Lindsey Stirling is scheduled to perform on Saturday, December 23, at Comerica Theatre.
Lindsey Stirling is scheduled to perform on Saturday, December 23, at Comerica Theatre.
Andrew Zaeh

The 25 Best Concerts in Phoenix This December

Welcome to the most wonderful time of the year – and one of the most hectic.

Thanks to the holiday season and its multitude of demands, December is going to be filled with plenty of activities, events, and distractions, all of which will likely dominate your schedule and wallet.

That includes the concert calendar, which is busy with all sorts of holiday-related shows, ranging from Alice Cooper’s annual Christmas Pudding extravaganza to radio station-sponsored events like KMLE’s Not So Silent Night.

It’s not all Christmas everything, however. Plenty of gigs are scheduled for December that have little to do with the holidays, including performances by Descendents, Lindsey Stirling, Jane's Addiction, Lita Ford, Tony Bennett, and Agnostic Front.

Here’s a look at all of the biggest and best concerts that December has to offer here in Phoenix. (And for even more live music options over the next few weeks, hit up our extensively updated online listings.)

TriviumEXPAND
Trivium
Jon Paul Douglass

Trivium & Arch Enemy
Friday, December 1
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

When German powerhouse vocalist Angela Gossow left Swedish metal band Arch Enemy in 2014, many justifiably suspected that the group’s best days were behind them. After all, Gossow is blessed with a voice that sounds like multiple demons gargling nails. Replacing her would surely prove impossible. In fact, Gossow hand-picked her replacement, Canada’s Alissa White-Gluz, and it was an inspired choice, enabling Arch Enemy to barely miss a beat.

Some fans might have been unable to get past the clean vocals on this year’s Will to Power album, but all of the aggression and energy is still there.

Contemporary thrash band Trivium put out their eighth album this year, The Sin and the Sentence, and frontman Matt Heafy has returned to the screaming vocal style that was absent from their previous record. The bands’ contrasting vocal trajectories should make for a fascinating metal pairing. Brett Callwood

Lucki
Friday, December 1
The Rebel Lounge

Rapper Lucki Eck$ — better known simply as Lucki — has a song called “Poker Face” on his 2017 release Watch My Back. But make no mistake, it’s not a cover of Lady Gaga’s hit from back in 2008.

Where Gaga’s track is about relationship drama, Lucki’s is a nod to Wockhardt, the pharma company that produces a codeine-laden cough syrup famously used to concoct lean, which blends the medicine with Sprite and Jolly Ranchers. And Lucki doesn’t seem to care about his songs reaching the same level of popularity as Gaga, as he notes in the track: “Baby rock-hardt, I feel like a Wock star / I don’t fear a thing but a cop car / Underground king, fuck your top chart.”

With that song, and his others, it takes a minute to focus on the lyrics because his vocal delivery is so laid back – mellow and, at times. hypnotic. It’s not surprising he’s collaborated with the trancey FKA Twigs. The beats below the words aren’t hyper either; they’re melodic and popping with energy, creating a balance with his low-and-slow singing style. Things get grittier when you do zone in on what Lucki’s saying, as he offers slices from his life, referencing topics from drugs to gang life. Amy Young

The Supersuckers back in the day.
The Supersuckers back in the day.
Courtesy of Sub Pop

The Supersuckers
Saturday, December 2
Club Red

The Supersuckers started when, as a boy in Tucson, lead singer and bassist Eddie Spaghetti heard "My Sharona" by The Knack, which hooked him on rock 'n' roll. He formed The Supersuckers with a group of friends in the late '80s. "I was more interested in forming a band with guys I liked to hang out with than looking for guitar virtuosos, so I found a ragtag group of drunks."

That motley crew relocated to Seattle right when the grunge movement exploded to national attention. "That was super-cool," Spaghetti says. "Moving to Seattle was like that moment in The Wizard of Oz when everything goes from black and white to color. There was Nirvana, Mudhoney, and Soundgarden all playing. It was amazing."

