Here are our picks for best concerts in Phoenix this weekend. Check out our comprehensive concert listings for more options.
Al Jarreau - Friday, February 5 - Highlands Church
Some might say that 34 seems a bit "past one's prime" to have started a singing career. For Al Jarreau, that's never seemed to matter. Having been the only vocalist in history to garner Grammy Awards across three different genre categories (jazz, pop and R&B), and with 21 albums, seven Grammys, and a career spanning over 35 years, the humble Jazz singer has brought light, romance, and above all an abundance of wholesome vocal talent to every song he has touched. Jarreau has interlaced jazz with pop in a way that has never successfully been done before. His popularity grew in the mid-'60s and didn't seem to lose steam until slowing down in the mid-'90s, at which point he received his own Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The now 75-years-old jazz singer has seen some of the greatest success an artist can obtain in their career. His familiar favorite singles such as "We're In This Love Together" and "After All" and "Moonlighting" have been coined timeless classics. Very few compare to Al Jarreau, and his rich vocal tones and romantic writing style are as unique as his spirited personality. Music fan can witness this vivacious attitude and a youthful tone in person when Jarreau performs at the Highlands Church as a part of the annual Arizona Musicfest. CINDAL LEE HEART
G-Eazy - Friday, February 5 - Mesa Amphitheatre
When Gerald Gillum says he’s getting money, he means it. And whether going by Young Gerald or G-Eazy, one thing is certain when it comes to his hip-hop: The man has bars. When he killed it on the English hip-hop radio show Fire in the Booth, it was just a tidbit of the 26-year-old Oakland-bred MC’s talent for rhyming, as he obviously saved his best lyrical content for his records. For Eazy, like many rappers who possess the ability to tear it up freestyle, the flow seems incredible when it’s going down, but after a few listens, it becomes obvious that while the punchiness and wordplay is definitely strong coming straight off the dome, his more nuanced raps and complicated flows come when he is afforded the opportunity to flesh out an idea on paper.
G-Eazy’s newest record, When It’s Dark Out, has an undeniably Eminem-esque feel to it, but that has far less to do with Eazy’s skin color then it does with his cadence and delivery. Though even with what clearly is a heavy influence from the legendary Detroit rapper, it’s also easy to hear a litany of other influences, like mid-2000 East Coast battle rap and, of course, a hint of the G’s hometown hyphy music in the leather jacket-wearing, brash-talking rapper’s repertoire. JEFF MOSES
Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers - Friday, February 5, and Saturday, February 6 - Yucca Tap Room
Starting this weekend, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers will take up residence at the Yucca Tap Room in Tempe to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Refreshments’ major label debut, Fizzy Fuzzy Big and Buzzy, which featured the hit song “Banditos.” The Peacemakers are playing the album in its entirety and in sequence. Universal Records re-released the record on vinyl in November.
The Refreshments got their start at Yucca Tap in the 1990s when they were finding it difficult to get into the “hipper clubs,” according to Clyne, as an unproven band. They performed Sunday nights at the corner of Mill and Southern Avenues for over two years, and the audience steadily increased. “[Yucca Tap] is a place pretty close to my heart because they took a chance on an unknown band and let us display our wares,” Clyne fondly recalls. “It’s been pedal to the metal ever since.” JASON KEIL
Pure Virtuality and Teeel - Friday, February 5, and Saturday, February 6 - The Grid
A nonstop flurry of bleeps, bloops, and warbles won’t be the only sort of electronically produced sounds that will fill the glowing interior of The Grid in Mesa this weekend. That’s because the East Valley game bar and music venue will host back-to-back gigs featuring soundscapes drenched with electronic music of a microgenre nature hewn from the farthest fringes of the Internet. And local glo-fi/synthwave duo Ichi Sound is involved with both nights.
The first event on Friday, February 5, is called Pure Virtuality, which shares its name with the duo’s newly launched label and will offer vaporwave, future-funk, and other experimental genres being performed by artists as Donovan Hikaru Presents Himself, Gran Turismo 89, ID Chief, Militia Joan Hart, and Balents. Ichi Sound will then take to The Grid’s stage the following evening on Saturday, February 6, when they open for New Jersey-based dreamwave/synthwave act Teeel. Local bitmetal wizard Ethernaut will also perform. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Bands for Bernie - Saturday, February 6 - The Rebel Lounge
For those who want to “feel the Bern” with a veritable who’s who of local talent, Bands for Bernie will be everything you could want and a little bit more as local acts raise funds for the presidential candidate from Vermont. Regardless of where you stand politically, the show, put together initially by Phil Rind of longtime Valley metal heroes Sacred Reich, will be a stunner. Formed in 1985, Sacred Reich has maintained a limited local presence over the past decade, with heavy emphasis on playing the summer festival circuit in Europe.
