Friday, May 4, 2018

FORM Festival Is One Week Away: Fleet Foxes, Beach House, Chance the Rapper and More!

Posted By on Fri, May 4, 2018 at 3:00 PM

The fifth annual FORM Music Festival coming up next weekend and tickets are still available. From May 11 to May 13, more artsy events are going to take place than you can possibly attend. So you better start planning now.

FORM takes place in the eco-experimental city of Arcosanti, between Phoenix and Flagstaff. The location is a bizarre acropolis of brass bell buildings, Italian-influenced architecture, and Arizonan flora.


Over the course of three days headliners such as Beach House, Fleet Foxes, Chance the Rapper, Courtney Barnett, and Charli XCX will play to the crowds of New Agers, campers, artists and music fans.

Some smaller performers to pay attention to are Grouper, Sudan Archives, Alex G and the Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra.

Beyond the music itself, Form is a cultural and artistic celebration of all types. There will be talks and panels by the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, the Human Rights Campaign, the Phoenix Art Museum and more.

In addition, there will be plenty of community events and “experiential art” such as outdoor screenings, yoga, nature hikes, stargazing and creative showcases.

For more information, visit

Thursday, April 26, 2018

In the Flesh: The War on Drugs

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2018 at 3:30 PM

The War on Drugs played the Rialto Theater on April 17. - C. ELLIOTT PHOTOGRAPHY
  • C. Elliott Photography
  • The War on Drugs played the Rialto Theater on April 17.

The thousand or so folks that poured into the venerable confines of Tucson's Rialto Theater on Tuesday, April 17, were treated to a night of pulse-pounding, soul cleansing rock and roll.

Philadelphia-based sextet The War on Drugs, making their first appearance in the Old Pueblo in seven years, packed the downtown venue.

They didn't disappoint, performing virtually the entirety of their 2017 album, "A Deeper Understanding," while mixing in fan favorites from albums like "Lost in the Dream" and "Slave Ambient."

Singer Adam Granduciel and company played for 108 minutes of uninterrupted beauty, before taking a few minutes to catch their breath at 11 p.m. on Tuesday, April 17.

They returned to thunderous applause for a three-song encore, playing deeper cuts from their latest album, before walking off the stage for the final time.

The band's mixture of high-energy music and high-tech LED stage lighting, which beamed through a veneer of mineral oil to create a bars of light in front of the stage, was all part of a can't-miss experience that attendees will remember for a long, long time.

Granduciel waxed nostalgic on various bits of Tucson nightlife, remarking on his first trip to the region some years ago, playing at Plush (now known as The Flycatcher).

It was quite clear that Granduciel and his bandmates share a high level of camaraderie, given how in-sync they were on Tuesday, and how happy they seemed to be playing together.

The highlight of the night for me came just before the band's momentary break, when they launched into a rendition of the band's first AAA chart hit, "Under the Pressure."

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In the Flesh: David Byrne at Centennial Hall

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2018 at 11:37 AM

The thinking man's rock star - ELLIOTT
  • Elliott
  • The thinking man's rock star
Attempting to make sense of a paradoxical world, on Sunday, April 15, David Byrne presented American Utopia, the ex-Talking Head’s first solo album in 14 years, to a sold-out audience at UA Centennial Hall.

As the house lights dimmed, a single beam of light shone upon a folding card table. There Byrne sat, clad in grey suit, holding an anatomical model of a human brain. Playing along to pre-sequenced tracks, musicians and singers, also attired in the very same grey uniform, entered the stage barefooted marching with instruments. As the stage slowly illumed, a futuristic and Spartan set bordered by a chain curtain was revealed as the tribal drums to “Here” pounded.

Like an academician Byrne pointed out the lobes of the cerebrum. “Here is an area of great confusion/Here is a section that's extremely precise/And here is an area that needs attention/Here is a connection with the opposite side.” Filled with both cynicism and wonder, Byrne said of his latest work, “It portrays the state of the country: Who we are, who we hope to be.”

Comprised largely of Baby Boomers and Generation Xers, the crowd rose to greet their hero. Byrne met their enthusiasm. ”People of the desert, Thank you.”

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Record Store Day Becomes Record Store Week at Zia

Posted By on Thu, Apr 19, 2018 at 2:17 PM

Zia Records is quite literally quintupling the amount of Record Store Day festivities it’s hosting. Originally just a day of sales, Zia now has full-scale, week-long celebration of all things music and movies. The sales last from Saturday, April 21 until Sunday, April 29.

