Up for seeing a great concert this week? If so, we’ve got a few suggestions for y’all.
As a matter of fact, we’ve got 10 of 'em, and the list includes shows from a wide variety of genres and formats, from post-punk and indie folk to hip-hop and good ol' fashioned rock 'n' roll. And seeing as the annual Arizona State Fair kicked off a few days ago, we've naturally included a few of the big shows that will be taking place inside of Veterans Memorial Coliseum this week.
If you need even more options, be sure to check out our extensive live music listings online. In the meantime, here are the 10 best concerts happening this week in Phoenix.
Echo and the Bunnymen – Monday, October 10 – Marquee Theatre
The music industry and how music is disseminated these days is quite different than when Echo and the Bunnymen released significant albums like Porcupine and Ocean Rain in the 1980s. Guitarist Will Sergeant says that everything’s changed; the whole ballgame has changed. That’s why the band, which released its 12th full-length (Meteorites) in 2014, is considering next releasing an EP or a series of EPs and holding off on an album for now. Sergeant says he and frontman Ian McCulloch are in the middle of deciding what to do with the new material. “We’re just writing stuff and seeing where it takes us and seeing how it goes,” he says. When they do eventually release the new material, they’ll be putting it out to a music world that’s, as Sergeant says, more interested in a single than in buying the full album. “Attention span — it’s gone out the window, because everything’s instant,” Sergeant says. “They’ll play like 10 seconds of a song and go on to something else. It’s like, slow down a bit. Give it a minute.” TOM MURPHY
Mushroomhead – Tuesday, October 11 – Club Red
Mushroomhead is rarely mentioned in the mainstream music media, and if it is mentioned, it's usually because it's being compared to Slipknot. Not that the comparisons don't make sense: Both bands are similar-sounding seven-piece groups in creepy masks. Except Mushroomhead has been around since 1993 (Slipknot was formed in '95), and its sound is closer to a fusion of Slipknot, Disturbed, and whatever Jeffrey Dahmer probably listened to in his apartment. Originally a side project for several Cleveland-area musicians, Mushroomhead was playing in front of 2,000 people alongside GWAR by the time it had booked a second show. The band combines industrial metal, hip-hop, goth, and punk. With Sunflower Dead, Unsaid Fate, Raven Black, Death Division, and As Thick As Thieves. LAUREN WISE
ScHoolboy Q – Tuesday, October 11 – Celebrity Theatre
With a weighty 17 tracks, including one with a salient verse from guest rapper Vince Staples, ScHoolboy Q’s summer ’16 release of Blank Face quickly made its way onto many folks’ regular rotation, gaining some critical acclaim along the way. Whether it’s the charming and catchy, but not quite romantic “Studio,” the gospel-backed “Lord Have Mercy,” or the album’s groovy title track, which features Anderson .Paak, the album shows off some big names (Yeezy, Jadakiss, SZA, and Tyler, the Creator are all on there, too) and a range of styles and vibes. However, with the swath of Cali artists featured on the South Central LA rapper’s album, and taking in consideration that he’s labelmates with both Kendrick and Jay Rock, Blank Face serves to prove that the West Coast is showing up to the rap game. Joined on tour by part-time rapper, part-time Mr. Robot actor Joey Bada$$, it’s no surprise that ScHoolboy Q’s booking amphitheatres. HEATHER HOCH
Crystal Fighters – Tuesday, October 11 – Crescent Ballroom
Formed in Navarre, Spain, in 2007, Crystal Fighters took its name from an unfinished opera that singer Laure Stockley's grandfather wrote before going mad. Incorporating traditional Basque instruments into what is otherwise uplifting dance music, the Fighters don't really sound like anything currently out there. A fusion of electronic dance music and various folk traditions, the act's sound recalls '80s world music, complete with expansive and inclusive melodies — not unlike a fully developed version of the tropical pop that flourished in certain sectors of American underground music in the last half of the aughts. Overall, this group is more ambitious compositionally than most, resulting in richly textured songs built from simple elements and superb musicianship. TOM MURPHY
The Band of Heathens – Wednesday, October 12 – Last Exit Live
Band of Heathens is technically from Austin, but the band comes off like it might have spent a great deal of time in New Orleans learning the rich mixture of sounds that mark that city's eclectic scene. In moments, this outfit is reminiscent of the Band circa the early '70s. The Heathens' take on rootsy American music is not an attempt to create a warped country music; rather, they tastefully incorporate blues and folk without really trying to be the Grateful Dead. If anything, the group doesn't seem concerned with having a stripped-down sound or emulating the glories of its heroes. Not unlike Big Star, these guys are writing rock and roll rooted in music indigenous to the middle South. Surprisingly soulful, the Heathens may be polished, but there's nothing artificial about their sound. TOM MURPHY
The 1975 – Wednesday, Wednesday, October 13 – Comerica Theatre
Wilmslow, Cheshire, is about as quaint of an English country town as you could find. Located outside Manchester, pictures of the town look as quaint as Sandford, the eerily picturesque fictional town that was the home of the most menacing neighborhood watch ever in the Simon Pegg comedy Hot Fuzz. The town —Wilmslow, that is — is also the hometown for the pop band the 1975. Full of infectious hooks and soaring choruses, the 1975 have created just as rabid a following across the pond as they have in their home country. The group released its sophomore album, with the creepy title I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It, in February, and they’re not resting on their laurels. On September 29, lead singer Matt Healy tweeted succinctly, “New The 1975 - 2017.” No rest for the successful, even coming from such sleepy origins. DAVID ACCOMAZZO
Cheap Trick – Wednesday, October 12 – Arizona State Fair
Cheap Trick occupies a unique place in the history of rock music. The group's music was almost definitively power pop, but even then, it often rocked harder than peers who were stamped with that same designation. When the band started out, in 1974, its raucous live shows and almost anti-rock-star appearance had the spirit of what would later become punk. Guitarist and primary songwriter Rick Nielsen has a knack for hooks — as well as the humility to recognize the limitations of his own singing voice and deferring to great frontman Robin Zander. By the end of the 1970s, that classic Cheap Trick lineup — Nielsen, Zander, bassist Tom Petersson, and drummer Bun E. Carlos — made the group not just radio stars, but also a huge concert attraction, both in the U.S. and abroad.
