Here are our picks for best concerts to catch around town this week. For more options, check out our comprehensive concert calendar.
Puddles Pity Party - Crescent Ballroom - Monday, January 4
It could be said that a lot of clowns grace the stage at Crescent Ballroom, but just over a year ago, the term held a little more weight when Puddles Pity Party visited for a fun night of music and, uh, you know, clowning around. Puddles himself is a sad sack, a fully costumed clown who towers at nearly seven feet tall. The artist born Mike Geier of Atlanta leads a "band" that includes his wife, Shannon Newton, as the chimp girl Monkey Zuma.
Puddles sings to pre-recorded music, using his resounding operatic voice to deliver takes on songs by popular acts ranging from Metallica to Sia. He's fun and funny as hell, and the show is a rollercoaster of emotion and chaos, the latter coming a lot from his spontaneously pulling audience members to be a part of the show, sometimes making them perform along with him. AMY YOUNG
Willie Nelson - Celebrity Theater - Tuesday, January 5
Country music legend, activist, author, poet, actor—Willie Nelson fits into any one of these categories. He helped shape outlaw country towards the end of the 1960s, by bringing country artists who felt restricted by the Nashville sound together with "hippie" rock musicians, and his classic, low-key voice, timeless melodies, and ironic delivery branched him out even further to wide pop audiences.
Over the past five decades, he has respectfully bridged several artistic mediums, made even more impressive by the fact that he has also become the epitome of the "outlaw grandfather"—two characteristics that don't exactly go hand-in-hand. The major success of '70s records like Shotgun Willie, Red Headed Stranger, and Stardust made Nelson one of the most well-known country artists around. In the '80s his musical reputation broadened with singles like "Always on my Mind" and "On the Road Again"—songs that roll off the tongue even for those who think they don't know the words.
On the other hand, he's the perfect picture of the proverbial pothead. LAUREN WISE
Watch For Rocks - Crescent Ballroom - Tuesday, January 5
"Watch for rocks is an Indie-Rock band from Tempe composed of geology students with a passion for rocks & music," the band claims. And while minerals and tectonic plates don't exactly make for compelling lyrical fodder, the band's music is pleasing to the ear, sedimentary layers of '90s alt-rock and synth-driven pop. PHOENIX NEW TIMES
Nicole Pesce - ASU Kerr Cultural Center - Wednesday, January 6
Putting the "classic" back in "classical," pianist Nicole Pesce approaches her instrument with a virtuoso's skill and a pop star's showmanship. Between playing a medley of the music from Super Mario Brothers 3 and playing "Flight of the Bumblebee" on an iPad, there's more to Pesce's concerts than just a highly skilled instrumentalist sitting at a bench. Pesce has honed her skills in bars and restaurants across the Valley, and her show promises to showcase the best of what the pianist can offer. PHOENIX NEW TIMES
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Cayucas - Crescent Ballroom - Thursday, January 7
The 2013 release of Cayucas' debut album, Bigfoot, saw the duo tour extensively behind the bittersweet indie anthem “High School Lover.” Known for its lo-fi drums, grunts and a catchy hook that would be at home on the beach in Malibu, the song helped turn what initially was a project operating out of Zach's bedroom into a touring act, with the brothers and their backing band spending over a year on the road.
Following the Bigfoot tour, the Davis, California-bred brothers spent the better part of the past 18 months conceptualizing and putting together ideas that eventually would be the 10 tracks of their 2015 album Dancing at the Blue Lagoon. Before they went into the studio, though, their label's cofounder, Chris Swanson of Secretly Canadian, offered the duo advice they didn’t take lightly. He warned them of the rigors and pressure that come with a follow-up. DANIEL KOHN