Not only will there be discounts and buy-one-get-one-free sales, Zia will have special releases, live music, and giveaways. They will also have $10 shirts commemorating this year’s Record Store extravaganza.


The eight days of deals go as follows:

Saturday: Record Store Day (enjoy in-store exclusive offers, rare releases, giveaways and more)
Sunday: Movies – Buy 3 Pre-Owned Movies, Get 4th Free
Monday: Video Games – Buy 1 Pre-Owned Video Game, Get 1 50-Percent Off
Tuesday: CDs – Buy 2 Pre-Owned CDs, Get 3rd Free
Wednesday: Toys & Collectibles – 20-Percent Off Pre-Owned Toys & Collectibles
Thursday: Mix ‘n Match – Buy 3 Pre-Owned Items, Get the 4th Free
Friday-Sunday: Customer Appreciation Weekend – Double Z-Card Points on Purchases & Trades

Tucson Zia Records is located at 3370 E. Speedway Blvd. For more information, visit

Friday, March 30, 2018

Electric Six Keeps Moving Forward

Posted By on Fri, Mar 30, 2018 at 12:01 PM

Electric Six Frontman Dick Valentine: "“We have to play ‘Danger! High Voltage,’ ‘Gay Bar,’ and ‘Dance Commander.' We’ll play a couple of new ones. It’ll be a great time in Tucson, as ever.”
  • Electric Six Frontman Dick Valentine: "“We have to play ‘Danger! High Voltage,’ ‘Gay Bar,’ and ‘Dance Commander.' We’ll play a couple of new ones. It’ll be a great time in Tucson, as ever.”

Electric Six frontman Tyler Spencer, aka Dick Valentine, will be the first to tell you that this wild and wacky experiment was never supposed to last. When the Detroit disco-rock troupe formed in 1996 as the Wildbunch, they were seen by many as a novelty at worst, a party band at best.

Many, many members and 22 years later, the band is arguably going stronger than ever. They have 16 albums in the arsenal, with a 17th on the way this year. And sure, the days of international hits singles such as “Danger! High Voltage” and “Gay Bar” might be behind them, but mainstream global adoration has been replaced with the sort of cool factor that comes with rock & roll longevity.

That they’ve never gone away, that artistically they’ve developed into a tight-knit, truly unique hard rock unit, speaks volumes for the under-appreciated talent behind Spencer’s deceptively sleepy eyes. The man has had his demons in the past, but in 2018 he’s a force of nature. In fact, for the past few years the Electric Six has been putting out two albums per year.

“The whole idea of spending many months on one album doesn’t work for us,” Spencer says. “With the first few records, we didn’t have access to the sort of home recording technology that we do now.”

That’s quite a thing to consider: The only thing stopping the Electric Six’s prolific nature in the early days was the fact that the technology wasn’t keeping up with them. Now that they can turn out one album after another, they do.

Here’s the thing though—an E6 album is always good and usually great. This isn’t some conveyor belt of garbage, churned out at regular intervals to keep their modest but still enviable fanbase happy and spending. Rather, this is an artist, working with a group of great musicians, creating awesome rock ‘n‘ roll.

Continue reading »

Saturday, March 17, 2018

SXSW 2018: The Boys Are Back In Town

Posted By on Sat, Mar 17, 2018 at 12:20 PM

Luna Lee on the Gayaegum - EMILY DIECKMAN
  • Emily Dieckman
  • Luna Lee on the Gayaegum
Our boss, Jim Nintzel, wasn’t wrong when he wrote in his last blog entry that the there’s lots of good girl power vibes at this year’s SXSW. Today, we saw Luna Lee, in all the way from Korea with her traditional (and insane looking) Korean string instrument, the Gayaegum. She started her set with a traditional Korean tune, but was really in her element playing pieces by the likes of Nirvana and The White Stripes. Between watching her fingers fly across the strings and hearing her announce cheerily “Let’s go!” before every song, it was hard not to love her.

But the guys came through today as well. Two of my favorites? Chihuahua, Mexico’s Coma Pony and Hawthorne, CA’s Cuco.

