The 15 Biggest Music Stories in Phoenix of 2015

15) Taylor Swift Made 15,000 New Best Friends in Glendale Last Night
"They say with enough repetition, even the most asinine messages start to have a ring of truth to them. Hell, that's not even just true in government propaganda. It's the whole basis of the radio industry — "we'll play these songs so many times you can't help but like them." Well, after two hours of Taylor Swift, a grand spectacle of a show marked by elaborate set changes, dazzling costumes, backup dancers, a live band, and an admittedly stellar performance from the reigning queen of pop, I couldn't help but drink the Kool Aid. "Bad Blood" came on and I joined 8-year-olds to my right and the sorority girls to my left in singing the catchy chorus with Taylor Swift's other 20,000 best friends in the audience."
14) 10 Best Fat Rappers of All Time
"Let's be honest, if rappers were athletic, there's a good chance they wouldn't be rapping (and if athletes could rap, well... they've tried that a few times). Of course, that's not to say that every rapper has the same body type. There are the jacked-up muscular guys (50 Cent, Flo Rida), the skinny tiny dudes (Big Sean, Lil Wayne), the surprisingly tall (2 Chainz, Wiz Khalifa), and plenty of others who just seem to lack much athleticism (Jay Z, Drake)."
13) New King: Futuristic Reigns Supreme over Phoenix Hip-Hop Scene

"The story of Futuristic is heartening in how it breathes life into the corpse of the American dream. He was born Zachary Lewis Beck on June 2, 1991, in Bloomington, Illinois, one of nine children born to the same father. Just 23 years later, he is testament to where talent, smarts, and grind can get you in the cutthroat world of independent hip-hop."

12) Slipknot's Concert in Phoenix Showed Why Mayhem Fest Died

"Saturday's show was much more like an old fashioned ass whooping and an expression in dominance in almost every way in the metal world. We learned that Slipknot basically put the nail in the coffin of the once-thriving and now-defunct Mayhem Festival, which rolled through the Valley earlier this summer. Between Mayhem co-founder Kevin Lyman's knocks on metal aging, the difficulty of putting together a lineup, and Slayer guitarist Kerry King's public dissatisfaction of all of the other bands on the bill. Slipknot and Lamb of God had no problem absolutely packing Ak-Chin Pavilion. In fact, Slipknot singer Corey Taylor told the crowd that this was the biggest crowd the band has ever played to in Phoenix."
11) Yes Drummer Alan White Talks Late Phoenix Resident Chris Squire and the Band's Legacy

He’ll be missed by so many people. I formed a relationship with him over 43 years where each one of us knew where to go all of the time, to anticipate what the other was going to do. We were not only bandmates, but also friends. Make no mistake about it; it was really hard to lose that. He was just a fantastic musician. It will never be the same but we’re trying to move on because Chris wanted us to move it on. He said, “I want you to keep it moving on,” and that’s what we’re going to do in his name."
10) Phoenix Police Raid Pink Rhino Cabaret and Club Luxx

"A pair of Phoenix nightspots were paid an unexpected visit by police officials Thursday — and the cops weren't there to break up any fights or haul off any inebriated patrons. On Thursday morning, Phoenix Police searched local strip club Pink Rhino Cabaret and newly opened downtown dance joint Club Luxx.

A media release issued by Sergeant Trent Crump of Phoenix Police Department states that search warrants were executed on both clubs in connection with an ongoing investigation into the possible conducting of a criminal enterprise. Police officials also conducted searches at other undisclosed locations."
9) 10 Best Pop-Punk Songs of All Time

"As unintelligible as the chorus might be, there’s no denying “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World its place as one of the most iconic pop-punk songs ever. It’s catchy, uplifting, and fun to sing along to even if you don’t have any idea what the actual words are. Oh, and it might also be considered one of the best songs to ever come out of Arizona." 
8) Cave Creek's Legendary Buffalo Chip Saloon Destroyed by "Suspicious" Fire 

"One of the Valley’s most iconic country bars is now a pile of smoldering rubble and debris after being destroyed by devastating fire.

The Buffalo Chip Saloon in Cave Creek burned to the ground earlier today after a massive fire swept through the rustic cowboy joint and dance hall this morning.

According to Phoenix Fire Department officials and various media reports, the blaze has been deemed “suspicious” and possibly the result of arson. The property is being considered a “total loss” after the fire." 
7) Chokehold Responds to Calls to Remove Them From Mesa Hardcore Festival Lineup

"Missing from the label's response, and those from Logan and Beckman, is an apology — a demonstrated understanding of why saying 'all lives matter' comes off at best as dismissive and condescending to activists fighting against racially rooted police brutality and, at worst, racist. The label denied that race was an issue, and Beckman framed racist connotations of 'all lives matter' as part of a conspiracy enacted on radicals by the powers that be in order to divide leftist opposition to the status quo."

