Top Five Must-See Shows in Metro Phoenix This Weekend

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Curious about what's going on around town this weekend? Need some suggestions where to rock, dance, or krump in the Valley of the Sun?

Don't fret: These are our Five Shows to See This Weekend.

Friday, December 28: FMLY Fest @ Fifth Street

Millions of Phoenicians cover this 400-plus square mile slab of real estate we call the Valley of the Sun. Competition looms heavily as business, fashion, and even traffic, the most dangerous place it should be seen, bursts with a "me first" attitude. After a while, these elements form a disconnect that can threaten humanity leaving us bitter and mistrusting. Where's the love?

Here it is. Found in the heart of the healthy and growing arts district downtown is FMLY Fest. A mutually supportive collective forms this multi-city tour in the hopes of sustaining and reinvigorating free expression, sense of community without judgment, and all-around positive vibes. Just some of the Tempe Starving Artist-sponsored activities will be interactive displays, visual art, live painting, a zine exchange, and spoken word sessions. That's not to mention the more than 60 bands, including Ace-High Cutthroats, Wooden Indian, Skinny Shamans, Dearspeak, Yus, Hug of War, and more, playing various stages along Fifth Street between Roosevelt and Garfield streets.-- Craig Smith

Friday, December 28: Less Pain Forever @ Crescent Ballroom

Phoenix/Pennsylvania duo Christopher Pomerenke and James Karnes launched Less Pain Forever two whole decades ago. "We played our first show back in 1992, in Scottsdale at Eldorado Park," Pomerenke says via the telephone. "We kind of came around during the grunge days, when everyone wanted the lead singer to sound like he had a drug problem."

Not that Less Pain Forever's stuck to any sort of grungy template. Just listen to the madcap, bent psych funk of "Throw Yer Babies," from 2006's Now We Have Something to Celebrate, a split record with Peachcake. It's insane -- a sort of Flaming Lips (the acid years) meets proto-crunk screed.

20 years is a mighty long time, Pomerenke says, and as it's stretched on he's watched the music industry essentially melt down.

"I never could have imagined that I'd see the music industry essentially go away," he laughs, noting that as the landscape has change, so have the methods by which music is created.

"I know dubstep has been around for a little bit, but it's sort of new to me," he explains. "I got into this Skrillex guy. It was just such a gobsmacked sort of moment, watching Skrillex. Basically he's apps, you know? I'm looking at these young folks getting off on folks basically playing laptops. It's like listening to an orgiastic robot. That's just so exciting and weird. There's all that energy of rock 'n' roll, but it's something else entirely."

Pomerenke is mostly busy with movies these days, but he says that fans should expect some new songs when the duo takes the stage at Crescent Ballroom for its first show in five years. "I'm more turned on by music now than I ever have been," he says. "I haven't had the urge to get onstage so much -- which is weird, because I've spent my entire adult life on stage, but in the last couple months I've been more interested in music than I have been in my entire life." -- Jason P. Woodbury

Friday, December 28: Camp Lo @ Stray Cat

If the '90s era of rap effectively ended with the violent deaths of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G., the new era began the emergence of Sonny Cheeba and Geechi Suede of Camp Lo.

The Brooklyn duo quietly introduced their '70s soul, funk-, and jazz-inspired rap sound on 1996's Great White Hype soundtrack with the hit single "Coolie High." In 1997, they released what would become their most acclaimed album to date, Uptown Saturday Night. Earlier this year marked the 15th anniversary of the fan-favorite record, and to celebrate, the two are taking the release back on the road with an anniversary tour.

Camp Lo will perform the album in its entirety, as well as a couple of new cuts featuring producer Ski Beats. Taking their cue from alt-rap pioneers De La Soul, Camp Lo strayed from the gangster-rap method of the day on Uptown Saturday Night, instead breaking it down slow and smooth while showing influences of Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Earth, Wind and Fire. Friday night's showcase should serve as a nice trip down memory lane where you won't hear the words "swag" or "mollies" even once. Maybe.--Anthony Sandoval

Saturday, December 29: Queensrÿche @ Marquee Theatre

The Queensrÿche intent on pummeling the Marquee is not your father's Queensrÿche.

The 30-year-old band recently underwent a major overhaul, with only founder and principal singer/songwriter Geoff Tate remaining. "After working with the same people for 30 years, it gets very difficult," Tate said in a September blog post on the band's website. "There's no spark, the chemistry is very tried and true, and you just keep coming up with the same ways of expressing yourself." Looking for new inspiration, Tate restocked the progressive metal band behind such albums as Operation: Mindcrime, Rage for Order, and Empire with a stable of metal veterans from unexpected (but once popular) places.

Topping the new lineup is Quiet Riot founder and former Whitesnake, Dio, and Ozzy Osbourne bassist Rudy Sarzo. He's joined by founding Ratt drummer Bobby Blotzer, ex-Candlebox keyboardist Randy Gane, and former Dokken guitarist Kelly Gray. An unusual bunch -- on paper, anyway. Tate promises that such diverse musical backgrounds will allow Queensrÿche to open up and take its sound to new levels of intensity. "Everyone has ideas you haven't heard before, and everyone is throwing them against the wall and suddenly . . . the music has a whole new life." Guess we'll find out.--Glenn BurnSilver

Sunday, December 30: Peachcake @ Crescent Ballroom

Local electronic pop band Peachcake is used to putting out fun, dance-y music with existential lyrics, and their latest single, "The World Is Our Platform to Mean Something," is no exception. You won't hear many pop songs indirectly inspired by soil these days, but this track is one of them. The song came about after Peachcake singer Stefan Pruett learned about The Fundred Initiative, an environmental awareness campaign designed to spread the word about lead pollution. Pruett's frustration with the lack of popularity of what he viewed as an important cause also related to how he felt about the music industry when he wrote the song.

"I used the song as a metaphor to describe how I felt about several things, such as the music landscape, to everyday life, all the way down to some deeply personal things going on in my life at the time pertaining to how I was handling and treating a lot of my personal relationships," Pruett says. " The interesting, unique music that's made is constantly overlooked because of what pollutes the industry landscape and what's decided as being the standard of cool or popular or the way things are supposed to be." --Nicki Escudero

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