The 30 Best Concerts in April in Phoenix

Elvis Costello is scheduled to perform on Friday, April 8, at Mesa Arts Center.
Elvis Costello is scheduled to perform on Friday, April 8, at Mesa Arts Center.
Andy Gotts

If you thought last month was packed with big shows, wait until you get a load of what April’s concert calendar has in store for y’all. It’s loaded up with many notable names from the music world, not to mention loads of blockbuster bands, influential artists, tastemaking talents, and a variety of radio-friendly unit shifters who have sold millions upon millions of albums.

Arguably the most esteemed musician that’s scheduled to swing through the Valley in the coming weeks is Elvis Costello, the bespectacled rock ‘n’ roll icon who’s influenced countless creatives over the last several decades.

Other highlights of this month’s concert calendar include visits from numerous artists and acts that are scheduled to be at this year’s Coachella. And thanks to the fact it happens to take place over the course two weekends over in California, many on the lineup have also scheduled performances here in Valley before, after, and in between their appearances in Indio.

There are a multitude of other show happening in and around Metro Phoenix between now and April 30, all of which you can find in our extensive online concert listings. In the meantime, here are our picks for the best gigs in town this month.

The 30 Best Concerts in April in PhoenixEXPAND
Andreas Neumann

Herb Alpert and Lani Hall - Tuesday, April 5, and Wednesday, April 6 - Musical Instrument Museum

Two living legends, Herb Alpert and Lani Hall, will treat audiences at MIM’s Music Theater to their unmatched talents and unforgettable music on back-to-back evenings in April. Alpert, of course, is the renowned trumpet player who spent the better part of the 1960s with the highly influential Tijuana Brass, creating such notable songs as “The Lonely Bull” and “Spanish Flea” while racking up six Grammy awards and more than a dozen gold records. He earned even more fame and acclaim in such genres as jazz, Latin, R&B, and funk after going solo in the ‘70s, including penning the 1979 hit “Rise” and collaborating with Janet Jackson and Lisa Keith on 1986’s “Diamonds.”

Hall, his wife of more than four decades, rose to stardom as the lead vocalist for Sergio Menes’ project Brasil ’66, sung the title track to the James Bond flick Never Say Never Again, and recorded a string of successful Latin pop records in the mid-1980s. The couple will perform songs off their 2013 album Steppin’ Out, including covers of “Moondance” and “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” as well as a medley of Tijuana Brass hits and a number of jazz and pop standards. BRITTANY ACKERMAN

Rock 'n' roll icon Joan Jett.EXPAND
Rock 'n' roll icon Joan Jett.
Roger Erickson

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts - Wednesday, April 6 - Arizona Bike Week at WestWorld

Joan Jett and her accomplices are became members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last year, and rightfully so. No disrespect to Linda Ronstadt, Darlene Love or Wanda Jackson, who are all wonderful pop and/or country singers, but you have to go back nine years before the last lady rocker to make it into the Hall, the incomparable Patti Smith. But Smith is a poetess while Jett is a rocker to the core — normally sporting low-top Converse and the motorcycle jacket she wears like a uniform — down to her soft spot for oldies like "Crimson and Clover" and "Hanky Panky."

In their own way, her songs are as poetic as Patti Smith's, but often a lot more blunt: "I don't give a damn 'bout my reputation/ Never been afraid of any deviation," she sings on "Bad Reputation," the 1981 song that put her on the map once the Runaways, her original band, had run their course. And Jett’s signature solo hit from the same year, “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” and its famous line "put another dime in the jukebox, baby" has all but outlasted jukeboxes themselves, not to mention anything at all that costs a damn dime. CHRIS GRAY

Pop singer extraordinaire Tory Kelly.EXPAND
Pop singer extraordinaire Tory Kelly.
Schoolboy Records

Tori Kelly - Wednesday, April 6 - Marquee Theatre

What do Tori Kelly and Kendrick Lamar have in common? They've both carried on the tradition of being snubbed at the Grammy's by milquetoast pop artists (OK, Taylor's fine, but Meghan Trainor winning is unacceptable). Kelly might even be more well-known for the look she gave while the winners were announced. And it's a shame, because Kelly is a damn talented multi-instrumentalist, singer and performer who effortlessly creates exciting and catchy pop songs that you won't be forgetting anytime soon. MATT WOOD

