Top Five Must-See Phoenix Shows This Week

Do not cross Miranda Lambert.

You can go see her perform on Thursday at Desert Sky Pavilion, and you can listen to her music, you can probably even say you're a big fan, and you can go buy a T-shirt.

But crossing her does not seem to be a good idea, if the subject matter of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, her breakout album, is any indication. "Gunpowder & Lead" is about what you think it's about.

Cover the Crescent - Crescent Ballroom - May 14

Crescent Ballroom's "Cover the Crescent" event, in which local bands cover their favorites, returns for a punk edition headlined by NOFX, recently departed That Damn Show headliners Bad Religion, Propagandhi, and Hot Water Music -- as played by members of Fivespeed, Authority Zero, Helva, No Longer Together, Dead Eyes of London, Last Action Zeros, Keep Away, and Sun Ghost.

Tickets sales go to benefit the School of Rock fund, but if you're not a NOFX guy, this actually isn't your only chance this week to see a cover show at the Crescent. Day 2 of this year's Los Dias De La Crescent -- read more about it and see the full lineup here -- will feature equal parts strange pairings -- like Dry River Yacht Club playing Led Zeppelin -- and instantly plausible ones, like Vial of Sound as New Order.

Gashcat, Ghost Foot - Trunk Space - May 15

Shreveport's Gashcat plays something they call "fuzz folk." More specifically, they sound like Neutral Milk Hotel filtered through idiosyncrasies a little less particular than Jeff Mangum's -- loud, shouty, melodic, playing acoustic guitars that buzz in the mix like they really wanted to be Rivers Cuomo's Les Paul when they grew up.

They're joined by Louisiana compatriots Ghost Foot, whose debut bad blood sounds like garage-rock-revival-revival. The timing's right for one, as weird as it seems--the Strokes are going on 13 years old.

Rotten Sound - Rhythm Room - May 15

Nineteen-ninety-three saw the birth of Korn, Jimmy Eat World, Jurassic 5, At the Drive-In, the Crystal Method, and Shaq's hip-hop career. A more obscure name to arrive that year was Rotten Sound, a Finland-rooted grindcore four-piece currently celebrating its big 2-0 with big things.

Along with international touring and festival appearances, the perpetually stone-faced metalheads delivered the EP Species of War -- their first major release since 2011 full-length Cursed -- in January. As is to be expected with anything Rotten Sound gets its hands on, Species is an onslaught of thick, planet-crushing guitars, blast-beat drumming, and frantic vocals spat at an impossibly fast clip. There really is no question why this group once dedicated an entire EP to covering Napalm Death, considering both bands' styles fixate so fiercely on an utterly bleak brand of relentlessness.

Remarkably, Rotten vocalist Keijo Niinimaa wants his squad to get even faster with age -- a lofty goal considering Species already squeezes six songs into eight minutes. "I'd rather say that the faster parts are even more aggressive than before [than that they are slower]," he said in a 2011 interview. "I guess we're just speed junkies." -- Reyan Ali

Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley - Desert Sky Pavilion - May 16

Miranda Lambert released an album called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and the songs on it say a lot about the subgenre of country music she inhabits: The title track was followed as a single by "Famous in a Small Town" and "Gunpowder & Lead." "Most of the album's tracks," explains a dispassionate Wikipedia, "describe women who seek revenge on their ex-lovers. ['Gunpowder & Lead'] discusses a woman who plans revenge on an abusive boyfriend by killing him with her shotgun."

Which is not to say she's a novelty act. Lambert's earned critical acclaim for four albums now, and her broken-down narratives -- "I cut my bangs with some rusty kitchen scissors" opens her current single, "Mama's Broken Heart" -- have just enough verisimilitude mixed in with the drama to work.

Fabolous, Pusha T, Jae E - Club Red - May 16

That Nate Dogg hook in "Can't Deny It" came out on September 11, 2001, which should make you feel the terrifying hand of mortality on your shoulder, probably.

That's about all the self-reflection you will or should do at a Fabolous show. He's touring in support of Loso's Way 2, the sequel to his Carlito's Way-inspired 2009 album, which has seen a few delays on the way to a 2013 release. The first volume threw off a single called "Throw It in the Bag"; he's changed with the times, mentioning "fashion bloggers" and trading the Nate Dogg for an autotuned hook about taking women shopping with an AMEX Black Card, but the effect is basically the same.

He's supported by GOOD Music vet Pusha T, who was all over Cruel Summer. That's why it might surprise you to learn his first album isn't due out until July.

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