Top 5 Must-See Phoenix Shows This Weekend

I've been talking to the judges, and they tell me that--because this is the last genuine weekend until Halloween--they're going to uphold your appeal about being able to wear costumes without being judged too badly about it.

Well, most costumes. Good luck trying to get that super hilarious Miley Cyrus costume you've been working on through the Marquee's security. (View our complete concert calendar here.)

They Might Be Giants - Marquee Theatre, Tempe - Friday, October 25

Novelty bands and hip, oddly distant bands tend to have incredibly short shelf lives. Of course, most bands have incredibly short shelf lives, but even as far as 80s acts go They Might Be Giants seemed like a longshot bet to last past acid-wash into flannel.

Now it's 2013, and--well, they did. They did without any time off--just plugging along, putting out albums steeped in their precise, weirdo argot.

Whether you first heard them on MTV or Tiny Toon Adventures or Malcolm in the Middle or Homestar Runner, you've probably heard something in their strange voice. 20-plus years since they became a novelty, they've remained novel.

Ghost B.C. - The Pressroom - Friday, October 25

In today's age of omnipresent coverage and instant information, it's pretty difficult for bands to maintain any sort of anonymity. The art-rock collective The Residents has stayed unknown for more than 40 years, and Slipknot pulled it off for a while. But one eccentric Swedish act has kept their names and personalities shrouded quite well--an impressive feat, considering the band's most recent album was recorded with one of rock's most recognizable faces, Dave Grohl.

Ghost B.C. has achieved a lot in the United States since forming in 2008. Five of the band's members, called "Nameless Ghouls," don hooded monk-like robes and black masks, the look falling somewhere between Darth Vader and a medieval executioner. Representing the five elements of fire, water, wind, earth, and ether, they back up a strikingly skull-faced vocalist dressed like a Roman Catholic Cardinal, dubbed Papa Emeritus II.

Read our complete feature.

Black Carl, Yellow Minute, Emby Alexander - Crescent Ballroom - Saturday, October 26

Black Carl's been playing its soulful rock around the Valley long enough that most people have stopped being confused about their name, which is a pretty good start. The feeling they usually get instead is a kind of appreciative awe, suffused with a desire to explain to other people just what a Black Carl is.

With Yellow Minute and Emby Alexander they make up a particularly strong local bill at the Crescent. If you've had enough state-fair-style touring acts for the month, it's hard to think of a better antidote.

Robin Thicke - Arizona Jazz Festival - Sunday, October 27

We've been skeptical of Thicke's

non-Miley staying power

this week, and I will never stop thinking his "Blurred Lines" video or the hashtag thing are dumb, but I'm still undeniably kind of curious about what kind of performance he'll put on with none of his fame-enhancing friends and at something that's ostensibly a jazz festival.

Miley Cyrus will not be occasioning any Tumblr dialogues about race and cultural appropriation at the Arizona Jazz Festival, and the naked ladies probably will be kept to a minimum, and to be honest I'm not sure if anybody will even be wearing a goofy hat. I'm sure Robin Thicke will be a huge draw anyway, but he'll also still be looking for the big, tedious pop-cultural argument he finally initiates himself. I'm interested to see what that is.

Streetlight Manifesto - Nile Theater, Mesa - Sunday, October 27

Streetlight Manifesto's on the End of The Beginning Tour, a fitting epitaph to conclude a contentious relationship with Victory Records. In a statement accompanying the release of contract-satisfying album,

The Hands That Thieve

, the New Jersey ska-punk vets suggest they aren't just closing this chapter with Victory but also scaling back touring. They plan to limit themselves to festival appearances and (presumably) spend more time writing.

Given leader Tomas Kalnoky's tortured pace, perhaps that's a good idea. Since 2003's full-length debut, Everything Goes Numb, they've released just two albums of originals, in the meantime re-recording his old band Catch-22's Keasbey Nights and producing an album of covers. Kalnoky has also released acoustic versions of the last two albums under the name Toh Kay. (His melancholy songs work surprisingly well minus the horns.) While one can quibble over the predilection for rehash, Kalnoky's original material often transcends genre. Indeed after six years of waiting, Hands That Thieve easily proves their most eclectic, sophisticated effort, teasing elements of ragtime jazz, country swing, and mariachi music. Kalnoky's typically dark lyrics (which emotionally balance the horn-driven bounce), retreat a bit to allow more anthemic spirit to shine through on tracks like "Your Day Will Come." - Chris Parker

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