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Against Me! is coming to town, plus Snow tha Product and MAKJ

DIXIE CUPS AND JARS

It feels a little strange including more writing about music in this issue, considering we have the rest of our weekly content from this section, plus the cover story running down the month in music AND some stuff in City Week, but there are still plenty of shows left over (including one weeks away), so here goes.

TANGLED ENVISIONING

First off, this space is normally used to discuss the concerts coming to town over the next seven days, but what about shows that will almost certainly sell out? Honestly, if we waited until the May 15 issue to discuss the Against Me! show at The Rock on Tuesday, May 20, it will probably be too late to get tickets, so we'll talk about it now. The Florida punk band last played Tucson in 2007, promoting the stellar album New Wave (Spin, which was an actual magazine back then, named it the album of the year), but hasn't been back since, so that would make the show in May notable anyhow. But a lot has changed with the group recently, including a new rhythm section and lead singer/songwriter Laura Jane Grace coming out as transgender. That last development brought a lot of press Grace's way, which is understandable, but is almost an unfortunate distraction from how great Against Me!'s new album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, actually is. Just go listen to it on Spotify or something ... it runs less than a half-hour and is an ass-kicking bit of energetic and angry storytelling. You'll want to see Grace and band deliver these songs live and frankly, Against Me! should be playing (and often do play) venues much larger than The Rock. Tickets didn't appear to be on sale at our deadline, but when they're available, grab one while you still can. I will (and not just because the show's on my birthday). More info at rocktucson.com.

YOU'RE DAMAGED

Speaking of upcoming shows, there aren't a ton of shows currently listed for 191 Toole, but the ones that are booked right now are pretty great, whether it's laid-back-Brit singer/songwriter Dan Croll on Friday, May 2, or big-deal-right-now hardcore act Perfect Pussy on Saturday, May 31. And this week's shows are equally awesome: Seattle's surf band-with-feelings Lures play with a bunch of bands on Tuesday, April 8 (7 p.m.; $5; all ages) and on Wednesday, April 9, Alabama's Waxahatchee takes the stage. Katie Crutchfield, Waxahatchee's frontwoman, has a similar musical arc to several former punkers, stripping things down to simple acoustic-guitar-based compositions for a new project. Her new album, Cerulean Salt, is a dismal (in a good way) reflection on the existential transition into adulthood that would probably feel familiar to fans of Elliott Smith and Cat Power. Plus, this may or may not be interesting to you, but it did end up as Pitchfork's 22nd-best album of 2013. So, yeah.

We tried to get an interview with Crutchfield, but it didn't work out (these things happen). Maybe we should have endeavored to get on her dance card before one of her songs appeared on the March 9 episode of The Walking Dead. People love that show, I hear. Tickets for Waxahatchee's 7 p.m., all-ages show are $10. More info at facebook.com/191toole.

LIVELY

While Waxahatchee and EDM DJ/producer MAKJ seemingly have nothing in common musically, they're both on their way to Coachella, so let's just celebrate both of them just the way they are. MAKJ, or as his driver's license reads, Mackenzie Johnson, has a bio that sort of makes you want to punch him (although you shouldn't, because that would be bad, illegal and not great for future concert bookings): a world traveler at a young age as an auto racer, he went to a nightclub one night in China and decided to become a DJ. Of course, he ended up learning DJ-ing from the late DJ AM, then took his career transition to the next level by going to a production school in L.A. to learn the craft of making hands-in-the-air dance jams (no one says "jams" anymore, do they?). From there, he's played the main stages of big EDM festivals, including a spot at last week's Ultra Music Festival in Miami and held residencies at Vegas megaclubs. He also hosts a show on Pete Tong's online radio station Evolution and has a song coming soon featuring Lil Jon. Oh, right ... he's also only 23.

Despite my own bitterness with his youthful success, even I have to admit he's good at what he does. "Mad Max," which can be heard on MAKJ's Soundcloud page (soundcloud.com/djmakj), has a big synth sound and a bass line that might shake some bricks out of the Rialto's historic walls. Also, while I have no idea whether he plays them live, he has a stack of remixes and mashups on Soundcloud that seem like they're made for bouncing/dancing fun, including a take on the sadly forgotten 2003 Danish pop classic "Move Your Feet" by Junior Senior. With tastes like that, you should feel comfortable investing the price of a ticket and expecting a night of sweaty entertainment from MAKJ. Tickets for the 7 p.m. show are $21 advance, $26 day of show. More info at rialtotheatre.com and phatentertainment.net.

LIPS AND LIMBS

Not to be confused with the Canadian guy who sang that "Informer" song (and the use of the word "song" there is generous), San Diego rapper Snow Tha Product is part of a recent wave of female rappers (still waiting for that album, Azealia Banks!) but has some extra hooks as a bilingual artist who does some Autotune-assisted singing as well. Snow can crank up the tempo on her flow, spitting a quickly moving stream of lines about haters, her abilities and her success. Snow's working on her major-label debut for Atlantic, but you can get a sense of where she's at right now on her new mixtape Good Nights & Bad Mornings 2: The Hangover, which came out last October. It's a free download (just Google the title) and features hot producers like the Cataracs and equally buzzworthy guest spots from Ty Dolla Sign and Tech N9ne. I particularly enjoyed "Fuck the Rent" because, seriously, right? Snow Tha Product is scheduled to play an all-ages show with Caskey (who's on Cash Money Records, so I wonder if he's ever met Lil Wayne) opening at Club Congress at 6:30 p.m., Monday, April 7, as part of her Fuck Your Plans, Come Kick It tour. Tickets are $15 advance and $17 day of show. Head to hotelcongress.com for more info.

COAST TO COAST

I know we say this every week, but this is just the tip of the concert iceberg, including Karl Blau closing the first night of the Tucson Poetry Festival at Club Congress this Friday, April 4; an after-party showcase featuring "burlesque and variety acts" following the Body Love Conference at Plush on Saturday, April 5; Reverend Horton Heat (on Friday, April 4) and Jarabe de Palo (Tuesday, April 8) at the Rialto and a bunch of stuff elsewhere that you can read about in our listings. Go hear some music this week.

More by Dan Gibson

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