Phoenix New Times' Best of Phoenix 2017 is out now. Here's our list of the best places to party in the Valley.
Best Rapper: Ali Tomineek
Ali Tomineek has no apologies. He made that clear on his 2016 mixtape I Ain't Sorry. What the Arizona-born independent rapper does have? A cool 100,000 YouTube followers who keep tabs on the speed demon's latest flows. In May 2017, Tomineek released his debut full-length record, #FridayFlow, snagged a top spot on Billboard's Heatseekers Mountain chart, and made an appearance on local hip-hop radio haven The Beatlocker.
Best Vocalist: Camille Sledge
Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra's lead singer, Camille Sledge, pulls off one helluva job. She's the vocalist and "leader of rituals" for the Valley band that's most likely to make you think — and make you shake it. No small feat, and one that's more awe-inducing still when a quick headcount reveals that the band she helms features a whopping 16 members.
Best DJ: DJ Gila Man
Ryan Rousseau is a man of few words and a whole lotta records. When the longtime rocker isn't fronting psych-punk outfit Destruction Unit, chances are good you'll find him out and spinning select vinyl oddities at Valley Bar or The Womack under the moniker DJ Gila Man. Expect stoned psychedelic grooves, outer-space trips, and assorted far-out sounds when Rousseau mans the ones and twos.
Best Turntablist: Les735
You might know Les Sias better as Les735 or simply DJ Les. Regardless, the Phoenix turntablist knows a thing or three about scratching. Sias showed off his mad spinning skills during the 2017 DMC Phoenix Regional DJ Battle at The Rebel Lounge. Let's just say he wowed the crowd while going head-to-head with the Southwest's most notable scratch kings, because Sias earned himself a spot at the DMC National DJ Battles.
Best Local Band: The Darts
Let's get to the point, shall we? The Darts fucking rock — and deliver on the promise to "make your head slam and your feet shake." Nicole Laurenne (formerly of Love Me Nots and Motobunny), Michelle Balderrama (Brainspoon), Christina Nunez (Love Me Nots), and Rikki Styxx (Dollyrots) took the band's noisy, sexy songs on tour for the summer — and through Europe. But the girls are back in town.
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Best Homecoming: AJJ at The Trunk Space
Hometown folk-punk heroes AJJ have been at it for years now. To celebrate a decade of the band's seminal record, People Who Eat People Are the Luckiest People in the World, founding members Ben Gallaty and Sean Bonnette played not one, but five sold-out concerts at downtown DIY venue The Trunk Space. A testament to both the venue and hardworking rockers, the packed shows are proof that people in Phoenix love their local bands.
Best Reunion: Meat Puppets
The 2017 Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame induction ceremony was a star-studded event for fans of jangle-pop, grunge, and The Boss. Several Valley bands and musicians rocked the stage at Celebrity Theatre, but perhaps most notable was the reforming of Meat Puppets' O.G. lineup: Cris and Curt Kirkwood, along with drummer Derrick Bostrom. It was the first time the three founding Puppets had performed together since New Year's Eve in 1995. And it was fucking righteous.