Top 5 Must-See Phoenix Shows This Weekend

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The post-holiday hangover is in full effect and it's more than a little funky. We're still finishing off the last of our Christmas leftover, trashing the remainder of the decorations and festive miscellanies, and trying to get our brainpans back into a normal schedule after all these mid-week holidays and three-day work weeks.

We could use a couple of days off to readjust and hit the reset button before fully launching into the grind of 2014. And maybe check out a couple of great shows while we're at it. Like maybe any of the five (well, technically six) gigs happening this weekend in Metro Phoenix, including the return of the prodigal sons of Lymbyc Systym and a chance to rock 'n' roll all night.

Cold Shott and the Hurricane Horns - Rhythm Room - Friday, January 3

Maintaining a band for two decades is no simple task, but in 2011, Cold Shott and the Hurricane Horns crossed the threshold into big 2-0 territory--an especially impressive feat since the group currently includes eight people. Originating in Phoenix as a trio named Cold Shot Blues Band, the outfit specialize in a big, buoyant, bold fusion of funk, soul and blues that practically radiates good-natured sweatiness, even on the distance of a record. Cold Shott--whose official bio sells the band as "[a] gimmick-free pro performance with 'old-school' authenticity"--demonstrated exactly just how energetic they can get with the 2011's Soulutions.

That studio album contains the authoritative "Stop," the cheeky "Diggin' On James Brown" (a sincere ode to a musician who had an enormous impact on CS&THH's aesthetic), the extended pick-up line that is "Vehicle," and the psychedelic-rock-dyed "That's What Love Will Make You Do." The band's hooks and utter commitment to their form make their material especially invigorating. All this said, they are also astute enough to know when to pull back on the grins and gloss, such as when they covered the Sam Cooke classic "A Change Is Gonna Come" for 2003's If You Got The Blues... and focused on capturing the original's wistful melancholy first and foremost. -- Reyan Ali

KQ Resurrection - Rips - Friday, January 3

Buckle your safety belts, because you're about to trip through a time warp. We're setting the Wayback Machine to a quarter-century ago -- 1989, to be exact -- when a small radio station called KUKQ was the blasting out alternative, underground, and indie rock tunes over Valley airwaves via 1060 AM. The station was a landmark not only because it was the only source for said tunes in the Valley, but because it was influential, to boot. At the controls were now-legendary DJs Jonathan L., Mary "The Bone Mama" McCann, and Leah Miller.

"Everything we were playing was groundbreaking in that era. Nobody else was playing those sorts of things," says Miller, who worked at the station until 1993. "You name the band and we played it. The core artists at the time were Depeche Mode and The Cure, and we were also playing local music like The Sidewinders, the Meat Puppets, and Gin Blossoms. Everybody got their first play in Phoenix on KUKQ at that time." Miller, along with KUKQ super-fan Jim Ballard, will bring the spirit of the early years of the now-defunct AM station -- which went off the airwaves in 1995 -- back to life during their KQ Resurrection at Rips Ales & Cocktails, which launches on Friday, January 3.

A one-off version of the event back in November proved to be a major success, so the duo decided to hold it on the first Friday of every month. They'll spin many of the same tunes that were the staple of KUKQ back in the day, only with nary any static to be heard. Plus, they'll be handing out a reproduction of the Q's signature stickers (pictured) that adorned many a poor college kid's jalopy way back when. The tunes start at 9 p.m. Admission is free. -- Benjamin Leatherman

Psycho Circus and AbbaFab - Ovations Live!, Chandler - January 3-4

The better part of being a good tribute band is picking the right band to pay tribute to. Not a good band, necessarily--the right band. Two tributes coming through Chandler this week knew exactly what they were doing, at least in this respect. What you want is a band that's more famous as a unit than as individuals, and better known for their image, in the broadest possible sense, than anything else. KISS and ABBA: perfect. If you've got the tongue for it, everything else about KISS can fall into place; at that point it's more about staging a show than being faithful to their sound.

Psycho Circus advertises its full lights and pyrotechnics in the same sentence as it does its great setlists and authentic sound, which is exactly as it should be. ABBA presents the opposite problem: Nobody particularly cares what you look like, so long as there's a vague '70s bagginess to the costumes. It's all about the songs, which are now as famous for their Broadway turn in Mamma Mia as they are in their original configuration. (ABBA's one of the few bands to spawn a tribute band with its own pop hits, the late-90s A*Teens.) AbbaFab gets the aesthetic more right than they need to, but they know everybody's really just there to hear "Dancing Queen."

Lymbyc Systym - Crescent Ballroom - Saturday, January 4

Ethereal and otherworldly, Lymbyc Systym has a knack for activating its purposely misspelled namesake, the little corner of your brain known for controlling emotions. Their instrumental waveforms also evoke Explosions in the Sky, Four Tet, or The Appleseed Cast, gaining them the attention of touring mates like The Album Leaf, The Books, Crystal Castles, and This Will Destroy You. Like a lot of post-rock culture, these acquaintances have led to multiple remixes being passed back and forth.

Unlike a lot of post-rock contemporaries, Systym's need for the bombastic isn't countered by overbearing negativity. The music is optimistic, but not overwrought. Formed in 2001 in Tempe, a town brothers and bandmates Jared and Michael Bell once called home, the band's spent time all over the globe, in places like Brooklyn, Austin, and Japan, since splitting. The duo used the Net to bridge the geographic gap, and the resulting new tunes sound seamless. -- Troy Farah

Dylan Pratt - Crescent Ballroom - Sunday, January 5

In the grand tradition of singer-songwriters, Dylan Pratt uses his music as a form of therapy. Putting his heart on his sleeve for all the world to see, in the hope of examining it with a critical enough eye to know how to mend it when it gets broken, his music examines his life and surroundings in an effort to make sense of everything that's going on at a given moment. His newest album, Beg for Fire, strips things down musically compared with his previous release, Lifters & Leaners, and gives the album a more intimate, raw aesthetic.

"Honest Kind of Luck" is one of those true-blue breakup songs that comes out of nowhere, punches you in the gut and leaves you gasping for air afterward, and the crushing melancholy that pervades the ironically-titled down-tempo shuffler "All is Great" is palpable. When Pratt's molasses-thick vocals start reaching for the sky in time with the mildly cheerful strumming on the acoustic title track--all of which augments one of the album's most encouraging, hopeful numbers--you get the sense that Pratt's introspection and personal exploration is not for naught and that even pain can lead to some semblance of joy. -- Brian Palmer

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