The Ten Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend
Ellie Goulding: rarefied vocals, bewitching presence, and wholly unique.
Not lucky (or well moneyed) enough to get yourself to Coachella this year? You’re not alone. While thousands of Valley residents will be making the five-hour trek to Indio for this year’s version of the high-profile music festival over the next two weekends, not everyone has the free time or finances to do so.
And if that’s you, there are two ways you can spend the next couple of days: sulking about it while lurking in front of the computer, hoping your favorite bands make the live stream, or getting out and seeing one of the great concerts happening this weekend, including the following 10 shows. (Hit up our extensive online concert calendar for more.)
Welcome to the dollhouse: Melanie Martinez will pay a visit to Tempe this weekend.
Simultaneously cutesy, crass, and dark, Melanie Martinez’s music feels like walking through a haunted dollhouse. Every sound and every lyric in her songs seem calculated to walk the thin line between “everything’s fine” and “something’s wrong.” Her musical aesthetic is a deliberately paper-thin veneer through which you can see hints of deep darkness. Martinez and her bi-colored hair burst into the national consciousness in 2012 when she sang a cover of Brittany Spears’ “Toxic” on acoustic guitar on The Voice. She didn’t win, but she familiarized America with her playful-yet-dangerous style. Her debut album, Crybaby, stretched infantilized gothdom to 16 tracks, with song titles like “Play Date,” “Sippy Cup,” “Alphabet Boy,” and “Carousel.” If her incessant repurposing of childhood makes you uncomfortable, that’s kind of the point. DAVID ACCOMAZZO
The members of Highly Suspect.
In 2009, Highly Suspect was a Cape Cod bar band playing cover songs by legends like Sublime, Jimi Hendrix, and Pink Floyd. Six years, four albums/EPs, and two Grammy nominations later, the band clearly didn’t just change their musical concept. In fact, Highly Suspect has helped redefine a lot in the industry. It’s 2016, and their sound mixes atmospheric interludes with charging, sludgy riffs, coated heavily with that trendy bluesy fuzziness. It’s angsty desperation meets lightheartedness, New York vs. Los Angeles, taut with sexual energy. Lead vocalist Johnny Stevens embodies that let-it-all-go, gritty, Jim Morrison-esque eccentric energy. And somehow, it’s authentic — not a shred of hipster to be found.
They don't want to be in a music video. They want to dilate your pupils with music. And if they can't do that in person from the stage, they want to make movies for you. Just check out the Wild West Tarantino-esque story in "Bloodfeather" or the controversial video for "Lydia." LAUREN WISE
After the release of her third studio album, Delirium, late last year proved to be a success, including debuting near the top of the Billboard 200, Ellie Goulding is poised to become a pop superstar in America. Her rarefied, bewitching, and wholly unique vocals, plus her indefatigable stage presence, have already made the Londoner a luminary in her native Britain, especially thanks to her breakout debut, Lights. But stateside, high-profile collaborations have overshadowed her prowess as a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist in her own right. While tracks like the Max Martin-produced, reggae-inflected “On My Mind” eschew her previous EDM leanings in favor of smash-hit sing-alongs, there’s no shortage of energy pulsing through Delirium – these unabashedly joyful love songs might finally get American audiences fully on board. LINDSEY RHOADES
‘Tis the season to spend some time outside. No, seriously. We’ve only got a few weekends or tolerable temperatures left before the loathsome summertime heat arrives for its annual five-month stay, which means that y’all need to get out of the house while you still can. Pronto. And if you swing by Eastlake Park this weekend you’ll be able to enjoy a big buffet of house music beats, as well as the great outdoors. More than a dozen local DJs and club night residents – including Solstice’s DJ Senbad and Flipstylz, Dan Lunsford from RB Deep, World Famous Rani G. of Retro Hi-Fi, and Chronic Earwax’s Adam Osuna – will fill the air at the park with four-on-the-floor sounds during the third annual House Fest on Saturday, April 16. Many of the dance music genre’s varied forms and flavors, ranging from ambient and electro to deeper and more progressive stylings, are likely to be spun at the all-ages affair. Special guests Mike Dunn of Trax Records fame, Bassline’s Victor Simonelli, and Chicago-born house music spinstress Czboogie will headline the event, which starts at 9 a.m. and keeps going until 7 p.m. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Nancy and Ann Wilson of Heart.
There are very few performers whose musical and visual qualities have firmly established them atop the Rushmore of Hard Rock, like Heart. The group's climb up the majestic mountain of success and enduring relevancy can only be matched by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, and The Who, to name a few. Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson, the band's only remaining original members, are responsible for having blazed a trail for women in rock, proving that women could be band leaders rather than merely eye candy.
