Rob Zombie and the metalheads of Korn are headed to the Valley this weekend. So's blues legend Robert Cray, R&B/pop star Meghan Trainor, grunge-era refugees Soul Asylum, and hip-hop icons EPMD, for that matter. Meanwhile, Japanese avant-garde metal band Boris will be coming to Crescent Ballroom to perform their 2005 album Pink in its entirety and Tucson sleaze-rocker (and all-around desert oddity) Bob Log III will slide into Valley Bar for a set.
In other words, you’ve got plenty of concerts to chose from that are happening over the next 72 hours, should you have the means and the motivation to see a show.
A slew of other great live music events are also happening throughout Metro Phoenix, including all the gigs you’ll find populating our extensive concert listings. In the meantime, here are our picks for the best shows happening in the Valley this weekend.
It took Justin Phillips awhile to find his true calling as an artist and an outlet for his emotions and energy. After spending most of his adolescence dabbling in music with a variety of instruments (and creating works that were admittedly derivative and substandard) and grappling with depression, he experienced a major breakthrough as a street artist in his early 20s. "And it just sort of unlocked something inside of me, unlocked this...understanding of how to channel your right brain into doing things for you," Phillips stated in a 2015 interview. He also learned how to properly channel his emotions though artistic expression, which wound up serving as one of the catalysts for his career as EDM producer, Crywolf.
And his tracks — which contain elements of electronica, indie dance and house — are most definitely filled with emotion. Epic in scope while laden with intimacy and an almost ethereal ambiance, Crywolf’s efforts are transformative soundscapes that his feelings bare in a swell of instrumental elements and swirling melodies. You’ll hear his most recent works when Phillips visits Shady Park on Friday, July 22, and according to the artist, he’ll be performing his latest live set with sounds filling the venue’s outdoor bar park and an array of all-new custom visuals. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
The World/Inferno Friendship Society – Friday, July 22 – Yucca Tap Room
Given the strict observance of "punk rock rules" that define the genre now, it's hard to believe that the original CBGB bands had more in common with hippies than anyone you might see on Epitaph's roster. That's right, punk used to all be about personal expression and fashion code, minor chord aversion be damned. The guys and gals of the World/Inferno Friendship Society have more than enough superficial indie-punk cred to impress you hard/fast rubes: They're actually from Brooklyn, unlike all the bearded beer guts from the Midwest who move there to get noticed.
The band's rotating personnel of horn, accordion, marimba, and clarinet players (can't do klezmer punk without that clarinet) has included members of Black 47, Dexy's Midnight Runners, Nine Inch Nails, The Hold Steady, and Gutbucket (the stylistic breadth among those last three aggregations is enough to convince you these guys don't give a Flying V what you think). W/IFS is doing things its own ham-fisted way. And outspoken lead singer Jack Terricloth has enough punkish self-loathing that's he's not above burning himself in effigy at shows while staying in your face with melody, showmanship, and charm! This weekend, The World/Inferno Friendship Society heads for the Yucca Tap in Tempe, where they'll open for the equally esteemed ska legends Culture Shock. SERENE DOMINIC
Robert Cray – Friday, July 22 – Talking Stick Resort
Although guitarist and singer Robert Cray had been working with his own band since the late ’70s (and even had a cameo in the 1978 film Animal House as the bassist for Otis Day and the Knights), Cray didn’t really break into the mainstream until releasing his fourth album, Strong Persuader, in 1986. The album, which contained the hit “Smokin’ Gun,” earned Cray a Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album. Over the last three decades, Cray has gone on to prove that not only is he a great bluesman with his feet planted in the genre (he’s even recorded with the great John Lee Hooker), but he can mix in soul as well, as he does on 2014’s In My Soul. He’s also released 4 Nights of 40 Years Live, a two-CD and DVD live album, last year.
There's mysterious, and then there's mysterious as defined by Tom Waits, a songwriter who's maintained an air of impenetrable mystique. In an interview with website Radical Wacko, Waits expressed a fondness for Tucson's Bob Log III. "It's just the loudest, strangest stuff you've ever heard," Waits said of the motorcycle-and-jumpsuit clad man of mystery. "You don't understand one word he's saying. I like people who glue macaroni on to a piece of cardboard and paint it gold. That's what I aspire to basically." Macaroni or not, Log's maintained a regard for himself, naming his 2009 full-length, My Shit Is Perfect. And you know, it is: With 13 tracks of slide guitar, clattering drums, and nonsensical titles like "Shake a Little, Wiggle It and Jiggle It Too," "Bucktooth Potato," and "Goddam Sounds Good," the record is crude and beatific. Log hits Valley Bar this weekend, along with all his classy stage moves. "Boob Scotch," anyone? JASON P. WOODBURY
Korn & Rob Zombie – Saturday, July 23 – Ak-Chin Pavilion
Korn's new album — its twelfth full-length in a 23-year career — is recorded and mixed and set for release later in 2016. While no details are available ahead of the release, it's certain that the record will be informed by the band's diverse musical roots and the thoughtful sensibilities of its lyrics. While lumped in with the origins of “nü metal,” Korn has endured precisely because its music defies clichés associated with the genre and demonstrates strikingly sensitive and compassionate takes on its subject matter.
