Top Five Must-See Shows This Week in Phoenix

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The weekend is over, and it's back to the grind. You sit there despondent at your desk, visions of a wild weekend replaying your head, scenes from A Good Day to Die Hard -- which you caught a sick matinee showing of -- bouncing around your cranium. How can you get back to that blissful state? Go see some shows. There's plenty of them going down this week in Phoenix, from the classic old-school hip-hop of Rakim to the bluesy boogie metal of Sweden's Graveyard. Check 'em out, our Top Five Must-See Shows This Week.

February 18: Every Time I Die @ Nile Theater

A successful long-term musical career is a rarity in any genre, but what does it take to be truly acknowledged as an elder statesman in heavy metal? In most rock circles, any popular musician over 40 is usually handed some token of longevity for remaining relevant (meaning young people are still the primary attendees at the show). Annoited '80s metal deities like Ozzy and Pantera are safely locked in the canon, but Every Time I Die likely will join those remembered as turn-of-the-millennium metal staples.

The group has been making melodic metalcore for 13 years and has even cracked a top 20 position on the U.S. Billboard charts. ETID is known for throwing a few stylistic shades into its honed red-and-white metalcore strut, be it math-rock left turns or, most recently, a playful banjo.

The band's newest album, Ex Lives, brings the added weight of Southern metal timbres and contemporary stoner distortion to the band's frantic hardcore template, likely due to the production of Joe Barresi who's worked with journeymen outfits like Queens of the Stone Age and The Melvins. With an established songwriting foundation that does not crack with stylistic tweaks, ETID may possess the formula for metal immortality. -- Chase Kamp

Tuesday, February 19: Graveyard @ Crescent Ballroom

When Swedish hard rock Norrsken disbanded in 2000, its principles both embarked on their own doom rock journeys: Guitarist Magnus Pelander formed Witchcraft, while vocalist Joakim Nilsson formed Graveyard.

Both outfits maintained Norrsken's dedication to Sabbath-indebted doom metal, but as time has gone on, both bands -- especially Graveyard -- have moved toward a beefy, melodic rock sound.

This isn't to say that either fits the "Nickelback" template -- far from it, but selections from Graveyard's latest, 2012's Lights Out, wouldn't sound entirely out of place following Three Doors Down, Saliva, or Shinedown on some modern rock radio station. Propulsive album opener "An Industry of Murder" coasts from a sinister, palm-muted verse to an wide-open chorus; "Slow Motion Countdown" grooves over soulful jazz and blues textures; album highlight "Endless Night" lifts the kickstand and rolls steadily toward boogie rawk glory.

Lights Out doesn't abandon Graveyard's classist leanings, but it does find the band folding in contemporary metal touches into its brawny crunch.

"I don't know why people are so hung up about us recording [using] analog [technology]," Nilsson says. "A lot of people do in all types of genres and all types of music. I don't think that has too much to do with it. We always say that in interviews --that we are inspired by old bands, old blues, hard rock and all of that stuff, so I guess that is where our roots are. That's our foundation, but we never tried to be a throwback band. We never wanted to sound exactly like the band's playing in the '70s. We always try to be as contemporary as we can. We're trying to write music for today, not to the kids in the '70s." - Jason P. Woodbury

See also:

-Graveyard Doesn't Aim for "Throwback Metal"

Wednesday, February 20: Rakim @ Celebrity Theatre

Kanye West may be today's "lyrical mastermind genius," but he was still learning his way around a book report when legendary lyricist Rakim and DJ Eric B began writing hip-hop history. The East Coast rap duo dropped their debut single, "Eric B. Is President," way back in 1986 and set into motion what would become one of the most celebrated partnerships in rap.

Tracks like "I Know You Got Soul" pushed the boundaries on copyright law, while "I Ain't No Joke" and "Paid in Full" became instant classics in the late '80s. The two parted ways after only four albums, but not before leaving a lasting impression. Long considered one of the best MCs to ever rock a microphone, Rakim is renowned for his smooth laid-back delivery and cerebral wordplay.

Sounding as confident as ever, he boasts, "In a class of greatness/For matching phrases/My predicates last for pages," on the appropriately titled track, "How to Emcee" off 2009's The Seventh Seal. Proving he still has a mastery of the patented internal rhyming scheme he helped pioneer, he is now bringing his Rakim: The Icon Tour to the West Coast for a throwback concert bound to show the next generation how the old school does things. -- Anthony Sandoval

Wednesday, February 20: A Life of Science @ Yucca Tap Room

Meet Jon Tate. He's from the future. Jon is a genius infatuated with robotics and a blond, buxom beauty named Sandy. He's building an army of robots in hopes of ending a war that is gripping the world. It's an army that eventually will turn on him, culminating in an epic battle pitting man versus machine.

No, this isn't the script to next summer's sci-fi blockbuster coming to a theater near you; this is the plot of a comic book story turned music project. Phoenix duo James Keenan and Scott Passamonte created their electronic rock band, A Life of Science, based on this apocalyptic concept. The resulting sound is more robot-pop dance party and bright melodies than it is moody synthesizers and downtempo beats.

The saga stretches out across a trilogy of albums: The Apenist, Vita Nova, and Crystal City. ALOS is going big with the world they've created. Having spawned two albums, a fully animated comic, and a graphic novel, Keenan and Passamonte are taking their show to the road with a series of upcoming dates. Catch the band before it leaves town -- or time-travels to the future. -- Anthony Sandoval

Thursday, February 21: Summer Set @ Martini Ranch

The naysayers doubted, but The Summer Set has proved they're more than a one-hit wonder and they have a future beyond dating Disney Channel stars. Yeah, the audiences still consist mostly of rabid, screaming teenage girls, but Everything's Fine, the band's solid sophomore album, balances a knack for writing catchy hooks and sing-along choruses with more somber departures, indicating a shift toward maturity.

The band clearly knows its strengths and, better yet, knows how to market them. The band is sponsored by pop-punk-loving clothing line Glamour Kills, so it's easy to dress like The Summer Set or advertise the band on your own chest. If you want a copy of their latest disc, you can purchase it in a bundle along with postcards and handwritten lyrics, and the website for their new album lets you interact with the band directly, as fans can type in random musings to the band ending with "everything's fine."

When it comes to promoting the band, the college-age members of The Summer Set appear to have aced a few business courses. -- Nicki Escudero

See also:

-New Times and KUKQ Present: That Damn Show 2013, with Bad Religion, Awolnation, Against Me!, The Faint, and More -Warped Tour's 2013 Lineup Has Been Posted (And It's Just Okay)

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