The two have brought to the world an interesting potion, mixing mystical folk, hard rock, and power ballads that hold up well due to their efforts, as well as those by three different basic male-supporting band lineups over the course of 40-plus years. The list of accomplishments, awards, and honors bestowed upon the successful sisters over the past 40-plus years is well known. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 11 Top 40 albums, 24 Top 40 hits, 35 million records sold and, most important, a staunch, supportive, and enduring following the world over. MARK C. HORN
This is probably the tamest picture BroLoaf has ever taken.
While the bands on this lineup border more on punk rock than heavy metal, there's something to be said for the horns-up metal atmosphere that's bound to be the evening's focus. First off, it's a toga party. That's right. If you're wearing a toga, it's just $5 to get in. And this is all in honor of the release of Broloaf's second full-length album, Born to Party. Secondly, there's no way you won't be head banging with some of the bands on the bill. Broloaf meshes punk, thrash metal, and hardcore. MF Ruckus pulls influences from bands like AC/DC, Moorhead, and Iron Maiden. The Screaming Yeehaws are all about the honky-tonk punk rock. Scattered Guts are the token AZ stoner thrashers, while We Steal Copper is all about the punk rock. Eddie Jesus and the Blasphematics round out the bill. LAUREN WISE
They believe in a thing called love...just listen to the rhythm of their hearts.
Canary Dwarf Records
In the music video for the Darkness's greatest hit, 2003's "I Believe in a Thing Called Love," the band's alternately naked and jumpsuited lead singer, Justin Hawkins, is repeatedly groped by a motley crew of space aliens. He appears, for all intents and purposes, to be into it. His band's mock-rock aesthetic is heavy on falsetto, generous with mayhem and short on seriousness, and the British-born group has followed that same wacky formula, albeit with extensive breaks, in the 13 years since then. But aside from a handful of strangely named side projects (see: Hot Leg) and one consistently ridiculous mega-jam, the Darkness has little to show for its time off. Cue the age of reunions: In 2012, the guys returned to fun and funky territory for a third album and a tour that restored their original lineup, at least until last year when Emily Dolan Davies replaced original drummer Ed Graham only to be replaced by Rufus Tiger Taylor of Queen + Adam Lambert fame. KELSEY WHIPPLE
Kawabata Makoto, the founder of Acid Mothers Temple, started his career in music in the late 1970s. Whether he experienced Flower Travellin' Band's motes of resonating distortion or the dark, haunted droning of Les Rallizes Denudes firsthand is anyone's guess. But since founding Acid Mothers in 1995, Kawabata has forged a path into inner and outer space with his most high-profile project. The alchemical combination of Stockhausen-esque, avant-garde electronica and transcendent, incendiary, prog-warped blues defies convenient categorization. In fact, Kawabata eschews the term "psychedelic" in favor of "trip music," because he wants the music to take the audience on a trip into an altered state of consciousness, where the mundane dissolves in a wave of mind-expanding sound. TOM MURPHY
The Valley’s own The Summer Set is back with a new album after last year’s reported breakup. The Scottsdale quintet formed in 2007, and quickly rose through the ranks of the pop punk world, following in the footsteps of local inspirations Jimmy Eat World and The Format. Fresh out of high school, the group toured with genre giants Every Avenue and Never Shout Never, and by 2010, The Summer Set were a seasoned Vans Warped Tour band, with two years’ worth of performances under their belts. The band won Macy’s iHeartRadio Rising Star contest in 2013; that same year, they formed the Legendary Moments Campaign to give back to the fan base and help those in the community achieve their goals. The group’s latest full-length album, Stories for Monday, which came out this year, showcases classic rock and ’80s pop influences that are more sunny than sad, and with that same optimism, they plan to be the focus of the stories you tell when the weekend ends. TAYLOR GILLIAM
The punk stalwarts of NOFX.
Compared with many of the punk bands to emerge from Los Angeles in the 1980s, NOFX is an anomaly. Few of their peers have been able to survive, nevertheless NOFX maintain many of the key elements (and band members) that have kept this quartet relevant well into its third decade. Led by Fat Mike, the group has grown more political in its latter years, unapologetically railing against government, homophobia, sexism and religion and supporting various left-wing causes. By maintaining an anti-commercial stance (they never signed to a major label), as well as with their oftentimes surly relationship with the media, NOFX are among the few bands to live and die by the punk ethos that marked the early days of the genre. With 12 albums to their name, NOFX have become punk-rock legends, a title they'd likely vehemently deny. DANIEL KOHN
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