Rind, who has never shied away from making a strong political statement (remember the band’s epic 1988 EP, Surf Nicaragua, with badass artwork by one of the world’s best tattoo artists, Paul Stottler?) is excited about helping back Sanders. “I support Bernie Sanders because he has stood up for working people his whole political career. He has real convictions, not opinions that change with the latest poll numbers. We need the government to work for all the people, not just corporations and wealthy campaign contributors,” Rind says. Joining Sacred Reich are Cherie Cherie, Carlos Arzate and the Kind Souls, Haymarket Squares, and several others. TOM REARDON
Bootleg Kev Bowl - Saturday, February 6 - Club Red
Club Red is having a helluva hip-hop weekend. On one side of the dual venue is the Bootleg Kev Bowl, named for the former Power 98.3 DJ who now lives in Florida. While he was here, he helped promote local rappers, including giving Futuristic and Vee Tha Rula their first radio play. The Bootleg Kev Bowl features weed rapper Berner accompanied by Tucson resident Murs, Funk Volume rappers Rittz and Jarren Benton, J. Cole-signed Bas, and Phoenix rapper Sincerely Collins. If that isn’t enough hip-hop for you, pop your head in next door and find an OTS concert, with Vee Tha Rula, Nate Jetson, and Payroll Jackson opening. DAVID ACCOMAZZO
Tiësto - Saturday, February 6 - Coors Light Birds Nest at the WM Phoenix Open
At this point, what else can be said of Tiësto? It seems like he's been "the dude" since EDM was simply called "dance music," back when it was still a taboo curiosity creeping along slowly from city to city. The 46-year-old Dutchman is known to fans and fellow DJs alike as the "Godfather of EDM." He's been the highest-paid DJ in the world, and still cranks out hit tracks (as well as business ventures) with the regularity, and vigor, of someone twenty years his junior.
Yet with electronic dance music more popular than ever, why does the Godfather seem like the last DJ standing in his genre? It could be because, as dance music splinters into a vast array of subgenres, very few DJs are working under the catch-all umbrella of EDM. "It's kind of weird," says Tiësto, "If you go to the Beatport website, they have all the subgenres, but they don't have a genre called EDM. I wish we could just go back to using EDM for all dance music. No matter if it's deep house or trance or techno or hardstyle or electronic, I think EDM is the broad thing." All the same, Tiësto has managed to transcend genre boundaries, maintaining authorship over his musical narrative throughout a number of EDM subtypes. ELEANOR LAMBERT
Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Saturday, February 6 - Crescent Ballroom
Actions speak louder than words, but does anything speak louder than music? Take it from Godspeed You! Black Emperor, a band once detained and questioned by the FBI for alleged terrorist ties simply for possessing "anti-government" material in its tour van. Godspeed is a progressive hybrid of post-rock and drone-y ambience — meaning most of the tunes, minus the odd voice sample, are instrumental. Yet the Montreal collective has a knack for terse political statements.
Not only did Yanqui U.X.O. include a map linking record companies to the military-industrial complex, the back cover of Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada included instructions for building Molotov cocktails. But in the end, guitarist Efrim Menuck insists it's "just punk rock," as he told the Rumpus, adding, "They're really simple songs in that way. But the starting point of every tune is that everything is fucked." While the rest of the world burns, Godspeed You! Black Emperor is the orchestra playing on the Titanic. TROY FARAH
Kennedy Jones - Saturday, February 6 - Livewire
Kennedy Jones infuses his music with every energy booster that exists in dance music. He samples hip-hop, falls into trap beats, and hits on a progressive house drop before spiraling right back into a light melody or heavily independent bass line. The next moment, he’s throwing in a unexpected vocal clip from songs like “Move Your Feet” by Junior Senior or Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Every set, Jones proves that he’ll play what he likes, no matter what it is. But don’t worry. Part of his charm is making it work, even if it’s mariachi leading to a house-y interlude. The weirdest part? You’ll find yourself loving every second of it. SARAH PURKRABEK