Top Five Must-See Phoenix Shows This Week

Happy Labor Day!

We like to spend our Labor Day checking out Lil Wayne charity shows. (Note: That's not a picture of Lil Wayne.) We don't know how you like to spend your Labor Day week, which is why we've included no fewer than five options for enjoying yourself. If that's not enough, check out our complete concert calendar.

Lil Wayne - Celebrity Theatre - Monday, September 2

Well, this is a surprise: Lil Wayne, just three years removed from a career-making feature in Weezer's "Can't Stop Partying," is playing Phoenix on September 2, just over two weeks after the show

was announced (with little fanfare) on August 16

. Tickets--$50 each, all proceeds benefiting the conveniently named Carter Fund--went on sale the next day, and as of the morning of the show hadn't sold out.

The last few years haven't been especially kind to Lil Wayne, who's dealt with health problems and an unwise Emmett Till reference and diminishing returns on his albums, but he's still a very big get for the Celebrity Theatre--and despite the non-sellout, I can't imagine he'll be playing a lot of shows this relatively intimate in the immediate future.

Night Drive, Vial of Sound - Rhythm Room - Monday, September 2

Night Drive and Vial of Sound are proof that--at some point between 1993 and 2013--it finally became possible, again, to play their brand of music without irony. Night Drive, hailing from Texas, did a neat job of embedding their MO inside their name: "Drones" is Pontiac Fiero music, all sharp edges and green-on-black CRT readouts.

On "Sea of Light" they expand their sound to include the rest of the GM lineup, and it doesn't do them any harm. If you took their EP back in time to 1982 and found the one guy with a CD player they might not land a major-label deal, but they'd be the underground band that influenced all the new romantics who did.

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  • Friday, Nov. 15, 2019 / 6:00pm @ Marquee Theatre - AZ 730 N. Mill Avenue Tempe AZ 85281
    730 N. Mill Avenue, Tempe AZ 85281

  • Friday, Nov. 15, 2019 / 7:30pm @ Higley Center For The Performing Arts 4132 E Pecos Rd Gilbert AZ 85296
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  • Friday, Nov. 15, 2019 / 8:00pm @ Talking Stick Resort Arena 201 East Jefferson Street Phoenix AZ 85004
    201 East Jefferson Street, Phoenix AZ 85004

Phoenix's Vial of Sound goes a step further. If their VOS EP sounds unnervingly authentic, it's because it is--their Bandcamp page duly notes that all music was "made with vintage analog synthesizers ranging from 1973-1984 recorded onto tape." Rarely has a bill made so much sense as Night Drive and Vial of Sound together.

Riverboat Gamblers - Yucca Tap Room, Tempe - Monday, September 2

It's been more than a decade since the Riverboat Gamblers exploded out of Denton, Texas, impressing punk fans statewide in a mad flurry of flailing limbs, bitchin' barre chords and speed, glorious speed. In a way, it's impressive the Gamblers have lasted this long -- we once accompanied singer Mike Wiebe to a local chiropractor to tote up all the dings several years of stage-diving, rafter-climbing and microphone-swinging had exacted. It wasn't pretty.

But then again, the Gamblers have been road dogs and punk lifers since day one, steadily honing their rock and roll craft in countless no-name dives coast to coast, eventually graduating to Warped Tour slots and headlining tours of slightly better (and bigger) dives like Fitzgerald's.

After a flirtation with a poppier shade of punk on 2009's Underneath the Owl, which yielded unexpected New Wave dividends (and a cool video) on "Robots Will Break Your Heart," the band is back in fine loud-fast-rules form on extremely brief Paper + Plastik EP Smash/Grab. --Chris Gray

Tight Bros, - Trunk Space - Tuesday, September 3

I make plenty of exceptions, but as a general rule I think most songs are better off lasting three minutes, most movies 90, and most JRPGs 100 hours. (Videogames are different, man.) Tight Bros, a pop-punk band from Ohio, seems to hold to an even more fundamentalist position than I do: Eight of the 14 tracks on their 2012 LP

sit securely under two minutes


They make up for all that lost time by laying the harmonies and guitars on as thickly as possible on every second of most songs. If you're looking for gradual builds and sudden shifts in dynamics, look elsewhere. These guys know what they like, and from the first note they're going to give you as much of it as they can fit into a voicemail message.

They're joined by Said Gun and Girl Boner--for sheer volume of discrete pop-punk songs it's going to be hard to do better anytime soon.

Avery, Emby Alexander, The Holy Coast, The Balcony Scene - Crescent Ballroom - Thursday, September 5

Thursday night the Crescent hosts a full slate of locals--

including Avery

, who hasn't played all summer. They're joined by Emby Alexander, whose summer

producing some videos and getting signed to a UK label


Here's what Avery's Mariah DeRaet told us back in April:

Avery is a band that requires listening, however. DeRaet knows this, having carved out a niche that evokes introspection rather than the raucous nature of their Tempe contemporaries.

"When we first started playing out, we were paired with loud bands, and it was really hard to say, 'This is what we're doing and that's okay,' because we don't have to be loud to get our stuff across," she says. "A lot more people listen, because what we're doing is quiet and soft."

Determined to place Phoenix's tight-knit scene in the national scope, DeRaet knows that it requires breaking down some walls to get some light to shine on the Valley. "There's a desperation to prove ourselves because of all the shitty things that are happening in Arizona," she says. "We want to put ourselves out there and be like, 'Hey, not everybody in Arizona is a cowboy, not everyone in Arizona is a racist.' What we have going on here is really cool, there's a lot of love."

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