Here are our picks for best concerts in Phoenix this weekend. Check out our comprehensive concert listings for more options.
Marty Friedman - Monday, February 8 - The Rebel Lounge
After guitarist Marty Friedman left heavy metal titans Megadeth in 2000, ending a decade-long run with the Dave Mustaine–led group, he moved to Japan and launched a fruitful career in J-metal. The breadth of his solo work is a far cry from the thrash bombardment of classic Megadeth. Living in Japan full-time since his departure, Friedman has become a fixture in that country’s scene by melding an ’80s Shrapnel Records-esque shred-guitar sound with a frenetic sense of J-pop catchiness. Albums such as 2006’s Loudspeaker and 2010’s Bad D.N.A. endeared him to audiences in that part of the world, but his latest work, Inferno, looks like an attempt to reintroduce Friedman to American and European metal audiences, with guest appearances from members of modern acts such as Revocation and Children of Bodom. JASON ROCHE
Alessia Cara - Tuesday, February 9 - Crescent Ballroom
In Alessia Cara’s dusky breakout single, “Here” — a noir-ish R&B number which lifts its mournful instrumentation from Isaac Hayes by way of Portishead — the vocalist is anything but the center of attention. She spends the bulk of its three minutes in the corner, weathering a miserable party by stringing together artful barbs aimed at her fellow partygoers. “Excuse me if I seem a little unimpressed with this,” she sings, “an anti-social pessimist / usually I don’t mess with this.” The song is a masterpiece of apathy writ small, a deftly-observed teenage narrative penned by someone who suddenly realizes she’s smarter than everyone else in the room. It radiates a lot of things — searing intelligence, carefully-sharpened disdain — but thousand-watt look-at-me grandstanding isn’t exactly one of them.
But there’s another Alessia Cara, one that makes videos of herself goofily rampaging through her neighborhood, pursued by her younger brother who’s wearing a false mustache, or trying out a series of celebrity impersonations — some of them hilariously dead-on — while mugging giddily for the camera. It’s this Alessia Cara who turns up at her live shows, and her joyous sets almost feel like a corrective to the Cara who winds her way through the single-shot Steadicam video for “Here." J. EDWARD KEYES
The Hot Sardines - Wednesday, February 10 - Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Renowned jazz act The Hot Sardines, now in its ninth year, has surprisingly only toured the U.S. only once. “We did shows outside of New York, of course, but that wasn't our focus. We wanted to establish ourselves, to developing a following in New York City. Thankfully, people have really responded to what we're doing,” says singer/founder Miz Elizabeth. While the music the Hot Sardines perform might tend to be 100 years old, their audience is definitely not. "We see people from 18 to 80 in our shows…and we've seen that same demographic reflected on the road. Just the other night we had a family with three generations, the grandmother, the mother and the daughter. This music really does cross demographic lines. That's one of the reasons, I think, these songs have endured so long.”
Miz Elizabeth met pianist Evan "Bibs" Palazzo in 2007. There was an immediate musical connection and over the next few years, the Hot Sardines came together with a strong focus on early jazz. Their chosen genre isn't the most popular in America, but it's the one the Sardines most enjoy. “In the U.S., it's a little bit on the fringe. It's not popular music in this day and age; it's not in the pop spectrum. Our approach to this music, first and foremost, is that when this music was first being played, it was pop music. It was what everyone was listening to,” she says. “It's easy to re-historicize things, but really, this is just pop music. At its origins, jazz is pop music. A hundred years from now, someone might think of Deborah Harry and Justin Bieber as being from the same era,” she tells us, “but actually there was lots and lots of time between them. A lot of differences, too.” OLIVIA FLORES ALVAREZ
Naughty By Nature - Wednesday, February 10 - Crescent Ballroom
In 1991, a naughty little rap tune crept onto pop radio and into the national consciousness. It asked one very important question: You down with O.P.P.? In the ensuing 25 years, fans of Naughty by Nature have answered in a number of ways, the most common being to throw hands in the air while waving them without a care. Though the true meaning of "O.P.P." turned out to be a crude way of saying, "other people's genitalia," it was a hit nonetheless. And Naughty by Nature followed it up with songs like "Hip Hop Hooray" and "Feel Me Flow." Those tracks are now quintessential '90s party starters that'll get even the snobbiest millennials moving.
What hasn't been so harmonious, though, are the relationships among the members of the veteran group, specifically between Vin Rock and the band's outspoken frontman, Treach. For example, in May 2013, Treach lashed out at Vin and admonished him for attempting to be bigger than the whole after revealing that the pair hadn't spoken in two years and that the rift grew out of an altercation in which Treach accused Vin of sucker-punching him. That led to Vin's eventual firing from Naughty by Nature and the end of not only a longtime partnership but also a friendship that stretched back three decades. However, when the New Jersey natives take the stage at Crescent Ballroom on February 10, the original trio of Treach, Vin Rock, and DJ Kay Gee will indeed join forces once again. It's a shocking return considering the venomous nature of their breakup only a few years ago. ANGEL MELENDEZ
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The Booze Bombs' CD Release Show - Thursday, February 11 - Rips Ales & Cocktails
Whether you like it or not, winter visitors have invaded the Valley en masse. Some we can tolerate, others we despise. A good example of the former is German rockabilly foursome The Booze Bombs. Consisting of a quartet of bombastic, hepcat Berliners (who have the rockabilly sound and shtick on lock) the group has made it a regular habit to visit the Valley around this time of year during their annual tour of the U.S., staging performances for the hepcat brigade at numerous venues in Phoenix and around Arizona.
To wit: after recent stops in Austin, Texas, and Taos, New Mexico, the Booze Bombs will make a stopover in the Valley at Rips Ales & Cocktails on Thursday, February 11, before they head for Lake Havasu’s Rockabilly Reunion this weekend. They’ll be celebrating the release of their latest album along with openers Voodoo Swing and The Octanes. Local pinup queen Miss Brenda will emcee the night and there will also be giveaways from Gretsch. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN