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 is a surfeit of show-going option to choose from over the next 72 hours around the PHX. In fact, so many great concerts are scheduled to transpire from Friday until Sunday that we've expanded our usual list of the top five shows in the Valley to a top six. And if you're looking for even more options, peruse our voluminous concert calendar after checking out the following picks for the weekend.
Kid Congo Powers - Friday, February 14 - Yucca Tap Room
No matter who you are, it's a pretty sure bet guitarist Kid Congo Powers has cooler friends than you do. After all, Powers (real name Brian Tristan) got his start in 1979 playing guitar with legendary punk-blues firebrands the Gun Club, then jumped ship in 1980 to spend a few years with psychobilly pioneers the Cramps. After returning to the Gun Club from 1983 to 1987, he took leave again to work with the mighty Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
After popping up on a few Mark Eitzel albums, Powers is busy these days with his own band for a change. Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds are a four-piece whose music recalls the voodoo-animated roots rock of his best-known work while fusing his sensibilities with garage rock, vintage R&B, and a dash of feedback-driven psychedelia.
While Powers has been playing his own hell-bent variety of roots rock for well over 30 years, his latest album with the Pink Monkey Birds, Haunted Head, sounds as though he doesn't have to worry a bit about keeping up with the times. If anything, given the current wave of bands fusing the inspired slop of garage punk with the throb of the blues, it seems the rest of the world is finally catching up to Kid Congo, and Haunted Head finds him making some of his most exciting music in years. -- Mark Deming
Panic! At The Disco - Friday, February 14 - Marquee Theatre
For those turning up their noses at the idea of Panic! at the Disco still hitting the road nearly 10 years after the band's peak popularity, it's worth noting that all the band's stateside dates on this tour cycle are sold out. Clearly, there's no denying that we still love reveling in the days of TRL and the theatrical pop-punk of Panic! and bands of its ilk.
Weathering lineup changes and stylistic changes (and the resultant backlash of rabid fans) over its decade-long existence, the Las Vegas-based act is returning with a new emphasis on Fall Out Boy-esque dance-ready beats and choral treatments, but with the same grandiose stage presence that's been the band's hallmark since its breakout hit record A Fever You Can't Sweat Out (2005).
Since then, frontman Brendan Urie and his reconstituted Panic! has adjusted well to the changing winds of popular music, growing along with its fans while maintaining a mirror-polished pop sheen. For those of us who remember seeing the band perform in arenas, watching them play in theater-size venues (this time with supporting act Junior Prom) gives us Panic! on a more intimate level. The teenager in us will be grinning like crazy. -- K.C. Libman
American Head Charge - Friday, February 14 - Joe's Grotto
There are several ways to spend Valentine's Day, and if you sift through all the flowers and bullshit, the best-laid plans for rock fans are taking place at venues like Joe's Grotto, where the evening can be spent in the company of fellow head-bangers. To wit: On Friday, American Head Charge will occupy the North Phoenix rock haven's stage along with Cathercist, The Iris, Talk to Sheep, and Plague on Babylon.
After disbanding for a few years in 2009, patient American Head Charge fans were rewarded in 2011 when the band reformed and later dropped their EP, Shooter, last summer. The industrial metal act seems to be back in full force and have since toured with Mushroomhead and (Hed) PE before launching their current headlining venture Shoot Tour Part III.
Accompanying AHC on the road is up and coming heavy metal act Cathercist. Hard rock patrons may have caught the band coming through Phoenix on the Rockstar Uproar Tour in 2011. They too are on the road to support their latest studio album, As Hope Expires. -- Caleb Haley
The Lawrence Arms - Friday, February 14 - Pub Rock
You have no excuse to miss this weekend's The Lawrence Arms show, Valentine's Day be damned. Having last graced the Phoenix area with its presence in 2009 while touring in support of Buttsweat and Tears, it's been a spell since The Larry Arms were in our neck of the woods. In the interim, the band (mostly) grew up -- bassist/vocalist Brendan Kelly may now be a father, but his shenanigans still continue through social media and being one of the few musicians who truly performs better drunk.
Half the fun of a Lawrence Arms show is listening to the band's hilarious stage banter between rapid-fire mid-tempo punk songs with dual vocals. TLA's first full-length in nine years, Metropole, was worth the wait and features some of the band's best songwriting to date.
It may take a few listens to appreciate Metropole, but like the band's previous releases, it shows their growth and offers a sound atypical for a Lawrence Arms release. Songs like "Chilean District" and "Drunk Tweets" will get a crowd moving, while the lyrics really shine through songs such as "Paradise Shitty" and "October Blood." The Lawrence Arms kick off their first west coast tour in five years at Pub Rock Live on Friday, and the fact that it's on Valentine's Day will surely result in some bad jokes by Kelly. -- Melissa Fossum
Crush Music Festival - Saturday, February 15 - AZ Event Center
If you're fortunate enough to be in relationship -- be it friends with benefits, madly in love, oddly complicated, or somewhere in between -- Valentine's weekend likely will be pleasant. If you're someone who counts him- or herself among the heartbroken, recently single, or merely unattached, the holiday will be a chance to go on the prowl or sit at home feeling sorry for yourself. But no matter how their particular Facebook relationship statuses read, all the aforementioned types of people are likely to find fulfillment at Crush Music Festival on Saturday, February 15, particularly if they happen to be EDM fans.
If you're going with a date, you'll automatically have someone to pair up with on any of the multiple dance floors inside the Arizona Event Center, where headliners like Laidback Luke, Dirtyphonics, Firebeatz, DVBBS, and Excision will perform. And if you're rolling solo, there will be plenty of opportunities to find a potential paramour in the crowd, at a vendor booth, or on the smoking patio. Though said superstars won't be rocking anything close to drippy love songs, the slew of EDM genres they'll unleash upon the crowd (including dubstep, electro, drum 'n' bass, and Dutch house) definitely will incite booty shaking and other suggestive dance moves, which -- depending on your skill level -- may invite some attention from the opposite sex. -- Benjamin Leatherman
Bettye LaVette - Sunday, February 16 - MIM Musical Theatre
Bettye LaVette has been making gritty, powerful soul music for more than 50 years. If you haven't heard of her, that's not unusual. If you think her career began in 2000, that's not surprising either.
LaVette's had an up-and-down career, releasing almost three dozen singles -- a number of them charting for labels such as Calla, Atlantic, Silver Fox, Karen, SSS International, and Scepter -- and a few mostly European album releases in the '80s and '90s. It wasn't until the 2000 release of LaVette's previously unreleased 1973 soul classic Child of the Seventies that listeners on her U.S. home soil were reminded of her hidden charm. Released as Souvenirs by French imprint Art & Soul, the album was a reintroduction to the deep, raw, and guttural growl of a singer unafraid to let anyone or anything stand in the way of her success.
That vocal nuance still radiates in LaVette's recent music, as does a sense that the Michigan native harbors bitterness and anger about her toiling in relative obscurity while former friends Aretha Franklin and Diana Ross made it big and left her behind.
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