Top 5 Must-See Phoenix Shows This Weekend

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I've been to a lot of different shows in my day, in a lot of different genres, but I'm honestly unable to imagine what a George Clinton show would be like in person.

So that's one option.

George Clinton - Talking Stick Resort, Scottsdale - Friday, November 15

Hey Man, Smell My Finger

. Something about that album title from George Clinton seems to sum up the multi-colored dread-headed singer behind such seminal funk outfits as Funkadelic, Parliament and the P-Funk All-stars. Known for his eccentricities and out-of-the-box behavior, Clinton's fingers have been in a lot of pie. He actually began as a street corner doo-wop performer with The Parliaments. Later he tackled R&B before the funk bug took hold and became a guiding light--funk, that is, mixed with healthy does of psychedelic acid rock, James Brown-style horn infusions, Sly Stone party lyrics, and Jimi Hendrix guitar solos.

There's never been anything else like it, making Clinton, a 1997 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, a pivotal force in the funk movement through the above-mentioned bands, all of which seem to resurface from time to time. Currently, it's Parliament-Funkadelic backing him. Never one to rest on his laurels--but always a big groove--Clinton may be 72 years old, but the funk master shows no signs of slowing down. His fingers gather in as many musical influences as they continue to pass out in influence. Yup, that smell just keeps getting stronger. -- Glenn BurnSilver

Katastro - Marquee Theatre, Tempe - Friday, November 15

Friday night at the Marquee fans of local talent will have a chance to see some of the more diverse acts in the Valley. The bill adds the soulful, bluesy folk rock of Colton Avery and AJ Rodriguez & the Grace Notes to the more hip-hop, reggae, and alt-rock-oriented sounds of The Zoo, Clairevoyant, Seedless (the only non-local act of the night) and headliner Katastro. These artists embody the spirit of musicians before them, while simultaneously putting a face to the next generation of musical acts to spring from the Phoenix bloodline. Their influences are clear.

The Zoo cites inspiration from the top tiers of reggae rock, as do Katastro and Clairevoyant. Meanwhile, AJ Rodriquez & the Grace Notes and Colton Avery use a more classic approach to reaching audiences. But all these bands use their inspirations only as stepping stones--from where they are now they can knock over the barriers that can limit bands looking to establish themselves, and take their respective genres to some other, more unique level. --Caleb Haley

Lecrae - GCU Arena - Friday, November 15

The weird thing about ferreting out secret pop-music Christians is that it's long been equally popular among anxious Christians and die-hard antitheists. Here's the evangelical desperate to keep Sufjan Stevens on her membership rolls; there's the Sam Harris fan worried he'll have to anonymously e-mail Sufjan Stevens Ogg Vorbis copies of some hilarious and cutting Flying Spaghetti Monster sermons. What's strange about Lecrae, who topped hip hop charts with last year's


, is that he leaves none of it in doubt; on the CCM crossover continuum, he's much more "Jesus Freak" than "Baby Baby."

Christian rock has, post-DC-Talk, been returned to its box; Christian hip hop hasn't, Kanye West's worries about "Jesus Walks" aside. The album itself? It's good, but you'll know it was in the running for a few Dove Awards; where a secular artist in the same vein might stop at criticizing hip hop's love of wealth, he walks right on by and tells you what--Who--you should try loving instead. Chalk it up to a genre not yet marginalized by its biggest fans, for better or worse, and go in knowing that the guy standing next to you might have spent an afternoon trying to figure out whether Bob Dylan stayed converted for entirely different reasons than you did.

Black Carl and Mergence - Hayden Flour Mill, Tempe - Friday, November 15

Tempe is running out of venues. The Clubhouse disintegrated in 2012 following a gang-related shooting; Rocky Point Cantina disappeared after a bad reality show trip; most recently the Stray Cat closed suddenly, announcing the bad news on its last day in business.

Which is not to say that's why Valley staples Mergence and Black Carl will be playing under the proverbial mill, rather than in a proverbial Mill Avenue venue -- only that they will, in a show promoted by Psyko Steve Presents and supported by Four Peaks outdoors on the Hayden Flour Mill's north lawn.

It's sort of an unconscious flexing of put-upon Phoenix's advantages as a music town; few other cities, for all their vaunted scenes and talent hotbeds, can casually schedule an outdoor show in the middle of November. What's more important is that, having done that, Phoenix can also produce bands as interesting as Mergence and Black Carl. Read our feature.

Hypnotica Music Festival - Monarch Theatre - Saturday, November 16

According to the potpourri of images uploaded to its particular corner of Facebook, this weekend's Hypnotica Music Festival in downtown Phoenix will purportedly feature any combination of the following: water guns, outrageous costumes, go-go girls, frickin' laser beams and scads of people in attendance. Oh, and more than a few DJs. Close to two dozen of 'em in fact, both of the homegrown variety (including Valley club scene kings like Michael James, BiJou, Sam Groove, and UK Thursday's J. Paul) and several special guests.

The co-headliners for the 18-and-over EDM event, which will take place both in Monarch's main room and the upstairs lounge, include Argentinean trance-slinger Chris Schweizer, San Francisco-based tech-house wizard Alex Sibley, and the diversely talented IndO (who's styles range from frenetically glitchy dubstep and trap to moombahcore).

And then there's Party Favor, the Los Angeles DJ/producer who's hyperbolic claims to fame (other than his enormous skills at crafting relentless audio feasts of trap music) include being birthed atop a mountain peak underneath a double rainbow, slaying wild boars with nothing more than a single blade of grass, and declaring himself "supreme leader" at the age of 18. Here's hoping his set on Saturday is just as over the top as his bio. The festival runs from 8 p.m. until 4 a.m. Admission is $20. -- Benjamin Leatherman

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