Tue, Nov 13
SHARON JONES AND THE DAP-KINGS at the Phoenix Rating: NNNN
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings proved that authentic 50s R&B soul isn't dead in a fantastic, sweat-soaked old-time funk affair that wasn't without glitches.
As Jones was about to belt out her first song, the microphone malfunctioned and the Atlanta-born singer left the stage. If Jones had just come back on and gone with the flow this could've been one of the best shows of the year. But during the first half of her performance she complained about the sound non-stop. Thankfully, she stuck to singing for the last half, and blew the frenzied audience away with her huge, booming pipes and brilliant soul hits.
Wed, Nov 14
Mos Def at the Phoenix Rating: NNN
Mos Def opened with a Canada-friendly freestyle and spent the first 45 minutes testing out all-new material produced by cats like Oh No and Madlib.
Hesitant to touch his Rawkus catalogue, Mos took his sweet time getting to the goods, but his radiant voice and witty banter eased our impatience.
Finally, the Black On Both Sides gems descended and the crowd went ballistic. Considering Talib Kweli destroyed this same stage recently, Mos's free-form show was great but not flawless. Umi Says is always heavenly, but how could he not perform Ms. Fat Booty as the encore?
Thu, Nov 15
U.S.S.A. at the Bovine Rating: NNNN
The band/sorta-supergroup featuring Paul Barker (ex-Ministry) and Duane Denison (Jesus Lizard) made the most of playing to a half-full room of curious onlookers (read fans of their other bands).
Since MySpace is the only real way to hear their material, most of the post-metal/art rock set was unfamiliar. Barker's thick, Ministryesque bass lines rumbled below Denison's smart guitar work, which ranged from spacy minimalism to full-on power-chord action. The pair were helped by a tidy drummer with plenty of samples and a spazzy little singer named Gary Call groaned like a drunken, sloppy version of Mike Patton.
Sat, Nov 17
Method Man at the Kool Haus Rating: NNN
Wu-Tang's most polished swordsman chopped heads off at his near-capacity Kool Haus concert as Method-mania ran amok for most of the high-energy show. It wouldn't be Wu without crew, and Street Life, Cilvarings and others assisted Method Man through the ride. Bring The Pain, Run 4 Cover and a fun twist on Raekwon's Ice Cream were some of the highlights, climaxing with ODB's nine-year-old son Ason Unique dropping some Shaolin slang profanity during a salute to his father.
Full front flips, walking on the crowd like Jesus, scathing commentary on modern rap and an enormous water fight provided other big moments as Method preached to the converted, perverted monks.
SPIRITUALIZED at the Phoenix Rating: NNNN
When the Spiritualized Acoustic Mainlines tour stopped at Harlem's Apollo Theatre on Friday, an acoustic-guitar-strumming Jason Pierce, along with his string quartet and trio of gospel singers, were cheered like conquering heroes. However, the absence of the familiar waves of well-amped guitar distortion seemed troubling for some at the Phoenix.
To Pierce's credit, he ignored the few rude outbursts and went about the business of revising the Spiritualized back catalogue holy-heathen-style. During the stirring 80-minute set, the audience response grew louder and more enthusiastic with each Jesus-repping song about spiritual renewal.