The members of southern-fried AC/DC tribute Hayseed Dixie.EXPAND
The members of southern-fried AC/DC tribute Hayseed Dixie.
Erik Drabløs

Hayseed Dixie - Wednesday, April 6 - Rhythm Room

I believe that it was the ancient philosopher-king Jeff Foxworthy who once said, “If you enjoy both Appalachian bluegrass and AC/DC, you’re for goddamned sure a redneck.” And you’re not alone. Hayseed Dixie has played to thousands all over the world for the past 15 years by cranking out hard-rockin’ tunes like “Highway to Hell” and “Big Balls” on mandolin, banjo and fiddle. They’ve gotten pretty damn good at it, too, branching out into covers of Queen, Pink Floyd, Prince and even George Michael. You can’t tell us you wouldn’t pay good money to hear a shirtless man in overalls sing “Careless Whisper” while the guy next to him is fiddling. No, seriously. NATHAN SMITH

Techno oddity Black Asteroid is on a collision course with Phoenix.
Techno oddity Black Asteroid is on a collision course with Phoenix.
Matthew Reeves

Black Asteroid - Thursday, April 7 - Monarch Theatre

Black Asteroid is one of many incarnations of musician Bryan Black's creativity. Black, meanwhile, is half the brains behind MOTOR, a techno powerhouse that opened for the Depeche Mode world tour in 2009 and formed after Black finished working as a sound designer for none other than Prince. Black Asteroid gives him the opportunity to take his trademark mechanical, gorgeously dissonant sound and mold it into a precision missile of power aimed at your sense of rhythm. Its a relatively new persona for Black, who was signed to Chris Liebing's illustrious CLR label a week after he released his debut EP in 2011. Clearly he's doing something very, very right. AMBER TAUFEN

Tyler Hubbard (left) and Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line.
Tyler Hubbard (left) and Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line.
Benjamin Leatherman

Country Thunder 2016 - Thursday, April 7, to Sunday, April 10 - Canyon Moon Ranch

If you’re a hipster or indie rock fan, especially one with a big bankroll, there’s a good chance you might be traveling westward later this month to Coachella. Conversely, country music fans, especially those with a yen for partying in the great outdoors, are going to be heading in a different direction altogether. More precisely, they make the hour-long trek outside of the Valley for Country Thunder, the four-day concert festival that’s as much about the hootin’ and the hollerin’ as it is the music.

An enormous bacchanal of boots, beer, and buckaroos that encompasses the sprawling Canyon Moon Ranch outside of Florence, the annual Country Thunder features a big lineup of more than three dozen bands and musicians performing various takes on the genre. This year’s lineup includes such names as Kip Moore, Old Dominion, Brooke Edge, Ryan Hurd, Chase Bryant, The Cole Trains, Florida Georgia Line, Cole Swindell, The Cadillac Three, Bryan White, Jake Owen, Eric Church, Randy Houser, A Thousand Horses, Casey Donahew Band, and many more.

The man, the myth, the glasses: Elvis Costello.EXPAND
The man, the myth, the glasses: Elvis Costello.
Courtesy photo

Elvis Costello - Friday, April 8 - Mesa Arts Center

Nearly four decades ago, Elvis Costello released his extraordinary debut album, My Aim Is True, which comprised songs that would become rock-and-roll staples, including "Alison," "(The Angels Want to Wear My) Red Shoes" and "Less Than Zero." Since then, Costello has released two dozen studio albums under his own name or with his groups the Attractions and the Imposters, in addition to collaborations like 2013's Wise Up Ghost, a team effort with the Roots. While it's great to see Costello perform fueled-up rock with a full band, seeing the legend solo — as he'll be tonight inside the Ikeda Theater at Mesa Arts Center — should be sublime. Larkin Poe will open the evening. JON SOLOMON

The Nordic nightmare-bringers of Amon Amarth.EXPAND
The Nordic nightmare-bringers of Amon Amarth.
Metal Blade Records

Amon Amarth - Friday, April 8 - The Pressroom

"Fueling flames of violent rage" isn't just one of Amon Amarth's lyrics, it's the Swedish five-piece's mission statement. In two decades the Stockholm band has hacked their way to the top of the melodic-metal pyre, setting it alight with a host of bloodthirsty anthems as rich in Nordic folklore as death-metal devastation. In 2013, for instance, they rewarded superfans with several editions of their album Deceiver of the Gods, one of them a $100 job boasting a 10-bust of their trickster deity of choice, Loki. Plenty of hair-whipping poser bands play at Viking metal, All Music Guide once noted, while Amon Amarth's works "aren't just written about Vikings, they are written by Vikings." CHRIS GRAY

