Prepare yourself: A few guitar gods will invade the Valley this week, as will outlaw country artists, gothy rockers, folk-punkers, and indie favorites.
That’s because such acts and artists as Yngwie Malmsteen, Jaime Wyatt, The Birthday Massacre, Days N Daze, The Cave Singers, and Keb’ Mo’ are are headed to town for shows.
And you can get the details on their performances (as well as gigs by Hurray for the Riff Raff, Whores, JMSN, and Jackie Greene) by checking out our rundown of the best concerts in Phoenix this week.
And if you need even more live music in your life, our extensively updated online concerts listings have even more shows for your considerations.
Monday, June 5
Marquee Theatre in Tempe
Eddie Van Halen may have put the art of shredding on the map with 1978’s “Eruption,” but Yngwie Malmsteen spent the entire 1980s taking the blueprint, adding influences from 18th- and 19th-century classical music, and blowing the concept up into a grandiose display of guitar histrionics. The Swedish-born musician initially broke through as a teenage prodigy with early-’80s L.A. metal band Alcatrazz. Malmsteen’s guitar-hero status emerged with his Rising Force project in the years that followed. His neoclassical shred-guitar compositions took center stage and influenced a wave of musicians welding metallic loudness with over-the-top technicality, which continues to this day with modern acts such as L.A.’s own Exmortus. Malmsteen has at times become shorthand in metal circles for guitar excess, but when it’s as shamelessly bombastic as this, it’s all good. Jason Roche
Monday, June 5
Since its '70s heyday, “outlaw country” has become marketing shorthand – a reach across to the aisle toward urban cowboys or “country for people who don’t like country.” Then there’s Jaime Wyatt, the latest country songwriter to break out of L.A.’s increasingly vibrant, twang-centric scene. Her biography makes her the outlaw country answer to 50 Cent. She got her first record deal at 17, which led to song placements on the Wicker Park soundtrack but little more. After that deal dissolved, Wyatt moved to L.A. and received another recording contract, which also went nowhere. In the depressive aftermath, she developed an addiction to hard drugs, part of a desperate tailspin that led to her robbing her dealer and spending eight months in jail. There’s a narrow line between authenticity and procuring literary material. The books and poems of Nelson Algren, William S. Burroughs, and Charles Baudelaire are populated by the seedy underworld characters they encountered. In Wyatt’s case, the songs on her latest album, Felony Blues, are short stories riddled with psychic carnage. There are love doxologies and gin-soaked lamentations cloaked in gorgeous arrangements and a forlorn stardust wail. Think Bonnie Raitt with a backstory closer to Boosie. Jeff Weiss
The Birthday Massacre
Monday, June 5
Pub Rock Live in Scottsdale
The Birthday Massacre are heavy on the edges with a strong pop sensibility that has been charming fans for more than 15 years. The Canadian-born gothic rock/dark wave band – which includes such colorfully named musicians in its lineup as lead vocalist Chibi, rhythm guitarist Rainbow, lead guitarist Falcore, and drummer Rhim – nails the art of combining sublime and tender moments with bold guitars and dramatic synths on its latest album, Under Your Spell. Show up early to their gig at Pub Rock Live in Scottsdale to check out like-minded dark rock openers Army of the Universe and Ludovico Technique. Liz Ohanesian
Monday, June 5, and Tuesday, June 6
Musical Instrument Museum
Developing the rootsy edge that inhabits Jackie Greene’s latest album (and first in five years), Back to Birth, has been a long time coming. Though Greene was once hailed as the “new Dylan” for his acoustic guitar/harmonica soirées during the coffeehouse period that informed much of his teenage years, his initial albums displayed a wider stylistic range, from 1970s pop to classic rock to soul and blues. The seeds were there, but it was only after being drafted to play with The Band’s Levon Helm, and later the Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh and Bob Weir (in separate projects) and his time in the final iteration of the Black Crowes, that Greene has hit upon his most fully realized and deeply centered project to date. A laid-back, earthy California vibe full of lush harmonies and strum-along chords bolsters Greene’s work. Add the richness of honest, homespun tales and Greene’s music unconsciously shades toward The Band, Jackson Browne, The Black Crowes, and even one clearly B.B. King-inspired number. At the core is a simplicity that recalls the purity of songwriting, the kind that doesn’t require anything more than a back porch to reproduce — though Greene’s stage performance only strengthens the music’s resolve. Glenn BurnSilver
Days N Daze
Tuesday, June 6
This Houston band founded in 2008 has accrued upward of 34,000 likes on Facebook. Although they rightly have dubbed their music “thrashgrass” – it's largely acoustic, and also, well, really, really fast – Days N Daze are more complicated than that, like the way they weave trumpet into the songs on 2013's The Oogle Deathmachine, one of their many releases available on Bandcamp. Likewise, their lyrics tackle prickly themes like terrorism and environmental devastation alongside more recreational pursuits; apparently, they've spent at least one night in jail. And they’re also constantly on the road, having toured Europe and played Quebec's Amnesia Rockfest alongside the likes of blink-182, Rise Against, and Ice Cube. This week, their latest tour bring them to Trunk Space, where they’ll headline the Sweet Release Fest, which will also feature performances from folk-punkers We The Heathens and locals like Sad Kid and Diego Galvan. Chris Gray
