Top 5 Must-See Phoenix Shows This Weekend

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The weekend before Thanksgiving can't help but disappoint you. It's trying as hard as it can, and it's perfectly happy to remind you that you've got a short week coming up, but really the only positive you can take from it is that you won't get trampled chasing down a really big Vizio TV at Walmart for another week, unless you're, you know, into that. As maybe a sex thing.

Oh, and there's also these must-see Phoenix shows. (View our complete concert calendar here.)

The Internet has made it extraordinarily easy for indie creators to compete on the same platforms as major ones and hardly easier at all to make money like them. For artists, the problem is obvious; for fans and consumers, it's more subtle. It's easier to discover a story or a song or an iPhone app made in somebody's garage and then rely on it right up to the moment that writer or artist or developer announces he's got to get back to his real life or onto some other project.

St Ranger was our Best Local Band in last year's Best of Phoenix issue; already they had a remarkably polished debut and some new work to their name. On Friday, they'll be playing their last show in Phoenix before a sudden breakup chocked up to -- well, Real Life, that thing bands that managed to reach your ears at the record store and developers who managed to hit the shelves at CompUSA never had to deal with. (Read More.)

Colors & Music - Long Wong's, Tempe - Saturday, November 23

I'd like to thank the people behind Colors & Music--an annual event celebrating local art and, well, music--for being so straightforward with their naming. Liquid Sol? I'm

pretty into Vertical Horizon, don't get me wrong

, but I have no idea what that means. Colors & Music? Easy.

We'll leave the art to Jackalope Ranch, but the music is plenty promising on its own terms--Japhy's Descent, Sister Lip, and Future Loves Past are among the bands performing at the show, which is free-plus-donations. The only way they could have been clearer is if they'd called it "A Bunch of Good Bands and Art, Even if You Don't Know A Lot About Art."

Cosmic Gate - El Santo, Scottsdale - Saturday, November 23

On the off chance you haven't noticed, scads of reboots, makeovers, and metamorphoses have gone down in Scottsdale's after-dark scene. In just the past month alone, Barney's Boathouse was sold to new proprietors and became more of a hip-hop spot called Arizona Eye Candy, Jackrabbit Lounge underwent renovation and was rechristened Cameo, and The Roxy Lounge supposedly is transforming into Electric Ballroom. Whew. It's just par for the course in Scottsdale, we guess.

The one constant in the midst of all the change, however, is that one can still get his or her fill of EDM artistry four nights every week, including during guest gigs by touring DJ superstars. German trance duo Cosmic Gate, for instance, is scheduled to hit El Santo, 7301 East Butherus Drive in Scottsdale, on Saturday, November 23, for the latest Relentless Beach Night Swim. Although we doubt anyone will take a dip in the evening chill, patrons can get drenched in the swank electro-soaked progressive trance slung by Nic Chagall and DJ Bossi. -- Benjamin Leatherman

Bob Corritore and Dave Riley - Rhythm Room - Saturday, November 23

Booking yourself--as a musician, or an actor, or a writer--is a good way to find out what people really think about your work, so long as you've got extremely thick skin. If somebody isn't sure about your credentials, you'll hear about it; the whispers will reach you-the-booker or you-the-director in a hurry. If there aren't any whispers--if everyone basically just nods and lines up at the box office--you've made it.

Bob Corritore, the blues evangelist behind the Rhythm Room, has little cause to be worried when he and Dave Riley set up for their third album's release party. Nobody doubts their bona fides to begin with, and anybody who wasn't aware of those bona fides in the first place need only listen to Hush Your Fuss! to get a sense of them. This is the blues without any mediating prefixes or hyphens, without any claim to historical or cultural importance. Once you've started preserving a genre, it's already dead; Bob Corritore and Dave Riley are just playing it. If he didn't book them, someone else would.

Tristen - Crescent Ballroom - Sunday, November 24

One way to confound second-album expectations is to veer in a completely different direction. For Tristen Gaspadarek - who records and performs under simply Tristen - that meant putting down her acoustic guitar and the folky Americana of

Charlatans at the Garden Gate

, her 2011 debut that landed on American Songwriter's top 50 records of 2011 and was named the top local album by the

Nashville Scene.

In its place is the shimmering synth-pop of C A V E S, which blends modern electronica with reverence for heavy hitters of the 1980s scene. It's a record that pushes Tristen's vocals front and center and proves her melodic instincts translate across genre lines. "At first I wanted to make a dance record," Tristan says in the C A V E S press material. "That's where my headspace was. I wanted to challenge the acoustic reverence of the Americana music world and I wanted to piss off the old folkies. Is there something wrong with that?"

After Charlatans, Tristen began making home demos with a Lowry organ and drum machine. On the hybrid human-machine C A V E S Tristen runs the full circuit of synth-pop, from the ceaseless peppiness of "No One's Gonna Know" to the dark "Island Dream" and dreamy "Monster." - Eric Swedlund

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