Up for seeing a concert this week? There are plenty to choose from that will be happening at Valley venues over the next few nights. Here are our picks for your best bets for live music in Metro Phoenix this week. For more options, check out our comprehensive concert calendar.
Agnostic Front - Monday, December 14 - The Rebel Lounge
Alongside Cro-Mags and Murphy's Law, Agnostic Front personified an indigenous folk music of early-1980s New York City: hardcore. Angrier and less artsy than its stateside punk predecessors, NYHC told tales of Reagan-era urban marginalization and resulting street-level brawling and bonding through battered beats, primitive guitars and "singing" that sounded more like the barked orders of a takeover bandit. During multiple lineup changes (and a jail term for frontman Roger Miret), Agnostic Front went kinda metal, lost fans, then returned to their sometimes overly sentimental "oi" roots and connected with a whole new generation of pissed-off pit-heads. With pessimism becoming America's pastime, Agnostic Front make perfect sense again. PAUL ROGERS
The 1975 - Monday, December 14 - Marquee Theatre
The 1975 sounds exactly like a band that cut their teeth on as many Brian Eno as Michael Jackson and Rolling Stones songs. Unlikely as it sounds, that's exactly how the Manchester four-piece got their start more than a decade ago, and reached fruition on 2013’s eponymous debut LP. The album is heavy on the dreamlike atmospherics of UK contemporaries like Glasvegas, with several songs obviously descended from the Cocteau Twins, but others are just one or two degrees removed from being screamed out by thousands of tweens at One Direction concerts. And the 1975 may get there yet. CHRIS GRAY
The English Beat - Tuesday, December 15 - Musical Instrument Museum
Inspired by the first wave of punk in the U.K., the Beat combined the social critique of punk with the broader emotional and sonic palette of reggae. Formed in 1978, the English Beat (so named when the band made its way across the Atlantic) released three classic albums before Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger moved on to form General Public, where they realized great commercial success. The two eventually parted ways to front their own versions of their original band. These days, there are two versions of the English Beat: one in this country, led by Dave Wakeling, and another in the U.K., featuring Ranking Roger, the band's classic toaster.
Mushroomhead - Tuesday, December 15 - Joe’s Grotto
Metal act Mushroomhead is rarely mentioned in the mainstream music media, and if it is mentioned, it's usually because it's being compared to Slipknot. Not that the comparisons don't make sense — both bands are similar-sounding seven-piece groups in creepy masks. Except Mushroomhead has been around since 1993 (Slipknot was formed in '95), and its sound is closer to a fusion of Slipknot, Disturbed, and whatever Jeffrey Dahmer probably listened to in his apartment. Originally a side project for several Cleveland-area musicians, Mushroomhead was playing in front of 2,000 people alongside metal band GWAR by the time it had booked a second show. Over the course of eight albums featuring Mushroomhead’s sinister-sounding pastiche of industrial metal, hip-hop, goth, and punk, the act has rocked hard for more than two decades with no signs of slowing down. LAUREN WISE
Brian Setzer Orchestra - Tuesday, December 15 - Celebrity Theatre
Ex-Stray Cat Brian Setzer has found life after rockabilly by stepping forward into the past with a dazzling big band that rips up the roots of swing, jazz and early rock & roll. A warmly kitschy vibe pervades the Setzer crew’s annual Christmas Rocks! concert tour, which sees the nattily dressed guitarist-singer leading a brass-heavy ensemble in a compendium of classics from decades past, plus some Stray Cats stuff and a sprinkling of Christmas standards tricked out in appropriately swingin’ settings. This is a visually spectaclar extravaganza, done up all purdy and nice on a stage strewn with Christmas trees, a golden arch framing vintage video clips (hot rods, sock hops, dancing Santas), and giant wrapped gifts. JOHN PAYNE
Cover the Crescent - Wednesday, December 16 - Crescent Ballroom
In 1968, the Byrds released Sweetheart of the Rodeo, an LP built on the band's new commitment to traditional American country music. The record was spearheaded by a new Byrd, Gram Parsons, a trust fund dropout who'd fallen for Merle Haggard while studying theology at Harvard, and its devotion to twang shocked the band's folk rock fans. And when the finished record was finally released it would become a foundational pillar of the country rock scene. Along with Parsons' subsequent work with the Flying Burrito Brothers, as a solo act, and with Emmylou Harris, it helped spark a wave of country rock through the '70s and the "alt-country" movement of the late '80s and early '90s, when bands like Uncle Tupelo, the Bottle Rockets, Freakwater, the Waco Brothers, and Tempe's The Grievous Angels began playing a brand of country rock which incorporated punk rock and DIY ethos.
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Grievous Angels' pedal steel guitarist Jon Rauhouse calls Sweetheart of the Rodeo "musical comfort food," and its songs reside deep within his musical DNA. On Wednesday, December 16, during the latest session of Cover the Crescent, he'll pay tribute to Sweetheart of the Rodeo (as well as songs from the greater Byrds/Parsons repertoire) as part of the Americana supergroup The Odd Byrds, assembled by vocalist/guitarist Matthew John Arnold, featuring guitarists Tommy Connell and Michael Krassner of Boxhead Ensemble, Robin Vining of Sweetbleeders on piano, vocalists Taylor Upsahl and Kelly Ehley, Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra's Lukas Mathers on bass, violinist Carolyn Camp of Pick and Holler, and drummer Don Windham. The band takes the stage with Tierra Del Fuego, playing the music of Bob Dylan's Nashville Skyline, and KJZZ's Steve Conrad, who'll teach a brief class in the art of western swing dancing, all benefitting Rauhouse's wife Jennifer Rauhouse's suicide prevention charity, Peer Solutions. JASON P. WOODBURY
Kottonmouth Kings - Thursday, December 17 - Joe's Grotto
This notorious and trippy Orange County, California-based rap rock group is touring in support of their most recent release, 2015’s Krown Power, as well as in honor of the Christmas season, so you can probably expect a blend of new material, funky crowd-pleasing favorites, and maybe even a performance of its profane holiday track, “Jingle Bowls.” Much like some of their musical counterparts (we’re looking at you, Insane Clown Posse and Cypress Hill), these guys have crafted an underground lifestyle and image around their music and amassed a legion of loyal fans in the process, many of who will flock to Joe’s Grotto for the Phoenix stop of its annual Jingle Bowls X-Mas Tour. Like-minded artists and acts Marlon Asher, Chucky Chuck, Knuckleheadz, and Steady P. are also scheduled to perform. CAROLINE BASILE