Animals As Leaders are scheduled to perform on Tuesday, November 21, at Marquee Theatre in Tempe.EXPAND
Animals As Leaders are scheduled to perform on Tuesday, November 21, at Marquee Theatre in Tempe.
Courtesy of Ticketmaster

The 11 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week

Good news, y’all. Thanks to Thanksgiving, you’re in for a short work week.

It’s definitely cause for celebration, which you can do at any of the concerts happening over the next few nights.

Even with a major holiday happening a few days, there’s plenty of things happening at local music venues this week. And you’ve got a colorful and varied selection to choose from, including gigs by such freakfests as GWAR, Belphegor, and Captured! By Robots.

Other artists and acts scheduled to perform this week include Barb Wire Dolls, Glassjaw, Animals As Leaders, Niall Horan, and local legends Pistoleros.

Full details about each of these gigs can be found below in our list of the 10 best concerts in Phoenix this week. (And for even more options, check out our online live music listings.)

Niall Horan of One Direction.EXPAND
Niall Horan of One Direction.
Courtesy of Modest Management

Niall Horan
Monday, November 20
Comerica Theatre

One Direction members are better apart than they ever were together. If you disagree, then the second you listen to each member's solo attempts, you should be ready to agree. Or you'll see for yourself this month when you see Niall Horan in concert at Comerica Theatre. For anyone older than 10, Horan is the one in group without any tattoos.

On November 20, Horan will be at the downtown Phoenix venue with his guitar, singing his solo efforts from what we assume is his forthcoming album. Songs by former One Direction members Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, and Horan are playing on the radio. Horan's is called “Slow Hands,” and you’ve caught yourself singing “Slow, slooooooow hands” to yourself and giggling at how great it makes you feel. Paige Skinner

Barb Wire Dolls invade the Valley this week.EXPAND
Barb Wire Dolls invade the Valley this week.
Courtesy of Adrenaline PR

Barb Wire Dolls
Tuesday, November 21
The Rebel Lounge

Notorious L.A. band the Barb Wire Dolls look like a collage of punk-rock motifs, from their studded leather jackets to schoolgirl skirts with torn stockings. But their aesthetic is no indicator of their sound. The Dolls’ logo and personal style are largely borrowed from the Sex Pistols and the working-class, late-’70 British punk movement called Oi!; their name is a nod to the New York Dolls. But their sound isn’t as codified as their look.

Even though they were courted by NOFX’s Fat Mike to join Fat Wreck Chords, the Dolls don’t write catchy pop-punk or emo. Instead, their sound evokes raw power, like the Stooges, blending elements of metal and grunge with European street punk.

It’s a combination that gets heavier rather than harder on their latest album, Desperate, which was released by Motörhead Music last year. Slit, a much angrier statement engineered by Steve Albini that was released in 2012, includes cover art depicting Isis holding a microphone between her thighs and the track “Your Escape,” their live set’s most vicious three minutes of punk. Plus, they were favorites of the late Lemmy Kilmister, which is the kind of badass rock 'n' roll cred that money can't buy. Art Tavana

Glassjaw in concerts in 2010.EXPAND
Glassjaw in concerts in 2010.

Tuesday, November 21
The Van Buren

Either Glassjaw’s music was a gateway to who you are today, you vaguely remember seeing kids sporting GJ shirts, or you’ve never heard of this band.

For those in that last category, Glassjaw are an influential post-hardcore band from Long Island, New York. They formed in 1993. Things took off in the early aughts, when alternative kids gravitated toward the band as an alternative to pop punk and Adidas rock garbage (no shade meant).

Glassjaw gave a voice to the jilted, the jaded, the complex, and the bored teenagers. Despite yelling about dicks being guns in the band’s early days, they evolved into a thinking man’s hardcore band, more grown-up and progressive than other heavy outfits.

