Skating Polly is scheduled to perform on Wednesday, December 14, at Pub Rock Live in Scottsdale.EXPAND
Skating Polly is scheduled to perform on Wednesday, December 14, at Pub Rock Live in Scottsdale.
Angel Ceballos

The 10 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week

Like it or not, the holidays are coming. We’re two weeks out from Christmas and you’ve probably got tons to do.

If you could use a respite, or maybe even a little holiday cheer, consider taking a break and hitting up one of the great concerts scheduled to happen this week. You'll find a mix of seasonal events (such as Alt AZ’s Ugly Sweater Party with Rise Against), eagerly anticipated bands (like the Nina Gordon-endorsed indie pop/punk act Skating Polly), and a few rock favorites.

Plus, a popular Fleetwood Mac-inspired touring dance party is coming to town and local act Meet the Sun will stage a listening party for its new album.

Details about each of these shows and music events can be found below. (And for even more gigs happening around town, hit up our online concert calendar.)

Tim McIlrath of Rise Against may or may not be wearing an ugly sweater on Monday night.EXPAND
Tim McIlrath of Rise Against may or may not be wearing an ugly sweater on Monday night.
Jim Louvau

Alt AZ 93.3’s Ugly Sweater Holiday Party
Monday, December 11
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

In case you haven’t heard the news already, local radio station Alt AZ 93.3 has ditched Mesa Amphitheatre as the setting for its annual holiday concert in favor of Tempe’s Marquee Theatre. And given Monday’s weather forecast, which calls for nighttime temperatures in the 40s, you really can’t blame ‘em for the move.

But just because it’s likely to be toasty and warm inside the Marquee doesn’t mean you should eschew your ugly holiday sweater to the show. After all, it’s the theme of the event. Hundreds of attendees will be wearing the garish get-ups in an attempt to be cool, ironic, kitschy, or just weird. Heck, you might event see the members of Rise Against, The Struts, and Sleeping with Sirens wearing some during each band’s respective set at the party. Benjamin Leatherman

Graham Bonnet (in pink) with his backing band.EXPAND
Graham Bonnet (in pink) with his backing band.
Courtesy of 13th Floor Entertainment

Graham Bonnet Band
Tuesday, December 12
Club Red in Mesa

You wouldn't think a bad boy front man like Graham Bonnet, whose voice is revered as one of the best in rock 'n' roll, used to write advertisement jingles back in the '60s and '70s. But that's exactly what he did, and the British-born vocalist has come a hell of a long way since then.

Bonnet's lent a hand in several bands including Rainbow, Alcatrazz, and the Michael Schenker Group (although he only played one concert with them before being fired for drunkenly exposing himself on stage). This week, however, he fronts his latest band, aptly called Graham Bonnet Band, at Club Red in Mesa where he'll performing his solo hits and songs from from the aforementioned bands. Empire of Dezire, Dawn of the Rising, Dive Bar Knights, and Breaklot open. Diamond Victoria

Kayla Clancy of Meet the Sun.
Kayla Clancy of Meet the Sun.
Cesar Orozco

Meet the Sun (Record Listening Party and Video Premiere)
Tuesday, December 12
Valley Bar

Meet the Sun is the spooky, spectral work of Kayla Clancy. A project that merges singer-songwriter folksiness with the mind-expanding sounds of psychedelia, Meet the Sun’s songs are as lovely as they are disorienting.

Meet the Sun recently dropped Fantasmagórico, the band’s third album. Clancy, bassist James Hanna, and synth player Scott Mitting conjure a sound that lives up to the meaning of the word fantasmagórico: having a fantastic or deceptive appearance, like something in a dream.

They make songs that shimmer and warp like mirages on the horizon of a desert. Clancy’s voice on the album sounds blurred and frayed, like the half-remembered voice of someone you talked to in your dreams. For local music fans looking to get their derangement of the senses on, this gem of a record is a good start.

Meet the Sun will play a record release and video premiere party for the song “Badwater” at Valley Bar. And they’ll play the album in full beforehand. Ashley Naftule

The punks of Agnostic Front.
The punks of Agnostic Front.
Todd Huber

Agnostic Front
Wednesday, December 13
The Rebel Lounge

Agnostic Front was one of the earliest of the New York hardcore bands having formed in 1980 before that term was widely used to describe the faster and more aggressive music that characterized that movement. Toward the middle of the decade, Agnostic Front was an early adopter of the crossover sound that blended hardcore and thrash metal because, according to singer Roger Miret, the two scenes were more alike than they were different.