They signed to Sub Pop (the same record label Nirvana was on) but weren't easy to typecast into the super-serious, woe-is-me scene America came to associate with Seattle. The Supersuckers had a lighter tone and embraced the ridiculous, right down to Spaghetti's trademark cowboy hat. The band would eventually find its voice and build a two-decadelong career touring around the country. David Rolland

Casey Crescenzo of The Dear Hunter.EXPAND
Casey Crescenzo of The Dear Hunter.
Courtesy of ADA Music

The Dear Hunter
Sunday, December 3
Crescent Ballroom

The Dear Hunter was a side project launched in 2005 while Casey Crescenzo was touring with his now-former band, the Receiving End of Sirens. He had been writing songs on his laptop and recording them in his spare time; his first collection was dubbed the Dear Ms. Leading demos, and only 10 copies were distributed to friends and family. Crescenzo eventually devoted full-time attention to his solo album, which was released by Triple Crown Records.

Stunningly prolific, Crescenzo has cultivated quite a catalog, with three concept albums providing a fictional account of the Dear Hunter's evolution (Act I, Act II, and Act III), followed by nine conceptual EPs — filled with songs penned to match specific hues, the best of which appear on an album titled The Color Spectrum — and 2013's Migrant, was surprisingly, not a concept record.

A ten-song live album with string quartet and Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise both dropped in 2015, followed in 2016 with Act V. The Dear Hunter’s latest release, a six-song EP entitled All Is As All Should Be debuted in September, just in time for the band’s fall tour with The Family Crest and Vava. Lee Zimmerman

KMLE’s Not So Silent Night
Tuesday, December 5
Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale

If you’re the kind of music lover who hangs mistletoe from your truck’s rearview mirror and has a Garth Brooks ornament on the Christmas tree, the folks at KMLE have a holiday event that’s up your alley. The country station is putting on the sixth annual Not So Silent Night show at Talking Stick Resort, with a lineup of country stars who also know how to bring the rock.

Don’t expect this to be a sedate holiday singalong show. Performers on this year’s bill include David Lee Murphy, Scotty McCreery, Jordan Davis, and Chris Lane.

Instead of buying tickets, you’ve gotta win passes to Not So Silent Night. They’re available at live ticket stops the radio station will be hosting or by calling in on-air. So if you wanna go, add 602-260-1079 to your speed dial. Ashley Naftule

Country meets comedy during the sets of Wheeler Walker Jr.
Country meets comedy during the sets of Wheeler Walker Jr.
Courtesy of Thirty Tigers

Wheeler Walker Jr.
Wednesday, December 6
The Van Buren

It may be best not to try to define Wheeler Walker Jr. beyond what you’re getting from him in the moment. In a previous incarnation, he was an edgy Hollywood sketch comedian named Ben Hoffman, who mysteriously disappeared from the public appearances. But in this moment, he is a classically influenced country and western musician, buoyed by pedal steel and songs laced with R-rated lyrics.

But no matter who you think Walker really is — country music bad boy or the Tony Clifton-esque alter ego — the real question is, does it really matter? After all, Walker's independently released album, Redneck Shit, debuted in February at No. 9 on Billboard’s country music chart (and #1 on the comedy chart, but he says he doesn’t give a damn about that one).

It's an answer to what he describes as a commercial country music wasteland presented by a Nashville music machine that is only interested in formulaic pop singles. Karen Brooks Harper

mc chrisEXPAND
mc chris
Eleanor Stills

mc chris
Wednesday, December 6,
The Rebel Lounge

Nerdcore, my ass — if you want to hear someone rap about comic books or science fiction or anime, you can pick up an album by MF DOOM or Del the Funky Homosapien instead of glomming onto some kid who's too caught up in geek culture to learn how to flow. mc chris (remember, all lowercase when you spell the man's name) is a notable exception.

Despite being a pioneer of the nerdcore scene, he's expressed numerous reservations about being lumped in with the more one-movement in his wake. And while his uber-nasal high-pitched voice (as heard on classic episodes of [adult swim] series Sealab 2020 and Aqua Teen Hunger Force) and enthusiasm for all things dork have made him a star among the Internet People set, all his Star Wars and D&D references are spit with a lyrical agility and a sharp-tongued sense of humor that set him miles above his peers. Nate Patrin

Tony Bennett is slated to play Phoenix in December.
Tony Bennett is slated to play Phoenix in December.
Eugene Parciasepe / Shutterstock.com

Tony Bennett
Thursday, December 7
Celebrity Theatre

Tony Bennett, the legendary crooner known for signature tunes “Steppin’ Out With My Baby” and “I Left My Heart In San Francisco,” is turning his stop at Celebrity Theatre into a family affair.

Daughter and next-gen performer Antonia Bennett opens the show, having inherited her father’s dreamy eyes and clear voice. She grew up in a household where Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Gene Kelly were the norm, and has been opening for her father for the past decade.

As for the main attraction, Tony will offer up a marathon of crowd favorites and old classics, including “I Got Rhythm,” “Sing You Sinners,” “The Way You Look Tonight,” and “One For My Baby (And One More For The Road).” This powerhouse talent is still going strong at 91 and audience members will be ready to fly to the moon before this star-studded night is over. Vic Shuttee

Shock-rocker icon Alice Cooper.EXPAND
Shock-rocker icon Alice Cooper.
Jim Louvau

Alice Cooper’s Christmas Pudding
Saturday, December 9
Celebrity Theatre

When it comes to tradition during the holiday season, Phoenix isn't known for snowmen, hot cocoa, or sledding. But one thing that can always be counted upon is the tradition of Christmas Pudding — Alice Cooper's Christmas Pudding, to be exact. And it's a tasty recipe.

After nearly five decades and 30 records, Cooper has perfected his craft of putting on shows and making music. Now in his mid-60s, he's reaping the career rewards and has gone from rock 'n' roll's official villain to a charitable hero in the Valley of the Sun.

In November 1995, Cooper and his wife, Sheryl, a professional dancer, began the foundation Solid Rock to raise money for music and arts programs. But then the duo proposed a teen center to provide an outlet where teens could learn and equip themselves for their future.

The variety show Christmas Pudding kicked off in 2001 as a way for them to raise enough money to open up the center, dubbed "The Rock," where teenagers could be taught dance, music, and art in a safe place

Some of the biggest names in music flock to the desert to be a part of the show, which raises around $100,000 each year. This year's lineup includes appearances and performances by Slash of Guns N' Roses, Judas Priest’s Rob Halford, Ace Frehley of KISS fame, rock legend Edgar Winter, Filter, and Megadeth bassist (and Valley resident) Dave Ellefson. Lauren Wise

Moving Units will pay tribute to the music of Joy Division.EXPAND
Moving Units will pay tribute to the music of Joy Division.
Jeff Jacquin

The Songs of Joy Division feat. Moving Units
Saturday, December 9
Valley Bar

The disco-hybrid style of bands like Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party — sometimes also called “dance-punk” — never quite got enough traction to qualify as a Big Rock Moment, but it was at least more exciting than other passing turn-of-the-millennium trends.

Among the groups that formed in the early 2000s and remain active, Moving Units may have had the most interesting trajectory. Known for songs like “Between Us & Them” and “X and Y,” the L.A. trio reemerged from a nine-year recording break — during which time frontman Blake Miller became a successful DJ who scored with remixes of Le Castle Vania and Steve Aoki tracks — with last year’s Damage With Care (Metropolis).

Their latest release, Collision With Joy Division (RSRCH), is an exceedingly faithful, album-length tribute to one of Moving Units’ primary influences, the proto-goths and New Order precursors whom many would also call the original dance-punks. Their current tour, which stops at Valley Bar on December 9, is along the same lines, featuring a full set of Joy Division covers from the album. They’ll follow it up with a a set of Moving Unit songs. Chris Gray

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 eleven 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 the Valley in December.
Skating Polly rolls the Valley in December.
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

Outlaw country artist Cody Jinks.EXPAND
Outlaw country artist Cody Jinks.
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

Descendents are coming to town.
Descendents are coming to town.
Courtesy of Epitaph Records

Descendents
Friday, December 15
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

On the surface, Descendents seem like goofball heroes — spastic, caffeinated kids of the black hole that effortlessly spun lovelorn punk songs like “Hope” and spawned 100,000 band wannabes. Yet their intelligence and inventiveness still run wide and deep.

Influenced by everything from first-wavers like the Alley Cats to the experimental contortions of avant-garde jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman, their music defies all boundaries and norms, becoming some kind of volatile hybrid.

Meanwhile, their new tunes, for instance “Feel This,” emote like powerhouse punk-pop with bite and gritty propulsion; “No Fat Burger” burns just as hard and fast as their classics while weighing the tribulations of adulthood (like avoiding bypass surgery!), and “Human Being” addresses homelessness and nuclear warheads in less than one minute.

As always, they manage the seemingly impossible: a commitment to uncompromising musicality and lyrics that tuck in heartache as well as barbed and insightful sarcasm, which is all underpinned by swells of conscience. David Ensminger

Brian Setzer brings his hepcat holiday show to the Valley this week.EXPAND
Brian Setzer brings his hepcat holiday show to the Valley this week.
Russ Harrington

Brian Setzer Orchestra
Friday, 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 'n' roll.

A warmly kitschy vibe pervades the Setzer crew’s annual Christmas really-big-show, 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, giant wrapped gifts, a golden arch framing vintage video clips (hot rods, sock hops, dancing Santas), and a glimmering jukebox center stage. The Texas Gentlemen will be along for the ride. John Payne

Rock legend Lita Ford.EXPAND
Rock legend Lita Ford.
Dustin Jack

Lita Ford
Saturday, December 16
BLK Live in Scottsdale

Lita Ford first came to prominence in 1975 as the guitarist for The Runaways. Though she was 16 when she joined the now-iconic band, her chops and forceful yet graceful style stood out and gave the band a musical respectability that transcended manager Kim Fowley's gimmick of an all-female “jailbait” rock band.

After The Runaways split in 1979, Ford spent the '80s establishing herself as a respected guitarist and songwriter. Along the way, she rubbed shoulders with the rock giants of the day. Her friends included Eddie Van Halen, Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe, the members of KISS, Cheap Trick, and numerous others. She had a tumultuous relationship with Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath and was married to Chris Holmes of WASP. Ford didn't just make rock-and-roll music; she very much lived it.

In 1988, Ford released her highly successful album Lita, which garnered her hit singles in “Kiss Me Deadly” and “Close My Eyes Forever,” a duet with her then-manager Sharon Osbourne's husband, Ozzy Osbourne. Like many of the hard-rock musicians of the '80s, no matter how talented or worthwhile, Ford found her fortunes waning in the music world around the same time that she remarried and departed from music for more than a decade.

Ford's return to music wasn't exactly her idea — and thus 2009's Wicked Wonderland didn't sound like something she would have come up with on her own. A 2011 divorce and much soul-searching and personal turmoil later, Ford returned to form with 2012's Living Like a Runaway, which is also the title of her recently published memoir, in which she outlines her colorful life in and out of music. Currently on tour with an album of re-recorded material, Time Capsule, Ford has emerged from her dark years to take her rightful place as a guitar hero and rock icon. Tom Murphy

Julien Baker
Julien Baker
Jake Cunningham

Julien Baker
Saturday, December 16
Crescent Ballroom

Although she's just 22 years old, Nashville's Julien Baker performs with a haunting and hypnotizing style reminiscent of someone who has seen some heavy stuff go down.

Her 2015 album, Sprained Ankle, landed on many influential year-end "best of" lists and propelled her into appearances on NPR and at the Newport Folk Festival.

Recently signed to Matador Records, Baker’s dropped her second full-length release, Turn Out the Lights, in October after recording the 11-song project at Tennessee's Ardent Studios with assistance from Sorority Noise's Cameron Boucher. It’s gotten rave reviews and makes up the bulk of the set list’s on Baker’s current tour, which comes to Crescent Ballroom on December 16. Jeff Strowe

98 Degress wants to wish you a Merry Christmas.EXPAND
98 Degress wants to wish you a Merry Christmas.
Courtesy of Mesa Arts Center

98 Degrees
Tuesday, December 19
Mesa Arts Center

Yes, mother-lovin' 98 Degrees is still around. You probably know them best as the awkward bronze medal boy band who played second runner up to the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC in the Boy Band Olympics of the late ‘90s and early aughts.

98 Degrees is the band fronted by Nick Lachey. You know Lachey as Jessica Simpson's first husband. Caught up? Good, because 98 Degrees is back to rock your world, albeit in subdued fashion now that they’re a wee bit older. And this time around they’ll be clad in sweaters and offering up some holiday cheer.

The band has hit the road on its “98 Degrees at Christmas” tour in support of it’s new holiday album, Let It Snow. As such, their set lists are pretty much wall-to-wall Christmas songs featured on the album, as well as 1999’s This Christmas, and include such standards as "What Christmas Means To Me," "Little Saint Nick," "Run Rudolph Run,” “Season of Love,” and “This Gift.” They might even sneak in a cover of “Circle of Life” from The Lion King and a couple of their hits into the mix. Paige Skinner

Burgeoning rap star Robb Bank$.
Burgeoning rap star Robb Bank$.
Stian Roenning

Robb Bank$
Wednesday, December 20
Pub Rock Live in Scottsdale

Bank$ hit the internet music scene with a huge splash in 2012, when he was 17, with his mixtape Calendars. With that release, the Coral Springs-bred rapper referenced news stories, pop culture, drugs, "bitches," and, most unique, anime characters and themes. His is a call to a generation of young people like him — raised in the suburbs but tempted by the streets.

