Top 5 Must-See Phoenix Shows This Weekend

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Hear that? It's the clock counting down the hours until your weekend begins and it's nearing the magic moment known as quitting time. To help the time pass more quickly, you might consider what it is you'll actually be doing during the next couple days and nights of work-free bliss.

Luckily, if you're in the mood to get in a live show or two, there are more than a few options to choose from over the next 72 hours (eyeball our extensive online concert calendar for proof of such). And then there are the must-see shows this weekend, which include an appearance by Weezer tonight at the Coors Light Birds Nest in North Scottsdale, guitar legend Leo Kottke's two-night stint at the MIM, and a tribute to the late Jeff Hanneman of Slayer.

Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra - The Sail Inn - Friday, January 31

Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra, which describes itself as a musical collective, consists of 14 musicians representing about 20 different bands, including Cherie Cherie, Drunken Immortals, Zero Zero, Playboy Manbaby, Spirit Cave, The Sweet Bleeders, and quite a few more.

"How amazing is it that Afrobeat brings us all together like this?" says bass player Merrick Wright, one of the only members who describes PAO (pronounced "pow") as his main project. Their music is upbeat and easy to "shake a tailfeather" to, which is a direction that lead singer Camille Sledge continually gives their crowds -- and their audiences tend to follow.

But for all the fun and dancing, the members of PAO hope that their music conveys a bigger message than just partying. "It's about humanity and it's about what are the things that are wrong in our society and can we do to fix them," says drummer David Marquez. "It's not just about us it's for the community for the la raza humans. We are all around the world and Afrobeat is a music that can reach out to people. There are things that need to be talked about that are not easy sometimes. But when you're dancing and you hear about it there is a message that sometimes maybe, just maybe, we can make a little difference." -- Jeff Moses

Hannemanfest - Joe's Grotto - Friday, January 31

The music industry is a brutal battlefield. It's strewn with the bodies of talented artists who were suffocated by success (Kurt Cobain), swallowed whole by indulgence (Keith Moon), or taken by tragedy (Randy Rhoads). No genre is safe: The path to the top of the charts is paved with some of the finest souls from classic rock, punk, hard rock, hip-hop, and pop. However, one genre arguably has seen more than its fair share of shocking deaths, be they from stereotypically debauched lifestyles, unsafe touring conditions, or rabid fans. That genre would be heavy metal.

Perhaps that's why fans and surviving musicians are so good at paying homage to the fallen.

Take Dimefest, for example, an annual celebration of Darrell "Dimebag" Abbott, who was slain December 8, 2004, by a fan who shot one of the most talented and influential guitarists in rock as he performed onstage in Columbus, Ohio.

"A few years back, I noticed Dimefest was in other cities, but no one was setting it up here. So I called up a few fellow heavy hitters to throw it down here in town," says Billy Gonzales, singer of local metal band Motive and a part-time promoter. "It was so successful [that] everyone kept asking if I was gonna keep doing it, so it just stuck."

Now Gonzales, along with production company Death Weddle, is giving similar treatment to another lost hero: Slayer's Jeff Hanneman, who died May 2, 2013, of liver failure in Southern California. -- Lauren Wise

Read the full story on Hannemanfest

Weezer - Coors Light Birds Nest - Friday, January 31

Weezer knows what you think about them. They spent most of the past three years touring the country playing The Blue Album and Pinkerton back to back, and after a pop home run swing in Raditude and a hastily conceived follow-up, Hurley, they're presently in the studio with Ric Ocasek, recording what probably will become their third self-titled "color" album.

Each such album after Blue was a flawed but exciting and listenable attempt at returning to form, and this one probably will be the same thing. That's all Weezer has ever done, after all: The story of Rivers Cuomo's career traces a zigzag line between one extreme and another, as Weezer's famously intense fans demand he be more or less personal, more or less spontaneous, more or less of a dictator, and he and the band try imperfectly to oblige them.

In truth, they wouldn't be able to replicate that first time you heard Blue or Pinkerton given a million years, every last Les Paul, and the rest of the surviving Cars. But the run of sad, weird, brilliant songs ("Pig," "The Angel and the One," "Miss Sweeney") at the end of Red, their last self-conscious attempt at reinvention, shows they're still capable of great things. -- Dan Moore

Leo Kottke - MIM Music Theater - Saturday, February 2

Leo Kottke is a legendary and beloved master of finger picking guitar and a gifted raconteur. He got his start with John Fahey's Takoma Records in the late '60s, and he's been releasing noteworthy albums of some of the most inventive and interesting acoustic music ever recorded.

Whether playing intricate folk leads or jazz inflected blues, Kottke is ever the master craftsman with a creative imagination to match. He's overcome physically debilitating damage to his hearing and especially his tendons from his unique style of playing guitar, and his career was nearly ended but he switched up his playing style and continues strong to this day. -- Tom Murphy

Note: Leo Kottke is also scheduled to perform at the MIM on Sunday, February 2.

Run Boy Run - Crescent Ballroom - Sunday, January 2

Garrison Keillor knows about all the cool stuff way before the rest of us do -- we were in Tucson last year, innocently catching a show at Plush that featured old friends of whom we're huge fans, and it turned out to be the release show for Run Boy Run's So Sang the Whippoorwill. Already entirely gobsmacked by the show, we marveled further the more we learned about the band.

This quintessentially Arizonan group performs music mostly in an old-timey bluegrass vein, but Run Boy Run's collaborative spirit, talent, and tight chops make even more of an impression than the details of what they're playing. Run Boy Run is the kind of band that begs you to dance during particular songs and obviously is entirely stoked when people do.

"Nobody dances!" says singer/songwriter and cellist Grace Rolland, a Mesa native. "And then when they do, it makes my heart sing! Because you don't get to see that a lot at shows, and that's what fiddle music is grounded in. It's grounded in dance culture and dance halls and festivals and competitions. To see people dancing, I feel like I get to watch people coming alive a little bit more. I feel like it brings the fullness of a musical experience when somebody's dancing to it." -- Julie Peterson

Find any show in Metro Phoenix this weekend via our online concert calendar.

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