Phoenix has a vast and eclectic music scene that encompasses bands of all genres. There is noise punk, metal, hip-hop, alternative hip-hop; hell, I once saw a band play a 15-pound chain at the Lost Leaf. Whatever sort of sound you may be looking for, I assure you someone in the Valley of the Sun makes it.
But not every form of music can fit into a specific genre. In fact, sometimes bands are so off the wall that you did not even know you liked the sound they make, because you had never heard that sound before. Sometimes an affinity for a band can have nothing to do with the sound they make, but more with the energy of their live performance.
Whatever it is that draws people to these musical oddities, some bands just make being weird sound so good. This list is a salute to the 9 oddest acts in the Phoenix music scene.
1.) RPM Orchestra
What was once wiley Phoenix artist Pete Petrisco's one man recording project has morphed into a proto industrial americana band that at times enompasses up to seven musicians. The band is known for its "found sound" instruments like the typewriter, shortwave radio, and metal planters, and performs at events such as silent film screenings and interpretive dance recitals. No two RPM Orchestra sets are ever the same due to their heavy improvisation, as well as the fact that many of the tunes they play are not structured songs in the more traditional sense of the word. That's not to say they don't incorporate any traditional instruments. You might see a clarinet, as well as bass and guitar.
2.) Melted Cassettes
It is not so much music as it is an ocean of noise that one must swim through to pick up every sound. That is at least how one Melted Cassettes fan, Anthony Vandawalker, described the experimental noise duo. Like RPM Orchestra, none of the sounds that the Melted Cassettes make are generally considered music. In fact, the two bands share a mission in pushing the concept of what music is as far as it can go. One of the members of the group unfortunately headed west to California, but they still perform together via video connections. 3.) Space Alien Donald
He's the self proclaimed "Oldest Gay Canadian Rapper" on Earth and he lives right here in the Valley of the Sun. He even has his own venue on 12th and Madison Streets in downtown Phoenix, called Funny World. Whether to call it performance art or music is your decision, but seeing a nearly 80-yea- old man performing at all is uncommon, seeing him perform hip-hop with his trademark multicolored horn hat and handlebar mustache is downright odd. His lyrics jump from extraterrestrial, to political to existential, and the show is just him standing with a microphone reading off a lyric sheet. But it is still definitely a sight to behold and one of the oddest acts in town.
4.) Drunk & Horny
Two men, one accordion and one megaphone is what comprises Phoenix polka punks Drunk & Horny. Related Records honcho Ryan Avery and Andrew Jemsek are those two men, and it is fairly obvious that they are both demented. The stripe-wearing duo have penned such masterpieces as "Masturbation Monster," "Fight the Moon," and "Poopin Safari" and have no intention of changing anything about the band. Offensive songs are so ingrained in the duo that one day when Jemsek's accordion went down mid song, during a cover of Charles Bronson's "I'm sick of feminists," Avery broke right into an acapella freestyle that went "I had an unhappy childhood and you gotta pay," Related Records will be releasing a seven-inch vinyl of "Poopin Safari" this summer.5.) Windup Conspiracy
DJ Birch and DJ Decca are like no other DJ duo you have ever seen. The mysterious pair, who refuse to release their real names and play all of their shows wearing plague masks, are the only wind-up Victrola DJ's in the Valley, and possibly in the world. Their sets consist of songs like "The Mexican Shuffle" by Xavier Cugat and his Orchestra, "Minnie the Moocher" by Cab Calloway, "Love Walked in" by The Hilltoppers, and all sorts of other old timey records. Which is all accentuated by their eccentric style of dress, which besides the masks include top hats, robes, skirts, and a very white tuxedo jacket.
The proper name is Doyenne Eleganza Saint Goddess, but that is the only thing that is proper about the electroclash hip-hop artist. A self-described transvestite, Doyenne often performs wearing a mix of men's and women's clothing and sings many of his profane, sexual songs from the perspective of a woman. Doyenne does not yet have the full stage performance he wants with full lights and dancers. But the performer himself commands the attention of the audience with sexually charged lyrics, outlandish hairstyles and costumes, and an unabashed dance style. Doyenne is different and doesn't mind showing that to his audiences.
North Brother Island falls more in line with RPM Orchestra on the New Times odd spectrum than with the other acts on the list because, like RPM, the performance is so much more than just the sounds being created onstage. In 2013, the chamber folk five-piece played six dates, and in 2014, they are on pace to blow that number out of the water with a whopping five performances since January 1. The group sings about historical events such as murderesses, molasses spills, and other historical oddities, and they do it in a hauntingly beautiful way. They aren't weird in the way Treasure MammaL is, but with the content of the songs, they are certainly odd enough for this list. 8.) Hot Rock Supa Joint
He's six feet, seven inches tall, counting the cowboy boots and afro, and in his trademark skin-tight fashion, Hot Rock Supa Joint sticks out at any show like a smoking bong at the Republican National Convention. The act is half hip-hop show, half stand-up comedy, but 100 percent entertaining, and the guy knows how to get weird. At his live shows he can be found stalking the stage and gyrating for the crowd; in his videos he finds ways to incorporate weed, and hilarity into all sorts of situations, including a birthday party and gardening. With a catalogue full of nothing but songs about weed Hot Rock is one of the one of the few artists keeping the genre of weed hip-hop fresh.
9.) Los Puchos
Though it seems they left us as quickly as they came, Los Puchos were like a whirlwind of odd energy flowing into the cracks of the Phoenix music scene. They were doing their best to channel the '60s, and Austin Owen seemed to do is best Jim Morrison interpretation at every show, the last of which at Trunk Space he proclaimed, "We did it guys; we were psychedelic." Besides the hilarity of Owens floating around the stage like a drugged-out hippie and pouring PBRs down his chest while wearing a turban and sunglasses, the songs were great. They definitely win the award for best show crash of early 2014 when they pulled up in front of Crescent Ballroom and played a half-hour set on the back of a trailer before the Black Lips show.
Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.
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