Every Pearl Jam joke has been made. Every Eddie Vedder impression has been performed, and some of them were very funny, although others were just enormous successes on the Modern Rock chart.
All that's left is to just see Pearl Jam, and listen to Eddie Vedder say "Ah'm still alive" and "Jeremy spoke in cla-ya-yaass today" himself. (View our complete concert calendar here.)
Pearl Jam - Jobing.com Arena, Glendale - Tuesday, November 19
No band better illustrates the critical decline of grunge in the Aughts than Pearl Jam, mostly because they're one of the only grunge acts still touring and recording in 2013. Their hyper-publicized feud with Ticketmaster came too soon to do anything about it, and it's easy grist for hypocrisy-watchers who saw their Target ads whenBackspacer
came out. Musically, their successes have been overshadowed by the astonishing influence Eddie Vedder's voice had on seemingly every post-grunge band that confounded critics in their wake.
It's difficult to pass the baton to a new generation of fans when all of them grew up with Scott Stapp and Chad Kroeger's best "Jeremy" impressions, and it's nearly impossible to present their anti-corporate bona fides now that they're one of Gen-X's only survivors, their contribution to classic rock. But no band should be penalized for outliving its peers, and anyway they're beginning to outlive post-grunge, too -- it could be that Gen X's grandkids will be the first ones able to separate the "Alive" from the "Higher," the way a certain kind of millennial has belatedly decided that Bruce Springsteen was cool after all.
Besnard Lakes - Pub Rock Live, Scottsdale - Tuesday, November 19
Wherever it is along the sonic plane that shoegaze collides with post-rock, Montreal quartet Besnard Lakes thrives, cooking up haunted, atmospheric sprawls that tickle the introspectively inclined.
Their fourth release, Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO, also marks their third nomination for the Polaris Music Prize. They have yet to win, but this year their friends/former collaborators Godspeed You! Black Emperor begrudgingly accepted the award, tossing the money to charity and saying, "Maybe the next celebration should happen in a cruddier hall, without the corporate banners and culture overlord."
Recording on a console that Led Zeppelin used (on Physical Graffiti) hasn't changed their sound, just in case you were worried. "I know people were asking me that a lot," they told us, "like if it had that aura about it, where you wanted to make more of a heavier rock record because Led Zeppelin's pubic hair was all over it. But to tell you the truth, I really wasn't thinking that much about it." -- Troy Farah
Vanessa Carlton - MIM Music Theater - Tuesday, November 19
What happens to pop stars when they don't like about themselves what their audience loves about them?Be Not Nobody
, according to my girlfriend -- a classicBe Not Nobody
fan -- ensnared hundreds of thousands of tween and teen girls who were grossed out by Britney Spears, et al. but oriented more toward writing in their journal, as a result, than listening to the more conventional pop stars' squeaky-clean equivalents.
Speaking exclusively to and for that cohort is not what Carlton had in mind, and while subsequent albums haven't exactly reached Liz Phair or Jewel levels of crossover it's clear she's tried to branch out. (All that was codified in the video to "Nolita Fairytale," above, where she drove her piano-car out into traffic and collected on the insurance.)
It's no Miley Cyrus shift, to say the least; it might be more accurate to say that Carlton has grown with a certain subset of her fanbase, who found something a little stranger to write into their journals. My girlfriend, for her part, remains cautiously optimistic. -- Dan Moore
Small Leaks Sink Ships - Last Exit Live - Thursday, November 21
Benjamin Franklin warned that small leaks can sink great ships, meaning maybe you should sweat the small stuff. But for the progressive math rock quintet who borrowed Franklin's aphorism, it's mostly been one big leak after the other. Two nearly fatal car accidents - one involving a motorcycle, the other a Vespa -- plus a long battle with testicular cancer have kept Judd Hancock, Jim Mandel Jr., London Van Rooy, Raphael Macias and Ryan Garner occupied for most of the band's career. But the rubber cement that holds Small Leaks Sink Ships together is their knack for making the most of miserable situations.
After more than a year in the making, the Mesa band says they're 75 percent finished with their second full-length, a follow-up to 2011's Oak Street Basement EP, and are pushing for a spring release. What's taking them so damn long, besides the numerous hospital visits? Well, as Hancock explains, they've chosen the DIY approach rather than dumping a bunch of money into a recording studio. Moreover, they're looking to really capture the evocative nuance of their baroque live show, which the band laments wasn't exactly represented on Oak Street.
In fact, when I saw Small Leaks at Crescent Ballroom this past summer, I wasn't sure I was even seeing the same band I had heard on Bandcamp. This was far less mewithoutYou and far more Appleseed Cast meets At the Drive-In. Not to say their album is bad -- quite the opposite -- but the intricate buildups, the flailing crescendos, the volatile surges were far from what I was expecting. So why didn't that translate to tape? -- Troy Farah
Read our feature on Small Leaks Sink Ships in this week's issue.
Lluvia Flamenca - Cresent Ballroom - Thursday, November 21
If you've ever wandered into Crescent Ballroom a little early on a Saturday evening, you've likely been privy to the bewitching performances of Flamenco Por La Vida. Led by Angelina Ramirez and Carlos Montufar, the group expresses its Latin gypsy soul through sound and dance in the Ballroom's lounge weekly, but Thursday, November 21 the group will take over the main stage of the Ballroom proper with likeminded acts Juncal Street, CBJ Flamenco Ensemble, and Flamenco Del Pueblo Viejo as part of Lluvia Flamenca, a flamenco roadshow that continues the following night in the Old Pueblo, with a performance at the Rialto Theatre in Tucson.
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While the intimacy of their lounge shows is itself mesmerizing, the chance to witness the group under Crescent's disco ball isn't to be missed, with more room for both the performers and audience members to move. While our politicians debate the merits of a rail between Tucson and Phoenix, the music of groups like Flamenco Por La Vida has already bridged that section of the Sonoran, drawing both cities closer through a traditional blend of movement and music. -- Jason P. Woodbury