The Eight Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week
Chris Schlarb's Psychic Temple is scheduled to perform on Wednesday, May 18, at The Newton.
Looking for a memorable concert to see over the next few nights? Consider any of the following eight options making up our list of the best shows taking place this week, which include such acts and artists as Filter, Orgy, Atreyu, Titus Andronicus, and Wild Nothing. There's even a Prince tribute show featuring some the Valley's best artists and musicians.
As always, if you're looking for even more live music happening in and around the Valley, be sure to check out our comprehensive Phoenix concert calendar for even more uses for your concert-going dollar.
The late Prince performs.
Dearly beloved, we have gathering together to mourn the recent passing of the legend and icon known as Prince and get through this thing called life without him. In fact, the world is still very much in mourning over the loss of His Royal Badness three weeks after the fact, as evidenced by the number of homages and celebrations being conducted in his honor.
That includes this week’s event, Purple Reign: A Prince Tribute, happening at the Crescent Ballroom on Wednesday, May 17. Several local acts and artists like Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra, Tina Estes, and Dr. Delicious will honor the life, legacy, and unforgettable sounds of the dearly departed music icon with a variety of covers and tribute performances. All proceeds from the event will also benefit both the Phoenix School of Hip-Hop and the Limelight Youth Theatre. Those in attendance wearing Prince-inspired attire will also get $2 off the price of admission.
It’s hard to imagine that a once-platinum band would feel the need to crowdsource a tour, let alone that they would fall more than $90,000 short, but Orgy of “Blue Monday” cover fame found a way. However, the “death pop” originators did not let the crowdsourcing embarrassment stop them from dropping their first album in more than a decade last year, nor did they allow the snafu to stop them from hitting the road. In fact, Orgy’s misfortune in crowdsourcing was really a stroke of good luck for fans of mid-’90s nu-metal and industrial music, as they decided to team up with fellow fan sourcers Filter for a nationwide trek entitled the “Make America Hate Again” tour.
Filter didn’t attempt to crowdsource a tour and fail like its tourmates; what Richard Patrick, formerly of Nine Inch Nails, did with his project was allow his fans to look in on the recording studio sessions that he and his bandmates were doing on livestream for the price of $175 per half hour or a cool $300 per hour. Even though the only original member, and the only member who had ever recorded with Filter before was Patrick, watching a band go through the recording process is still somewhat of a thrill for a fan, and enough Filter fans were into it that they were able to release Crazy Eyes on April 8. If 2016 has proven anything thus far, it’s that the ’90s are alive and well in more places than just Portland, and for a ’90s rock fan, this is damn near a wet dream. JEFF MOSES
Rap king Tech N9ne.
In an era when music sales are at an all-time low even for mainstream artists, independent Kansas City rapper Tech N9ne has carved a niche for himself. He's a demigod for his outlying cult of fans known as Technicians, not at all dissimilar to Insane Clown Posse’s dedicated horde of Juggalos. Known for his rapid-fire flow and embracing of the weird, he’s racked up more than two million album sales in his decade-plus career that features 16 albums.
Technicians love the music, but it is Tech N9ne’s relentless touring schedule that has earned his fans’ dedication. Typically averaging more than 100 concerts a year, he constantly delivers the goods and performs with a theatrical fervor that puts him among the best live rap acts in the game. Those tireless efforts have earned Tech N9ne a spot on Forbes’ Cash Kings list four years in a row, which ranks the top earning hip-hop acts in the country, and backs up his claim that his record label Strange Music is the most successful independent label in the country. The Independent Powerhouse Tour bill features numerous artists on the label including Krizz Kaliko and Rittz. MIKEL GALICIA
Jack Tatum, who performs as Wild Nothing.
Jack Tatum recorded a cover of Kate Bush’s song “Cloudbursting” in his bedroom under the moniker Wild Nothing. In the seven years since that single caught the attention of acclaimed indie label Captured Tracks, the Virginia native has gone on to record three full-length albums. While the albums all started in humble conditions, the final projects are now finished in the studio. Tatum can finally work with tools that cannot be found on a laptop. In fact, his obsessive nature forces him to play as many of his own instrumental parts as he can.
