Top Five Must-See Shows This Weekend

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

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

Friday, July 20: Kongos @ Crescent Ballroom

Don't worry, Arizona hipsters: There still is time to get behind Kongos.

I know how you fickle fans operate. You drop a band and put your faith in someone more obscure the minute a band you formerly championed begins headlining shows and making money, with thousands of fans shouting out every word to every song. Once their record charms its way onto mainstream radio playlists and, Zeus forbid, they get a glowing writeup in Rolling Stone, that's when you bail.

Well, relax. None of that has happened to Kongos in the Valley of the Sun, but rather in that parallel pop universe of South Africa, onetime homeland of Johnny, Jesse, Dylan, and Danny, the four brothers collectively known as Kongos.

In 2012, they have seen all of the above dreams come true. By year's end, they'll have clocked six months in the country in support of their record Lunatic. Three singles from the record have lodged themselves in the top 10 of every important South African music chart, and it charted at number four on the Look & Listen chart in April 2012, ahead of Madonna and Bruce Springsteen's recent efforts (but just behind Adele, David Guetta, and Now That's What I Call Music 60). Kongos have garnered significant coverage from Rolling Stone South Africa (yeah, who knew?), and their song "Take Me Back" reached number one on that publication's rock chart.

Despite the fact that there's no iTunes (or equivalent site), Kongos have amassed a significant number of download sales there, too, after six months of giving MP3 files away via their web site. -- Serene Dominic (Read more about Kongos in this week's issue.)

Friday, July 20: Black Uruhu and Sean Ball @ Ballroom at Radisson Fort McDowell Casino

When was the last time you got right with Jah? A day? A week? A month? A year? An entire bloody decade?

Whatever the case, it's never too early to work some of those kinks out of your soul. So go smoke a little herb, fast for four days, redread your head, wrestle a lion, and contemplate the everliving. Also, don't miss this Wednesday's mystical music sesh with legendary reggae band Black Uhuru.

Originally formed in 1972 under a slightly different name (simply Uhuru, meaning freedom in Swahili), this Kingston, Jamaica crew has reached many peaks atop Mount Irie, jamming out with Keith Richards, touring with the Clash, and winning the first Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 1985. But the band has also endured a lifetime of upheaval, burning through a dozen members in three decades while cofounder Derrick "Duckie" Simpson remained the only constant.

None of that's gonna matter, though, once "Shine Eye Gal" or "What Is Life?" hits your ears and shakes your soul. It's just gonna be an itesquake of good vibes.

Black Uhuru opens for their countryman and fellow reggae artist Sean Paul on Friday, July 20, at the Radisson Fort McDowell Resort. --S. Pajot

Saturday, July 21: Oak Creek Music Festival @ Sedona's Martini Bar

Looking for their place in Sedona culture somewhere between the vortexes and sweat lodges, the spiritual city's musicians find a way to nestle their love for pan flute into everyday interactions. Need to go to the grocery store? Boom. Pan flutist. Heading out to the bar to have a raucous night with your bros? Pan flute out the wazoo. Nothing brings a party down quite like an instrument you can buy at an art fair.

Sometimes you just need a break from the metaphysical to rock. Luckily, such Phoenix acts as Danger Paul, PALMS, The Wiley One, Snake! Snake! Snakes!, Future Loves Past, A Life of Science, and Field Tripp know how to do just that. These bands, plus Sedona's own Decker and dozens of other local bands and DJs, are taking their shows northward for the Oak Creek Music Festival, a one-day, two-stage blowout that's been deemed "Sedona's biggest party of the summer." The festival starts quiet, with sets beginning at 2 p.m., before evolving into a full-on dance party by closing time. DJ support from Ex-Ghost keeps the party moving between sets. -- Christina Caldwell

Saturday, July 21: Talib Kweli @ Club Red

In 1998, pioneering hip-hoppers Mos Def and Talib Kweli teamed up for Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star. Call it conscious rap or backpack rap if you must; we prefer to call it one of the best hip-hop records of the '90s. In the 14 years since the album's release, a lot has changed: Mos Def (he goes by Yasiin Bey these days) is known as much for his film acting as his rapping, and Kweli's grown uncomfortable with the "conscious rap" tag.

His forthcoming record, the cheekily titled Prisoner of Conscious, is pegged for a "summer 2012" release and features a slew of rappers, like RZA, Busta Rhymes, Curren$y, Kendrick Lamar, and Melanie Fiona, who are not likely to get tagged as backpackers any time soon. Kweli's stayed busy with his own stuff, but those holding their breath for a Black Star reunion will find it easy to exhale soon -- this year should see the release of a followup mixtape, Aretha, that reunites the legendary duo. -- Jason P. Woodbury

Sunday, July 22: Bane @ Underground

Bane hasn't issued a full-length album since 2005, but that doesn't keep the band from hitting the road. The latter comes natural, but regarding the former? "We have to be under insane pressure to get a song done, and if we're under that pressure, we get it done," says frontman Aaron Bedard. This seminal Massachusetts hardcore group hasn't noticed too many changes during its 16-year career -- even the fans roughly stay the same age.

"As they get deeper and deeper in their 20s, this life and this music and spending time at shows with a bunch of kids becomes less urgent," says Bedard, "We completely understand that kids grow up and move on. Once you get into your 30s, it gets a little harder to take a Wednesday night to go see a hardcore band."

But the allure of the road is key to the band's brutal longevity.

"We still get excited about young bands, still love playing shows," Bedard says.

"I was so hyped this morning to get up and crawl in this van, where I'm now going to be living for the next five and a half weeks. No one in Bane ever got so sick of that that we decided to hang it up, to call it quits. That's probably the only that I can attribute to the longevity. We have a really good time doing it. We still really love hardcore." -- Melissa Fossum (Read more about Bane.)

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