Last week Phoenicians had a chance to celebrate a not-exactly routine Christmas with Alice Cooper. This week you've got Korn. I can't promise any metal Christmases at all next week, so make of that what you will.
Kanye West - US Airways Center - Tuesday, December 10
If Kanye West is sane, he's kind of a bore, and if he's insane, all the fun we had over "Bound 2" and its incomprehensible Yanni-presents-softcore-pornography music video seems kind of mean, in hindsight. That's what it means to be a long-suffering Kanye West fan in 2013--if you grew to admire him for the morality-seeker lyrics ofThe College Dropout
or the maximalist "pop art" ofGraduation
andMy Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
or even the existential angst of808s and Heartbreak
era, where the angst and the grandiose sense of self have congealed into a bitter, self-satisfied paranoia, hasn't been especially easy to sit through.
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But we sit through it anyway, all of us--not just because "Heard 'Em Say" and "All of the Lights" were so perfect but because even in Rick Rubin's Minimalist Artistic Statement Factory he produced songs as unshakeable as "On Sight" and "Bound 2" itself. I have no idea what Kanye is saying or thinking, at this point, and it's gotten so opaque that I'm increasingly unsure he ever did in the first place. But even when he's saying nothing, he's great at saying it. And we keep waiting because eventually he'll find something as interesting as his own warped fame to talk about again.
Mushroomhead - Marquee Theatre, Tempe - Tuesday, December 10
Metal act Mushroomhead is rarely mentioned in the mainstream music media, and if it is mentioned, it's usually because it's being compared to Slipknot. Not that the comparisons don't make sense -- both bands are similar-sounding seven-piece groups in creepy masks. Except Mushroomhead has been around since 1993 (Slipknot was formed in '95), and its sound is closer to a fusion of Slipknot, Disturbed, and whatever Jeffrey Dahmer probably listened to in his apartment.
Take, for example, "43" off the self-titled debut album, in which an off-key music-box melody is the backdrop for crunching drums and froggy, dragging vocals. Originally a side project for several Cleveland-area musicians, Mushroomhead was playing in front of 2,000 people alongside metal band GWAR by the time it had booked a second show. Over seven albums that combine industrial metal, hip-hop, goth, and punk, the band has sold almost a million units worldwide. -- Lauren Wise
Sister Lip - Last Exit Live - Wednesday, December 11
Plans aside, Sister Lip must fight more of an uphill battle than the average local band. Being an all-female group with an average age of 20 -- 23-year-old pianist Jenny Rebecca is the elder statesman -- is both a blessing and curse. It makes the act unique in the Phoenix scene, but it also occasions some passive aggression.
"I don't think we run into too much outward hostility from anyone," Rebecca says. "People just seem totally disinterested when we show up, sometimes. But then we play, and people who were kind of disinterested or mean at first just pretend they were never mean to you."
Rebecca isn't the only band member catching a glimpse of the more sexist side of the music scene. "It's just backhanded compliments: 'Oh, I thought you would suck. It's good that you don't,'" French says. "And I'm like, 'Thanks, don't talk to me.'" -- Jeff Moses
Korn - Comerica Theatre - Friday, December 10
As a band, Korn is the master of musical reinvention. Jonathan Davis' songwriting is notorious for reaching deep into the bucket of taboo topics, putting his suffering, loneliness and pain on display like no other heavy metal vocalist. Right alongside guitarist Munky's raucous guitar talent and bassist Fieldy's funky finger-plucking and slapping, it's no wonder the band has developed a sound that has drawn several million fans for the better part of two decades.
But this past year has proved to be one of rejuvenation for Korn, rather then reinvention, starting when original guitarist Brian "Head" Welch joined back up with the band in 2012. Welch is responsible for helping craft Korn's unique sound combination of shrill shredding, dissonant guitar, and down-tuned riffing, which all helped create the almost turntable-like effects that defined nu metal.
In October Korn released its 11th album, The Paradigm Shift. While it received great reviews by critics, it hit mixed emotions with die-hard fans. The mix of old and new style Korn might not have appealed to everyone, but there's no doubt that the band's live show is impeccable. It's musically accomplished, with acute attention to detail, and during 2013 in particular all of the members have looked healthy and refreshed. Plus, you can never go wrong with the insanely still-effective "Freak on a Leash." -- Lauren Wise
One More Time - Crescent Ballroom - Friday, December 13
Looks aren't everything, but when you're in a tribute band worth its salt, they can mean a hell of a lot. If you're playing, say, Slash in a Guns N' Roses homage, you need a top hat, curly black hair, a wordlessly cool aura, etc.--or at least worthwhile approximations thereof--to fill the part. One More Time have it easy by comparison. The Phoenix-based Daft Punk tribute don replica chromed helmets and electroluminescent costumes (which, admittedly, probably cost a pretty penny), take a dark stage and voilà! One of the dudes under the headgear could be Carrot Top's doppelgänger, but that doesn't make an ounce of difference.
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Outfits aside, OMT promote themselves as "the first and only realistic tribute of their kind." The duo emulates their French forebears' Alive tour from 2007, with OMT even hauling around a full-scale pyramid stage to accomplish that goal. Like their inspirations, the DJs behind One More Time eschew the direct spotlight; in one interview, they went by just the initials of R and B. Still, for all this seductive anonymity, the project has a charmingly bland origin story. "We made the first set of helmets and wore it to our friend's Daft Punk-themed party in Tucson years ago," the pair told Arizona Foothills Magazine in June. "From there, things just spawned out of control." -- Reyan Ali