Top Five Must-See Shows This Weekend in Phoenix

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The weekend is finally here! You're going to want to spend it checking out live music around Phoenix, right?

Allow us to help with the top five must-see shows this weekend.

Friday, February 1: Scorpion Decides @ The Nash

Recorded live at downtown bar the Lost Leaf, The Desert Will Prevail [Vol.1], by propulsive, jittery jazz fusion of quartet The Scorpion Decides, is relentless. Funky bass clicks by Jerome Salazar juxtapose against tight -- often aggressive work -- by drummer Nathan Hubbard; the echoing space keyboards of Branson Nejame bubble and pulse under taut runs of woodwind melodies from Keith Kelly, and occasionally all four lock into a unified front, like on their cover of Miles Davis' "Black Satin."

It's a remarkable slice of jazz/funk, and tonight the quartet takes to downtown jazz club The Nash for a free -- in price and musical expression -- gig. -- Jason P. Woodbury

Friday, February 1: Paul Oakenfold @ Wild Knight

DJ Paul Oakenfold holds the distinction of being one of the first electronic superstars. He's been performing and mixing since 1980, and he's not planning on spending his 33rd year in the business chilling out: In addition to his recent work with Madonna and Bruno Mars, he's scheduled to perform at Coachella 2013, and drop his long-awaited vocal collaborations album, Pop Killer.

This weekend, he finds himself in the Southwest, venturing to Scottsdale's Wild Knight. We discussed EDM's future with Oakenfold, and the Brit says that the next big wave of EDM stars will come from the U.S.

"There's going to be a whole new [wave], and the next wave will be American," Oakenfold says. "We've got a whole lot of Europeans. It's all European dominated now. I reckon the next wave will [feature] a lot of great American DJs producers and acts. There will be a moment similar to what we had in the UK. All of it, similar to what we had in the UK, with Daft Punk, Prodigy, Underworld. You'll have that moment, and you haven't had it yet. You really haven't had a moment when you've got the big American DJ and great American young producers. That's yet to come, [but] you've got people who are popping up, [like] Porter Robinson. At the moment it's dominated by Europe, and that will hopefully change." -- Taylor Moon

Read the entire Paul Oakenfold Q&A.

Saturday, February 2: Palms @ Sail Inn

PALMS might have stayed quiet during its 2012 formation, but 2013 is about to get PALMS'ed all over. Their recorded catalog might be small at the moment, but the band is currently in the studio to record their upcoming album on the Valley-based 80/20 record label.

The band paired with producer Bob Hoag of Flying Blanket Records, a rite of passage for any up-and-coming Phoenix indie band that wants a killer professional-sounding record on-the-local. The band's recently released single proves that it had the right idea. More please. -- Christina Caldwell

Saturday, February 2: Z-Trip @ Axis/Radis

Whenever hometown hero Zach Sciacca, known to the masses as Z-Trip, decides to make like the prodigal son and return to the place where he both cut his teeth and dropped his first killer cuts, it ain't just an ordinary gig.

It's a major event that involves thousands in attendance and support from some noteworthy cohorts. Such was the last two times Z-Trip came home, as he put on epic sets at successive Sound Wave Music Festivals, blasting out mashups whilst accompanied by such showstopping support as Valley b-boy troupe Foot Klan (in 2011) and Brooklyn rapper Talib Kweli (in 2012).

The 40-year-old turntablism titan's appearance at Axis/Radius, 7340 East Indian Plaza in Scottsdale, on Saturday, February 2, promises much of the same, as he'll be backed up by a couple of local DJ heavyweights who were associates of Z-Trip back in his Tempe heyday: Tommy "Tricky T" Laurie, a onetime padawan of Sciacca who picked up a variety of turntable tricks from the master, and esteemed Pickster One. The record deck reunion starts at 9 p.m. Admission is $15, VIP access is $35. Call 480-970-1112 or see www.sletickets.com. -- Benjamin Leatherman

Sunday, February 3: Daniel Johnston @ Crescent Ballroom

There's no better illustration of the fine line between brilliance and madness than Daniel Johnston. Indeed, the childlike simplicity and directness of his lyrics suggests the two are inseparable at times. A talented cult fave who spent years and years listening to and dissecting the Beatles, Johnston has a gift for melody that even the rudimentary nature of his early-'80s lo-fi tape recordings can't hide. But it's the vulnerability and honesty of the lyrics that are most striking.

Johnston's songs are typically emotionally arrested -- still trapped in the mind of a gawky, sentimental, daydreaming (and frequently lovelorn) youth. He's hoping for Leslie Gore's "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows," but in reality is facing his own "Tears Stupid Tears." In his most popular song, he suggests that "True Love Will Find You in the End" if only you keep looking. The temptation is to call him naive, but who wants to come across as jaded? (Indeed, such affectless sincerity is the very heart and soul of Hollywood rom-coms.)

Therein lies a substantial part of Johnston's appeal. He's the pie-eyed boy who wants to believe, and that unabashed earnestness is alluring. It's not that he's immune to cynicism, self-doubt, and self-loathing. But even on "I Hate Myself," he offers to "be right by your side if you want me to," prostrating himself without the embarrassment and abasement many of us would feel. It's quite similar to Jonathan Richman's oft-naifish manner, fueled by perky good spirits and hopefulness as a salve against looming disappointment, only more authentic. (Maybe.) -- Chris Parker

Read more about Daniel Johnston.

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