Here are our picks for the best live music in Phoenix this week. Be sure to browse our comprehensive concert calendar for more options.
Le Butcherettes - Tuesday, July 21 - Crescent Ballroom
Many bands have elaborate stage shows, but not many are as violent or eccentric as Le Butcherettes. Whether she’s smacking herself in the face in a prom dress or dancing with a real pig head while wearing a blood-smeared apron, frontwoman/guitarist Teri Gender Bender spirals around stage like a flaming banshee. Sometimes she’ll snip away her hair onstage, sometimes she’ll blow bubbles while wearing pearls and a drawn-on mustache. But all that would just be bizarre performance art if the Guadalajara band’s music wasn’t just as badass.
Gender Bender (known to her mother as Teresa Suárez) also fronts the experimental art rock band Bosnian Rainbows with The Mars Volta’s Omar Rodríguez-López, as well as singing in electro-dub sextet Kimono Kult with Rodríguez-López and former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante. Gender Bender is not just mesmerizing on stage – she’s one of the most talented and important voices in avant-garde punk today. TROY FARAH
Death Grips - Thursday, July 23 - Marquee Theatre
When Death Grips hit the world (propelled by a “Best New Music” accolade from Pitchfork for the group’s first full-length, 2012’s The Money Store), they brought with them a sound no one else really explored. With elements of industrial, metal, even dubstep and EDM melting with hip-hop, Death Grips’ music was as unique as it was unsettling, with MC Ride playing the role of opaque, cryptic frontman. The band made an impression; as progressive and outside the mainstream as it was, the band almost got signed to a major label in Epic Records, starting a tumultuous relationship that saw the band sort-of breakup, prompting conspiracy theories that the group simply didn’t want follow through on plans to tour with Soundgarden. The group announced its disbandment on Facebook and then mysteriously announced its re-bandment on a random Twitter account in 2014. It just goes to show that keeping up with the band is just as complicated and confusing as listening to its music. And if the group’s latest album, Jenny Death, is any indication, there’s no sign that Death Grips will stray from its beautifully weird trajectory any time soon. DAVID ACCOMAZZO
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
Hollywood Alley Reunion - Friday, July 24 - C.A.S.A. Lounge in Tempe
After landmark local dive bar and music venue Hollywood Alley closed its doors for good two summers back, many of its regulars and rockers sought out new haunts and hangouts around town to spend their off hours. Some eventually wound up over at C.A.S.A. Lounge in Tempe, which boasts a similarly divey chic vibe as Hollywood Alley in many respects. It also occasionally hosts a number of the same bands and musicians that performed at the bygone Mesa rock bar and even employs famed Alley bartender Robert "Fun Bobby" Birmingham. Needless to say, C.A.S.A. seems a fitting place for this weekend's Hollywood Alley Reunion, which will bring together fans and friends of the legendary bar along with members of the Wincek family that ran it for 25 years, including the always amiable “Ross the Boss.” Toasts will be raised, stories will be swapped, and rock 'n' roll will be on tap at the event, which will feature gigs by local reggae/funk act Fred Green and the punks of Fat Gray Cat, both of which were regulars at the Alley, as well as a performance by the gonzo rockers of Fu. Heck, there's also a chance that a few commemorative Hollywood Alley t-shirts will be for sale at the event. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
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
Rush - Monday, July 27 - U.S. Airways Center
Though De La Soul may have sang that “three is the magic number,” for Rush, that number is 40. The band marked 40 years in 2014, with more than 40 million albums sold. Hmmm… that’s not quite right, even though the band claims as much on its website. Rush actually formed 47 years ago in Toronto, but the current band lineup — Geddy Lee, Neil Peart and Alex Lifeson — have been pushing the band’s progressive, hard-edged sound for the last four decades. Guess we can let that kind of thing slide, especially when considering Rush’s durability in an ever-shifting landscape. Admonishing themselves as “Equal parts Led Zeppelin, Cream and King Crimson,” Rush have covered a lot of ground in 40 years. The band has even gone so far as to merge reggae, funk and blues, as well as heavy synthesizer use, into their decidedly singular sound. Rush has followed its own muse, alternating lengthy prog rock epics with tightly wound rock radio staples, such as “Tom Sawyer” and “New World Man.” It’s this integrity — and stunning showmanship — that has allowed the band to continually fill arenas during a very respectable 40 years (or so). GLENN BURNSILVER