Wild Nothing’s latest release, Life Of Pause, was partially recorded in Sweden with Peter, Bjorn, and John producer Thom Monahan. Life Of Pause displays a slight change in musical direction for the band, with the shoe gaze on which Tatum built his reputation giving way to a more psychedelic techno feel that resembles the electronic duo Air. The songs, which continue to focus on pining for love, alienation, and adapting to strange surroundings, tackle the same themes that have made Tatum a success. Despite his many sonic strengths, Tatum has one weakness: percussion. He recently admitted in a Reddit interview that he “sucks at drums.” JASON KEIL
Multi-talented multi-instrumentalist Chris Schlarb.
Southern California-based composer/producer/multi-instrumentalist (and truck driver) Chris Schlarb is a man of what you'd call diverse tastes. For his albums, he assembles the dream bands (of his wildest dreams) and comes up with new, non-genre-specific music by juxtaposing the players' disparate aesthetic worlds. This formula made for accessibly iconoclastic results on his 2010 album, Psychic Temple, where Schlarb's 29-member cast included Minutemen bassist Mike Watt, vocalist Julianna Barwick, and pianist Mick Rossi of the Philip Glass Ensemble. Schlarb's quest for total meltdown music continues on his new album, III, which brings together another eclectic cast from the progressive jazz, art-pop, rock, and metal spheres. JOHN PAYNE
New Wave nostalgia hits Rhythm Room hard when lauded '80s act Modern English swing through Phoenix this week. Although the band did technically get back together in the late '90s and record new material, albeit with a slightly different lineup, it's the group's mid-'80s heyday for which it's most beloved. Back in the day, Modern English scored critical laurels from heavyweights like John Peel for taking synth-driven postpunk and pushing it to pop audiences. Of course, the biggest of these hits is the immortal "I Melt With You," a staple of retro dance parties worldwide. But other singles, like the earlier "Smiles and Laughter" and the later "Chapter 12," were equally melodic takes on keyboard-boosted dance-punk.
These days, Modern English is touring again with (mostly) an old-school lineup and is gratefully playing all the hits with some of its newer material sprinkled into its set lists. Support for the Rhythm Room show comes courtesy of Phoenix’s like-minded New Wave/pop band The Captives and DJ Manchester of monthly dance night Shadowplay. ARIELLE CASTILLO
The indie rockers of Titus Andronicus.
On their first three albums, Titus Andronicus earned a reputation as one of America’s hardest-working and most exciting indie-rock bands of the new millennium, developing a curious Civil War fascination even as their sound followed the arena-chasing example of fellow Jersey natives Bruce Springsteen and Gaslight Anthem. However, they lacked that Big Statement that could grab people’s attention outside their own tight-knit fan base, but now they have it in The Most Lamentable Tragedy (Merge). Presented as a rock opera in five acts, their fourth album takes almost 30 songs and more than 90 minutes to unspool its convoluted plot about a hero and his evil twin. Clearly, both their ambitions and the grandiose music of TMLT place Titus Andronicus among rock’s other great Angry Young Men of past generations — The Who, The Clash, Elvis Costello — who grew up quickly enough but had a much harder time mellowing out. CHRIS GRAY
The members of Atreyu.
Atom Splitter PR
Atreyu is one of those bands whose style of hardcore and heavy metal has supremely crossed over into the mainstream. From Gothenburg metal to Johnny Cash, Atreyu takes the cake for merging influences. They’re currently in the midst of their “A Death Grip on Yesterday” 10-year anniversary tour, and it sounds like the band couldn’t be more stoked. They’re still supporting their September 2015 release, Long Live, and are ready to show fans a great time. Islander rounds out this bill, a band I saw at Rock on the Range in 2011 and have been keeping track ever since. This act is going places. LAUREN WISE
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