"Only thing I can speak about is my experiences — what I want and what I've had," Bank$ muses. His music has the same dark aesthetic and fury of some of his contemporaries but is more evolved, woven through with personal and universal mythologies, with a high energy and clean sound.

As with other musicians his age, the magic of the internet both built him up and tore him down. When the news hit the web that his father was Jamaican reggae star Shaggy, Bank$' first reaction was to deny it, which injured his credibility. At that point, he took a step back from the hype, quit music, stopped slinging drugs, and began reading more — an eclectic mix of titles, from The Satanic Bible to self-help books.

Now Bank$ has re-emerged with his debut commercial album and four projects in the works — including an anime movie. It's as though his past four years have played out like a Joseph Campbell hero's journey, with all the drama of the anime cartoons Bank$ so adores. On the cover of his album, Year of the Savage, the rapper’s silhouette slides sexily out of a pool of blood. He's like Osiris, the Egyptian god of the underworld returning to create life from death. Liz Tracy

Lindsey Stirling is coming home.EXPAND
Lindsey Stirling is coming home.
Courtesy of Ticketmaster

Lindsey Stirling
Saturday, December 23
Comerica Theatre

Part Riverdance, part steampunk, part Paganini, part pirate, and part Skrillex — there’s no one really quite like Lindsey Stirling, the Gilbert native whose first exposure to the masses came on America’s Got Talent in 2010 when Piers Morgan told her “she wasn’t good enough” to win the show. But unlike the rest of her AGT peers, Stirling actually has built a career for herself.

Although her stage show is more like a Las Vegas act than a traditional concert, she’s still carved out a niche for herself with her mostly instrumental music, which mixes her dexterous violin playing with electronic dance-inspired beats.

Stirling, now 30, released her fourth studio album, Warmer in the Winter, in October, and shows no signs of slowing down. She returns home on Saturday, December 23, for a show at Comerica in support of the album. David Accomazzo

Perry Farrell of Jane's AddictionEXPAND
Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction
Melina Dellamarggio

Jane's Addiction
Wednesday, December 27
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Jane’s Addiction started at the midpoint of the 1980s, playing a blend of metal, punk, and glam, and blew up in just a couple of years’ time. They released a self-titled album in 1987 that got them noticed by major labels, including Warner Bros., who got them under contract.

Their underground buzz was huge at that point, but when the record Nothing’s Shocking came out in 1988, that release generated a giant fan base. Jane's particular fusion of genres resonated with a variety of music fans, particularly as a crossover band for die-hard members of the punk and metal scenes. The ballad “Jane Says” was the huge hit from that record, going up to number six on Billboard’s U.S. chart.

In 1990, they released Ritual de lo Habitual, which had a couple of popular singles, “Been Caught Stealing” and “Stop!" The band split up in 1991 due to conflict between members, some of which had to do with substance abuse problems. But they came back together in 1997 and have been sporadically productive since.

They'll make a stop at the Marquee Theatre on Wednesday, December 27, as part of a recently announced tour, the band's first since 2012. This time, there’s no anniversary to celebrate or a new release to promote; they’ll just be performing a variety of songs spanning the course of their career since 1985. Amy Young

Trombone Shorty
Trombone Shorty
Mathieu Bitton

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
Thursday, December 28
The Van Buren

Troy Andrews, also known as Trombone Shorty, was born into a musical family and has lived a musical life.

He started playing trombone at four years old, knows his way around funk and jazz, and has been working as a professional musician since he was a teenager. While he's been immersed in music for most of the 31 years he’s been alive, it’s during breaks from listening to music that Andrews's brain starts to work and creativity hits.

“I’m not really influenced by anything at that moment,” he says. “It’s like having a blank canvas, and sometimes I might be driving down the street, and some people next to me might be having some hip-hop music on, but I can’t really understand what song it is, but I hear certain rhythms and my interpretations of those rhythms ... that triggers another whole idea in my head that I just start to hum in my phone and do different things.”

