Yeah, yeah, yeah...we get it. Mondays suck (we've read Garfield). But it means the start of a new week, which means a bunch of killer shows in and around Phoenix.
And here are a few of the coolest -- our top five must-see shows this week.
Monday, December 10: Turbo Fruits @ Crescent Ballroom Nashville's Turbo Fruits are a quartet led by former Be Your Own Pet guitarist Jonas Stein, whose garage aspirations now seem to share space with a '71 Buick. BYOP was a frenzied, pop-punk blast of raging attitude, which Stein in large part carried over when he formed the Fruits.
With their third album, Butter (produced by Spoon's Jim Eno), and third lineup under Stein, TF now seem to have settled into a more comfortable sound driven by jangly blues-rock riffs, a touch of Mersey Beat, a sizable dose of '70s hard rock, and a kind of hapless, too-ripped-to-care angst that's more slacker than attacker.
There are pleasures to be found in TF's familiar chords and power pop melodies, even when the sentiments about motorcycles, elusive girls, whiskey, and weed prove ephemeral. -- Rick MasonTuesday, December 11: Bob Weir @ Celebrity Theatre
Bob Weir is a restless soul.
Already fully engaged with Furthur -- his latest and perhaps most true-to-form post-Grateful Dead venture -- his solo band Ratdog, assorted musical projects at his TRI Studios, activity in various political and environmental organizations, plus the occasional mountain bike foray, Weir now prepares to head out on a short solo tour.
If there were ever a musician who deserved a little rest and relaxation, it might be the tireless Weir. Instead, the songwriter is really only at rest when he's busy playing his guitar, which, in the solo acoustic context, offers yet another level of musical fulfillment.
"I get to hear the song all by itself, just me and the guitar," he explains by phone from his Marin County, California, home. "Basically, in most cases, it's the way I wrote it. Oftentimes that gives me insight to the song, places to take it -- that kind of thing."
Playing songs stripped down and naked also offers Weir a chance to really hear his own voice.
"Singing is a big thing. In the bands I play with, particularly Furthur, my dynamic range is kind of limited because that band is real loud. So there are a lot of things you can't do with your voice and a microphone in that situation," he says. "This gives me a lot more room to try things when I'm playing solo. I have little discoveries and whatnot that I can bring back to my other endeavors."
Weir knows a thing about "little discoveries." He was a founding member of the Grateful Dead, and such exploration and willingness to push musical boundaries through improvisation set the band apart. Weir took some of his musical cues from such cutting-edge jazz artists of the time as saxophonist John Coltrane and pianists McCoy Tyner and Bill Evans.-- Glenn BurnSilver
If you're the sort who tracks hot EDM blogs and remixes, you might surmise that the popularity of moombahton, the genre DJ Dave Nada invented three years ago by slowing Dutch house records to reggaeton speed, is waning. The style is losing ground to "trap music," a subterranean take on Southern hip-hop.
But blog attention and the number of new tracks don't necessarily reflect healthy growth. This week, Phoenix partygoers will experience its first Moombahton Massive party. The concert series, which started in the moombahton mecca -- Washington, D.C.'s U Street Music Hall -- has since gone global, gathering the genre's top DJs in cities all across the world. Founding fathers Nadastrom (Nada and Matt Nordstrom) and DJ Sabo will top the bill, supported by Phoenix's own AZ Gunslingaz, DJ Melo, Pickster One, Mendez, and Riot Earp, all early adopters of the style. The party falls on Pickster's birthday, and just a few weeks ago, moombahton's third birthday passed with little fanfare.
But the genre -- despite its youth or, rather, by virtue of it -- can teach us a thing or two. In many ways, it could be the blueprint for the development of future scenes.
"In the digital ADD day and age, you see these genres like 'trap' come around and blow up so fast, even faster than moombahton did," Pickster writes via e-mail from Greece on his European tour. "But the producers pushing the moombah genre are just getting into making deeper, soulful, not-for-the-club-or-festival music. And for a genre to exist there needs to be music like this . . . We're really just getting into it."
Sabo, who had been making mid-tempo tropical bass for years prior to Nada coining the term "moombahton," sees the tapering releases in a positive light.
"There was a big wave of people getting into the sound last year," Sabo writes on his way to a Massive party in Berlin, "and while that was a good thing, it also kind of flooded the market . . . with a lot of mediocre tunes that started to sound a lot alike. Now that the wave has passed, I think that people who really love the sound and 'get it' will keep making tunes, and it will grow even further."
DJs are meant to respond to their audience, so it makes sense for talented producers to dabble and move from one new thing to the next relatively quickly. We're no longer in a winner-take-all musical world where a few styles win out. Instead, a multitude of micro-genres are beginning to fill the space previously occupied by fewer but larger scenes. Middle-class genres and artists are becoming the norm.
"These styles don't exist in a vacuum like they used to," writes Riot Earp in an e-mail. "The Internet has made it possible for people with entirely different backgrounds to come together and make something that maybe neither has a geographic 'identity' with."
Still, Nada invented the genre at a D.C. underground party. He proposed to his fiancée and fellow moombahton DJ Jen Lasher at a massive in the U Street Music Hall. That's all history tied to a place that forges common memory and pride. So while DJs far and wide quickly adopted moombahton via the Internet, that doesn't mean that geography is no longer a factor for the scene, just less so.
"Despite its explosion on the Internet, the real home of moombahton is undeniably Washington, D.C., where we started the massive parties," Sabo says. "The fans there are diehard and really support the music. Without D.C. and U-Hall I'm not sure we'd even be talking right now."
But we are and apparently will be for a while.-- Chris Piel
Wednesday, December 12: Dr Bones @ Sail Inn
Don't let bassist Jesse Pruitt fool you with his long hair and grizzly beard. These Tempe-natives resonate more like an '80s flashback party than they do a hippie dance circle.
The quintet draws on staple new wave and punk rock influences like The Talking Heads, Joy Division, and Dead Kennedys to formulate a mixture that is undeniably catchy. They pride themselves on delivering performances with enough energy to satisfy the most insatiable of appetites. -- Anthony SandovalThursday, December 13: Justin Townes Earle @ Crescent Ballroom
With this year's new LP, Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now, the Justin Townes Earle story just keeps getting more complex and captivating. While his 2008 debut The Good Life was a hopped-up, spare, Jimmie Rodgers-style acoustic romp, the subsequent Midnight at the Movies and Harlem River Blues saw the conflicted artist adding new colors and textures into his toolbox.
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There were grandiose Randy Newman splashes here and a few earthen Springsteen strokes there, all done with so much conviction that anyone second-guessing him found himself instead endeared to him.
The family and internal dramas are still laid bare -- he mentions Papa Steve within the first seconds of the new record -- but he's finding interesting ways to intimate just what kind of rough waters he's traveled. This time around he's embraced the neo-soul sound that is so popular right about now, but he's not bastardizing it or throwing it on for show. We're still waiting on him to plug in an electric guitar and lay waste, but patience is a virtue. --Craig Hlavaty