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Cheap Trick remained a popular band throughout the '80s, in spite of its '70s roots and a changing lineup that saw Petersson leave and then rejoin the band in time for 1988's Lap of Luxury. (That album had its own hit single, “The Flame.”) Cited as an influence by Kurt Cobain and Buzz Osborne of the Melvins, and covered by Big Black ("He's a Whore"), the influence of Cheap Trick can be found in much of the rock music that has come along since the '70s. In 2007, the Illinois State Senate declared April 1 Cheap Trick Day. Few musical acts receive such an honor. And while many bands of the same era are on the nostalgia circuit playing state fairs and the like, Cheap Trick has maintained an audience beyond mere throwback appeal. Or, rather, a new generation of musicians and music fans are discovering the group's raw pop. Whatever the reason for Cheap Trick's ongoing appeal, one thing is for sure: A great pop song ages well, and Cheap Trick has written more than a few. TOM MURPHY
Tory Lanez – Wednesday, October 12 – Livewire
When it comes to making music in 2016, it pays to be multitalented. Perhaps no up-and-comer embodies that idea more poignantly than Toronto's Tory Lanez. The 23-year-old rapper/singer/producer/director/fashion designer's hit single "Say It" dominated the charts this past fall, and we're crediting his ability to switch effortlessly from thought-provoking bars to clear and smooth R&B high notes. Lanez spent much of his youth bouncing back and forth between his native Canada and the States after his mother died when he was 11 years old. He spent time in New York, Georgia, and even South Florida building up his rap career and, by age 16, had also taught himself to sing, creating his current sound by melding the two. In a recent interview, Lanez brands his unique sound as "swavey" — "a two-adjective word. A lot of people use it as an attribute, but the real definition of swavey is a genre of music," says Lanez. "The genre of music is the genre of fusing more than one together. I know it sounds strange, but if you ask an artist what they do, they're going to say that they rap, they sing, they do rock — a lot of people are multitalented. They get looked at as confused, but I don't think that they're confused. I feel that they're just talented, swavey artists." CRISTINA JEROME
True Widow – Thursday, October 13 – Last Exit
Fuzzy, droney, and teetering on the edge of an abyss of sullen-sounding apathy, Dallas’ True Widow has figured out just how you meld the attitude of stoner rock with the expansive, emotive nature of shoegaze into a whole new rock game. Some have dubbed this meeting of genres “stonegaze,” but we can all agree that’s a lazy portmanteau. Anyway, as a Relapse Records act, the band is often lumped into the metal scene, and, sludgy though they may be, metal doesn’t come close to cutting it in describing what True Widow offers. Their September 2016 release, Avvolgere, illustrates that point with buzzy, pulsing rhythms, reverb-soaked vocal exchanges between bassist Nicole Estill and guitarist Dan Phillips, and an underlying feeling of unease that’s oddly addicting. It’s the kind of consuming experience that demands over-the-ear headphones with the volume turned up and a couple of joints — you know, if you’re in Colorado or Oregon or whatever. HEATHER HOCH
MDC – Thursday, October 13 – Yucca Tap Room
Since helping create a tidal wave of American hardcore music that shook up the country at the dawn of the Reagan era, MDC's Dave Dictor has become a bona fide legend. Whereas Austin comrades like the Big Boys fused punk and funk into a mesh of danceable rebellion, and the Dicks brandished a truculent sense of vengeance against all things bourgeois, MDC formed a tribe of its own by fomenting political satire (not just rancor), depth of global geopolitical consciousness, and searing sincerity. Like former tour mates the Dead Kennedys, they also knew how to mine the past (for instance, by mutating Jimi Hendrix’s “Spanish Castle Magic” or Perry Como's 1941 country hit “Deep in the Heart of Texas”) for gems that made the social-justice revolution feel like a raucous party. Dictor himself became an emblem teeming with multiple personalities: left-minded newssheet, soapbox orator, fanzine columnist, wily humorist, gender-bending agitator, unlikely Elvis impersonator, ragged outsider hero, no-bullshit truth teller, speed freak, fierce bandleader and much more. MDC’s members came and went quicker than members of Congress, genres bloomed and faded around them, and the band’s initials meant something different every few years (Millions of Damn Christians, Missile Destroyed Civilization), but Dictor remained at the core of it all. He’s was the punk-rock glue that binds. DAVID ENSMINGER