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.
Austin metal quartet The Sword is keeping it simple. In 2010, the band had its greatest commercial success to date with the dazzling Warp Riders, a high-concept album that was the metal equivalent to a sci-fi novel. For Apocryphon, the band's newest release for indie label Razor and Tie, singer/guitarist JD Cronise says the biggest challenge wasn't following up on the deep themes of Warp Riders or integrating new drummer Jimmy Vela III; it was keeping up with recording deadlines.
"That's the nature of being a professional musician," Cronise says, "having to be creative, which is something that is supposed to have no constraints, and having to work with a bunch of constraints while pretending they're not there."
The result is a focused album of 10 scorching tracks like "The Veil of Isis," a combination of Sleep-style chugging and pinched Sabbath leads. However, the stoner metal tag has grown too vague for Cronise. "It's just rock music," he says simply. "I think heavy metal and dance music seem to be the bigger sinners of over-categorization; there's so many subgenres it gets confusing." In fact, Cronise has a rather sturdy theory about the genesis of the stoner metal label. "Quite honestly, I think it's all because Black Sabbath wrote a song called 'Sweet Leaf.'"--Chase KampFriday, December 14: KMLE Acoustic Christmas @ Comerica Theatre
Boots, big buckles, tight jeans, and 10-gallon Stetsons is the non-official dress code (but garb of choice for most attendees) for the annual KMLE Acoustic Christmas, benefiting St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. There will be plenty of good tidings and twang in the air as rising country stars Randy Houser, Greg Bates, Maggie Rose, and Brett Eldredge perform hits, misses, and country standards filled with winsome tried-and-true themes of love, romance, breakups, cheatin' hearts, hardship, kinship, and unbridled joy. They'll play some Christmas classics as well.
Rose once sang in the B Street Band, a Springsteen cover band, but made her country breakthrough with "Maybe Tonight," followed by the bouncy, flirtatious "Fall Madly in Love." Eldredge's aim is to write songs, like "Raymond," that can "really touch somebody's heart and soul," his press release states, while Houser -- a composer of songs for some of country's biggest stars -- is more the rocker, sporting high-powered radio-staples "Anything Goes" and "Boots On." And Bates, a relative newcomer to the country circuit, surely will play his signature tune, "Did It for the Girl."
The Grand Ol' Opry it ain't, but the KMLE Acoustic Christmas will certainly be a boot-stompin' good time.--Glenn Burn Silver
Saturday, December 15: The Blasters @ Rhythm Room It's peculiarly fitting that these two punk trailblazers should arrive in town on the same night, because they've been inextricably bound together for more than 35 years since the beginnings of Los Angeles' punk underground.
For one thing, they've endured, even though (or perhaps because) their members have solo careers. Similarly, for much of their careers, both acts' laurels rested on music made in the early to mid-80s. (In 2005, The Blasters released 4-11-44, their first new album in 20 years, and followed that in July with Fun on Saturday Night; X hasn't released a new studio album since 1993's Hey Zeus!)
More importantly, both bands drew upon traditional roots and rockabilly in making their music helping imbue it with a timelessness that their noisier, snottier peers may have lacked. They certainly weren't solitary in that interest -- in the intervening years, many of their peers have also embraced roots music, such as Chuck Prophet (Green on Red), Mike Ness (Social Distortion), and Alejandro Escovedo (Nuns, Rank & File, True Believers).
Ness credits "bands like X, Johnny Thunders, and The Stray Cats" with opening his eyes to American roots music. "When you're 17, you don't really care about your roots, but as you get older, as you're trying to find your own identity, that's when the search begins," he says. "It led us. It led us to Americana music and the history of rock 'n' roll before the music of the '70s."--Chris Parker
Saturday, December 15: Bum Squad DJs Toy Drive @ All Starz If DJ Phlava were penning a Christmas wish list to Santa this year, the local hip-hop selector would likely ask jolly ol' Saint Nick for a new iPad, as well as a slick 60-inch HDTV for his living room wall, and a fancy ride for his son.
In the meantime, Phlava (who recently returned to the airwaves of 101.5 Jamz) and the other members of turntablist collective The Bum Squad DJs will be helping fulfill the holiday wish lists of some less fortunate Valley kids when they gather for their annual toy drive on Saturday, December 15. Along with fellow Bum Squad members like Area4, T3PO, Power 98.3's DJ Tyger, and Ramses Ja from The Beat 101.1 will be helping fulfill the holiday wish lists of some less-fortunate Valley kids when they gather for their annual toy drive on Saturday, December 15.
Phlava and fellow Bum Squad members will set up the record decks at urban-oriented clothing shop All Starz inside Arizona Mills, 5000 South Arizona Mills Circle in Tempe, and spend the afternoon showing off fierce spinning and scratching feats while their fans can drop off new unwrapped toys. The drive runs from noon to 5 p.m.--Benjamin LeathermanSunday, December 16: Limbeck @ Crescent Ballroom
Like any country band worth its salt, Limbeck knows the value of "road songs." The band's sophomore record, Hi, Everything's Great (2003), is a must-have for any cross-country road trip, its lyrics describing the nation's cities and highways with the same vivid detail as the interesting characters the band has met during its travels.
Closing out Limbeck's classic album is "Comin' from Tucson," which describes the band's long drive back to Orange County after a show at Tucson's Club Congress in 2001 or 2002. Back then, the band was a mainstay in Tucson and Phoenix, popping over from O.C. so often people that fans in town started to think they were locals.
"[We'd] jump in the van right after the show and head home overnight so someone could make it to work in the morning," says guitarist and backup vocalist Patrick Carrie, "Man, that was a long time ago . . . to this day, Congress is still one of our favorite places to be."
Limbeck's ties to Arizona extend beyond a decade-old tour story. Bassist Justin Entsminger moved to Phoenix in 2005, right around the time Limbeck stopped actively playing shows. (Entsminger now plays in local band Source Victoria.)
"It's been at least four years since the last time we've all played together as Limbeck," Carrie says. "We never really officially called it quits or even said anything about a 'hiatus.' We just came to the point where we couldn't tour full-time anymore."
A chat with Reubens Accomplice, whose 2012 effort, Sons of Men, found the group refocused after a mostly silent eight years, made the members of Limbeck realize how much they missed playing together, so both acts have scheduled a three-date tour through California and Arizona in mid-December.
"We're still friends. We still [probably] remember the songs," he says. "We still have a good time playing music -- it's basically just a good reason to hang out."
The logistics take some maneuvering, though: Patrick Carrie and Robb MacLean (lead vocals and guitar) remain in Southern California. With Entsminger living in Arizona and bassist Jon Philip residing in Wisconsin, it's been difficult to get everyone together. In fact, Carrie said that the whole band has not been in the same room for "a long time," so it comes as a surprise that the band recently released a seven-inch with a new song and a Replacements cover. Does it mean Limbeck may have a new album in the works?
"Who knows? I guess we'll be talking about it in the van," Carrie says. The future remains to be seen. Until then, Limbeck will return to Phoenix with a vengeance. The band has its share of introspective acoustic songs, but its live show will focus on a raucous good time.
"We've messed around with different players helping us out on keys, pedal steel guitar, etc., but we work best as a four-piece," says Carrie, "We prefer it loud, when possible."--Melissa Fossum
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