Five Must-See Shows This Week

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Yeah, yeah, yeah...we get it Mondays suck (we've read Garfield). But it means the start of a new week, which means a bunch of killer shows in and around Phoenix. And here are a few of the coolest, our top five must-see shows this week.

Monday, August 6: Iron Maiden @ Ashley Furniture HomeStore Pavilion

The old guard might seem a little soft now that metal bands come at us with names such as Pig Destroyer, Decrepit Birth, Lacerated Testicle, and Prostitute Disfigurement (betcha can't tell which of those I just made up).

But their 1970s precursors epitomize the finest elements of the hair metal and the Ozzy Osbourne solo records that directly followed--and all this sandwiched between frequent bursts of their trademark harmonized-thirds guitar leads. Be sure to keep an eye out for Eddie, the hypnotically grotesque skeletal band mascot featured so prominently in the album artwork and stage setups.

Let's just hope he doesn't give those modern bands any ideas. -- Vijith Assa

Tuesday, August 7: Becky Lee @ 910 Live

One-woman band Becky Lee has a tough time fitting in. The rocker looks the part of a scene queen -- usually decked out in dark tones, a pair of vintage boots, and a chic little bowler -- but here in the Valley she's the sole occupant the niche she's carved with her low, languid vocals, kick drum, and guitar.

"It's actually been an ongoing issue for me, the whole genre thing," she says. "Someone actually told me that I should just stay in Europe/out of AZ because I don't have a 'scene' here."

So it makes plenty of sense that her first non-demo full-length LP Hello Black Halo was recorded in Switzerland and Italy with support from Bern-based Voodoo Rhythm Records and its founder Reverend Beat-Man. -- Becky Bartkowski

Tuesday, August 7: Nicki Minaj @ Comerica Theatre

It's all right to be a lady and feel conflicted about Nicki Minaj.

The eternal dance between the business of sexuality, product placement and independent thought has driven her career, and perhaps driven her to take even bigger chances, as this year's uneven Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded illuminates.

2010's Pink Friday was a bit more cohesive, Minaj working on small-scale sketches of her different personalities, instead of vamping them over the top. But that's what you want live, right? The spectacle is no problem. -- Audra Schroeder

Wednesday, August 8: Allagoch @ Rhythm Room

Portland folk-metal conjurers Agalloch are among the best of a growing sect of earthy, naturalistic metal bands. The band's 2010 full-length marathon, Marrow of the Spirit, is an hour-long journey that intertwines black-metal caterwaul with acoustic guitar flourishes, low-end piano stabs, and sublime cello arrangements. This approach is similar to Washington terra-metal practitioners Wolves in the Throne Room, who share Agalloch's particular mode of Pacific Northwest tranquility.

Though many of these acoustic additions take the fore while obvious doom-metal signifiers are heard in the mix, there are passages of Marrow of the Spirit that could be mistaken for post-rock codas or disembodied ambient environments. Of course, there are plenty of forlorn guitar leads, double-kick pummels, and vocal shrieks, but Agalloch make a unique statement within the black-metal vocabulary. The band is among several innovators on the Canadian avant-metal label Profound Lore, which also houses the dazzling structural finesse of Krallice and the forbidding sludge of Yob.

Agalloch set themselves apart through delicate subversion of genre expectations: They do not fall prey to the predictable rise-fall dynamics of lesser post-rock nor the cloddish theatrics of overcooked epic metal. Hearing their barren atmospherics and structural poise raises the metal bar a whole foot closer to the forest's canopy. --Chase Kamp

Thursday, August 9: Tierra del Fuego @ Crescent Ballroom

Through pure happenstance, I witnessed this local band, Tierra del Fuego, on Saturday night play as they played to a small but appreciative crowd at Trunk Space. It just happened to be the band's CD release gig, and the price of admission came with the band's new CD. It was the best $7 I spent all weekend.

The show was real good, and the CD is outstanding -- a good-natured and warm celebration of Western swing, old-school country, modern alt-country, Southwestern eclecticism, and even some Blasters-inspired roots-abilly. Bloodshot Records, sign these guys already.

The quartet is the complete package -- top-notch musicianship that eschews flashiness and never strays beyond being totally tasteful, confident two- and three-part harmonies, and a solid collection of songs that aren't afraid to flirt around the edges of their genre. When I saw these guys Saturday, they even played a straight-faced country take on the ridiculous punk chestnut "I Love Livin' in the City" by Fear. It was the perfect statement for another under-attended night on sad ol' Grand Avenue. -- Jay Bennett

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