Happy Fourth of July, everyone. If you’ve still got some mojo and, more importantly, money, left over from spending the three-day weekend partying and playing hooky from work, there are several notable shows happening this week.
The list includes gigs by pop princess Selena Gomez, indie singers like Mitski and Japanese Breakfast, rock legends Chicago, hardscrabble troubadour Todd Snider, burgeoning rapper Jon Bellion, and more.
Take a look at our concert picks for this week or check out our comprehensive concert calendar for more live music options. In the meantime, try to avoid blowing your limbs off with fireworks this evening.
Dillon Francis – Monday, July 4 – Maya Day and Nightclub
Thanks to our beloved Bill of Rights, particularly the First Amendment, we Americans enjoy the freedom to express ourselves however we choose to do so. When it comes to ultra-eccentric electronic dance music DJ/producer Dillon Francis, it means that he’s free to bust out with whatever hilarious or bizarre bits he can think of, which he does quite often on his Instagram and Snapchat accounts. That includes dressing up as a doughnut, showing off his personal piñata, Gerald, doing coke off an iPad, or poking fun at the excesses of the DJ world. He also shares his latest sounds, which are typically of the moombahton and electro-house variety, including his latest tracks, "Need You" and "Candy." You’re guaranteed to hear it being blasted at Maya Day and Nightclub in Scottsdale on Monday, July 4, when Francis headlines the Independence Day pool party at the club. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
New Madrid – Tuesday, July 5 – Valley Bar
There's an urgency to New Madrid. It's evident by the opening thrust of "Not In Me," the lead track on the Athens, Georgia, band's latest effort, magnetkingmagnetqueen. Sporting rapid, airy vocal overlays pushed by a frenetic drumbeat and prog-ish guitar licks, the song makes it clear New Madrid is not resting on its
growing acclaim, but is instead pushing into the exploratory ether. "There's not as much ambient-interlude kind of stuff on this record. The drums are more steady. We're still in the clouds sometimes, but it's all us," says principal songwriter and vocalist Phil McGill during a recent phone call from his home.
McGill's reference to being "in the clouds" refers to the band's earlier preference for inhabiting a psychedelic space more along the lines of Pink Floyd with hints of Eno-esque ambient textures. There's still a bevy of atmosphere filling the new album, but now it's more focused and concise. Guitars soar and shimmer, vocals echo and reverberate, drums skitter and stutter, basslines rumble or hypnotically repeat, but never to the point of excess. It's the sign of a band growing up, growing into each other. GLENN BURNSILVER
Selena Gomez – Tuesday, July 5 – Talking Stick Resort Arena
The cult of celebrity is freaking weird at best, and at its worst, it's horrifying. Is there possibly a balance that can be struck when someone is attractive, talented, and outgoing enough to put themselves out there in front of the world, yet still just a person like the rest of us? Is it even possible to have any semblance of normality when you are someone like Selena Gomez? Even if you get to have those normal moments, they are still probably clouded by the most intense mix of paranoia, fear, insecurity, and, no doubt, an intoxicating blend of the surreal and ridiculous.
And then, on top of it all, the shadow of Mickey Mouse, the musk of Justin Bieber, and the pressure of the bubblegum-pop world weighing down on your tiny shoulders as you attempt to distinguish yourself from people like Arianna Grande … If it were silence, it would be deafening, but instead, it’s just soul-crushing and deadening. How can you not feel sorry for Selena Gomez? We know how. Buy a ticket to her concert and dance the night away, because if you don’t, Taylor Swift will fix upon you the stone-cold, soul-killing stare of death possessed only by pop stars. TOM REARDON
Mitski, Japanese Breakfast, and Jay Som – Tuesday, July 5 – The Rebel Lounge
No two artists better exemplify the Asian American millennial female experience than lo-fi rockers Mitski and Japanese Breakfast. Your experience while listening to their music may vary, of course, but it's fairly apparent that themes of love and loss resonate universally on their awesomely titled recent albums, Bury Me At Makeout Creek and Psychopomp, respectively. And by the time she steps onstage at The Rebel Lounge this week, Mitski will have another album out that boasts an equally fantastic title, Puberty 2. Jay Som, whose sounds also fit the above description, will open the show with her self-described “woozy” guitar pop. All in all, it looks to be a real vibey night. ERIC SMITH
? Chicago – Wednesday, July 6 – Celebrity Theatre
“25 or 6 to 4” is a heavy piece of music. Listen to it with a head full of good, Grateful Dead-quality acid, and your life will change. Seriously. It is likely the dudes in Chicago were on to something pretty righteous when they recorded this song back in 1970 for their eponymously titled first album. It’s also the bane of existence for almost every stoner rock band ever, because they all try to figure out how to do a good cover version, but it ends up with the same conundrum: What to do about the totally kick-ass horns in the song?
