One brand-new way to validate your musical tastes in front of your friends: Tell them that you were a fan of Huey Lewis and the News before he put on a raincoat and murdered Weird Al Yankovic with an ax.
Murdering Weird Al is a classic sell-out move, but you can go see him in Chandler on Saturday anyway. That and more awaits you in today's five shows to see in Phoenix this weekend.
Los Dias de La Crescent - Crescent Ballroom - May 17-18, 2013
Los Dias de La Crescent 2013 is still defined by what's local -- the music, the beer, the food, the fans -- but the Crescent hasn't even waited the full 3,000 miles for its first tuneup. This year's schedule looks like a tightened-up version of last year's format -- and it somehow finds a way to bring "Stairway to Heaven" into a celebration of Arizona music in the process.
Day 1 now brings an explicitly Latin night of Arizona music, with Sergio Mendoza y la Orkesta's frenetic mambo leading a parade of sounds and styles that includes cumbia (Vox Urbana), salsa (Jaleo), flamenco (Flamenco por la Vida), mariachi (the all-female Mariachi Pasión), and the globetrotting beats of DJ Seduce. Some of those bands are holdovers from last year's event, but their collection on one side of the bill leaves each day with its own distinct identity.
Read More: Los Dias de La Crescent brings local music, food, and beer together.
And it leaves Saturday night open for leaving identities behind. A Very Special Episode of Cover the Crescent will bring local rock to bear on international bands on one stage, in pairings that range from ingenious (synth revivalists Vial of Sound as New Order, the slinky guitars of Snake! Snake! Snakes in the service of the Strokes) to ingeniously weird (Dry River Yacht Club will finally give Led Zeppelin's oeuvre the bassoon parts and stompy breakdowns it's long cried out for.) -- Dan Moore
Alice Bag - Lawn Gnome Publishing - May 18
Alice Bag (née Alicia Armendariz) has it really easy when it comes to establishing scene cred: If anyone doubts her legitimacy, she can merely turn on Decline of the Western Civilization and point out she is the woman in pink screaming on stage as members of the nascent L.A. punk scene slam into one another. However, she hasn't rested on her laurels of cult documentary fame; she's been consistently raging since as a musician, a feminist, and a writer.
This Saturday, she'll be reading from her memoir Violence Girl, a series of vignettes that covers topics ranging from her time in the seminal punk band The Bags; growing up in the East L.A. barrio; changing adolescent dreams, from wanting to be a groupie to wanting to be a performer; and overcoming environments rife with domestic violence and substance abuse. If I am doing a bad job pitching it, the book also comes highly recommended by Henry Rollins.
Read More: More Phoenix music events on the Local Wire.
Accompanying the readings will be performances by Alice's current band, the She*Riffs, as well as JJCnV and French Girls. -- Mike Bogumill
Callow - Trunk Space - May 18, 2013
San Francisco's Callow makes music for standing alone in a hallway after somebody important to you has just let you know they don't feel anything you're feeling. It's not that it's sad or self-indulgent (the way we want to be in those moments); it's that nothing in these songs insists on itself.
Callow's distended riffs and droning vocals would fit perfectly in the score to your heartbreak, with singer Red wailing, "I want to make conversation, but you won't," the instruments rumbling on one undulating note, and then a gradual fade to black.
They'll be joined at Trunk Space by locals Snow Songs, whose bilingual vocals and clean, sharp-elbowed riffs can twist from cool detachment to serene warmth in one chord change, and Former Friends of Young Americans, whose sidelong guitars and pretty, flat-affect harmonies collapse into noisy, surprising, immediate hooks. All three bands' unconventional sounds aren't about willful obscurity so much as finding unusual ways to be direct; some of what you hear Saturday night might not read immediately as pop music, but it'll still be in your head on Sunday. -- Dan Moore
Blue-Eyed Son - Lost Leaf - May 18, 2013
Just because a former hardcore punker turned surf instructor decides to dump the angst for acoustic guitars, it doesn't instantly make him a Jack Johnson shuffle artist. (And the world needs another Jack Johnson like I need a hole in my head.) Fronted by Andrew Heilprin, a surf instructor by day who once guided punk act 40 Watt Domain, Blue-Eyed Son suggests that Heilprin's time in the sun certainly seems to have mellowed him. Instead of fighting for waves, he's giving them away, and as he sings on Blue-Eyed Son's upcoming EP, Shadows on the Son, "Everything is golden."
Far removed from Heilprin's agro roots, Blue-Eyed Son certainly has a laid-back, summery shimmer, along with jangly pop melodies, lush horn accentuations, and shiny harmonies. Even the anti-war ballad "We're Fighting a War" hovers just above a whisper until a nice electric lead and militaristic drumbeat impart some needed emphasis. "Good Men Die Like Dogs" follows, a bouncy, banjo-propelled folk number. Lyrically, however, Heilprin continues his visually insightful, outspoken ways. His new musical approach is simpler, easier to grasp -- so even when the surf gets a little rough, it's a good time to be in the water. -- Glenn BurnSilver
Huey Lewis and the News - Ovations Live!, Chandler - May 18, 2013
Huey Lewis was not Cool even when he was cool -- even when Sports was impossible to avoid, he was that goofy guy with the huge album and all the hit songs. When he sang that the heart of rock 'n' roll was still beating, he was singing it to a bunch of people who insisted on believing it was his fault that rock 'n' roll was sick.
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All that ambivalence seems like a waste of some great hooks. So god bless Funny or Die, which gave the zeitgeist an excuse to enjoy his most ubiquitous singles by casting him in a very meta remake of the Huey Lewis scene from American Psycho.
Even better news: He murdered Weird Al with that axe just in time for you to go see him (and the News!) in Chandler.