After a couple of years during which Casino del Sol's Anselmo Valencia Tori Amphitheater (AVA) was sorely underbooked, the venue now has got a bit more going on, even if it all seems a bit scattershot.
Soundbites has handed out kudos to the venue before: At a capacity of about 4,600, with both affordable lawn tickets and pricier pavilion ones, there really isn't a bad seat in the house. The sound is generally very good—unless it's a windy night. The facility is relatively new, and it's kept clean. And even in the Tucson heat, nothing quite says summer like an outdoor show.
The venue has recently hosted shows from Tony Bennett and Chayanne, as well as the ¡VIVA Tucson! Tejano Music Shootout. On the docket in the upcoming months are performances by Robert Plant, Cyndi Lauper, Pepe Aguilar, Gabriel Iglesias and Rihanna, who recently moved her scheduled Cricket Wireless Pavilion show in Phoenix to AVA without explanation. (To escape scrutiny for playing in Arizona proper during the SB 1070 mess, perhaps? Don't forget: AVA sits on the land of the sovereign nation of the Pascua Yaqui tribe.)
While it's nice to see some name acts returning this year, it also strikes us that there's plenty of room for more on the schedule: With roughly 10 announced shows in a June-to-October time span, at a seasonal facility ... well, you do the math.
Right now, we're happy to report on two worthwhile shows happening there this week.
Following a very well-received show last July at the Rialto, rap king-of-all-media Snoop Dogg returns to town at the considerably larger AVA on Friday, June 18.
After working with Dr. Dre in the early 1990s and scoring hits that are now considered old-school classics, Snoop helped put West Coast rap on the map, essentially finishing the job started by N.W.A. several years earlier. But he wasn't content to stop there.
These days, there are essentially two Snoops: the rapper with the laconic, stoner drawl who moonlights as a self-proclaimed pimp (like, an actual pimp, not a figurative one) and produces porn videos; and the likable, charismatic Snoop seen on his reality TV show about his wholesome family life, the one who goes on Martha Stewart Living to make crafts and bake cookies, and the one who even your grandma thinks is darling. It's a tough line to walk, and I can't think of any other entertainer who has done it so successfully.
Catch Snoop Dogg doing what he does best at 8 p.m., Friday, June 18, at AVA at Casino del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road. Tickets range from $25 to $65 and are available online at solcasinos.com or by calling (800) 344-9435, the same number to use for questions.
Four days later comes a recent addition to the AVA schedule, and the first of two summer shows at the venue featuring a singer in one the biggest, most highly regarded British rock bands ever. Since we've already mentioned Robert Plant, and neither Paul McCartney nor Mick Jagger is headed our way anytime soon, we must be talking about Roger Daltrey, the singer for The Who.
The most recent public outing for The Who was, of course, at this year's Super Bowl halftime show, which was very public indeed—and not very well received. The Who was once one of the most potent live acts on the planet, and the show demonstrated what age can do to a band. The halftime show presented The Who (or what's left of it, anyway) 40 years after their heyday, lacking energy and flubbing notes—even though some of the sounds we heard seemed prerecorded. (They later claimed the stage monitors were bunk, but you'd think someone would have thought to sound-check them beforehand at the fucking Super Bowl.)
Still, it's not often we get someone like Roger Daltrey in Tucson, and you can bet he'll trot out a good chunk of The Who songs that people are paying to hear, as well as some of his solo almost-hits.
Aside: An item we recently read, about a project discussed about 10 years ago that never came to fruition, upped our respect for Daltrey even more: Daltrey was going to record an entire album of covers by the Replacements, the scrappy Midwestern punks who were one of the greatest bands of the '80s. Joe Henry, who has become the go-to producer for late-era comeback albums by great artists, was going to produce. Oh, what could have been ...
Roger Daltrey performs at AVA at Casino del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road, at 8 p.m., Tuesday, June 22. Tickets range from $30 to $85, and are available in advance, again, at solcasinos.com or by calling (800) 344-9435, the same number for more information.
Portland-based trio the Quick and Easy Boys once described themselves as a hybrid of the Minutemen, Funkadelic and Willie Nelson, while the band's press kit calls them a "funk, psychedelic rock, garage-soul outfit." On their new album, Red Light Rabbit (Per Capita, 2010), all of that—plus some elements of glam, disco and even Southern rock—can be not only heard, but are seamlessly woven into the band's fabric. (At times, they come off like a polished take on what the Pork Torta does.) They'll play a free show in the lounge at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., at 9:30 p.m., next Thursday, June 24. Call 798-1298 for further details.
I'm sure they're awfully tired of this one, but, quick: Name something non-Palin-related that comes from Wasilla, Alaska. Stumped? Although they're now based in Portland, just like the trio above, the ever-evolving Portugal. The Man started life in the same burg as Sarah and Todd. And though we haven't heard their latest album—American Ghetto, released earlier this year on Equal Vision, which is said to delve further into electronic territory than they've previously traversed—we're fans of the previous few they released, from the proggy Church Mouth (Fearless, 2007) to the expanded musical palette displayed on 2008's Censored Colors (Defiance) to the simple songs couched in dramatic, busy arrangements on last year's The Satanic Satanist (Defiance). Remarkably, with all of the tinkering these guys do to their sound each time, they've never once stumbled.
Portugal. The Man headlines a show at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Sunday, June 20. Opening at 8 p.m. is The Builders and Butchers. Admission is $15, and you can call 622-8848 to have all your questions answered.
With only an EP and a couple of mix tapes to their name, Philly-based Chiddy Bang are already all over the airwaves, clubs and even baseball parks. Appealing to both rap kids and indie rockers (due largely to their penchant for sampling the likes of Radiohead, Sufjan Stevens and MGMT, whose "Kids" provided the sample for the cleverly titled "The Opposite of Adults," the group's biggest hit), the duo has exploded very quickly. Whether they'll be able to maintain their popularity following their album's release, which is scheduled for August, is another question—rap fans are notoriously fickle—but for now, they're doing just fine, thanks.
Chiddy Bang performs on Monday, June 21, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Also on the bill for the all-ages show: The Pack, 2AM Club and XV. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. $10 advance; $12 at the door. 622-8848.
Solar Culture Gallery's got four shows in five days this week. Here's the lowdown: Tonight, Thursday, June 17, it's Windy Hill Mill and Two Left Ears, both from Brooklyn, along with Turkish Delights and Skin Cage, both from Tucson (9 p.m., $7); on Saturday, June 19, the venue hosts a CD-release show from locals Steff Koeppen and the Articles, with Octopus Place opening (8 p.m., $5); on Sunday, June 20, it's a trio of experimental-noise artists: Cornelius F. Van Stafrin III, Tärr and Glenn Weyant (9 p.m., $8); and on Monday, June 21, the gallery presents Portland drum 'n' synth-ers Hot Victory, with a new local band, Discos, opening (9 p.m., $7). All shows are open to all ages. Call 884-0874 for more info.