Jason Ricci and the Bad Kind
Tuesday, March 13
Back in his 20s, the prodigiously talented harmonica player Jason Ricci was compared to Jimi Hendrix by music scribes, owing to his ingenious ability to warp and transmogrify the warbling tones of the instrument into unheard of sounds akin to a sitar, saxophone, or some otherworldly aural kinkiness. Backed by torrid and bluesy riffs from his current backing band Bad Kind, Ricci's musical oeuvre ranges from straight Delta blues to expansive jam-rock trips to lackadaisically moody songs bordering on emo (befitting his past as a punk rocker).
His vocals are equally as enthralling, as he moans, croons, and caterwauls lyrics which can be bombastic, baleful, or bizarre. Having first picked up a mouth harp at 15, Ricci gruelingly studied such harmonica idols as Sonny Boy Williamson and Pat Ramsey, won a slew of awards before he turned 21, and has shared stages with legends like R.L. Burnside and Nick Curran. Schooled by these traditionalists, he's made a habit of bending and shaping the blues into parts unknown. Benjamin Leatherman
Wednesday, March 14
Marquee Theatre in Tempe
Hippie Sabotage is an EDM duo that comprises Saurer brothers Kevin and Jeff. They first earned attention after their remix of Tove Lo's "Habits (Stay High)" racked up a half-billion hits on YouTube and have paved their own way ever since. Projecting a confident aggression similar to that of the Gaslamp Killer, their sound is a mix of hip-hop flourishes and chill grooves that gets crowds moving.
The Saurers' performances seem as interactive as you can get. Kevin spends time roaming among the crowds and both of the brothers appear to be having a lot of fun, recognizing that part of their success so far is based on their connection with people beyond the music. Apparently, the two had spent a year living out of their car not so long ago, so no matter what you thought of their set, it's impossible to criticize people enjoying the moment and bringing others along with them. Tom Murphy
The Dead South
Wednesday, March 14
Yucca Tap Room in Tempe
One look at this five-member acoustic ensemble and their wardrobe (which includes white shirts, black suspenders, traveler hats, and bolo ties) will immediately tell you that their particular bent is of the old-timey ilk. And one listen to their music, which runs the gamut from murder ballads to foot-stomping bluegrass numbers about being damned to hell, will absolutely confirm it.
That’s not to say that The Dead South subsist solely on folksy string band tropes or take themselves too seriously. Since emerging from the sprawling Canadian plains of Saskatchewan in 2012, The Dead South have poked fun at both themselves and the whole folk/bluegrass thing, including dubbing themselves the “evil twins” of Mumford & Sons (right down to the mandolins) and satirical songs like “Banjo Odyssey” (which pokes fun at the hillbilly chic stereotypes of their genres).
In other words, you might find yourself chuckling when The Dead South performs at the Yucca Tap this week and not just snapping your fingers and tapping your toes. Benjamin Leatherman
Wednesday, March 14
The Van Buren
Ice skating fans who press play on A$AP Ferg’s new single “Kristi YamaGucci” might not get what they came for. But the rapper’s fans will.
Though named for the two-time World Champion American figure skater, the surprise drop spends little time on Tonya Harding’s rival. Yamaguchi gets a single shoutout and nary a mention of her Winter Olympics gold. Instead, the track finds Ferg and his Mad Man tourmates IDK and Denzel Curry in fine form and flaunting it.
NickNPattiWhack opens the single with lines reminiscent of his much-memed smooth-talker persona. “Aw lord baby, she got a flip phone. Damn baby, I been smokin’.” It’s a launch pad for Ferg’s verse, stuffed with requisite bragging about his hit “Plain Jane” and how he and other members of the Harlem-rooted A$AP Mob modeled for Calvin Klein. In between those highs, Ferg reflects on the lows, calling on his late friend A$AP Yams to let him know he’s coping and to say hi to Ferg’s late father.
That balance makes Ferg a compelling emcee. But don’t think he skips out on turning things back around on his rivals. He runs this shit like relay, he says, and they might just have to press replay. Cold? Maybe. But it’s all gucci. Becky Bartkowski
Harrison Fjord (Album Release Party)
Thursday, March 15
It may have been a few years since Harrison Fjord has released any sort of new project, but the local indie/psych act has made up for it with Polychrome, their debut album. Released last month, the nine-song effort builds on the jazzy and New Wave-y grooves the band had in their 2015 EP, Puspa in Space. Plus, it’s got lots of glorious harmonizing by vocalist by guitarist Mario Yniguez, jammy and dreamy rock tracks, and even some wailing sax from Chris Hoskins of Captain Squeegee fame on tracks like “Viewmaster” and “Winnebago.”
You can pick up a copy of Polychrome for yourself on Thursday night at Crescent Ballroom when Harrison Fjord celebrates the release of the album. Locals band Luxxe and Colour TV will open the evening, which starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10. Benjamin Leatherman