A similar thing happened when Andrews was in the studio with his nephew, who was listening to trap music on his headphones. Andrews, who could only hear patterns of the drums, ran down to a drum set, played what he’d heard, and the song became “Familiar,” which ended up on his new album, Parking Lot Symphony, released on Blue Note last April.

While some ideas for songs come unexpectedly, Andrews also collaborates with fellow musicians. He recorded a ’70s R&B-steeped title track on Parking Lot Symphony with Alex Ebert, frontman of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. Andrews says the term “parking lot symphony” refers to his experience playing music in the streets of New Orleans. Jon Soloman

Justice is scheduled to perform at Decadence Arizona 2017.EXPAND
Justice is scheduled to perform at Decadence Arizona 2017.
Paul Heartfield/Atlantic Records

Decadence Arizona 2017
Saturday, December 30, and Sunday, December 31
Rawhide Event Center in Chandler

Got anything scheduled for New Year's Eve just yet? If you’re an electronic dance music fiend, regular clubgoer, or kandi kid, your evening may have just gotten planned. Ditto for the night before.

Local EDM event promoter Relentless Beats has announced the first wave of DJs for this year’s Decadence Arizona, the two-night EDM festival and New Year’s Eve party that takes place during the final two evenings of the year.

As such, the 2017 version of Decadence Arizona will happen on Saturday, December 30, and Sunday, December 31, at Rawhide in Chandler. And according to Relentless Beats, which co-produces Decadence along with Colorado-based EDM promoter Global Dance, the 2017 lineup currently includes French house/nu-disco duo Justice, legendary trance DJ/producer Armin van Buuren, and masked electro/dubstep trio Black Tiger Sex Machine.

Others scheduled to perform include Destructo, Borgore, Boys Noize, Galantis, Crywolf, Madeon, Oliver Heldens, Party Favor, Sluggo, Snails, and Zedd. Benjamin Leatherman

The members of 311.EXPAND
The members of 311.
Marcello Ambriz

311
Sunday, December 31
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

For the better part of two decades, 311 has been cranking out album after album and trotting almost nonstop around the globe. Of the band's 12 albums, four have gone gold, one platinum, and one triple platinum. And oh yeah, the band's had seven singles hit the Top 10 on Billboard's Modern Rock charts.

The five-piece band was born in 1990 in Omaha, Nebraska, but their sound — a psychedelic rock/reggae/funk hybrid, full of crunchy guitars but embellished with positive lyrics, a neohippie vibe, and sounds from a DJ who is a core part of the band — didn't exactly set Nebraska on fire. So in 1992, the band stored all their belongings and pursued a life on the road, garnering ... well, almost no recognition from the media or the record industry.

It wasn't until nearly a year after putting out their third album — titled 311—that guitarist/singer Nick Hexum, DJ/singer S.A. Martinez, guitarist Tim Mahoney, drummer Chad Sexton, and bassist P-Nut finally saw their band climb the sales and airplay charts.

Nowadays, that's ancient history. Once the band bit down on success with its self-titled chart-topper, it didn't let go, following up with one album after another of mixed feel-good grooves and hard rockers, starting with their breakthrough 1997 release, Transistor. Christopher Lopez

Mac Sabbath performs in Phoenix in 2016.EXPAND
Mac Sabbath performs in Phoenix in 2016.
Jim Louvau

Mac Sabbath
Sunday, December 31
Club Red in Mesa

Heavy music, like heavy food, is best consumed voraciously and without much thought. But the McGenius behind Mac Sabbath is that they obviously put a lot of thought and skill into their quirky musical cookery, which roasts greasy fast-food corporations as much as it pays tribute to the pummeling rock of Ozzy and Sabbath.

Like many gimmick-driven grinders, the members shroud themselves in secret sauce. Mike Odd of local costumed rock legends Rosemary's Billygoat is involved, which explains Mac's ferocious metallic flavor and demented props. From their elaborate, super-sized costumes (Grimalice, the Catburglar and Slayer McCheeze back up creepy clown crooner Ronald Osbourne) to their clever, freak-fried takes on Sabbath's lyrics ("Pair-a-Buns" to the tune of "Paranoid," "Frying Pan" to the tune of "Iron Man"), these happy-meal menaces sizzle live, and always serve up much more than the empty calories of most cover bands.

Mac Sabbath will spend its New Year’s Eve at Marquee Theatre along with punk legends Dwarves and local act BroLoaf during a memorable send-off to 2017. Lina Lecaro

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