Do you have a Halloween costume yet?
Okay, okay. Do you have two Halloween costumes yet? Just keep your audience in mind if you plan on starting the evening handing Krackel bars to seven-year-olds and ending it dancing with somebody who's also wearing an Anthony Weiner costume. (View our complete concert calendar here.)
Alkaline Trio - Marquee Theatre, Tempe - Monday, October 28
Alkaline Trio has appealed to the pop-punk-loving masses for nearly two decades now by finding the midpoint between the macabre themes of The Damned or The Misfits and the hopeless-romanticism of bands like Saves the Day and New Found Glory. Tales of love and woe are what attract many female fans to Alkaline Trio in the first place -- just ask any girl with an AT heart-and-skull tattoo about singer Matt Skiba and her voice will probably raise an octave. Skiba and bassist Dan Andriano are this band's vocal Jekyll and Hyde, but neither singer works exclusively good or evil.
On the band's latest effort, My Shame Is True, Skiba builds on some darker sentiments, inspired by his recent breakup. He's still on good terms with his ex -- she's the girl on the cover -- but the album is full of heartache; Skiba described the songwriting process as cathartic. "I just miss you / I want to kiss you to death tonight," Skiba sings in "Kiss You to Death," which harks back to the band's classic love-scorned Good Mourning sound.
Dax Riggs - Rhythm Room - Tuesday, October 29
If you're only going to sing about two topics, you could do far worse than "love" and "blood." Southern songwriter Dax Riggs titled his 2007 solo debutWe Sing Only of Blood or Love
and he stuck with appropriately romantic apocalypse fantasies on 2010'sSay Goodbye to the World
. Riggs' junk blues owes plenty to hillbilly forefathers like Roy Orbison and Hasil Adkins, but it also betrays his musical lineage: Riggs fronted the revered metal band Acid Bath in the '90s, a group which grafted grindcore and black metal touches into its Great Unknown-obsessed sludge rock.
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He followed up that band with a stint as Dead Boy and Elephantmen, a grooving, swamp rocking blues rock band which featured Riggs fronting a rotating lineup. Riggs has always seemed this close to breaking through the way his contemporaries like the Black Keys and White Stripes have, but there's something too eccentric to his approach to hook the kinda folks who buy their CDs at Starbucks. He's simple too weird, with a willingness to embrace Danzig style goth drama on songs like "Sleeping with the Witch," cover "Heartbreak Hotel" with the same perverse intensity as that one-off Nico/Eno/Ayers/Cale version, or add a dissonant experimentalism to straight ahead rockers like "Gravedirt on My Blue Suede Shoes." The approach works for Riggs; this is some potent voodoo blues gumbo. - Jason P. Woodbury
Megadeth - Memorial Coliseum - Wednesday, October 30
Dave Mustaine and co. are an interesting contrast to the usual classic-rock nostalgia--listening to Megadeth is going back to a time when a genre was big, and Megadeth seemed somehow both vital and dangerous. Megadeth is not even a little dangerous now; Mustaine is now a stone-sober born-again Christian.
But they're still Megadeth. If you can bring the memories of metal being primary debaucher of the nation's youth--if you're young now, you can even bring them second-hand--they'll bring the loud, fast, aggressive music.
Mega Ran - Trunk Space - Wednesday, October 30
When last we spoke with Random, Phoenix's preeminent hip hop robot master hadlost his Nintendo 3DS
and found the time to donate some backpacks to school kids who needed them.
He's been touring since then, but on October 30 he's back with a half-price concert at Trunk Space--provided you're willing to come in costume. The show's sponsored by MAGFest, the annual Music And Gaming Festival where he'll be performing in January. (If you happen to be going there, too, say hi to my friends from Tucson's Fangamer.)
Oh, and in case you're wondering, a fan was nice enough to get him a new 3DS in time for Pokémon X and Y.
Father John Misty - Crescent Ballroom - Thursday, October 31
"Esoteric" is the first word that comes to mind when describing Josh Tillman, the mystic muse behind Father John Misty. Inspiration for his 2012 album, Fear Fun, struck via psychedelic lightning bolt, giving Tillman the courage to be (as clichéd as it sounds) himself. That meant embracing both the sarcastic and existentialist feelings at his core, resulting in an album that feels at once honest and surreal, despairing yet hopeful, all of it complimented by his anti-folk sensibilities and serene warbling.
Tillman's main fascination seems to be the vapidity of modern culture, the flaming Ferris wheel that's repulsive but oddly attractive. It explains his move "on a lark" from Seattle to Los Angeles, during which the acoustic-driven singer-songwriter reinvented himself and wrote a novel, included in the liner notes of his record.
"I think there is going to be some reckoning, some moment of generational disillusionment," Tillman tells me on the phone. "A generation of people working retail in their sixties, lamenting the fact that their blog never took off. That'll be a dark day. I think the generation that comes after this is going to be really interesting because everything that we think is so cool, mainly our mobile gadgets and our online lifestyle, will be ripe for mockery to our children. Hunched over your mobile device checking your Facebook will be like, it'll be a joke, it'll be something my parents do."
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"I think we're just too easily amused or something," he adds. "But who knows." -- Troy Farah