Memorial Day is when we, as a nation, proudly get together and celebrate the men and women of the armed services who have died in order to give us an extra day off.
Bad joke. But the reality is so damned depressing it's hard to think of anything else. It might have vanished from our country's collective consciousness, but the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 is still happening. The one we started in Iraq two years later has wound down, but the U.S. still has soldiers in the Afghanistan, and the cost has been heavy. "As of Tuesday, May 20, 2014, at least 2,181 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan," the Associated Press reported. One estimate put the number dead at more than 14,000. More than 900,000 soldiers have been injured in both Afghanistan and Iraq. And Afghani civilians? More than 14,000 have died since the invasion started.
So when you're kicking back on Monday (should you be lucky enough to have it off), try to remember that the American military conflicts this holiday remembers aren't past tense. Think about the soldiers overseas -- your brothers, sisters, friends, family and casual acquaintances, your fellow Americans -- that are still putting themselves into harm's way, and hope that they come home safely, as soon as logistically possible.
That said, distract yourself from the Treasury-draining, life-taking war going on a half-world away with these concerts happening in Metro Phoenix this weekend. And if you don't see anything you like here, be sure to check out our comprehensive concert listings for a bevy of more options.
At their best, Snake! Snake! Snakes! recall a cross between early U2 and The Stills, with a hint of the commercial appeal of the first Killers album, the one you had in your car stereo for weeks but wouldn't admit to owning. Treasure MammaL, Cherie Cherie, and Wanda Junes join the indie-pop band on the bill.--Jason Woodbury
Even though smooth crooner Trey Songz likes to ohh-ohh about the facial expressions people make during sexual intercourse and orgasms that feel like a "Heart Attack," he's really just a hopeless romantic with a head full of deep thoughts. Let's try to love and respect each other, people. --S. Pajot Maceo Parker - Musical Instrument Museum Theater - Sunday, May 25
Saxophonist Maceo Parker calls his band "the tightest little funk orchestra on Earth." It should be. Parker was schooled in tightness as the bandleader for James Brown in the 1960s. Brown was notorious for his demanding ways, but Parker, despite not being a hard-ass, still knows exactly how to keep his band focused on making every show a groovalicious party. Considered a pioneer for modern funk and hip-hop movements, Parker -- weaned on the likes of David "Fathead" Newman, Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, and King Curtis -- was "discovered" in a South Carolina bar by Brown, there to check out Parker's drummer brother, Melvin. Melvin got the job and Brown reluctantly took Maceo along. It proved to be a good move, laying the groundwork for a genre-defining sound. Parker later stepped out on his own, further developing the heavy, horn-accentuated rhythmic pulse that's now a staple of everyone from George Clinton's P-Funk permutations to Prince to The Roots. In the 1990s, Parker's jazz roots began sneaking back into his sound, but not much. As Parker makes it clear, his music is "2 percent jazz, 98 percent funky stuff." Simple and to the point -- there's nothing wrong with that! --Glenn BurnSilver Swollen Members - Pub Rock Live - Sunday, May 25
Proud members of the DIY underground movement, the Swollen Members have taken the notion of hip-hop brilliance to a new level. The dynamic group -- consisting of two MCs, Prevail and Madchild, along with DJ/producer Rob the Viking -- redefines what a lyricist and a writer are capable of conveying on track. Madchild's in-your-face vocal bounce can release the demons within, while Prevail puppeteers the entire scene with imagery and layers of subtext as if it were his own magnum opus. --Caleb Haley Crystal Method - Talking Stick Resort - Monday, May 26
It's been called dance music for people who like rock, but the tag's too reductive. While The Crystal Method's "big beat" sound has often featured a rock roar (including guitarists Wes Borland from Limp Bizkit and Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello), it also accompanies layered loops of pop, soul and hip-hop over effervescent breakbeats.
Their 1997 debut, Vegas, came hot on the heels of the Chemical Brothers' huge Dig Your Own Hole album, and with its similarly rock-inspired vibe, took off, going platinum. Since then, The Crystal Method has remained dedicated to its rangy sound. -- Chris Parker
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