If it seems like everyone you know is hitting the pavement this weekend for some big festival, it's only because that's exactly what's happening. There's the first weekend of Coachella out in Cali, of course, as well as Country Thunder down in Florence and KUPD's UFest over in the East Valley.
If you can't make it to any of these supersized music showcases, don't fret. First of all, we'll have coverage of each of the aforementioned events over the next few days. And, second, there are a slew of killer concerts around worth checking out that don't require a tank of gas to attend, including the following five picks.
Long considered the flagship band of traditional Scottish music, Battlefield Band (named for a Glasgow suburb) began as mavericks in 1969, keeping the music vibrant by mixing ancient and modern elements. Decades later, through numerous personnel changes (making 2005 addition Sean O'Donnell the quartet's senior member), Battlefield Band retains its fervent splendor, igniting a fine array of jigs, reels, strathspeys with their fiery fiddles, Highland bagpipes, bouzoukis, and whistles.
Room Enough for All, the ensemble's latest, as usual, deftly blurs the centuries. Ewen Henderson sings a 19th-century sailor's song in Gaelic, while O'Donnell, in English, sings a seemingly silly 1930s poem with a subtle contemporary point about eroding culture. There are odes to remote lochs, a reference to a hairy fish, and even an unlikely swirling quickstep -- "Tynes in Overtime!" -- in tribute to Scottish-born former New York Giants placekicker Lawrence Tynes. -- Rick Mason
Peelander-Z is like Gwar on ecstasy. From Japan (via New York City), the members' bright color-block costumes make them look like after-hours Power Rangers. Described as "Japan action comic punk," the band is loved almost exclusively by those intrigued by novelty: comic-book addicts, professional wresting devotees, anime enthusiasts and Juggalos, alike. Peelander-Z is a good time wrapped up in a j-punk box. With songs such as "Ninja-High Schooool," "Ice Cream!" and "Pun! Pun! Punkrock!," the band gets audiences bouncing like little kids on a sugar high. Come for the spectacle, stay for the smiles. Treasure MammaL and Random (a.k.a. Mega Ran) will also perform. -- Jaime Lees
Under normal circumstances, we'd wish local club promoter Robden Brethauer and the DJs of Obscura a hearty "Happy Birthday!" in honor of the monthly dance night's sixth anniversary party this weekend. Since such glad tidings run contrary to the mopey and melodramatic sentiments inherent to the Britpop, post-punk, and '80s jams that are typically spun (read: The Smiths, Joy Division, Bauhaus, etc.), we'll keep the celebratory atmosphere to a minimum and just give you details about the affair.
Brethauer and company will mark Obscura's six years of existence on Saturday, April 12, by bringing back DJ Manchester, the party's original resident to tag-team the decks at Rips, 3045 North 16th Street, with its current selector, DJ Adrian Flanagan. Plenty of giveaways will be dished out along with the tunes, including shwag for the new Scarlett Johansson film Under the Skin, tickets to upcoming concerts like Pet Shop Boys and The Dandy Warhols, and copies of the latest CDs from Mess and Future Islands. The party starts at 8:30 p.m. and there's a $5 cover after 9 p.m. -- Benjamin Leatherman
From crowded, swampy strip bars on the East Coast to festival grounds on the West, A$AP Ferg's "Work," off of his chart-scorching debut album Trap Lord, is one of those tracks that can be played to incite everything from moshpit rioting to front-row jubilation. It's the type of crossover indicative of Ferg's style as a whole, which can constantly switch from menacing and rapid-fire to melodic and direct.
"When I make music, I think about making music scores. I put silent movies on in the studio and I try to make music to go with the visuals to that movie," he says. "Sonically, I want to take people somewhere else, give them an experience they've never [had] before, as far as the engineered work. I just try to be as creative as possible, try to be different, try to think outside of the box -- just let everything come organically."
The young New Yorker has the hunger and passion of others bearing the ASAP banner as well. Just like his idealistic brother-in-rhyme Rocky, Ferg's vision views no limit and is not contained by any boundary. He sees nothing but continual growth for his own artistic brand. Rappers from Lil Wayne to B.I.G. have written songs about the sky being the limit, but Ferg appears to set his sights even farther than that. -- Patrick Montes
While it would be easy to lump The Haymarket Squares and openers Andy Warpigs, Flagstaff's Wall-Eyed, and Florida-based musician Amigo the Devil into the same category, since each offers a hybridization of Americana and punk in some fashion, please don't. Not to split hairs or anything, but there's actually differences both subtle and significant between each of the acts on this here lineup.
The Squares craft more sociopolitical-oriented protest music in the punkgrass vein, contrasted by Warpigs' more chaotic and clamorous folk that's simultaneously amusing and anarchistic. However, Wall-Eyed's songs are more melodic and catchy pastiches of "gutter-folk, rock 'n' roll music, alt-country, [and] punk," while Amigo the Devil infuses his dramatic and banjo-driven murdergrass ballads with twang, torch, and emotionally torturous lyrics.
See if y'all can hear the differences for yourself during this free gig at the Crescent's concert hall. -- Benjamin Leatherman
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Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.