The Seven Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week
The Octopus Project is scheduled to perform on Thursday, February 23, at the Rebel Lounge.
Everyone all dried out from all that deluge that took place over the weekend? Is all the rain gone? Hope so, since folks tend to get a little nutty around these parts whenever drops start falling from the sky.
Now that it’s all behind us, let’s look forward to what’s ahead, like all the shows worth seeing this week. (You can also head over to our online concert calendar to see what’s on tap the next few days.)
Chicago-born hip-hop artist Noname.
Noname – Monday, February 20 – Crescent Ballroom
Fatimah “Noname” Warner’s roots in slam poetry define her expressive flow. She grew up listening to Chicago blues, and her full-length debut, Telefone, offers personal reflections that testify to those early listening sessions. Over groovy, R&B-inflected beats, she offers views of her neighborhood, faith, and daily struggles, but death — due to both human violence and as the end result of the human condition — haunts the album. “Blue and white / badges and pistols rejoice in the night / and we watch the news/and we see him die tonight,” she raps on “Casket Pretty.” But Noname is hardly defeatist; on album opener “Yesterday” she raps about the power of communication. “Check my Twitter page for something holier than black death,” she states with a hopeful grace. JASON P. WOODBURY
The Growlers – Tuesday, February 21 – Valley Bar
Listening to the music of the Growlers is a bit like listening to oldies radio before that format was taken over by music from the '80s rather than being dominated by classic pop songs from the late '50s through the mid-'60s. There's a touch of rockabilly, a hint of early psychedelic garage rock, and a dash of surf guitar. It also sounds as though the band's guitarist learned a trick or 10 from Lonnie Donegan. Like the Strange Boys, the Growlers sound out of time, retro in the same sense that there is a retro aesthetic to the films of David Lynch — minus the mind-warping sense of the bizarre, of course. The strangeness of the Growlers is more subtle, tuneful, and catchy, but no less eccentric. TOM MURPHY
Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore of Tennis.
Tennis – Tuesday, February 21 – Crescent Ballroom
Tennis began in 2010 after Alaina Moore, who’s from Colorado, and Patrick Riley, an Arizona native, met, fell in love, sold all their possessions, and decided to sail the Eastern Seaboard together. The seven months they spent on the sea inspired the lyrics of their first album, a dreamy indie-pop collection with song titles like “Take Me Somewhere,” “Long Boat Pass,” and “Waterbirds.” In the nearly 10 years after that trip, the band has released two more albums, toured the U.S. and amassed a big enough following to get an invitation to play at this year’s Coachella. “Playing it is a huge feat to us, especially at this point in our career, where we’re releasing our fourth album. It’s just hard to know if people are getting tired of your music or are even as excited about it as they once were.” Riley says that the pair goes to extreme measures to make music unadulterated by outside influences. Last year, the two holed up in a cabin and recorded that fourth album, Yours Conditionally, which drops March 10. “We both learned that isolation is the only way that we can work effectively,” Riley says. “Whenever we try and write under certain parameters or write for other people, it just doesn’t feel right. Alaina and I are our own harshest critics, so we don’t need that many more people to have opinions on what we’re doing.” ANA CAMPBELL
Igor and the Red Elvises – Wednesday, February 22 – Rhythm Room
Igor and the Red Elvises claim to be your favorite band, and if you were given enough time with the crazy music the combo generates – a mixture of traditional Russian folk combined with surf, hard rock, rockabilly, ska (well, you get the picture) – its infectious nature could easily take hold. Before long, one might also be wearing striped jumpsuits, sporting pompadours, and building oversized instruments. Stranger things have happened. Yet to hear band founder, lead singer, and songwriter Igor Yuzov tell it, it's not so strange after all. "It's pretty natural, the two. I've always loved rock 'n' roll, surf music, and all. I tried to kind of play like that, but with Russian background, it comes out a little different," Yuzov says, fighting off jet lag at his Los Angeles home. The band just returned from a brief tour in Ukraine and Russia. "We don't try to play Russian style. It just sort of comes to us. We grew up with that kind of music, so that's how we make those sounds. Even if we tried to sound like American band, we probably wouldn't be able to do it." GLENN BURNSILVER
The Radio Dept. – Wednesday, February 22 – Crescent Ballroom
This Swedish trio emerged in the early 2000s as buzzworthy shoegaze revivalists, but their latest album, Clinging to a Scheme, ironically finds them taking a new tack. The fuzz and feedback are all but gone, replaced by shimmering guitars and synthesizer flourishes. Those with a sweet tooth will be sated by the bright and breezy hooks of Phoenix-esque singles like "Heaven's on Fire," while the rest can revel in the roughed-up production of lo-fi treats like "The Video Dept." Expect homages to Pet Shop Boys and the Cure, and a low-key confidence that perfectly complements the group's entirely unpretentious on-album brilliance. CHRIS MARTINS
Singer/guitarist John Vesely of Secondhand Serenade.
Secondhand Serenade – Wednesday, February 22 – Marquee Theatre
Secondhand Serenade brings to mind wearing a recycled engagement ring or dating someone who has past lovers' names tattooed on them. It can be an awkward and potentially dangerous thing. In the case of this California group's soft, acoustic repackaging of alternative emo rock, it comes completely naturally. Singer/guitarist John Vesely's pedigree in music allows him to add credence and depth to the emotion-ridden songscapes about the ups and downs of his romantic life. The son of a jazz musician who stinted in numerous bands and genres before finding his, ahem, "calling," Vesely does it well and with gusto –a romantic, we guess, in the classical sense. ABEL FOLGAR
The Octopus Project: eight arms and plenty of imagination.
The Octopus Project – Thursday, February 23 – the Rebel Lounge
Indie rock has its fair share of of instrumental bands, but not many that show the kind of imagination and pizzazz of Austin’s the Octopus Project. To date, spouses Josh and Yvonne Lambert (a true contemporary master of the theremin), drummer Toto Miranda, and instrumental utilitywoman Lauren Gurgiolo have crafted five albums of avant-garde pop that add hefty doses of classical music and electronica, and send them off into the world with concerts that would make Willy Wonka himself envious. The Project’s latest wrinkle is adding vocals in spots to 2013’s typically out-there Fever Forms, and this year composing the score to 2014's Kumiko, the independent film the Austin Chronicle called “a truly mystifying puzzle.” CHRIS GRAY