6) The 25th Anniversary of Pantera's Cowboys From Hell and Why It Matters

"Face it: With a few exceptions, metal was struggling in the late 1980s. You had some solid thrash, the rise of Metallica, and glam and hair metal. (Hey, I’ll take Beastie Boys’ “Girls” over Mötley Crüe’s “Girls, Girls, Girls” any day). Grunge was a fad that helped bridge the gap over the creeping, muddled up river of metal at the time — sort of like a distraction from Bon Jovi and Poison leading the way."

5) 25 Legendary Tempe Venues: Then and Now

"Despite rumors to the contrary, the date of April 3, 2004, wasn't the day that the music died in Tempe. It was, however, when the plug was pulled on fabled Mill Avenue rock club Long Wong's, a tragic event that may have signaled the end of an era but wasn't a death knell for the city's live music scene. Nor were any of the closures that shuttered several prominent Tempe venues a decade later in 2014.

The pulse of live music in the East Valley city has ebbed and flowed considerably over the past 30 years, from the immense popularity of the Mill sound around the time that the Gin Blossoms cracked Billboard's Hot 100 charts with “Hey Jealousy” to the fallow period following the shuttering of Wong's and other spots."
4) The 10 Best Skate Punk Records of All Time

"Phoenix has a long history with both skateboarding and the music most closely associated with it. Skate punk (or skate rock, which many see as interchangeable terms), is any music created by skateboarders and/or a provider of the sufficient inspiration to risk life and limb on four wheels and a deck of wood.

Local heroes Jodie Foster's Army (JFA) debuted in 1981 and are considered by some to have started the whole thing. However, JFA actually does have peers that predate the Phoenix quartet in terms of first gigs and recordings so we won't coronate them as the original skate punks just yet. For many of the progenitors of the genre, the sound is equal parts of the following bands: The Sonics, The Ventures, The Who (specifically the early '70s Isle of Wight-era Who), Black Sabbath, Ramones, and Devo."
3) John Oliver Mocks Fox 10's Cory McCloskey Over His Confusion Over Transgender Women

"On the latest episode of his HBO satirical news program, Last Week Tonight, the British comic (and Daily Show alum) took aim at Fox 10's Cory McCloskey over comments that the Valley weatherman made a couple of weeks ago in connection with the recent controversy involving local transgender woman Briana Sandy being refused service and kicked out of Tempe Tavern because of her gender identity."

2) David Lee Roth Sounded Awful at the Van Halen Concert Last Night 

"There was no amount of banter, bad jokes, costume changes, or iconic rock songs that could save anyone with the last name Van Halen from lead singer David Lee Roth last night at Ak-Chin Pavilion. From the opening notes of 'Light Up the Sky' the flamboyant frontman never stood a chance vocally, and it really made you wonder why the Van Halen brothers would tarnish the band's legacy by allowing Roth to embarrass them night after night. Guitar hero Eddie Van Halen could do nothing more than smile all night. Roth was unable to do his signature screams and squeals or keep rhythm during 'Running With The Devil,' and it was only two songs into the show fans knew it was going to be a long night. The lack of production and energy from the band didn't help either during the 23-song set as the show dragged on. Roth's attempts at humor in between songs disrupted the tempo of the show on many occasions. At one point he referenced his favorite rock star moves performed by Bon Jovi and Bono from U2 and told the crowd, 'I've never met a Van Halen crowd that wasn't three steps ahead of my punch lines.'"

1) Maynard James Keenan Has Two Things on His Mind: Puscifer and Wine. Tool Fans Will Just Have to Wait

"You'd think Keenan hates Tool. In fact, his reputation as a recluse comes largely from his stubborn refusal to answer questions about Tool, including the undying question: "When's the next Tool album coming out?" New Times pointed out to him that he seems freer to express his less serious side in Puscifer, as critics and fans tend to view his other projects more seriously.

'It's weird. It shouldn't be,' Keenan says. 'I mean, this one's named dick, this one's named vagina. That's the start there, okay?'

He acknowledges that there was indeed humor in the Tool albums. But as with any time he's asked about Tool, his answers quickly become curt. A hint of exasperation creeps into his voice and he exhales heavily through his nose.

'Yeah, it's there,' he says. 'But people miss it because they're so focused on the other bullshit.'

He shakes his head.

'It's lost. Insufferable people . . . It's just ridiculous, retards. I'm sorry. Can't help them. Way too serious. Too much. Lighten up.'"
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David Accomazzo is a music wrangler, award-winning reporter, critic, and editor with more than a decade in the business.
Contact: David Accomazzo