June is here (basically.) All across the Valley, people are glancing nervously at the sun, aware that at some point in the next month rising temperatures are going to force them into a kind of ersatz air-conditioning hibernation until sometime just after Christmas. Or maybe that's just me.
But hey: There's still time. Here are five shows to go see this weekend, while you retain your full measure of brain function. As an Illinois transplant, I hope it's some consolation that Cheap Trick's native Rockford will be nearly as unpleasant in July.
Authority Zero - Marquee Theatre, Tempe - May 31
The punk scene in the Valley has seen its share of ups and downs since well before Authority Zero was founded at Mesa's Westwood High in 1994. Shifting demographics have always made the Phoenix area a volatile mix of natives and ever-expanding groups of transplants who bring with them a broad scope of musical influences. Isolated in the desert, local bands somehow continue to thrive and tap any available resource, including each other. Authority Zero has been at the front of this rollercoaster for a long time.
"[Phoenix] is a melting pot of different styles of music," DeVore says. "Back when we were first starting out, bands were working together and helping each other out, trying to create a scene and not be every band for themselves. I feel like that went away for a little bit.
"With us taking off [to go on tour], we missed some of the transition, but what I have seen of late is bands starting to work together again and being there for each other, which I think is great. [They're] collaborating with each other and trying to pull it all together to create a scene again."-- Caleb Haley
Cheap Trick - Ovations Live!, Chandler - May 31
Not that Cheap Trick needs a reason to tour, but this year Rockford's finest are celebrating the 35th anniversary of the shows that yielded 1979's Cheap Trick at Budokan, a quintessential live album and the release that saw Cheap Trick reach a pinnacle of success.
"The songs are good and we like them," Rick Nielsen says, despite decades of near-constant touring. "It's not like, 'Oh, man, we have to go play that song again?'"-- Glenn BurnSilver
Jason Anderson - Trunk Space - May 31
I feel like a typical singer-songwriter set involves opening with two or three high energy numbers before mellowing out a little bit, so as to not over-exert oneself or the audience. This isn't exactly Jason Anderson's pace. Watching him is like witnessing an indie Bruce Springsteen whose speed is always locked at "Thunder Road" or "No Surrender."
Even his quiet jams are pretty intense. Through constant touring and writing, the folk singer has developed a reputation for creating engaging and emotionally resonant music that has a tendency to drag people in and make them want to sing, scream, and shout along with it. I recently talked with Jason ahead of his upcoming shows in Phoenix--including an acoustic set at Trunk Space on May 31. (Read the full interview.) -- Mike Bogumill
Mergence - Crescent Ballroom - June 1
The atmospheric, bluesy local rockers in Mergence may already be known for keeping it weird with communes, nomads and robots with the release of their first album, Those Vibrant Young People Are Dead--but with their upcoming EP they are taking it to an entirely new level.
It makes sense, since the name Mergence describes the future evolution of their influence on the industry and their sound, which has been compared to the likes to The Black Keys, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. Up On The Sun talked with front man Adam Bruce over a post-band practice phone call, punctuated by the clinking of ice from glasses of whiskey and gin. He discussed how he lived up to his statement in our last interview of writing the second album in the middle of the desert, why the band didn't appear in the "White Bark" music video, and the new experimentation the band dabbled with in the studio. (Read the full interview here.) -- Lauren Wise
Gay Kiss 3rd Birthday Show - The Spot - June 1
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Local hardcore weirdos Gay Kiss have managed to survive three years as a band despite many injuries, accidents, and a complete inability to be Googled without having to dig through a few compilations of famous on-screen same-sex smooches, news stories about mass "kiss-in" actions in front of government and religious establishments, and just regular pictures of dudes making out.
Don't even think things will get easier if you add the word "hardcore" to your search queries.
Still, the band has grown a lot, as evidenced not only by their second-place finish when you Google its name, but also through a few well-received records, a little touring, and an increasing recognition that they're one of the most consistently interesting local hardcore bands.
The band will be celebrating its growth this Saturday at a show functioning not only as a tour kick-off, but also as a release show for a tape featuring a few songs from their upcoming LP. Whether or not that record will be called Blud Sugah Sexxx Magik remains to be seen. -- Mike Bogumill