Top Five Must-See Shows This Weekend

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, August 17 and Saturday, August 18: Los Dias de las Crescent @ Crescent Ballroom

Though its name has become nearly ubiquitous on concert flyers and Facebook invites, it's important to note that it hasn't quite been a year since Crescent Ballroom, the 400-capacity venue spearheaded by indie promoter Charlie Levy and his Stateside Presents company, opened in downtown Phoenix.

Why is it important to note? Because it's been a very good almost-year for the Crescent, which flung open the doors on Monday, October 4, 2011. Those doors have hardly closed since, as a lineup of powerfully varied musicians has shuffled through them, including St. Vincent, Iron and Wine, Destroyer, Jonathan Richman, Santigold, Miniature Tigers, Jonathan Davis of Korn (under his J. Devil moniker), and more.

What's more is that the venue has served as a hub of music action, with some shows -- Kongos, Mergence, The Technicolors, What Laura Says, The Through and Through Gospel Review, and more -- drawing fans and lines that wrap around Van Buren Street and leave some eager would-be attendees getting turned away. There's never been a lack of passion in the Valley music scene, but there's clearly an energy centered around the club.

And so, it's time to party. An extravaganza dubbed Los Dias de La Crescent, which features Black Carl, Dry River Yacht Club, Mergence, Ladylike, Factories, Source Victoria, Vinyl Station, Roar, Future Loves Past, DJ Seduce, and DJ Dana on Friday, August 17, and Sergio Mendoza y la Orkestra, Minibosses, Snake! Snake! Snakes!, Mariachi Luz De Luna, Bad Cactus Brass Band, Salvador Duran, Whisperlights, Stan Deveraux and The Funky Suns, Flamenco Por La Vida, Fatigo, Snow Songs, Djentrification, and Sean Watson on Saturday, August 18, is all about local love, Levy says. "A lot of people leave [Phoenix] during the summer," Levy says. "This is celebration for those who stay." -- Jason P. Woodbury

(Read more about Crescent Ballroom.)

Friday, August 17: Whisperlights @ Lost Leaf

It's almost hard to characterize The Whisperlights as a local band, with members of the eight-piece group living in Phoenix and on both coasts.

A true product of the digital age, The Whisperlights' songs are written through long e-mail exchanges, a process sure to come in handy as the summer ends and some members jet off to Bangladesh and Palestine.

"We have an affinity for the city even if we're not going to live here anymore. It's where we found each other. It's where we formed. It all makes sense," says drummer Wasef El-Kharouf.

This weekend finds the band returning to Phoenix for a string of gigs -- making this intimate stop at the Lost Leaf a must-see. -- Melissa Fossum

Saturday, August 18: Futurebirds @ Sail Inn

The future is now, but what do you know? It sounds an awful lot like the past. This could serve as a mantra for Athens, Georgia's Futurebirds, though it's rare to find a band so expertly mixing together so many disparate styles. A heady dose of alt-country, replete with pedal steel, leads the way, but the songs truly take flight on a healthy merging of '60s psychedelia, '80s power pop, and reverb-drenched folk harmonies for an all-encompassing, swirling and jangling sound. Feelings float on high-lonesome swells before getting chopped up with gritty guitar interludes or simply drifting away all together in a technicolor acid wash.

Like so many southern-based Americana-leaning acts (think Drive-By Truckers), the lyrical imagery is naturally strong and decidedly visual, moving from tales of heartbreak to happy times gone bad. And have we mentioned the harmonies enough? Even The Beach Boys would be proud of what this seven-piece act accomplishes. But Futurebirds also are known for high-energy shows that might find Townshend-esque windmills on stage and line-dancing in the crowd -- that is, until feedback sends everyone into a frenzy. What could be more unexpected -- and better -- than that? -- Glenn BurnSilver

Sunday, August 19: Identity Festival @ Ashley Furniture HomeStore Pavilion

About 345,000 electronic dance music fans packed June's Electric Daisy Carnival festival in Las Vegas, 100,000 more than attended last year.

It's an impressive figure, to be sure, dwarfed only by an even bigger number: the millions of disappointed souls who didn't go, forced to be content with merely listening to audio streams, reading blog coverage, or jealously sifting through hundreds of thousands of gleeful tweets from those in attendance.

It's these same disappointed electronica fans who the folks at Live Nation are hoping will snatch up tickets to Identity Festival, a touring EDM extravaganza that will hit 15 cities nationwide, including Phoenix on Sunday, August 19, at Ashley Furniture HomeStore Pavilion.

If it hasn't been made abundantly clear by the genre's strong and steady representation at big-name festivals like Lollapalooza and Coachella, let's state it outright: EDM is big, big business. And it's only looking to get bigger in 2012 and beyond, and industry giant Live Nation wants a chunk.

The tour is the latest move by the concert-promoting giant to grab its slice of the multimillion-dollar electronic music pie. Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino recently was quoted by Billboard as saying that EDM is "the most exciting thing to happen to live music in 20 years" and that the corporation is making many inroads into the scene. Rapino says Live Nation "looks at electronic music as an absolute here-to-stay genre of music."

In the past year, it's formed an EDM-specific division (Live Nation Electronic), bought up British electronica event Creamfields and Dutch festival Sensation, and is backing Kaskade's "Freaks of Nature" tour this summer. -- Benjamin Leatherman

(Read more about Identity Festival.) Sunday, August 19: King Tuff @ Meat Market Garment Factory

It's a very good time to be a hapless fuzz-rock magnate: Youthful disaffection is at an all-time high as unemployment and student-loan debt reach peak levels. Groovy rippers like Hunx and Mark Sultan dot the landscape with throwback rock maneuvers, while punk burnouts like Wavves' Nathan Williams pack the bowl with unabashed distortion.

The uncomplicated fun of King Tuff splits the difference, combining a versatile rock songwriting palette with shrugged-off simplicity. Kyle Thomas, who hails from the southeast Vermont town of Brattleboro, started calling himself King Tuff because it's got the same initials as his real name (duh) and began writing songs when he wasn't in bands like the folksy Happy Birthday and Witch, a blunt metal outfit with J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr.

His self-titled sophomore record (the first for indie giant Sub Pop Records) features a whiny charm and pop dexterity reminiscent of late punk Jay Reatard, bolstered by bright Superchunk hooks pinched out with keef-caked fingertips. "Stare at all the shit in your bedroom / And take a walk on the moon," he squeaks on "Alone and Stoned" alongside cheerful vocal harmonies and trippy guitars. However, the mellow "Unusual World" reveals a kind of solemn Kurt Vile introspection. King Tuff has the heart of a skillful songsmith, even as he maintains the posture of a gleeful hesher. -- Chase Kamp

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.