Kris Kristofferson - Tuesday, October 14 - Celebrity Theatre
Rhodes Scholar Kris Kristofferson has seemingly done just about everything. An accomplished student, athlete, helicopter pilot, captain in the United States Army, award-winning actor and musician -- there doesn't seem to be much the man can't do. Kristofferson has multiple gold records and had albums hit number 1 on the U.S. country charts in different decades, which is no small feat and a testament to the staying power of his songwriting. His songs have been recorded and performed by some of the most famous names in music, such as: Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Janis Joplin, and Waylon Jennings.
In 1985, Kristofferson joined Willie Nelson, Cash, and Jennings to form The Highwaymen, who were active for about a decade, garnering a platinum record for their efforts on their first album, Highwayman. In recent years, Kristofferson has continued to work in film, but has also been recording albums with acclaimed producer Don Was. His most recent release, Feeling Mortal, is the third such record and will be heavily featured when Kristofferson stops by the Celebrity Theatre for a solo acoustic gig. New and old fans alike should take advantage of this opportunity to see a living legend in an intimate setting. -- Tom Reardon
Ana Tijoux - Tuesday, October 14 - Crescent Ballroom
Ana Tijoux has been around for a long minute, but it was her birth year song, "1977," which brought her mainstream recognition as the soundtrack to a tense desert scene on Breaking Bad. Like all her albums, the French-Chilean MC's latest, Vengo, gives a snapshot of her life - in this case, as a new mother. Vengo infuses Tijoux's flavorful Spanish-language flow with her native Andean rhythms and a proliferation of horns. Tijoux's spitting chants trip over each other on the rapid-fire title track, contrasting with the charangos strumming seductively through "Oro Negro," while her multilingual duet with the throaty Shadia Mansour on the spirited "Somos Sur" is taken directly from a bustling Middle Eastern marketplace. -- Lily Moayeri
David Bazan - Wednesday, October 15 - Crescent Ballroom
David Bazan was a pretty cool Christian in 2002. His band, Pedro the Lion (of which Bazan was the sole consistent member) had a string of impressive releases to its name, including 1998's It's Hard to Find a Friend and 2000's Winners Never Quit, plus a couple of singles and EPs. The albums were greeted with enthusiasm by the alternative music press, praising the band's taut "slowcore" indie rock style.
Bazan was lauded as a gifted lyricist, stringing together Biblical morality plays, remarkable human drama, Doubting Thomas confessionals, and haunting devotionals. You didn't have to be a Christian rock fan to like Pedro the Lion; the band recorded for a secular label (Jade Tree) and played with secular bands. But for Christian fans, Bazan was a rare kind of songwriter. He was honest, and he created music that didn't pander. It was resolute, but it wasn't rigid.
But with his 2002 record, Control, Bazan's music got even harder to classify as "Christian rock," if it had ever been before. It wasn't that Bazan's music had previously been "clean" by morality-police standards (his songs included references to both sex and drugs), but Control was something else. It was louder, with Pinkerton-as-played-by Fugazi guitars and booming drums. There were swear words and, cardinally, the record was a scathing indictment of the religious right in the Bush era. Which wasn't exactly Bazan's plan. -- Jason P. Woodbury
Insane Clown Posse - Wednesday, October 15 - Mesa Amphitheatre
By now, Insane Clown Posse has become such prominent pop-culture public enemies that little is said about the good things musicians of all stripes should be taking from the rappers' success. The young and hungry shouldn't be cribbing ICP's taste for grease paint, mystical allusions, X-rated lyrics or ambitious concept albums, but rather how the Posse have managed to build and maintain such a massive enterprise. The foundation that everything ICP and Psychopathic Records rests on is made of Juggalos and Juggalettes, the band and their label's fleet of ardent supporters. ICP built an audience through touring hard and releasing music with a take-no-prisoners style and -- to a certain degree -- shock value that clicked with a niche. It also didn't hurt that ICP kept Psychopathic's name synonymous with the band's while their albums had major-label distribution in the late 1990s; after ICP returned to releasing records solely on Psychopathic, the brand still had a lot of momentum behind it.
Naming the Juggalo fan base, writing frequent shout-outs and having a logo as iconic as the Hatchetman helped galvanize the fans into a visible, united force. ICP earnestly emphasize they would stick with this relatively underground base rather than ever attempt a move into the mainstream, which has helped to make them appear to be a cause worth aligning with. When the FBI classified Juggalos as a "loosely organized hybrid gang" in 2011 because of crimes committed by alleged fans, it provided its share of problems. According to Utsler, Spencer's and Hot Topic were among the chains that stopped carrying the group's merchandise because it qualified as gang apparel. Several Juggalos have also complained of alleged harassment from the authorities, and ICP went so far as to file a lawsuit against the FBI in September 2012 to have the gang association formally removed. But on a communal level, this ordeal was great for strengthening the commitment Psychopathic, ICP and Juggalos bring to one another. Being marginalized and mocked just can't hurt these entities because they won't let it happen. -- Reyan Ali