Metalcore fiends Killswitch Engage.
Metalcore fiends Killswitch Engage.
Roadrunner Records

Killswitch Engage - Saturday, April 9 - Marquee Theatre

Face it: Killswitch Engage is an act that really throws out the rulebook on how to do a "mettttttttt-alllllllll" show. Be prepared to hear guitarist/court jester Adam Dutkiewicz offer up plenty of great one-liners that mock metal machismo. He might even wear something like a cape and short shorts. But aside from that, the band has a great catalog filled with meaty riffs, complex drumming and anthemic, harmonious choruses. Yes, thankfully, there are still bands out there that can pull this off without sounding like emo mush. With Memphis May Fire and 36 Crazyfists. ERIC GRUBBS

The colorful and kooky members of Peelander Z.
The colorful and kooky members of Peelander Z.
Brian Byers

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Peelander-Z - Saturday, April 9 - Pub Rock

Given the liquid gyrations of their anime styling and the general sexual repression of their Japanese homeland, it just makes sense that a group of Japanese dudes would start a "Japanese action comic punk band" called Peelander-Z. But we hear you say, "Didn't Peelander-Z form in New York City?" Before you get a rope, understand that despite their city of origin, they couldn't be any more Nihon.

Setting aside the fact that dress like super sentai (just as color-coordinated and wacked-out as the most over-the-top Power Rangers outfits) and their tendency to engage in human bowling or chair-throwing wrestling during their sets, take a listen to tracks like "So Many Mike" or "Happee Pee" and all will be clear. Like The Polysics, Maximum the Hormone, and Shonen Knife, Peelander-Z is all about high-intensity punk antics. So don your own single-color superhero duds and fight oversize squid monsters with these pretty punks from Planet Peelander as they beam down to Pub Rock. JONATHAN MCNAMARA

Lil Jon in the mix and in the club.EXPAND
Lil Jon in the mix and in the club.
Benjamin Leatherman

Lil Jon - Sunday, April 10 - Talking Stick Resort

So you’re one of those rowdy cats who hits the club every weekend and considers themselves to be a major party monster, huh? Sorry to be the ones to break it to you, son, but you ain’t got nothing on Lil Jon. The notorious rap superstar and crunk king can go harder than anyone, all while drinking you under the table, pulling off dance moves that put yours to shame, hanging with celebs like Patriots partying fiend Rob Gronkowski, and sporting the dopest grill ever. Lil Jon also gets plenty wild behind the mixers during his DJ sets, including spraying down audiences with countless bottles of champagne, acting as his own hype man on the mic, and dropping such signature hits as “Get Low” and (of course) “Turn Down for What.” He’ll likely bust out with similarly over-the-top on Sunday, April 10, at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale during the launch of its summer-long Release Pool Party series. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN

Devojka (left), Dan Boeckner (center), and Sam Brown of Operators
Devojka (left), Dan Boeckner (center), and Sam Brown of Operators
Courtesy photo

Operators - Monday, April 11 - Valley Bar

Dan Boeckner’s musical résumé, which includes Wolf Parade and Handsome Furs, reads like the indie rock equivalent of a Major League Baseball journeyman player. The Canadian singer-songwriter performs well with any team he plays for, but the guitarist doesn’t always get the recognition that his teammates do. His recent collaboration, Divine Fits, was billed as the side project of Spoon’s Britt Daniel. Boeckner is a man who lets his work, not his ego, do the talking.