Along with bands like Reagan Youth, Cro-Mags, Kraut, Murphy's Law, and Urban Waste, Agnostic Front helped shape the last era of first-wave hardcore before it splintered around 1987, prior to President Reagan leaving office. Agnostic Front, however, persisted through 1992 when the band went on hiatus until 1996, when Miret and guitarist Vinnie Stigma put the band back together. Since then the group has been more prolific than ever, releasing seven of 11 total albums, including 2015's The American Dream Died.

It's safe to say the band hasn't mellowed out or tried go the pop-punk route. The songs still address social issues in the lyrics with a refreshing clarity — including the problem of police brutality. Tom Murphy

Skating Polly rolls into the Valley this week.EXPAND
Skating Polly rolls into the Valley this week.
Angel Ceballos

Skating Polly
Wednesday, December 13
Pub Rock Live in Scottsdale

The stepsister duo Kelli Mayo and Peyton Bighorse met when their parents started dating. Soon, the pair were writing music together with instruments lying around the family home. “I was 12 or 13, and I was kind of like a moody teenager who thought I was too cool to hang out with my little sister,” Bighorse recalls. Obviously, she got over it pretty quickly, because in 2009, by the time she was 14, and Mayo was 9, the two had started Skating Polly in Oklahoma City.

“We just started bonding over music, and when we weren’t writing songs together, or drawing comics for our band,” Mayo says, “we’d go on walks to the park and each take an earbud and listen to Sleater-Kinney, The Dandy Warhols, Nirvana, or The Clash.” Along the way, while making their self-described “ugly pop,” the sisters have received acclaim from some of their musical heroes, including Exene Cervenka of X and Kat Bjelland of Babes in Toyland.

Skating Polly’s latest project is a three-song EP titled New Trick, a collaboration with Louise Post and Nina Gordon, co-frontwomen of Veruca Salt. The partnership gelled right away. “It usually takes a little time to feel comfortable to write songs with someone, to really be that vulnerable,” Peyton says, “but it came so naturally and quickly.”

The result is moodily fun, fuzzed-out pop with layered harmonies. Peyton and Mayo, known for being multi-instrumental, bring an assured, raw emotional range to their music rather than prettily truncating it. Sativa Peterson

The KlezmaticsEXPAND
The Klezmatics
Courtesy of MIM

A Happy Joyous Hanukkah feat. The Klezmatics
Wednesday, December 13
Musical Instrument Museum

You don’t have to be Jewish to feel the joyful sound of the Klezmatics’ hotpot of ye olde klezmer peppered with Eastern European, Latin, Celtic, Afro-Caribbean and other influences. The New York-based ensemble’s punked-up variations on trad klezmer have made them cultural ambassadors for a revival of the clarinet-wailing, hyper-thumping soul music of the Jewish diaspora.

Somehow politics, religion and sheer party-down ecstasy figure into the Klezmatics' music, whose essence is the way it connects the cultures of strangers in strange lands around the world — such as we Phoenicians. John Payne

Jonny Pierce of The Drums.EXPAND
Jonny Pierce of The Drums.
Moni Haworth

The Drums
Wednesday, December 13
The Van Buren

The Drums formed in 2008, the result of a concept between two longtime friends and sometime musical collaborators, Jonathan “Jonny” Pierce and Jacob Graham. Previously, they had released one album in 2005 with their project Elkland.

To kick The Drums into gear, Pierce moved to Florida, where Graham was living. A year later, the pair relocated to Brooklyn, and the project evolved into a four-piece band, with Adam Kessler and Connor Hanwick. Fast-forward nearly 10 years, and a few amicable separations later, and Pierce remains the last man standing.

Kessler and Hanwick dropped off a few years back. And the Pierce-Graham duo came to an end, officially, early this year when Graham announced it to the public, with a “no hard feelings” statement that highlighted his desire to work on other projects.

