced to Martinez on Season 3 of The Voice, where she did pretty well, making it into the top six, thanks to her raw-silk voice and edgy-sweet style. Her video for debut single "Doll House" racked up serious cult-fashion points with cameos from both designer Stella Rose Saint Clair and plenty of Lime Crime. Her 2014 single, "Carousel," was also featured on the greatest show ever in the history of television, American Horror Story: Freak Show. Basically, she's amazing and you should feel free to use her concert in late July as an excuse to get really, really dressed up. ERIN DEWITT
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