Top Five Must-See Phoenix Shows This Week

The nights in Phoenix are rapidly going from unbearable to beautiful, which is exactly why we're suggesting you spend a couple of nights this week inside a stuffy venue where someone will be playing music under weird, artificial lights. Think about how nice it'll be to walk out into the cool air after the show!

Unimportant side question: Is it whiter to be a Vampire Weekend fan, or to wonder whether you should apologize for being a Vampire Weekend fan? (View our complete concert calendar here.)

Title Fight - Nile Theater, Mesa - Monday, September 23

It might as well be a prerequisite for modern melodic hardcore and mid-tempo punk bands to say they were influenced by '90s emo and hardcore. Most musicians favor one sound to another, but Title Fight pays homage to its roots by pairing the rapid-fire vocal fury of someone like Jason Shevchuk or Kevin Seconds with the musical intricacies of Braid or Mineral.

Title Fight's catalog is full of plenty of fast, upbeat, and sing along-friendly songs in the vein of contemporaries such as The Menzingers or Joyce Manor, all the while still bringing plenty of variety to the table. The demure "Head in the Ceiling Fan" features a slow and steady build that erupts on Floral Green's following track, "Make You Cry," which sounds a bit like Strike Anywhere or early Rise Against. Title Fight has been performing for nearly a decade, but finally hit its stride in 2011, when the band signed to SideOneDummy Records. Two full-length albums and a bunch of EPs later, the band now has the means to tour internationally, proving that the punk, emo, and hardcore combo not only can work, but sounds great when done properly. -- Melissa Fossum

Edwin McCain - MIM Music Theater - Wednesday, September 25

Look at it this way: I actually must see this week's Edwin McCain show. Literally, not figuratively--my girlfriend requires it of me. Apparently any girl who went to high school between 1998 and maybe 2004 had every important life experience mental-soundtracked by his super-superhit "I'll Be."

I wasn't aware of it--I didn't talk to a lot of girls in high school, and I definitely inspired no "I'll Be"--but now that he's coming through town I've been told that it's my job, as a responsible boyfriend, to take her to see it and drown out all the original high school associations. I'm not sure I'll be able to manage it, but I'm up for the challenge.

Emmylou Harris - Virginia Piper Theater - Thursday, September 26

Nearly four decades after Rodney Crowell played and sang background vocals on Emmylou Harris' 1975 album, Elite Hotel, the two teamed up again for this year's gorgeous effort, Old Yellow Moon. Being ideal duet partners, the two are in exquisite form on the album, which includes four Crowell-penned originals, as well as some fantastic covers like Hank DeVito's "Hanging Up My Heart," Roger Miller's "Invitation to the Blues" and Allen Reynolds' "Dreaming My Dreams."

Read More: The Rebirth of Emmylou Harris

Stone Temple Pilots (with Chester Bennington) - Marquee Theatre, Tempe - Thursday, September 26

Phoenix native Chester Bennington and Stone Temple Pilots are both famous for playing loud rock music, but the difference in their styles is glaring enough--especially if your conception of both bands doesn't get far past "Somewhere I Belong" and "Sex Type Thing," respectively--that you're forgiven for having been surprised by the news that Bennington would replace the fired Scott Weiland on vocals for STP's continued touring.

Stone Temple Pilots' sound expanded in the years after Weiland was derided for being an Eddie Vedder sound-alike, but at this point in their career the bulk of their appeal is in the way their sound hasn't broadened--they've got plenty of hits to play, and they'll probably play them. It'd be equally foolish, though, to see the addition of Bennington as a liability--if anything, he just offers yet another reason to go to the Marquee and see what happens.

Vampire Weekend - Comerica Theatre - Friday, September 27

Vampire Weekend -- the album -- sounded a lot like Graceland, inasmuch as most of us hadn't heard that bright Afropop guitar tone on any other albums, and Ezra Koenig's lyrics were as epigrammatic as Paul Simon's, if in a different way. It wasn't just the guitar, even though it was probably mostly the guitar -- the rhythms, his voice, most everything else on the album sounded foreign, if not actually African. It sounded unfamiliar. And using "Afropop" as shorthand for that unfamiliarity -- the stuff in Vampire Weekend that wasn't self-consciously Ivy League or more broadly indie-sounding -- turned out to be extremely convenient.

But when Modern Vampires of the City came out earlier this year, those guitars were nowhere to be found. We need to call a moratorium: It's time to stop using "Afropop" when you mean "Vampire Weekend." If you're looking for different shorthand comparisons to make, I'm happy to help. Try Buddy Holly, maybe; on "Diane Young" Ezra Koenig's hiccupping, manipulated vocals and the strange kitchen-sink backing track sound like what the head Cricket might have done if he'd joined The Beatles for Sgt. Pepper's. When they play live the guitars from the old songs will probably sneak onto the new ones, but your friends will appreciate the new conversational patter.

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