Look: After literally everybody who went to Warped Tour in Mesa Thursday melted into an enormous puddle filled with black V-neck T-shirts, you might find this weekend's concerts in Phoenix a little sparsely attended.
Take advantage of that! At least, unless you knew one of the people who melted. Then it would probably be disrespectful.
Minibosses and Shinobu - Yucca Tap Room, Tempe - June 28
Minibosses does exactly what it says on the tin: It plays video game covers, and it's been doing it since before "Video Game Cover Band" was a genre. The group's oeuvre focuses on the '80s -- its most-recent album included a medley of some lesser-known Legend of Zelda tracks, a 12-minute ode to Kid Icarus, and Tecmo Bowl -- and so does its sound, in which each of the NES' catalog of bleeps and bloops is doubled by super-bright lead guitars in front of some truly hyperactive drumming.
Minibosses has been doing this for more than a decade, now -- I first heard the band by searching "Mega Man 2" on Napster -- and these guys are good at it. If you're not the kind of person who has a particular robot master to request while they're playing Mega Man 2 tracks -- Bubble Man, obviously -- you might not get the appeal, but you will appreciate the energy. Joining them in Tempe is Shinobu, a California indie whose full-length Worstward Ho! offers shoutouts to trepanning, Samuel Beckett, and Livejournal. The openers should fit right in.
Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown - Pub Rock, Scottsdale - June 28
Musical prodigies seem to be as common as the YouTube searches with which they can be turned up. Parlaying that precociousness into a career is a task in itself, and doing so within a genre as storied as the blues takes more than just talent. Twenty-two-year-old guitarist Tyler Bryant -- of Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown -- has transformed from a preteen shredder on the Internet into the frontman of a full-blown rock outfit.
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While diving into his new rock roots, Bryant's rightfully shedding the "prodigy" label. "As soon as I heard music, I sought that environment out. I dove into it, and that's what I wanted to do," Bryant says. "I sweep the 'prodigy' thing under the rug, because if you go on YouTube and type in 'guitar prodigy,' you can see a 7-year-old outplaying all of us."
Don't be fooled, though: The Texas-raised, Nashville-based frontman knows his way around a fretboard. -- K.C. Libman
Sara Robinson and the Midnight Special - Last Exit Live - June 29
It's been said that in order to truly sing the blues, it's necessary to have experienced a lifetime of blues material -- a broken heart, tragedy, hopelessness. So when you hear about an incredible blues musician, what usually comes to mind is an image of elderly Junior Kimbrough or Etta James. What rarely pops up is a 20-year-old woman from Tempe with flowing brown locks and tattoos. That girl is Sara Robinson, and your impressions will change after you see her perform.
Read the full interview.
Just a year ago in Tempe, Sara Robinson and the Midnight Special formed to show off its take on funk and blues combined with '60s and '70s rock -- think Texas Roadhouse blues, instrumental jam sessions à la Led Zeppelin and smoldering vocals that echo Janis Joplin and Stevie Nicks. Comprising Sara Robinson, guitarist Brandon Croft, drummer Evan Knisely, and bassist Brenden McBride, the band dropped a self-titled debut album in February that displays an articulate rhythm section, heavy slide guitar, prominent hooks, and large choruses. -- Lauren Wise
Kick Cancer's Ass: A Benefit for Josh Irino - Hydroponics Depot - June 29
Josh Irino is currently engaged in the fight of his life. And it's a battle against a fearsome and merciless opponent where the odds are firmly against him. Back in April, the 38-year-old drummer for rap 'n' roll band Property Six was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.
Normally, those in Irino's condition are facing a virtual death sentence, as the survival rate for those with said affliction is less than 10 percent. (As such, doctors have given him less than a year to live.) However, it's not always an absolute, as a small number of stage four lung cancer patients have been known to fully recover. And Irino is hoping to be one of them.
According to his Property Six bandmate Ricky Goltz, the drummer (who's undergoing chemotherapy and other cancer treatments in Calfornia at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center) is in extremely good spirits despite the bleak prognosis. And his positive attitude, Goltz says, may help aid him in his battle against cancer.
"The doctor's have said they've seen people beat this before. It can be done, you've got to have a really good support system and got to be willing to put forth the effort and positive attitude to do it," Goltz says. "His prognosis is that he's gonna beat it; Josh isn't afraid of it at all. He wants to kick cancer's ass."
Irino also has major backup in his fight, including a slew of friends and family members who have been providing positive vibes but have also helped organize this weekend's "Kick Cancer's Ass" benefit in his honor. The daylong event, which takes place on Saturday at the Hydroponics Depot over on the westside, will raise money to help pay for Irino's treatments, in addition to benefiting the Sweet Relief, a California-based charity that assists uninsured musicians dealing with grievous illnesses or disabilities.
Irino, who has been without health insurance for years, was accepted by UCLA after his diagnosed due to a lack of local treatment options for someone in his situation. "If you're a musician with a pre-existing conditions and don't have any kids or family to take care of," Goltz says, "Then Arizona pretty much gives you the finger."
While the university's treatment program aids those in financial straits, it doesn't cover all of the costs involved or the expenses the Irino, a dual resident of both Arizona and California, incurs traveling between Phoenix and L.A. Hence, this weekend's benefit, which Goltz says will be a combination concert, carnival, and chill-out session taking place in the rear portion of the Hydroponics Depot.
A car wash will be held from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. while the rest of the day will feature a dunk tank, games, food and drinks, kids attractions, and other family-friendly fun. A lineup of live entertainment starts at 6 p.m. and includes performances by the Anaya belly dance troupe, and such musical acts as Bigg Limn, Hotboxx Academy, Sick Lake, Erich Vivian, and Never Too Late. Property Six will also offer an acoustic session and comedian Roberto Rodriguez will host.
"Everything will be set up sort of like a living room," Goltz says. "We're making it as chill as possible."-- Benjamin Leatherman
Through & Through Gospel Review - MIM Music Theater - June 30
Full disclosure: DJ Jason Woodbury, who will be performing between sets, is the pseudonym of Regular Jason Woodbury, my predecessor at Up on the Sun. Last year, Joel Marquard of Gospel Claws played the songs fromThe Through and Through Gospel Review
, his solo project, for a benefit show to wipe out some of the medical expenses he incurred
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We called it last year's best club show.
This year -- at the MIM, as part of their I Am AZ Music series -- it should be pretty good, too. And I'm not just saying that because I'm still getting e-mail addressed to Jason.