Usually the preamble to these Top Five Must-See Phoenix Shows posts is longer than this, but I spent most of the week sending long letters to venues suggesting that they make inroads into the state fair market by also selling novelty fried foods before and after shows, possibly year-round.
Nobody's gotten back to me. Well, their attorneys have, but not them.
Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers - Memorial Coliseum - Friday, October 18
Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers might be a state-fair-appropriate nostalgia act elsewhere, where their actual fanbase would be supplemented by people who remember The Refreshments and think it would be pretty cool if they toured with Superdrag.
In Phoenix, though -- well, it's a little different. The Peacemakers, after all, still have pull enough to put on Circus Mexicus every year down in Puerto Penasco, a vacation-and-festival-and-family-reunion that last year saw a reunion from The Refreshments proper. Tickets are $15 for this 7 p.m. concert.
Leagues - Pub Rock Live, Scottsdale - Friday, October 18
The scenario plays out in daily in thousands of studios and garages around the world: A band works hard to get tight and create a captivating sound, hoping for label attention and maybe placement in an ad -- which is where the real money is these days. Such was sort of the case with Leagues, a Nashville four-piece that formed over a series of "eerie circumstances," but one that eventually landed a placement with headphone manufacturer Bose. A good thing for the band, certainly, but the fact that their song "Spotlight" was utilized in advertising noise-cancelling headphones could lead to some misconceptions -- for better or worse.
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Given the nature of the product, it could be assumed Leagues' music must be loud and abrasive, warranting being selected for "silencing" by Bose's headphones. Will others make the same mistake and write off the band as easily? Hopefully not. "Spotlight," which also appears on ABC's Grey's Anatomy and the FIFA 2014 soundtrack, is actually just one of Leagues' infectious dance rock-pop songs built on funky guitar riffs, crafty rhythms, steamy beats and airy vocals that equate a call to move the body. Maybe the next song placement will be less ominous and more fitting. --Glenn BurnSilver
Julieta Venegas - Comerica Theatre - Friday, October 18
Julieta Venegas is a shape-shifter. Hers is a constant evolution, a never-ending series of experiments wherein she tests her own boundaries. She's not quite reinventing herself -- her sound is a signature, featuring quirky upbeat vibes and a soothing, sweet vocal style. But she's not standing still, either.
Nearly a lifetime after picking up her first instrument at the age of 8 -- and 12 years despues releasing her solo debut Aqui -- music is neither a way of life, nor a way to make a living. It's an obsession.
She approaches each new project and every element of every song with near-innocence and childlike wonder. "Curiosity, I think, is my motor," says the singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. "And for me that's really important, just being curious and finding out new things."
One would think the success she's had over the years -- developing a worldwide following and nabbing a handful of Grammys -- would have afforded her a certain confidence by now. But Julieta admits: "Every time I do a new album, I realize I still have a lot to learn. And I'm always nervous whenever I go into the studio or start writing again. Every time I start a new project, I get nervous about it." -- Paul Torres
Okkervil River - Crescent Ballroom - Saturday, October 19
Six LPs into a decade-long career led by frontman Will Sheff, few bands have produced such consistently excellent output as Okkervil River; to deviate from what's made them so well-loved (soaring, literate pop, heavy on theatrics and startlingly affecting vocals) for the riskier waters of confessional, first-person songwriting this far in is a step few bands might make. But Okkervil just might've produced the best record of their career.
The Silver Gymnasium, Okkervil's seventh, is set in the 1986 version of Sheff's hometown of Meriden, New Hampshire, a tiny place of about 500 residents. For now, though, Meriden is on the map. "I don't even know why I did this," Sheff explains. "I know emotionally why I did it, which is because I love my fucking town a lot, like a little kid loves his mom."
But he admits to some trepidation about Meriden becoming a focus: "One of the things that's amazing about my town is that it's locked in time, isolated. Nobody's cell phone works, and it's beautiful, and it's natural. And if even one fan was like, 'I'm gonna check out Meriden because I love Okkervil River,' and then moved there, in the process of buying that house cut down one tree, I would regret it. I want Meriden to stay exactly the same." -- Derek Askey
The Freak Show - The Monarch Theatre - Saturday, October 19
The sinister sound-slinger known as DJ Bl3nd is a major freak. And that's not a slight by any means. Catch one of his high-energy sets on YouTube or at various EDM events and you're likely to witness the spazzy selector, who sports a Mohawked mask inspired by Chucky from Child's Play, hopping behind the mixers or turning the stage into his personal playground. At last year's La La Land Music Festival in downtown Phoenix, for example, the dude leapt up on a ginormous speakers and sprayed down the crowd with a Super Soaker.
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Here's hoping Bl3nd's antics are just as entertaining when he returns to the Valley on Saturday, October 19, to headline The Freak Show Costume Ball at The Monarch Theatre, 122 East Washington Street. He won't be the only one inside the Monarch dressed in bizarre getups, however, as attendees are encouraged to bust out with their freakiest ensembles and costumes for the party, which starts at 9 p.m. Openers include Kuntrol, Mando Rockz, Zolnger, and Fawk Unek. Admission is $20. --Benjamin Leatherman