The Cave Singers
Wednesday, June 7
At first listen, Cave Singers doesn't sound like a band that came out of the ashes of Pretty Girls Make Graves, Hint Hint, or Cobra High. But considering that it features Derek Fudesco, who made a name for himself in the whiskey-swigging garage-rock band Murder City Devils before doing time in PGMG, the sound makes perfect sense. There's still plenty of down-and-out wordplay here, and lead singer Pete Quirk's voice resembles that of a chain-smoking, nasally Bruce Springsteen. It's all a bit slower than you might expect from a group with such a pedigree, but the rustic nature of the act as a whole has more in common with Murder City Devils than is initially apparent. Thorin Klosowski
Wednesday, June 7
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Earlier this year, blues music legends Taj Mahal and Keb’ Mo’ announced a very special, full-band tour in support of their first album as a duo, TajMo. And as any blues guru can testify, Taj Mahal has been a purveyor of both blues and world music beats for over 50 years, in which time he's written for and toured with a who's-who of musical giants, from The Rolling Stones to Eric Clapton to Ali Farka Toure. Keb' Mo', no rookie himself, has been around since the early '80s as one of the leading voices in the Americana scene. He's also a guitar gunslinger whose interplay with Taj Mahal's multi-instrumental chops should make for quite a sight during their concert inside the Virginia G. Piper Theater at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts on June 7. Jeff Strowe
Hurray for the Riff Raff
Wednesday, June 7
Alynda Segarra started her career as a runaway 17-year-old, busking her way down city streets before forming Hurray for the Riff Raff in 2007. Not to be confused with rapper RiFF RAFF, Segarra’s band is a lighter take on the folk genre. Her nigh-hypnotic vocals melt over an eclectic range of instrumentation. Country crescendos, popping bongos and the occasional salsa beat underline Segarra’s poetry, shifting genres almost from track to track. The group's latest album, The Navigator, takes the concept to the next level, with Segarra using her Dylan-esque brand of storytelling to delve into the triumphs and travails of her own story, one of a Puerto Rican girl growing up in America. Tracks like “14th Floor” juxtapose Segarra’s experience of living in a New York high-rise with that of her father’s propeller plane ride to New York from his native Puerto Rico. Hurray for the Riff Raff is folk music with a beating heart. Unafraid to strip down the traditional nostalgia of folk music in order to express deeper truths, Hurray for the Riff Raff is a true melting pot of traditional American music and Segarra’s modern American experience. Nicholas Bostick
Wednesday, June 7
The Rebel Lounge
A band’s name sets an expectation. Call your band Fluffy Bunnies and, without factoring in the possibility of irony, listeners will guess some lilting sounds will abound. Calling your band Whores, on the other hand, fosters an image of something a little edgier. The Atlanta band who bear that name? They eat edgy for breakfast. Together, the band’s members — Christian Lembach (vocals and guitar), Donnie Adkinson (drums), and Casey Maxwell (bass) — sound like a musical army hitting you with heavy-rock assault. Their sound embraces punk, metal, and noise for a thick, driving output that defies predictability. It’s as much for fans of stoner rock or classic metal as it is for fans of old-school noise rock acts like NYC’s Unsane. After playing for nearly six years and releasing some EPs and a split single with the band Rabbits, Whores released their first full-length, Gold, in late 2016. It was a fast favorite, charting as Rolling Stone’s 10th best metal album of the year. From front to back, the 10 songs on this record use the total runtime of 35 minutes wisely. For this band, melodic sludge and thick rock don’t always need more than three minutes to make a point. They’re out to destroy. Like their 2013 song “Baby Bird” says, “I’m going out tonight and I hope that it hurts.” That should set the expectation for what their live show offers. Amy Young
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Thursday, June 8
JMSN’s constant is his smooth, endearing falsetto, but everything else around him is always changing. Nonetheless, his loyal, underground cult following has stuck with him through the twists and turns of his career, during which he’s been part of an electro-pop act on a Motown label, had a turn at producing spaced-out R&B tracks strikingly similar to The Weeknd’s early recordings and developed into a charming soul artist in the vein of D’Angelo. The boundless artist may change his scenery every few years, but each metamorphosis brings new acclaim, such as Usher calling JMSN his favorite new act in 2012 after he released Priscilla. That’s when he earned collaborations with Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, The Game, Ab-Soul, Kaytranada, and more. It’s unclear what his latest album, Whatever Makes U Happy, has garnered him, considering it was released last month, but it may not matter because the message it delivers is to find personal freedom and do what makes you happy. Mikel Galicia