Pierce moved forward with The Drums’ latest release, Abysmal Thoughts, which he wrote and played all himself. It’s loaded with jumpy, surf-y, driving indie-pop tunes full of sweet hooks and melancholic twists. For the live shows, he has a touring band that he says synchronizes with him perfectly to execute his tracks.

It’s a natural progression for Pierce, who says he always knew he wanted to run The Drums his way. “I always wanted to make music where I was at the head of it, singing and creating,” Pierce says. “I wanted to be very involved. I think, subconsciously, I pushed myself to be the face of the music.” He doesn’t even like to refer to himself as a singer. That’s just one integral component of each song. “I really view The Drums as an art project,” Pierce says. “And the signing is a part of what needs to get done to make things complete.” Amy Young

Post-hardcore band Dance Gavin Dance.EXPAND
Post-hardcore band Dance Gavin Dance.
Lindsey Byrnes

Dance Gavin Dance
Wednesday, December 13
Nile Theater in Mesa

Early in November, Kevin Lyman announced the end of an era. The Vans Warped Tour founder broke the news that the 2018 edition of the event will be its last cross-country tour ever. The annual event helped push pop-punk stars like Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance to massive success. Rumor has it that Warped might become a single-location festival, but what exactly will go down after the final road trip is unclear. We know; we’re bummed, too.

But it’s not all bad news. Because we can reminisce about the old days with Warped veterans like the post-hardcore band Dance Gavin Dance, who since 2006 have been providing angsty music that continues to live on the playlists of misunderstood high school students.

Over the course of eight albums, we’ve heard the band’s distinct style evolve. Oddly timed riffs come off more groovy than heavy with a hardcore growl. Songs like “Betrayed by the Game” air anger, as clean vocalist Tilian Pearson sings, “I rain destruction in the fight of my inner feels / Remove the tricks of the trade / You’re just alone on the stage.”

Warped Tour as we know it is ending, but we’ll (hopefully) always have Dance Gavin Dance. Lindsay Roberts

Cody Jinks: not your ordinary country artist.EXPAND
Cody Jinks: not your ordinary country artist.
Greg Giannukos

Cody Jinks
Thursday, December 14
The Van Buren

Cody Jinks makes the kind of country music that resonates beyond strict fans of the genre. As proof of his cross appeal, all he really needs to do is point to his experience fronting a metal band.

Now that he's considered more of a country artist, however, his outlaw persona lends itself well to both sides of his musical personality. He can churn out vigorous and energetic anthems and then turn things down with ruminative ballads. In a live setting, he's as apt to break out Pink Floyd and Soundgarden covers as he is to cover Hank, Willie, or Waylon.

Although he's five albums into his career, 2017 has been a banner year for Jinks. He's appeared on late-night television, is headlining the Ryman, and has earned praise from many of the industry's heaviest hitters. Jeff Strowe

Lisa Jelliffe and Alex Oxley of Fleetmac Wood.
Lisa Jelliffe and Alex Oxley of Fleetmac Wood.
Ben Cope

Fleetmac Wood
Thursday, December 14
Crescent Ballroom

What do you think of when you think of Fleetwood Mac? Tambourines and chiffon, perhaps. Bickering couples, most likely. Mountains of cocaine, for sure. But odds are good you’re probably not imagining raves. Who thinks of the Mac and has their brain leap to “dance party”? Alex Oxley and Lisa Jelliffe do.

The duo are the masterminds behind Fleetmac Wood, a touring Fleetwood Mac-themed dance party. Debuting in a London basement club in 2012, Fleetmac Wood events have grown big enough to net the pair gigs at the Glastonbury Festival and sold-out club nights in L.A. Oxley and Jelliffe live-mix sets of dance edits and remixes of Fleetwood Mac songs, taking the ’70s Laurel Canyon radio pop and turning it into 21st-century get-your-freak-on jams.

Each of the duo’s touring parties has a theme (past ones include “Gold Dust Disco” and “Running in the Shadows”). And when the dance party comes to Phoenix, the theme will be “Crystal Visions.” Dressing up in Fleetwood Mac-inspired attire is highly encouraged. So bust our your best Stevie Nicks shawls, dust off your Tusk marching band suits, and all you Lindsey Buckingham cosplayers better start growing out your chest hair. Ashley Naftule


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