Several bands have tried it, but most of them have failed miserably, except for Bruce Foxton, who played bass with the Jam. His version is excellent (although still looking up at the original with the awe of a tiny fanboy at a comicon), but then again, he was in the Jam and besides Chicago, the Jam is also one of the best bands ever to periodically employ some horns. Chicago is more than one song, though, and even though they ventured into some silly mashup of pop-soaked soft jazz for a good portion of their career, they totally bring it live. If you can stand the suburban version of Riverdance, you’ll have a good time at their show. TOM REARDON
Jon Bellion – Wednesday, July 6 – Crescent Ballroom
Jon Bellion cites Kanye West as an influence; he even went as far as dropping out of college to take on music as a career. Just like Yeezus himself, it seems like his determination paid off. Bellion wrote the hook to the Eminem and Rihanna single, "The Monster," and ever since then, he's been slowly garnering more and more attention. As a pop artist, Bellion has let the rap influence change up the usual pop artist plan of action by releasing a slew of mixtapes before a proper release. The latest is The Definition which opens on probably the most recognizable thing Kanye West has ever said (well, on an actual song), "Wait 'till I get my money right," and is filled to the brim with grandiose pop ballads. H. DREW BLACKBURN
The Falcon – Wednesday, July 6 – Pub Rock
Earlier this year, guitarist Brendan Kelly and his bandmates in punk rock act the Falcon released Gather Up the Chaps (Red Scare), which is the second full-length LP in the band’s 12-year existence. For fans of the Lawrence Arms or Alkaline Trio, the sound of the Falcon is definitely a departure of sorts, even if there are unmistakable similarities to the musician’s other projects. Kelly explains this best, actually. “It’s very, very dark. I usually don’t think of dark and fun going together,” Kelly says. Nevertheless, the Falcon’s effort is certainly a fun but dark punk-rock record. Kelly’s vocals add some serious edge to songs like “War of Colossus,” where Kelly sings during the opening verse: “You hate that boy in the mirror / You hate that boy in your clothes / I’m kinda starting to hate that boy too / I don’t give a shit if he knows.”
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The theme of “War on Colossus” is pretty heavy, but the way it is packaged into a minute and 47 seconds will please jaded old-school punks and younger poppy-punk fans alike. Other stand-out tracks on Gather Up the Chaps include “Hasselhoff Cheeseburger,” whose name alone is worthy of attention, and “If Dave Did It,” which weaves a tale of jealousy and potential for murder. Considering the success of the band’s other projects, it would be easy to consider the Falcon a side project, but Kelly doesn’t see it that way. “I consider the Falcon very much as important as anything else I do. Right now, it’s my main band,” Kelly says. For a pro like him, to just “mail it in” wouldn’t be good enough at all. TOM REARDON
Todd Snider – Thursday, July 7 – Musical Instrument Museum
It's hard to choose just one song as Todd Snider's musical calling card, but a halfway decent choice is "Alright Guy," from his 1994 debut, Songs for the Daily Planet. He starts that one off by ogling Madonna's Sex book and ends up swearing "maybe I'm dirty and maybe I smoke a little dope / But it ain't like I'm going on TV and tearing up pictures of the Pope." One of the wittiest troubadours anywhere, Snider is a constant thorn in the side of the music business, with a wicked ear for satire ("Talkin' Seattle Grunge-Rock Blues") and a deep appreciation for music history, calling his 2004 album East Nashville Skyline. No slacker this one, Snider is turning out to be a pretty good scamp himself. CHRIS GRAY