Coma Pony guitarist Marco - EMILY DIECKMAN
  • Emily Dieckman
  • Coma Pony guitarist Marco
Coma Pony has been around since 2011, if you include a hiatus of about two years in the middle. Their 2016 breakout hit was “En Doming Las Niñas Van A Jugar al Parque.” If you don’t speak Spanish, no worries—they’re an instrumental band that somehow makes dreamy math rock that’s completely groovy. Audience members were dancing throughout the set, and the guitarist—a guy named Marco with an enviable afro—was rocking out so hard that his glasses flew off at least five times. (He said afterwards that, despite his rocking out with wild abandon, he’s never broken them because he’s very, very careful.)

Cuco at the Mohawk - EMILY DIECKMAN
  • Emily Dieckman
  • Cuco at the Mohawk
Cuco, or Omar Banos, is 19, and he’s on the rise. It’s hard to write about him without using the word “heartthrob.” Girls in the front row are losing their minds as he sings “Baby don’t trip, I’m coming home. Kick it with me—I don’t care if the sun is gone.” But he had more to offer than boy band-esque lyricism and charm. His show was fun. There were colorful projections on the wall behind him, he joked around with the audience and he even pulled out a trumpet few times. (What's more fun than a trumpet?) Perhaps his fun, mildly self deprecating humor is best summed up by his Twitter handle: @Icryduringsex

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SXSW 2018: Low is an Oasis in the Frenzy

Posted By on Sat, Mar 17, 2018 at 11:18 AM

Whereas many outdoor concerts go for being as frantic and in-your-face and attention-grabbing as possible, indie rock outfit Low takes it slow and steady. This was especially clear when they followed-up the electropop freak-out of Superorganism at SXSW.


Since 1993, Low has reacted to noisy rock shows and rambunctious audiences by turning their volume down. As purveyors of “slowcore,” the three members hardly move on set and their instrumentation progresses minimally, methodically and hypnotically. Sure, it might be melancholy, but this style can also result in powerful jams.


Awash in reds and purples, Low’s music offered tired festival-goers an auditory break—at least some of the time. Many of their songs started subdued and sad, but grew into greatly layered behemoths of fuzzy guitar, bass and kettle drums.


Hailing from Duluth, Minnesota, their music is often as bleak and cold as their surroundings. But in a hot, manic Austin night, this could be just what the (witch) doctor ordered.

Friday, March 16, 2018

SXSW 2018: Josh T. Pearson Works with the Chaos of SXSW

Posted By on Fri, Mar 16, 2018 at 10:59 AM

Nothing should have worked with Josh T. Pearson’s set at SXSW: He lost his voice the previous night, there were some technical difficulties, he revealed he was working on probably an hour of sleep, and to top it off, his four-piece band was only about three days old. Despite all of these setbacks, Pearson delivered an enrapturing performance. Perhaps it was simple luck, but for anyone who knows the indie-rock-gone-country-singer’s music, Pearson works well in the midst of disaster.


Pearson and his band played some select singles from his upcoming album, The Straight Hits!, as well as some reworked songs from his critically-acclaimed The Last of the Country Gentlemen.

His once sparse and depressive acoustic dirges received a second life. The keyboard player added lush and delicate layers, the drummer added a surprisingly effective beat to the experimental songs, and the bassist added a slick core to bring them all together. For a band that just, and I mean just, formed, they played tight and with a great amount of chemistry.


You’ve heard honest, twangy country rock like Neil Young, and you’ve heard the lengthy, epic (occasionally ambient) instrumental movements of post-rock—well Josh T. Pearson and his band somehow combined the two to make some bonafide country post-rock, if that can be called a thing.

And although the set was rife with apologies by the singer, it was also filled with great one-liners between the songs and a cheering, mesmerized crowd.

The Straight Hits! releases April 13.

Staff Pick

Summer Safari Nights

Summer Safari Friday Nights 2018 Date: Every Friday until August 3, 2018 6:00 pm — 8:00 pm… More

@ Reid Park Zoo Fri., May 18, 6-8 p.m., Fri., May 25, 6-8 p.m., Fri., June 1, 6-8 p.m., Fri., June 8, 6-8 p.m., Fri., June 15, 6-8 p.m., Fri., June 22, 6-8 p.m., Fri., June 29, 6-8 p.m., Fri., July 6, 6-8 p.m., Fri., July 13, 6-8 p.m., Fri., July 20, 6-8 p.m., Fri., July 27, 6-8 p.m. and Fri., Aug. 3, 6-8 p.m. 3400 E Zoo Court

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