Longtime fans know the Geej were once on a lengthy hiatus, and often cancelled shows due to illness. And although they’ve been through town a few times since touring again, fans can never really ignore Glassjaw on a bill — whether supporting or headlining. They have new, good songs from this decade. But you’re really hoping to hear Daryl and the boys start up some of the old heavy stuff, and of course, the singalongs. Lauren Cuisimano

Robb Klassen

Tuesday, November 21
Last Exit Live

The last words of Jonwayne’s latest, the superb Rap Album Two, are, “When I die, I know my words will be my only thing.” And if you’ve listened closely to his lyrics or encountered his pulverizing live performances, you understand that few consider words more valuable.

At the age of 26, rapper Jonwayne has been a fixture of the L.A. beat and underground hip-hop scene since his teens. His first official release, Bowser, won co-signs from Flying Lotus and Jonah Hill. A run of EPs and a debut rap album on Stones Throw Records upped his profile to the point where much of his current tour is sold out.

He’s become every rapper/producer’s favorite rapper/producer. Dilated Peoples named Wayne’s debut one of the 10 best records of the last decade. Earl Sweatshirt and The Alchemist have repeatedly sung his praises, too. In an era when even underground stars want to blow up, Wayne has opted for the other route — collaborating with close friends (L.A.’s Zeroh has a star turn on the new record) and still living in the suburbs where he grew up.

Rap Album Two functions as a coming-of-age record: a young man trying to figure out who he wants to be and what he wants to worship. It narrates his arrival in the music world, his troubled past and subsequent self-destruction and rebirth. It’s an apology for past mistakes and a vow to at least attempt to be better. Jeff Weiss

Captured! By Robots
Tuesday, November 21
Yucca Tap Room in Tempe

Jay Vance, who performs as Jbot, plays brutal music with robots. Earlier this year, he relaunched Captured! by Robots in time for the project's twenty-year anniversary.

Vance, a former member of ska-punk bands Blue Meanies and Skankin' Pickle, had built his first set of robots in 1996 out of frustration with the usual band stumbling blocks: musicians with varying levels of commitment and relationship strife. The new group, which grew to include a handful of other robots, performs campy covers and Vance's original compositions. But by the end of 2014, Vance grew terribly disillusioned and unsatisfied with his own band.

The following summer, he played a weekend show that made him realize he was miserable doing what had once been a fun project for him, so he put Captured! by Robots on indefinite hiatus. But Vance didn't want to stay away from music forever, so he found a way to enjoy it again without the artistic compromises he'd felt were necessary during the first run of Captured! by Robots. He got rid of a mask he wore in the band — a symbol of stripping away the inessential — and retired the stuffed-animal robots that provided comic relief.

Deep concern for the state of the world has provided Vance ample fodder for lyrics that reflect his opinions, and with the election of Donald Trump, those words flowed more easily. And so Captured! by Robots released its latest album, Endless Circle of Bullshit, in 2017. Tom Murphy

Matt Garstka, Tosin Abasi, and Javier Reyes of Animals As Leaders.
Matt Garstka, Tosin Abasi, and Javier Reyes of Animals As Leaders.
Courtesy of Sumerian Records

Animals As Leaders
Tuesday, November 21
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

When guitarist Tosin Abasi first burst onto the metal scene in 2009 with the self-titled debut from his group Animals as Leaders, he was the primary creative force behind the instrumental project. While he had outside assistance from Periphery guitarist Misha Mansoor on drum programming and production, the record turned ears thanks to Abasi’s vision of blending Meshuggah-style, polyrhythmic metal riffs with a technicality that aped shred greats like Joe Satriani and Steve Vai.

Seven years later, Abasi has shared magazine covers and stages alongside his aforementioned guitar heroes and is considered a contemporary leader in today’s instrumental rock guitar scene.

The newest record from Animals as Leaders, The Madness of Many, was released last month. Abasi says that the newest record is the most cohesive statement that the current lineup — rounded out by second guitarist Javier Reyes and drummer Matt Garstka — has ever composed as a full band from start to finish. Jason Roche

Sandra Collins
Wednesday, November 22
Bar Smith

A few months before the first Coachella, Woodstock '99 hit New York and became a symbol of everything that could go wrong at a music festival. That aside, Sandra Collins was one of the handful of DJs to play the rock-oriented event. Her bio still mentions the lengthy, middle-of-the-night set, which all seems kind of crazy now. How often do you see a DJ play more than an hour at a festival?

