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Hot Rocks 

A selective guide to the best summer concerts

click to enlarge The Coop: "I could drink Harry Nilsson under the table!" - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • The Coop: "I could drink Harry Nilsson under the table!"

Alice Cooper. He's had more comebacks than Mr. Balboa so it's no wonder the man who penned the worlds greatest ballad ("Only Women") and the world's greatest rock 'n' roll song ("Generation Landslide") is a true-to-life legend. Think of it; he was anti-hippie before Pink Fairies, glam before Bowie, punk before Ramones—and he's nowhere near dead. Go and finally see why Alice Cooper's deceptively cerebral wit and ace showmanship turned on everyone from Salvador Dali to Frank Sinatra to Johnny Rotten to Nikki Sixx. Thursday, June 22 at Ava Amphitheater.

IPO Radio Fest 2017. Independent Online Radio, a rising multi-genre Tucson radio concern that plays stuff no one else dares to, is throwing a summer-fried celebratory fest of epic proportion over on Tucson's east side. The day-and-night show boasts a host of throbbing underground styles from both Tucson and around the country. There'll be industrial nu-metal (Natas Lived), old-school motor speedway riffing (Fire Glass), gutter-scraping rock and hybrid "apocalyptic" thrash (Sorrow's Ruin), ivory-hued hip-hop (the aptly named Tustoned Kids) and straight-up Tool-inspired rage (Riksha), and many more. Go to Iporadio.com for info as the bill is expanding. Saturday, July 22 at The Event.

click to enlarge DJ Shadow enjoys sleeping while standing and wearing hats. - COURTESY
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  • DJ Shadow enjoys sleeping while standing and wearing hats.

DJ Shadow. For the last 20 years, DJ Shadow has been drawing on his insane musical knowledge (some 60,000 records deep) to cut, chop, blend and re-phrase atmospheric hip-hop collages. The depth and breadth of his samples, combined with his impeccable sense of flow, create unparalleled, textured compositions for stoners and scholars alike. No shit. Highly recommended. Wednesday, July 19, at Rialto Theatre.

click to enlarge Reik: "Don't ever call us Up With People." - COURTESY
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  • Reik: "Don't ever call us Up With People."

Reik. This Latin pop outfit (formed '03 in Mexicali) are killing it, nailing 6.5 million spins monthly on Spotify alone. And boy do the little girls understand, because Reik's Spanish-sung soul/hip-hop/pop woos, in Mexico and the world over. Sure their well-produced beats and songs have all the smoothness of a dozen song doctors, but in context it's all pretty persuasive in that way a Corona looks delicious backlit by a burnt orange sunset, and lots of youth, water and skin. Reik bring the goods on stage too—the singsong, the sweat, the uplift. This show will sell out. Thursday, July 27 at the Rialto Theatre.

click to enlarge Las Piñas: "It's all feel, dude." - COURTESY
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  • Las Piñas: "It's all feel, dude."

Las Piñas. Their cool, Spanish-sung garage-surf-punk gets under your skin in ways you'd never expect—the droning vocal melodies are just sugary enough to stick, and the twang is just melodic enough to remember, and the vocal inflections and tones are crammed with the kind of innocence that can't be faked. Like any great pop music from over the decades, their bouncy pop sounds like happy accidents; the music rises from a place that's all about timing and location and spontaneity and feel. These two young women from Argentina (guitar and drums) will never rule the world, and probably never play a sold-out headlining club tour, but that doesn't matter, because they could rule your heart. Thursday, July 20, at Club Congress.

click to enlarge Ben Bridwell (center): "Pizza on me!" - COURTESY
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  • Ben Bridwell (center): "Pizza on me!"

Band of Horses. Sweet-voiced bandleader Ben Bridwell pens tunes that effortlessly blend elements of The Band with soaring pop of, say, Big Star, and some good-old southern rock like Marshall Tucker Band (yes, the MTB!) But they sound wholly up-to-the-moment, as they should. Bridwell recently told Tucson Weekly what he remembers about his formative teen years living in Tucson in the mid-'90: "Fucking outrunning trains with my car while delivering pizzas on mushrooms. I got the cops called on me and they drew their shotguns when I shut down the fratbar's power every night." So now you have an idea what to expect if you didn't already know that Band of Horses songs "Casual Party" and "Larado" are two of the ten best pop songs released in the last decade. Truth. Let's hope that two recently departing band members won't diminish the band. Tuesday, May 23, at the Rialto Theatre.

click to enlarge Exmortus: "Uriah Heep? Never heard of 'em!" - COURTESY
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  • Exmortus: "Uriah Heep? Never heard of 'em!"

Exmortus. This gnarly Bay Area quartet can take your head off. It's the sound of rage released, but in a highly technical and melodic way, if that makes any sense. With guitars, bass, drums and gnarly tree-shredder vocals, Exmortus mix prog and classical and thrash in ways that have never been heard. It's absolute controlled chaos, yet it's faster, louder, punchier, meaner, scarier and, yes, prettier than Testament or Yngwie Malmsteen or Uriah Heep, or anything from Scandinavia, or pretty much anything you can name. But it doesn't annoy. After four albums they're hardly a metal household name, yet. Their day is coming, probably right around the time of the apocalypse. Monday, May 29, at The Rock.

click to enlarge Katie Haverly. - COURTESY
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  • Katie Haverly.

Katie Haverly. Whether backed by a violin or acoustic guitar or muted trumpet or piano, Tucson's Katie Haverly has one of those voices that lifts and soothes, creates tension and then releases it. It suggests adoration of golden-age (jazzy) folk-pop like Rickie Lee Jones, Judee Sill, David Crosby, and Joni Mitchell—all lovely DNA, certainly—as well as Erykah Badu and Fiona Apple. Yet her songwriting alone could take center stage. The deceptively breezy "Wood," from her '15 album Aviary, slips into your heart with cool, beat country shuffles, but in the end it's a story of dreaded male gaze and ugly sexualization. It's brilliant, and works as a personal social takedown inside wide-appeal pop. Many of songs are remarkable because the pathos never sounds forced or fake—sad poetry of deception sidesteps the maudlin; requiems to lost loves steer clear of self-pity. How does she do that? Well, the tune and the voice and the compassion and the ability to translate unfiltered moments into gentle epistles and hurtsongs is nothing that can ever be taught or learned. It just is. And most don't have it. Thursday, June 1, at Tap & Bottle.

click to enlarge Amadou and Mariam - COURTESY
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  • Amadou and Mariam

Amadou and Mariam. Often reductively referred to as "the blind couple from Mali," this husband-wife team has been, since the 1980s, creating a heady sonic stew that draws from myriad musical forces, which evolved into a so-called "afro-blues." But that descriptor is reductive too, because their music includes middle-Eastern violins, Indian and Egyptian motifs, West Coast and African folk, psych, chill trance, surf guitars and trumpets, dance and disco and raga drones, and so much more. And it's crammed with joy and sadness and hypnotic turns. No wonder folks like Damion Albarn, Scissor Sisters, K'Naan, and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are all huge fans. What a show this one will be. Wednesday, Aug. 2, at Rialto Theatre.

click to enlarge Shonen Knife: Sign of the devil. - COURTESY
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  • Shonen Knife: Sign of the devil.

Shonen Knife. Since 1991, Osaka, Japan's Shonen Knife has blended the hard riff rock of Thin Lizzy and The Runaways with simple Ramones-y melodies, added a dash of Shirelles/Ronettes girl-group magic, and kneaded it all into an infectious rock 'n' roll din, while (re)defining how women, particularly Asian women, are viewed in rock 'n' roll and in society. Yes, these women advanced rock 'n' roll as a female cultural force and have not received the respect they deserve. Now, a full 20 studio albums later, they are still kicking ass but not taking names because, well, they don't need to know your name. You just need to know theirs. Tuesday, May 23, at 191 Toole.


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