This weekend in Phoenix: The '80s comes together to listen to Cyndi Lauper, the Phoenix music community comes together on a new record (and some old ones), Harry Potter fans come together to listen to songs about Harry Potter, and the Trunk Space comes together to eulogize Noodle.
This weekend's five must-see Phoenix shows are a lot of coming together, basically, so just figure out who you want to come together with and point yourself in the right direction. (View our complete concert calendar here.)
Scattered Melodies - The Sail Inn, Tempe - June 21
Phoenix has plenty of things going against it when it comes to uniting the local music scene. The venues that most often book local acts are often miles and miles apart, forcing fans to hop on freeways and drive up to an hour to see their favorite bands.
One thing the Phoenix music scene does have going for it is projects like Scattered Melodies, a rhythm duo that employed nine different singers and several guitarists for its upcoming album, A Collective Agreement. The album is a testament to the current buzzing within the local community, a growing, diverse collection of talented artists who span a variety of genres.
These are the artists who make it a point to head to The Sail Inn, the Rhythm Room, and Yucca Tap Room each night to support local bands. As Last Exit Live marketing director Matty Steinkamp says, within the past five years, the Phoenix music scene has witnessed a transformation in how bands support one another -- and the Scattered Melodies project is a perfect example of new alliances being formed within the Phoenix music community. --Nicki Escudero
Harry and the Potters - Trunk Space - June 22
Harry and the Potters created Wizard Rock, for which we should all thank them. It is exactly what you think it is: They play strangely catchy songs about the Harry Potter series, and I'm not talking allusions. I'm talking lyrics like "Your mom is like a mom to me / Your brother's like a brother to me / Can't you see things were meant to be, Ginny?"
Their failure to see just how WRONG Ginny and Harry are for each other aside -- Harry/Hermione, ride or die -- keeping the Harry Potter fandom alive is a remarkably important cultural project, and you should support them for that reason alone. You should also support them because they're actually really catchy, playing a kind of kids'-pop-for-adults that's tonally similar to the books themselves.
Come on. You want to know what a song called "Accio Hagrid" sounds like, right?
Mascot Records/Mike Condello Record Release - Zia Records - June 22
Even the most ardent music fans have a skewered impression of Phoenix's early rock musical landscape. It starts with Sanford Clark and Marty Robbins, then you cross a whole spread of barren desert 'til you get to Lee Hazlewood and Duane Eddy, and then nothing until the early rumblings of Waylon Jennings and Alice Cooper . Local music historian John P. Dixon has worked tirelessly to fill in the blank terrain, and two new releases continue that labor of love. The first one, The Mascot Records/Jack Curtis Story, collects nearly all the A-sides that local music impresario Curtis issued on his homegrown label between 1961 and 1968, plus a bunch of other rarities -- including an alternate take of "Why Don't You Love Me" by the Spiders, Alice Cooper's earliest recorded incarnation.
A CD-release party for both albums is scheduled for Saturday, June 22, at Zia Records on the corner of Camelback and 19th Avenue. Special guests include Jack Curtis, Frank Fafara, Mikie, Tony Castle, P-Nut Butter, and John P. Dixon. --Serene Dominic
Cyndi Lauper - Talking Stick Resort, Scottsdale - June 22
Watch enough infomercials for Time-Life '80s compilations, and you'll come to this conclusion: Some albums are of their time because they were released at the peak of a particular trend, and some albums were a trend.
She's So Unusual, Cyndi Lauper's famous debut, is so important to our conception of the '80s that it's hard to believe it was ever just an album. The singles fanned out in all directions, altering our expectations of ballads ("Time After Time") and pop-femininity ("Girls Just Want to Have Fun") and, well, pop onanism ("She Bop").
Even the cover launched a thousand dancing, fishnetted, less-genuine Lauper-alikes on film and TV. The genuine article comes to Scottsdale celebrating the 30th anniversary of She's So Unusual, which, more than 10 albums later, continues to define her career. That's the kind of thing that might drive a lesser artist crazy. But when an album's defined an entire decade, it's kind of hard to avoid. At Talking Stick Resort, she'll be performing the record in its entirety, which is good news for fans of, say, "Yeah Yeah," but otherwise will probably sound a lot like a typical Cyndi Lauper show. For good reason.
Noodle Memorial Gathering - Trunk Space - June 23
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Noodle was not just a cat. Well, he was just a cat, but additionally he was the animating spirit of the Trunk Space -- skulking around its parking lot, writing a column in its zine, and otherwise delighting the bands and regulars with his trademark cat combination of affection and apparent ambivalence.
Our own Mike Bogumill eulogized him thus:
One of Phoenix's finest has slipped the surly bonds of this world and is probably either in Cat Valhalla or being reincarnated as the person that will save indie subculture from being consumed by its own banality. Truly indie rock, Noodle felt an immense anxiety around large crowds, often preferring to hide under a car or go wandering in the backyard during densely attended Trunk Space shows. However, this was also a reflection of his free spirited nature, and those who engaged him in a more low key setting discovered a warm, affectionate, and enlightened animal who seemed to deeply understand the nuances of both feline and human relationships. Noodle got it, and tried to help us get it as well.
Sunday, his adopted home venue will remember Noodle with poems, songs, and stories. Donations will be accepted for The Trunk Space as well as Halo Animal Rescue.