The musician’s latest venture, the new wave synth-pop trio Operators (whose lineup includes Divine Fits drummer Sam Brown and synth player Devojka), would punch his ticket to the metaphorical All-Star Game if the project wasn’t in danger of being overshadowed by the news of Wolf Parade’s return to touring. The debut single off Operators’ first full-length album Blue Wave, titled “Cold Light,” starts out with jangly percussion and then goes dark fast. A hooky bass riff and synths engulf you in gloom as Boeckner cries “you can’t go home.” The album makes you appreciate what he really brought to the table during his time with Divine Fits. Here’s hoping Operators finally gives Boeckner an opportunity to shine. JASON KEIL

The members of Acid Dad.EXPAND
The members of Acid Dad.
Courtesy photo

Acid Dad - Tuesday, April 12 - Valley Bar

The demeaning stigmas of a college rock band don’t lend themselves to Acid Dad, because this isn’t some shabby weekend project formed to score fans and free beer. They consider themselves to be an NYC psych-punk act, and, more specifically, a Brooklyn NYC psych-punk band. Pounding single “Grim” confirms their psych-rock aspirations, as the opening note reverberates between your ears well into the track. They’re fully committed and have spent the past year actively writing, performing, and recording all on their own. (Still, that doesn’t mean they’re not enjoying the beer.) They play Valley Bar on April 12 with locals The Rebel Set scheduled to open. SILAS VALENTINO

The Used will celebrate their first two albums during back-to-back gigs at Marquee Theatre.EXPAND
The Used will celebrate their first two albums during back-to-back gigs at Marquee Theatre.
Ryan Muirhead

The Used - Tuesday, April 12, and Wednesday, April 13 - Marquee Theatre

For the last 15 years, Bert McCracken and The Used have been the poster boys for the 2000s post-hardcore/emo/screamo scene alongside bands like Taking Back Sunday and Brand New. Unlike many of those other bands — some of which are now reuniting after taking the better part of a decade off — The Used never had a big falling out or stopped making music. "The end goal for The Used is for us to all feel free and to think about our lives in a way that feels like we're not a slave to necessity in the world of music," McCracken says.

This year, The Used will be enjoying that freedom as they take their 15th anniversary tour across the country. Each will consist of two consecutive dates — the first to play their self-titled debut album in its entirety, and the second for their sophomore effort, In Love and Death. McCracken still remembers what it felt like to write those albums ("Being a teenager is impossibly hard"), but the now-34-year-old also sees how much the world has changed since he penned the lyrics to tracks like "Buried Myself Alive" and "The Taste of Ink” way back when. "It's definitely going to feel different in the world we live in now," McCracken says. "It's a world where apathy is no longer cool. It's no longer cool to not give a shit about things. It's amazing to watch the transition of meaning in these songs. When you're younger, they're about you and about finding your place in the world. As we grow older, we develop a less selfish idea of how the world works." JOSH CHESLER

Anthony Gonzalez of M83.
Anthony Gonzalez of M83.

M83 - Wednesday, April 13 - Comerica Theatre

If you’re attending the upcoming M83 show at Comerica Theatre, pay close attention to the lovely singer with the multi-colored hair. As reported by our sister paper Dallas Observer, North Texas musician Kaela Sinclair won an open call to join the French electronic band on tour. Instead of preparing for the release of her second solo album, the former music teacher is putting her own ambitions on hold to see the world. She will perform with the group whose saxophones and synthesizers permeated the public conscious on the 2011 track “Midnight City” from their breakthrough double album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. Sinclair is joining the tour in support of the release of highly anticipated record Junk. Judging from the sound of the first two singles “Solitude” and “Do It, Try It,” the new album is a response to the glossy, ambitious sound that was seemingly a part of every video game, commercial, and indie film of the last half-decade. Sinclair’s expectation for a life-changing tour comes at a time when the M83 audience doesn’t know quite what to expect. JASON KEIL

Victoria Legrand (left) and Alex Scally of Beach House.EXPAND
Victoria Legrand (left) and Alex Scally of Beach House.
Shawn Brackbill

Beach House - Thursday, April 14 - Marquee Theatre

The grandiose sweep of M83’s orchestrations should still be ringing inside the ears of local indie pop fans when Beach House show up the following night with their mellower brand of dream pop. Over the years, the Baltimore duo have blown their intimate sound out to an ever grander scale, without sacrificing the evocative stream-of-consciousness flair that defined their earliest bedroom recordings. Their most recent records, Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars, sound every bit as throwback as their first, with Victoria Legand and Alex Scully’s haunting vocal interplay managing to evoke the illusion of a third voice floating in their rich instrumentals. Beachgoers may consider having a pillow on deck, as the pair have been known to host “slumber parties” in an attempt to keep things intimate and mimic their earlier cozy, at-home vibes — no mean feat in Tempe’s 2,500-capacity Marquee Theatre. MATT PAYNE


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