Five Must-See Shows This Weekend (Cinco de Mayo Edition)

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Curious what's going on around town this weekend? Need some suggestions as to how to rock, dance, or krump in the Valley of the Sun? Don't fret: These are our Five Shows to See This Weekend.

Looking for even more Cinco action? Check out our Valley Cinco de Mayo guide.

Saturday May 5: Cinco de Mayo Phoenix Festival in Downtown Phoenix

More than 150,000 people are expected to be in attendance at this annual two-day Cinco block party taking place in the streets of downtown Phoenix. Live entertainment includes folklorico dancing, traditional music, and boxing matches. Food and drink vendors, arts and crafts demonstrations, and a variety of games will also take place. Latin Breed and David Lee Garza y Los Musicales are scheduled to take the main stage on Saturday, and funk superstars War will perform on Sunday. Hours are 2 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, May 5; and noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday, May 6. --Benjamin Leatherman

Friday, May 4: Deer Tick @ Crescent Ballroom

Although Providence, Rhode Island's Deer Tick are often labeled alt-country, there's more to John McCauley and crew than roots rock. 2011's Divine Providence showed a band moving away from folk and embracing punk rock and dissonance. Even the subject matter of the songs swung toward the dark side. One of the best tracks, "Clowning Around," concerns itself with the life of serial killer John Wayne Gacy -- not your typical alt-country subject matter. Throughout the album, McCauley wheezes his tortured tales like a bum asking for a handout. Telegraph Canyon and Nashville's Turbo Fruits open. --Darryl Smyers

Friday, May 4: Johnny D. and DJ Smite @ Lost Leaf

"I got Johnny D spinning out for the first time in 2012 at the Lost Leaf celebrating Cinco de Mayo with his top 10 Xicano 45's amongst plenty of other Mexican musical pan dulce," says downtown spinner and music historian DJ Smite. "I'm pulling out all my Mexican psych facemelters along with the Latin Funk, salsa, and, of course, cumbia-crunk y mas." The duo promises an antidote for all the "Latin craze" music that clogs Latin celebrations. "Yeah, incredible music with real content," says Smite. The fun kicks off at 8 p.m. -- Jason P. Woodbury

Saturday, May 5: Blues, Bruise, and BBQs Cinco de Mayo Festival @ Westside Sports Complex

There will be activity all day long at the adrenaline-filled Blues, Bruise, and BBQs Cinco de Mayo Festival at this West Valley location. The Kiwi Dash adventure race starts at 9:30 a.m. and will involve participants mucking through a 5K obstacle course. The Slap the Gator Musicfest kicks off at 10 a.m. and features seven blues bands, and action-packed Muay Thai mixed martial arts matches will transpire during the day. Barbecue food will also be cooked up by local vendors, and both a body-painting competition and custom motorcycle show will take place. -- Benjamin Leatherman

Sunday, May 6: Death Cab for Cutie @ Ikeda Theater at Mesa Arts Center

There's a bittersweet warmth to Death Cab for Cutie's music that's reminiscent of their Pacific Northwest origins. Like Washington state weather, their atmospheric indie pop feels shrouded by clouds moving to a melancholy lilt behind frontman Ben Gibbard's tender, understated boy-next-door tenor. The guitars gently waft amid keyboard drizzle while Gibbard waxes philosophical with longing and existential ache, suggesting a less angst-ridden Conor Oberst.

The band began in the mid-'90s when a demo solo cassette by Gibbard attracted the attention of indie label Barsuk, prompting him to assemble a full band. Four albums of increasing craftsmanship culminated in 2003's Transatlanticism, an infectious mix of wistful introspection and cinematic indie rock. Aided by the success of Gibbard's one-off side project, Postal Service, the band made the jump to Atlantic Records for 2005's Plans. The album went platinum and earned a Grammy nomination, but reviews were middling thanks to greater polish and somewhat weaker songs. The band followed with 2008's Narrow Stars, a darker album recorded live-to-tape, giving it greater vibrancy and snap.

May's more produced, less guitar-centric release, Codes & Keys, finds Gibbard uncharacteristically upbeat and hopeful following his marriage to actress Zooey Deschanel. The music moves with greater purpose and everything feels crisper and brighter, like Death Cab suddenly got their groove back. -- Chris Parker

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