Keep going, y'all -- the end of summer is almost here. And by that, we mean that the officially recognized transition into the season known as the fall will take place in less than a month's time. Anyone who's lived in the Valley longer than five minutes, however, knows that the heat and whatnot is sticking around until probably late October.
At any rate, once the calendar changes over to September and summer officially ceases, that's when the live music calendar really tends to heat up with fantastic acts and gigs. That's not to say there's nothing to see in the interim, however, as there are plenty of performances worthy of your money and time between now and then, including the seven shows we've included in our Monday rundown of great concerts to catch this week.
And if you're still looking for something over the next four nights, there's both La Cerca's show at Crescent Ballroom later this evening and a gig by Travis James at Trunk Space, as well as the return of Nickel Creek to the Valley on Thursday. Plus, everything else that's contained within our expansive online concert calendar.
Any rapper with a hard-luck background can use AutoTune to turn life's maladies into melodies, but few are able to genuinely sing about struggling to survive like 21-year-old New Orleans native August Alsina. Listening to his lyrics, the Louisiana singer sounds less like Bruno Mars and more like the notorious trap-rappers of his state, such as Baton Rouge's Lil Boosie. But his hustler's resolve and immense vocal talents have helped him to avoid becoming another inner-city statistic.
After only a few years of pursuing music seriously, Alsina has toured with successful Def Jam peers 2 Chainz and Pusha T and released his major-label debut, Testimony, earlier this year. Alsina hopes it delivers his message of motivation and inspiration while giving a part of who he is to his audience. As one of the label's biggest prospects, Alsina continues to tour, all the while holding onto his mantra: "You live every day to grow," he says, "and that's what it's about to me." -- Patrick Montes
These Southern California widdlers transcend the congested and overly technical post-thrash metal scene by treating dexterity as a tool of songwriting and performance rather than a substitute for them. Though brutal and blur-fingered, they have a solid sense of craft reminiscent of the punkier side of the new wave of British heavy metal.
And for all their hesher hairiness, spray-on jeans and pointy guitars, Exmortus summon a vitality and stylistic irreverence (dipping into black and death metal as they see fit) that could comfortably put them on metalcore bills. Four dedicated and capable young blokes sharing similar sonic and emotional goals can make a frightening force -- all the more so when capped with the perpetually disgusted (yet remarkably intelligible) vomit vocals of the aptly named Conan. -- Paul Rogers
Indie-folk band Sundressed is a sad bunch, and that's good. Led by singer/songwriter Trevor Hedges, the quintet thrives on all those things that make pop music so endearing -- you know, things like heartbreak, rejection, and misery. Sundressed paves the way for hopeless romantics at heart and unrequited love addicts everywhere with Hedges' often down-in-the-dumps lyrics, which are offset by surprisingly upbeat arrangements.
Tyler Kees dazzles as a jangly guitar strummer, while drummer Garrett Tretta and bassist Evan Kees show off their finger-snapping pace-keeping. Timely piano touches and harmonica warbles dance around the band's sound, which features influences ranging from Conor Oberst to Chuck Berry. -- Anthony Sandoval
Tons of rappers have smoked pot and written all about it -- Wiz Khalifa, Snoop Dogg, Kid Cudi -- but few entities in the genre have focused on marijuana with the sheer longevity of Kottonmouth Kings. For 18 years, the Placentia, California-based group has been grinding out albums deeply smitten with weed. You don't need to go parsing the band's lyrics in "Proud to Be a Stoner," "Pack Ur Bowls," and "Roll It Up" to detect the obsession.
Hell, you don't even need those song names when you consider album titles like Rollin' Stoned, Joint Venture, and 2012's Mile High. The outfit hit its mainstream peak in the early 2000s when rap-rock dominated the world (the Kings' core hip-hop sound is greatly influenced by alt-rock and reggae), but Kottonmouth Kings still boasts a loyal fan base and consistently tours and records. The band's discography is increasingly sprawling and Kottonmouth Kings has always focused on weed, with that lyrical theme popping up while writing the lyrics for the band's 1998 debut, Royal Highness, and the act never leaving it behind. -- Reyan Ali
Whitey Morgan and the 78's are the greatest country band you've never heard. In the country bar of your wildest dreams, this is what plays on the jukebox while you double-fist Miller High Life and shots of Fireball, including everything from rockers to weepers, honky-tonks to cheaters. -- Nicholas Pell
On stage Willem Rebergen, better known as Headhunterz is revered as a hardstyle demigod who's been bringing this unique genre of EDM to the masses with sets on the main stage of EDC Las Vegas, the Sahara tent at Coachella, or at sold-out club gigs across the nation. Willem has proven his musical talents reach much further than the walls of the hardstyle genre. Heady (as he's known by his die hard fans) says he's been doing a lot of reflecting lately including thinking about how he first got into hardstyle.
"I grew up with hardstyle in the most important period of my youth when I was developing my personality," he says. "They played it at the local teen disco and I remember it was that kind of music you have to really know how to dance to, so I started looking at myself in the mirror to learn new moves." Though the hardstyle dance moves have changed drastically throughout the years, the sound has been perfected and stayed the same for a while now. Over the past decade Headhunterz has released three albums, various chart topping singles, and his own HARD with STYLE podcast. The hardstyle genre was relatively unknown in the states however, but today it celebrates a good foundation for growth with events like Q-Dance and pioneers like Heady.
"I think promoters are starting to feel that if you only listen to what the crowd wants you end up with the perfect track that goes 'everybody fucking jump, do do do do do do' and then every track starts to sound like it," says Heady. "If organizations want to survive they have to keep challenging their crowds and give them something different or they will go back to rock and hip-hop once they get tired of the 'one, two, three jump' anthems." -- Alejandra Loera
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.