NOT JUST THAT GUY FROM THAT CSI SHOW WITH CHRIS O'DONNELL
For those of us who came of age during the early years of hip-hop, AVA at Casino del Sol has quite a show hitting the stage this week, as four of the biggest and bestest rap acts of the era have combined to tour as Kings of the Mic.
I would say that LL Cool J is headlining the show, but it would be more accurate to simply say he's playing last, as each of these acts is a headliner in their own right. But, yeah, LL is "headlining" the show with a new album, Authentic (429 Records), to promote – his first in five years. Not that anyone is going to plunk down their money to hear the new stuff – and that goes for all four acts on this bill. But when you've got the treasure trove of hits these guys do – in LL's case, "Going Back to Cali," "I Need Love," "Mama Said Knock You Out," "I Can't Live Without My Radio," "Around the Way Girl," and "Doin' It," to name but a few – well, that's more than enough. Apparently, he's on some TV show these days, too, adding to his renaissance-man quotient.
To make his appearance even more cool, his DJ for the tour is none other than superstar Phoenix DJ Z-Trip.
Third on the bill is similar renaissance man Ice Cube, who will be taking time off from making comedies to do what he does best: Rock the mic. The irony that the same guy who was once rapping about fucking the police (or something like that) as a member of N.W.A. went on to star in and produce family-friendly films represents one of the oddest career trajectories I can think of. I guess we all have to grow up sometime. But as a member of N.W.A. and as a solo artist, the guy's body of work is just plain incredible.
If you were to make a list of the most controversial early rap acts, right next to N.W.A. would be Public Enemy, who also just happen to be one of the greatest. I consider myself a huge fan, but I've had issues with them over the years. Sure, they gave Professor Griff the boot when he made anti-Semitic comments, but only after the press made a stink about it. And once the heat died down, they quietly welcomed him back into the fold. And sure, rap is no stranger to homophobia, but that doesn't make it right; and the group has rapped some rather questionable lyrics in that realm. When I interviewed Chuck D several years ago, I asked him about that, hoping he'd say something along the lines of, "Well, that was years ago and I've changed my position on that." But, nope. He was cagey as hell about it, which bummed me out. Did I mention I'm still a huge fan? Chuck D is one of the greatest rappers in the genre's history, period.
First on the bill is De La Soul, whose 1989 debut album 3 Feet High and Rising (Tommy Boy) was arguably the most innovative rap album at the time of its release. Amazingly, it still sounds fresh today. And while the trio never topped that album (if anything, they distanced themselves from it, naming its follow-up album De La Soul Is Dead), the string of releases that followed were both great and largely underrated.
About the only way you could make this show more representative of its era would be if the Beastie Boys were on the bill. (R.I.P., MCA.)
The Kings of the Mic Tour hits AVA at Casino del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road, at 8 p.m. next Thursday, May 23. Tickets range from $35 to $85. For more information check out casinodelsol.com or call (800) 344-9435.
NOT JUST THE SOUTH PARK THEME GUYS
Alt-funk-rock trio Primus haven't released a new album since 2011's Green Naugahyde (ATO/Prawn Song), and before that you have to go all the way back to 1999's Antipop (Interscope). And yet they have no problem filling theaters and amphitheaters with their rabid, faithful followers, who will tell you that Les Claypool is a god.
I've never cared much for them, to be honest, but even I am curious about their current tour, which their PR dude describes as "a one-of-a-kind psychedelic experience." Sure, that's his job and all, but check it: They'll be playing two sets; the show is in Quad Surround Sound; and there's a 3D element to the show for which audience members will be given 3D glasses. I've only seen one show in my life that featured Quad Surround Sound – Pink Floyd back in the late '80s – but it was pretty freakin' mindblowing.
Primus performs an all-ages show at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., at 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 18. Tickets are $39 in advance for general admission on the floor, and $41 on the day of show. Reserved seats in the balcony are $44. Check out rialtotheatre.com or call 740-1000 for tickets and further info.
NOT GOING TO LAST FOREVER
A pair of local bands are playing their final shows this week (well, probably, anyway).
Psychedelic sludge rockers Young Hunter will be going on "indefinite hiatus" following their show on the Hotel Congress patio on Saturday, May 18. Ohioan and Shit Ton are on the bill, too, and the show is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Admission is free and Hotel Congress is located at 311 E. Congress St. Head to hotelcongress.com/club or call 622-8848 for more info.
Indie rock trio No Radio, whose darn good debut, The Placeholder EP, was released at the beginning of the year, will play its last show on Monday, May 20, at Tucson Live Music Space, 125 W. Ventura St. They'll play right before Super Water Symphony, with Hip Don't Dance and Spider Cider also on the bill. Music starts at 8 p.m. and a $6 donation gets you in the door. For more info check out the TLMS Facebook page.
NOT JUST ANOTHER CONCERT
Sky Bar, at 536 N. Fourth Ave., will be the site of a Suicide Prevention Benefit at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 18. Performing will be Peter Newbegin and Friends, the Good Little Thieves (which counts Weekly music writer Eric Swedlund as a member), and a rare appearance by The Pangs ("the worst band you have never heard of"). Shows at Sky Bar are always free, so I'm guessing contributions will be encouraged. For more information give 'em a ring at 622-4200.
NOT THE ACTUAL DAFT PUNK, BUT CLOSE ENOUGH?
If you're a Daft Punk fan, this is going to be a pretty good week for you. No, the French duo are not performing in town, but there are two events at two different venues this week that should keep you happy.
First up: One More Time, a Daft Punk tribute act will perform at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., at 9 p.m. on Friday, May 17. Tickets are $16 in advance, $19 on the day of show. More info at rialtotheatre.com or by calling 740-1000.
Meanwhile, the new Daft Punk album, Random Access Memories, will get its official release on Tuesday, May 21, and Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., will be holding a listening party at 11 p.m. that night. There will also be DJs spinning classic Daft Punk remixes (dance party, y'all!) and a contest for best-dressed robot. Head to hotelcongress.com/club or call 622-8848 for more information.
ON THE BANDWAGON
Tony Bennett at AVA at Casino del Sol on Sunday, May 19; Opeth and Katatonia at the Rialto Theatre next Thursday, May 23; Acorn Bcorn, Tele Novella, and The Resonars on the Hotel Congress patio on Friday, May 17; the Hank Topless Band's weekly "Hillbilly Hangover" residency with Andy See and His Swingin' Jamboree tonight, Thursday, May 16; Black Pus (Brian Chippendale of Lightning Bolt), Womb Tomb, New Men, and Playboy Man Baby at Topaz Tundra next Thursday, May 23; The Family Stoned, Dream Sick, and Hip Don't Dance at Club Congress on Tuesday, May 21; Il Divo at AVA at Casino del Sol on Friday, May 17; Black Cherry Raw burlesque with a live band at Surly Wench Pub on Friday, May 17; Steff and the Articles tour kickoff with Taylor Jayne and Sun Bones at Club Congress next Thursday, May 23; Daniel Hart at La Cocina on Wednesday, May 22; Reyli at Club Congress on Saturday, May 18; Gary Stroutsos at the Galactic Center on Sunday, May 19; Nive Nielson, Christian Lee Hutson, and Horse Black at Club Congress on Sunday, May 19; Drizzle, A-Train, And We Will All Become Astronauts, and Kevin Sorenson at Tucson Live Music Space on Saturday, May 18; the Collin Shook Quartet at Sky Bar on Tuesday, May 21.