That's the kind of clout that Sandra Collins had during the 1990s dance music boom. After getting her start in the Phoenix scene, she headed for L.A. and superstardom. That success continued in the early years of the new millennium. Some of her highest profile mixed CDs, like ones from Cream and Perfecto, came out after 2000. Sandra Collins still plays out constantly and was event featured in the 2015 female DJ documentary, Girl.

Collins is returning to her old stomping ground of the Valley for a gig at Bar Smith in downtown Phoenix on Thanksgiving Eve. Liz Ohanesian

You can hear Barns Courtney pretty much anywhere these days.
You can hear Barns Courtney pretty much anywhere these days.
Courtesy of Various Artists Management

Barns Courtney
Wednesday, November 22
Valley Bar

Barns Courtney knows a thing or two about perseverance. The 26-year-old has been dropped from labels, cheated out of money, and left without a home. But the former computer software salesman didn't stop chasing his dream. And in 2015, Courtney's name began populating music charts, radio stations, and even major motion picture soundtracks. His raspy vocals, genuine talent and nod to early R&B make his music a must-listen. Diamond Victoria

The beasts of Belphegor.
The beasts of Belphegor.
Courtesy of Nuclear Blast Records

Wednesday, November 22
Joe's Grotto

In demonology, Belphegor is one of the Seven Princes of Hell, who helps humans sell their souls to the Devil. In modern extreme metal, Belphegor are a blackened death metal band from Austria, formed in 1991. The band’s music is a furious firestorm of speed and aggression, all focusing on black magic, the occult, and apocalyptic and sexual themes relating to evil.

Belphegor has toured the world many times over, spreading their musical darkness with everyone from Amon Amarth to Sepultura. Their music has been banned in parts of Asia and Eastern Europe for violating some countries' blasphemy laws, and lead singer and guitarist Helmuth was physically attacked and spit on by an orthodox Christian activist leader in St. Petersburg, Russia in 2016 while Belphegor was on tour with Nile. Expect a warmer reception when the band invades Joe’s Grotto on Wednesday night. Alex Distefano

The Pistoleros have new songs to sling.
The Pistoleros have new songs to sling.
Jim Louvau

Pistoleros (25th Anniversary & Record Release Party)
Wednesday, November 22
Crescent Ballroom

One can question the validity of band anniversaries when the members of that group have spent most of that time apart. Like when Crosby, Stills, and Nash celebrated their 25th anniversary with a 1992 boxed set that contained mostly solo recordings.

Although Lawrence and Mark Zubia don’t ever seem to agree on numbers, or even how long their estrangement lasted, they do agree that it was necessary to separate so everything could fall in place for them now. The brothers’ band, The Pistoleros, signed to Fervor Records (a Phoenix label that specializes in placing by their artists’ catalog in TV shows and movies), recorded an album called Shine in 2015, and then re-upped and re-upped again with the label in time for a 25th anniversary album, Silver.

“This band has been through a lot of life,” Lawrence says. “Marriages, divorces, suicides, death, drug addiction — we’ve outlived so many things. Hell, we’ve outlived the record industry.”

This week, the Pistoleros celebrate their 25th anniversary and the release of Silver at the Crescent Ballroom. Dead Hot Workshop, Banana Gun, Analog Outlaws, Corey Gloden, and Nick Sterling will also perform. Serene Dominic

GWAR will invade the Valley on Thanksgiving night.EXPAND
GWAR will invade the Valley on Thanksgiving night.

Thursday, November 23
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

With the death of vocalist and bassist Dave Brockie in March 2014, comedic thrash metal group GWAR is now left without any of its founding members. However, the often obscenely hilarious art-rock band is a beast that will scour the land devouring pop culture figures and spraying concert audiences with copious amounts of fake blood for as long as the spirit remains.

Like a car accident mashing together the talents and styles of Alice Cooper, Slayer, and Spinal Tap, GWAR are still an exotic and outlandish show to behold. It's a performance that must be experienced to truly understand what these barbaric interplanetary warriors (and clever satirists) are really all about. Angel Melendez


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