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 20: The Birth of HP Lovecraft Party @ Trunk Space
H.P. Lovecraft was a bit of an odd duck, to say the least. The late horror and sci-fi scribe, who shuffled loose the mortal coil in 1937, not only loathed smiling, but also had a weird thing for cats, and was a bit of both a racist and misogynist who abhorred sex. Then there was his fear of oceanic life, in particular terrifying creatures of the dark and deep waters. Hence his most infamous creation, the malevolent, multi-tentacled demigod known as Lord Cthulu.
The freaky fanatics of local tounge-in-cheek "doomsday cult" the Cult of the Yellow Sign will attempt to summon the cosmic entity from the Stygian depths of R'lyeh, albeit in humorous fashion, during The Birth of H.P. Lovecraft Party on Monday, August 20, at Trunk Space, 1506 Grand Avenue. Even if the "Deep One" doesn't show up, the event celebrating the life and eerie oeuvre of the author will include readings of Lovecraft-inspired poetry by Neil Gearns, Richard Bledsoe, and The Klute, as well as music from Christian Michael Filardo, and Hug of War. Plus, many cupcakes will be sacrificed to the gods of hunger. -- Benjamin Leatherman
Phenomenauts seems like it should be nothing more than a joke band, conceived while inebriated (or, more likely, stoned) and realized on stage in the same condition. Either that, or the house band at a sci-fi convention. Either of these could easily be the case. Somehow, though, the band manages to transcend the '50's space epic costumes, techno-babble lyrics and general geekiness, mostly by virtue of embracing them with straight-faced sincerity. Call them meta-geeks.
It certainly doesn't hurt that they pair their geek-chic homage to (now laughably obsolete) future-shock imagery with equally cheesy punk-edged synth music that owes a heavy debt to New Wave. I would say that Phenomenauts are one of life's ultimate guilty pleasures, save for the fact the the band's sound, style, and philosophy seem to have one guiding principle. There are no guilty pleasures. So slap on a homemade Geordi La Forge VISOR, rename yourself Captain Capacitor, and get ready to rock your way back to the future. --Nicholas Hall
Tuesday, August, 21: Brownout @ Crescent Ballroom
Say what you want about Spotify's payment model for artists or its potential revitalization of the music industry - I've only got one gripe: a McDonalds commercial totally fucks up the flow of Texas-based Latin-funk combo Brownout's excellent Oozy. I know I've got no right to complain, after all, I'm listening to it for free because of said Mickey Dee's advert, but this isn't music made for "a brief word from our sponsors."
No, this is needle-on-the-wax music, or better yet, the kind of thing you can hear in a sweaty club, with good looking hombres and chicas getting down. Pardon the white-boy attempt at Spanglish but it's that kind of thing filled with spiraling, stinging electric leads (like Santana did before he hung out with the guy from Nickelback), thumping bass, blasting horns, sprightly electric piano, and percussion rattling and swaying.
Ooozy is party music, and the band members' pedigree includes the Grammy Award-winning Grupo Fantasma, Blue Noise Band, and The Blimp, and the handily mix as many disparate influences as that might suggest, stirring in blends of jazz fusion, wah-wah pedal stomping funk, psychedelic mojo, and Meters-style groove. Like the similarly retro-funk minded Menahan Street Band, the group has found itself backing up legends in need of a deft-pickup band, and stood behind Wu-Tang Clan's GZA at a recent gig. The band's upcoming performance at Crescent Ballroom is a soul-extravaganza, featuring KWSS DJ and Arizona music historian John "Johnny D" Dixon spinning rare '45s, Arizona R&B hero Stan Deveraux and The Funky Suns, and the Valley's own Afro-Cuban master DJ Seduce. Oh, and no annoying fast food jingles. -- Jason P. Woodbury
Wednesday, August 23: The Boom Bap feat. DJ Element, & DJ M2 @ Azucar Cuban Lounge
Michael "M2" McDowell is old school to the very core, as illustrated by his love of crate-digging for classic hip-hop vinyl and his use of the original Phoenix Suns logo in his professional insignia. He's also got a serious penchant for the lost art of scratching, as does his pal Logan "Element" Howard, who's equally renowned for his affinity for throwback genres and ample abilities on the wheels of steel.
Given the pair's shared obsessions, it seems only natural they'd pair up for a weekly joint like The Boom Bap. The Wednesday-evening affair at Azucar Cuban Lounge, 5004 South Price Road in Tempe, features M2 and Element spending their hump day spinning soul and reggae cuts, as well as a variety of old-school "boom bap" hip-hop tracks (hence the name of the night). The needle drops at 10 p.m. every Wednesday. -- Benjamin Leatherman
Thursday, August 24: Ghostface Killah @ Club Red
As one of the original nine emcees that came together like a hip-hop Avengers team, Wu-Tang Clan alumni Ghostface Killah has reached immortal status in the rap realm. He's been critically acclaimed as a soloist and written off just the same, but like all legends he hasn't died, just grown a little older. Yet for all of his success, Ghost insists it's the little things that continue to make the grind all the worthwhile: getting money and bagging bitches. Recently appearing in MTV2's series, Guy Code, Mr. Tony Starks described what makes for a "good ass night.""A good ass night to me is getting up in the morning and getting money; maybe do a show or bag a little chick or something," he says on the program. "Bring her back to the room, skip all the talking, you get right to business and you just do what you gotta do."
Maybe that lady-lovin' was what inspired 2009's Ghostdini the Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City, where GK opted smooth soul sampling to underwhelming results, but fortunately for fans, 2010's Apollo Kids marked a return to Wu-Tang-esque grit and grime. The release makes it his sixth solo effort under the Def Jam banner and features fellow underground hip-hop graduates Raekwon, GZA, and Method Man. Of course soul isn't far away whenever Ironman is involved: "2getha Baby" takes its hook from The Intruders while showcasing the Ghost's signature wordplay.--Anthony Sandoval