Top Five Must-See Shows in Phoenix This Weekend

We're just a little bit biased about the best way to spend your weekend here in Phoenix. New Times' Carnaval Electrico with Cold War Kids, Mergence, Hanni El Khatib, and more, is clearly awesome, but get this: There are other cool things going on around town. No joke. Rampage Fest at the Sail Inn is killer, as is the rest of the weekend's lineup. Doubt it? Click on, friends, and view our Top Five Must-See Shows This Weekend.

Friday, March 8: Rampage Fest @ Sail Inn

When March rolls around, the bum rush of SxSW season is a boon for Phoenix: All the West Coasters streaking toward beer-soaked Austin need gas money to brave the barren west Texas stretch, often resulting in mass pit stops in the desert. Rampage Fest, organized on a spotty year-to-year basis by promoter Select Shows, always wrangles a stacked showcase of punk and garage rock rising stars.

Day one (day two to follow next week) of this year's Rampage doubleheader features two of the best punk outfits emerging from the Great White North. Art-damaged Vancouver screamers Nü Sensae are experts at dialing down the tempo to a harrowing hardcore burn. Also from Vancouver, the airtight melodic hardcore of White Lung goes down smooth due to the anthemically scorched vocal hooks of singer Mish Way. Out of the garage are Oakland-based Warm Soda, purveyors of airtight rock 'n' roll riffage. Among the other offerings are the shimmering girl-group harmonies of Wax Idols, the sun-dried pop-punk deep fry of Audacity, and the revivalist pop of The Allah-Las.

It's not the same all-out blitz as SXxW, but who wouldn't like great bands sans the annoying fanfare? No wristbands, no lines, and no corporate shills hawking promotional taco/Dorito hybrids allowed. -- Chase Kamp

Friday, March 8: Carnaval Eléctrico, featuring Cold War Kids, Hanni El Khatib, Mergence, and More @ Crescent Ballroom

Following up last year's New Times Soundcheck, a two-day festival at Club Red in Tempe -- which featured performances by The Love Me Nots, Sugar Thieves, 2 Tone Lizard Kings, Jason Devore, The Insects, Crusher Sound System, and more -- was a serious task.

But challenges are cool, right? Up on the Sun and New Times are proud to present a brand new music event for 2013: Carnaval Eléctrico at Crescent Ballroom. The following profiles will give you a taste of what to expect on Friday, March 8, when local bands Stan Devereaux and the Funky Suns, Diners, Wooden Indian, Sareena Dominguez, Mergence, DJ Seduce, join touring acts Cold War Kids, Hanni El Khatib, Sir Sly, and In the Valley Below in taking over two stages at Crescent Ballroom. -- Jason P. Woodbury

Click to get to know each of the acts performing.

Saturday, March 9: R3hab @ Axis/Radius

Fadil El Ghoul -- better known to dance floor princes and princesses as R3hab -- is relatively new to the EDM game, breaking out in 2008, right as the genre began to experience a seismic shift in popularity. A proponent of "Dutch house" style, there's a distinct menace to R3hab's work, specifically his remix of Bruno Mars' Sting and The Police-indebted "Locked Out of Heaven," which shakes and quivers under the weight of R3hab's massive drop and tight, tinny hip-hop drums. It hardly makes Mars' "the sex takes me to paradise" and "make a sinner change his ways" lines sound any less cheesy, but it does add some bark and bite to the song's pop fluff.

It seems to be R3hab's most effective trick. In R3hab's Moroccan hands, even sexy/smarmy singer Enrique Iglesias sounds pretty tough, his vocals pitch-shifted down into a sinister growl before billowing synths and piano surge triumphantly, only to be smashed like an import beer under no-doubt trendy boots when R3hab flips the switches and brings the nasty back. Who's next? The polished Ms. Swift? The chilly Mr. Bolton? -- Jason P. Woodbury

Saturday, March 9: Matt & Kim @ Marquee Theatre

Matt Johnson and Kim Schifino do whatever they want. They play with whatever kind of bands they want, they get naked in videos, they do the "Harlem Shake," and they picked a band name, Matt & Kim, that immediately establishes their singular style of indie/pop.

"Where we make most sense is where people want to jump around and go crazy," Johnson explains. "Where we make least sense is where people just want to stand around and look at their shoes. So sometimes bands that people would think, 'That makes sense in an indie world that they would play together,' but it's very laid back and that's not where we make sense. We make sense wherever it's just like, people want to get wild. We've toured with punk bands back earlier on even. People are always wondering how that's going to work and we're like, 'No, we just need to be with bands that people want to get wild with.'" -- Taylor Moon

Read our Q&A with Matt Johnson of Matt and Kim.

Sunday, March 10: Yo Gabba Gabba Live! @ Comercia Theatre

Can you imagine how you would have turned out if The Flaming Lips -- the same Christmas on Mars/crazy/insane Flaming Lips you're thinking of -- had appeared on Sesame Street?

It's a question we'll soon be able to answer. The Lips have appeared on Yo Gabba Gabba!, arguably the hippest children's show of all time (no hate to Sesame Street or Electric Company). YGG! is centered on music, a natural fact considering co-creator Christian Jacobs' time as frontman of wacky O.C. ska-punk band The Aquabats and is a lifelong music fan. It's his time on the stage that also lends natural credibility to his live version of YGG!, featuring the show's cast of creatures, DJ Lance Rock, and Biz "You Got What I Need" Markie, which hits Comerica Theatre on Sunday, March 10.

Jacobs says driving around listening to music with his kids is what inspired him to team up with co-creator Scott Schultz, a veteran of the O.C. indie and shoegaze scene, to create Yo Gabba Gabba!.

"Scott and I have known each other since high school, and we'd go to concerts and play music together. Scott was actually a wedding DJ for a long time, and I would go help him and pick songs," he says. "We're all super into music. Something we wanted to do was put that out there . . . We'd listen to music in our car with our own kids. They were singing right along with us, with The Ramones, Mos Def, or whatever. The thing we dealt with was, our adult music isn't very appropriate lyrically for kids, so we [decided we were] going to try and incorporate these musical styles into the landscape of the show, and hopefully we could bring some of these bands -- the bands we love and we worship -- over to the show and have them do a song that would work for kids. It's worked out really great, better than we even expected." -- Jason P. Woodbury

Read more about Yo Gabba Gabba!

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