Got any plans this weekend? You probably should, considering there are few (if any) reasons to stay glued to the furniture at home. The weather's certainly nicer, with nary any storm fronts scheduled to move through Metro Phoenix, and there's no shortage of live music or nightlife events over the next 72 hours.
Setting aside all the performers at you can check out at tonight's First Friday, the Phoenix Ska/Punk Bowling fest will be taking place, gloomy goth/darkwave night HÄXAN is celebrating its first birthday, and there are a pair of beer-oriented festivals in the East Valley (Tour De Fat and the SanTan Brewing Oktoberfest) that each feature well-known acts. We even have a big event planned for Saturday -- namely, the annual Best of Phoenix A'fare -- that will include live music.
Naturally, most of the major venues throughout Phoenix have full slates booked for every evening this weekend and even more options await on our online concert calendar.
So, yeah, like we said...whatcha going to do this weekend?
HÄXAN's First Anniversary - Friday, October 4 - Palazzo
Despite the gloomy and menacing nature of the music he spins -- not to mention his badass neck tattoos and an occasionally surly countenance and -- the DJ known as Tristan/Iseult is a nice enough fellow. There's a similar sort of paradox afoot with his monthly dance night HÄXAN, which takes place every first Friday at Palazzo.
While its self-described as a "doomed disco-tech for discordant souls that wish to writhe with joy through the impending darkness," the affair could be considered a lively celebration of sorts, doomy atmosphere aside. Well, at least for the misfits, rivetheads, and creatures of the night that happily gather at the goth club for Tristan/Iseult and DJ Plastic Disease's ominous audio offerings of darkwave, okkvlt, witch house, industrial, and post-nothingness, as well as "unsettling visuals" being projected on the walls.
And the latest episode of the freakish fete on Friday may even get a little more festive, as it will mark HÄXAN's first anniversary. DJ Xian of likeminded L.A. spot Warlok will be the special guest. Doors open at 9:30 p.m. with the 18-and-over afterhours starting at 2 a.m. Admission is $8. -- Benjamin Leatherman
PHX Ska Punk Bowling - Friday, October 3/Saturday, October 4 - Pub Rock/Club Red
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Maybe its because both are lowbrow pursuits with a fondness for cheap beer, gaudy apparel, and making a racket, but bowling and punk rock seem to fit together as naturally as your fingers in the holes of a 12-pound Brunswick ball. The two have been pin pals for a couple of decades or more, as evidenced by such bands as Bowling For Soup or the rowdy shows held at rundown alleys like Chicago's famed Fireside Bowl from '94 onward. (Here in the Valley, the bygone Tempe Bowl was infamously the site of many a wild show in that era.) And, of course, there's the renowned Punk Rock Bowling festival that brings thousands to Vegas every summer.
It helped to partly inspire a homegrown takeoff of the event, Phoenix Ska/Punk Bowling, which launched last October at a few bars in and around Tempe and proved popular enough to bring back for a second frame this year. The two-day fest, which was born from a desire to create something in the Valley that rivals Punk Rock Bowling and other big-name punk events nationwide, even mimics the larger event's multi-venue format, sponsorship by Pabst Blue Ribbon, and tons of bands on the schedule. That's where most of the comparisons end, however, since Phoenix Ska/Punk Bowling adds its own bit of English, however, by adding some skank-inducing music of a two-tone and third wave variety into the mix at both Pub Rock in Scottsdale and Club Red in Mesa.
The loaded lineup rolls down the different lanes of punk, ska, and either genre's many subsidiaries, such as hardcore (NYC's Reagan Youth, Boston's OC 45), folk-punk (Black Mountain Moonshine), thrash (Skull Drug), Oi! (Yuma's Working Mutts), hardcore ska (Denver's Rotten Blue Menace), reggae-inspired jams (California's Two Tone Boners) and flat-out punk (The Linecutters, No Gimmick, Screaming At Deaf Kids). Actual bowling will also take place during the weekend during an afternoon tournament on Saturday at AMF Tempe Village Lanes, although you should refrain from slam dancing in the alleys like they did at Tempe Bowl back in the day. -- Benjamin Leatherman
Cymbals Eat Guitars - Saturday, October 4 - Last Exit Live
"Cymbals eat out guitars" is how Lou Reed once described the Velvet Underground's sound. While imagining a Zildjian going down on a Les Paul is only erotic in some Rule 34 sense, dropping the "out" to make Cymbals Eat Guitars evokes the musical equivalent to the "Why was six afraid of seven?" joke. It's abstract, mathematical violence, sorta fitting for the Staten Island indie rock group, as it has its crashing tantrums comparable to Cursive or At the Drive-In.
The minced vocals and themes of "not quite grammatically correct" obscure references (see tracks like "Another Tunguska" or "Like Blood Does") only add to the hazy sea. But what really ties Cymbals together are the precarious moments of beauty, influences derived from the likes of Spiritualized and Titus Andronicus. The tangle of mood swings will keep you on your toes and maybe even leave you breathless at moments. -- Troy Farah
SanTan Brewing Oktoberfest - Saturday, October 4 - AJ Chandler Park
Although vocalist/guitarist Aaron Barret is the only member of Reel Big Fish left over from the band's salad days in the '90s, this isn't a glorified cover band hitting the road on the laurels of past glories. Instead, this version is still cranking out material, the songs on its ninth studio effort, Bloody Street, from earlier this year. Despite the rotating cast of characters, this sextet's upbeat brand of music will keep the bodies moving even if they've overindulged on beers and brats at SanTan Brewing's annual Oktoberfest in Chandler, which also promises performances from the Valley's Bad Cactus Brass Band and reggae-influenced acts Iration and 80 Proof. Prost! -- Daniel Kohn
Sondre Lerche - Saturday, October 4 - MIM Music Theater
Norway's perennially optimistic Sondre Lerche is not an artist wont to weigh listeners down with gloom, even when the occasion calls for it. Bringing a freshly odd-angled sound to most anything he touches, the Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter has shown that he's seemingly incapable of missing points of interest in a wide swath of musical genres and emotional states. But the sheer good feeling you get from his excellent new album, Please (a divorce-themed record), has something to do with the forthright way Lerche deals with growing up, moving on, facing the void and all that kind of stuff. These expertly arranged, raw-edged songs reveal a lot about the mind and soul of one very big-hearted guy, and remind us that when the going gets tough, the tough get creative. -- John Payne
Crowbar - Sunday, October 5 - Club Red
After leaving Down in 2013, legendary sludge metal guitarist Kirk Windstein now has his entire focus on Crowbar -- for the first time ever since the band's inception. It's only made the band even more prominent in the metal scene, with their newest album released in May, Symmetry in Black, selling more copies in its first week of release than any other album in the band's 25-year career. Rounded out by Revocation and Havok, this lineup is a must for any thrash or sludge metal fan. -- Lauren Wise
Saintseneca - Sunday, October 5 - Last Exit Live
"Stompy folk songs" is what Pitchfork calls the music of Saintseneca, which blends clean, quiet acoustic instrumentation (of guitars, of course, but also violin, dulcimer, and something called a Turkish baglama) with reverb-soaked electric guitars, and even synthesizers. For a band that grew up on farms in Appalachia, they've got an edge to their pastoral sound.
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