Whereas many heavy bands of the nü-metal era engage in bravado and tough talk, Korn has, since its inception, never been afraid to talk about what hurts deep down, often buried because the experiences are that painful. Whether writing songs about childhood sexual abuse, homophobia or other harrowing personal experiences, Korn's truthfulness feels like the band is reaching out to people who have been through those difficult times. Songs as powerful as “Daddy” and “Faget” are the work of sensitive musicians capable of self-honesty and relating to others in deep ways. Korn has thus garnered a highly dedicated fan base that identifies with the band. TOM MURPHY
Japan's Boris has covered it all through the course of their lengthy discography, from experimental power noise to melancholic doom and gloom to being a full-blown '70s-tinged power trio. It varies depending on which record you get into, but on their 2005 album Pink they pulled all of their elements into one album that is equal parts heavy rock and blissfully psychedelic bombast. Touring behind this year’s expanded re-issue of that seminal classic, Boris are playing the whole Pink album live. This is unapologetically metal, but the fuzz-drenched guitars exploding with feedback have a lot more in common with a really raw punk band. For support, they are bringing along legendary drone metal godfathers Earth, a band Boris most likely owe a huge debt of influence to – which is a lot more obvious on many of the more drone-based Boris releases. Earth may also be the only band heavy enough to kick off this show. WANZ DOVER
These days, casual fans know Soul Asylum more as a soft-rock band because of its 1992 hit, “Runaway Train.” But Soul Asylum, like many other Minneapolis-based bands then and now, has always resisted easy classification. Their 1988 major-label debut, Hang Time, garnered the group airplay on MTV and more widely on college radio. But as with many bands of the era that stuck around, Soul Asylum found itself with a hit on Top 40 radio with “Runaway Train” from its 1992 album, Grave Dancers Union. The song wasn't too far off the band's diverse and emotionally rich songwriting palette, but for people who haven't dug a little deeper, it has become synonymous with the Soul Asylum sound.
One thing that's often overlooked about Soul Asylum's music is that there's more than a hint of dry, understated humor informing the songwriting. Obvious hints in song titles like “Gullible's Travels” and the album titles And the Horse They Rode on On and Let Your Dim Light Shine point to the kind of humor that takes note of the absurd situations you often find yourself in. That humor allows for a complexity and nuance of expression that has always given the music of Soul Asylum an emotional depth. Given the band's occasional bombast, this grace and delicacy of feeling can take you by surprise. TOM MURPHY
A Great Big World – Saturday, July 23 – Comerica Theatre
People in the Phoenix area should just love the New York-based pop group A Great Big World. Why, you ask? Well, we’ll tell you. They sound just like Fun. You know, the New York-based band featuring Nate Reuss, the local-boy-turned-Grammy-winner who started his career in Valley band the Format. It’s not meant to be an insult. A Great Big World, which features Ian Axel and Chad King, have had some pretty major success, especially with their uber-freaking-played-on-every-radio-station-everywhere song “Say Something,” which hit number four on the Billboard U.S. charts and number one on the adult charts. It’s a beautiful song, for sure, until the 113th time you hear it in a month; then, it just sort of makes you want to cry or seek emotional help. Maybe the saddest thing of all is that for a few years now, we were convinced it was the dude from the Format singing the song. The only question remaining is if Tempe-born rapper Futuristic joins the group for the song “Hold Each Other.” TOM REARDON
Adventure Club – Saturday, July 23 – Talking Stick Resort
Adventure Club is the group that will get you into dubstep, if you’re not already into it. The duo has a knack for making the usually gritty genre beautiful—a drop for Adventure Club goes beyond what’s the dirtiest sound they could think of into pure musicality. On top of that, more so than other dubstep groups, Adventure Club focuses on vocals and melody, and lets them shine through. Their music, though packed with some of the coolest, gnarliest dub, oozes musicality—so much so that not even your grandparents can call it “just noise.” SARAH PURKRABEK
In this week’s cover story, we learned that Arizona-raised songstress Zella Day once had a co-writing session with Meghan Trainor. Day was 16 and Trainor 18 at the time, and the puppet masters in Nashville decided it’d be a good idea to put the two together in a room with instruments and see what happened. Trainor tuned her guitar to drop D, and according to Day, the two emerged with a beautiful song that sounded more like Fleet Foxes than anything either songwriter has published since.
At the time, Day recalled Trainor expressing interest in being a behind-the-scenes songwriter, so when “All About That Bass” dropped three years later in 2014, it was all the more surprising for Day. The song, of course, was a triumphant body-positive smash hit that proved inescapable for a year or so. This year, Trainor has released a series of singles and music videos for her to-be-released second album, Thank You. The tracks lean more modern R&B than the throwback, Amy Winehouse-style vintage soul sound of “All About That Bass,” but one thing hasn’t changed: Trainor is perfectly happy with herself, supremely self-confident, and doesn’t give a fuck what you think about her. DAVID ACCOMAZZO
It's tough being one of hip-hop's elder statesmen. consider the plight of EPMD, the East Coast duo of Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith, who dropped their debut, Strictly Business, while Jay Z was still learning the ropes from Jaz-O and Big Daddy Kane. Best remembered for their '92 hit "Crossover," which ironically railed at concessions to the pop music format over hip-hop roots, they reunited for We Mean Business in 2008. Happily, the record didn't overreach, playing to the duo's classic strengths. While EPMD haven't taken back the airwaves just yet, they serve as a solid reminder that it's possible, however unlikely, to retain some vitality (without starring in children's movies) as you enter your gray years. JASON P. WOODBURY