Here are the best concerts happening in Phoenix this week. For more options, browse our comprehensive concert calendar.
Lonna Kelley - Valley Bar - Wednesday, July 8
Kelley surmises that to her, happiness means freedom. Her new EP, Take Me Home Spiderman, is a record about the ideal: freedom from musical rules, from traditional gender roles, from the expectations of listeners. The EP is a collection of songs that demonstrate what Kelley could create with her “inner critic” silenced.
It’s also a survey of the immense darkness in Kelley’s life. Three years ago, Phoenix musician Mark Erickson, her partner and father of her son Jack, took his own life, and that pain looms over the writing and recording of the EP. But even more than an elegy, the songs serve as a celebration of the life Kelley has built for herself, the joy she’s found playing with her band Cherie Cherie as well as Giant Sand (her lead vocal on “Pen to Paper,” from the band’s latest LP Heartbreak Pass, is one of that great album’s most affecting moments), the joy she’s found with her adopted daughter Sophie, husband Jay Huffman, and Jack, who appears on the album cover of the new EP, draped in a towel at the Clarendon Hotel, looking “like a boxer or something,” Kelley says. JASON P. WOODBURY
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As the singer and songwriter for the Beets, one of the DIY era's biggest bands, newly minted solo artist Wauters Juan is one of the most sought-after musicians in New York City. Fashion designers whisked him away to play at parties in Montauk (fashion designer Cynthia Rowley famously called the Beets "a rock 'n' roll protest"). Pavement picked the band to open for them at their massive, sold-out Central Park show in 2010. If there was a show at an illegal NYC venue between 2008 and 2011, his band was probably on last. Yet no matter how popular Wauters or his music has become, he remains a dedicated outsider. He's smart and genuinely himself, and has a way of making everyone else in the room seem like they're trying too hard. And he barely listens to any modern music to boot.
He's also prone to speaking in curious, Yogi Berra-esque epigrams that Sniper calls "Juan-isms." For instance, here's Wauters on identity: "I try to be who I think I am." On living in New York: "There's lots of people, but you're kind of by yourself." But the word he uses most is "friendship." It's something that fuels his music, but it also tore the Beets apart. The relationship between Wauters and his Beets bandmate and friend Jose Garcia was central to the Beets; when the two began to have problems, the band quickly fell apart. It first broke up in 2012; Wauters attempted reconcile with Garcia to get the band back together in 2013, putting his personal feelings aside, only to see things fall apart again. That was then. Today, The Beets' future is highly uncertain, and Wauters is focused more on his solo work, including releasing his first proper album, NAP: North American Poetry, last year. Where The Beets was DIY, punk, and "a rock 'n' roll protest," NAP is a record from a man who's thinking about life, who's been hurt and is trying to move forward. And NAP makes it easy to go along with him. CHRIS CHAFIN
He's gone wild with Steve-O, shared paint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and sparked up with Juicy J and (most likely) Wiz Khalifa. He was signed by Diddy. He covered XXL magazine. And his track, "Invincible," has been used as theme song by both the NFL and the WWE. (Heck, he even got to perform for 75,000-plus people at WrestleMania in 2012 and got punked out by wrestler Kevin Owens last month on WWE Raw.) His claims to fame aren’t just limited to the hip-hop world, however, as he’s covered Rise Against's "Swing Life Away," partied hard and collaborated with Avenged Sevenfold, and shared a stage with Linkin Park at a Vans Warped Tour stop in 2013. Born in Houston but raised all over the world, he found a home in Cleveland, not the first city to spring to mind for those who've gone global. His name is Machine Gun Kelly and you can ride along with him after he rolls into Livewire in Scottsdale on July 9. JOHN HOOD
Mac Sabbath - Friday, July 10 - Crescent Ballroom
Heavy music, like heavy food, is best consumed voraciously and without much thought. But the McGenius behind the McDonald's-themed parody metal/tribute act Mac Sabbath is that they obviously put a lot of thought and skill into their quirky musical cookery, which roasts greasy fast-food corporations as much as it pays tribute to the pummeling rock of Ozzy and Sabbath. Like many gimmick-driven grinders, the members shroud themselves in secret sauce. Mike Odd of L.A. costumed rock legends Rosemary's Billygoat is involved, which explains Mac’s ferocious metallic flavor and demented props. From their elaborate super-sized costumes — Grimalice, the Catburglar, and Slayer McCheeze back up creepy clown crooner Ronald Osbourne — to their clever, freak-fried takes on Sabbath’s lyrics (“Pair-A-Buns” to the tune of “Paranoid” and “Frying Pan” to tune of “Iron Man”), these happy meal menaces sizzle live, and always serve up more than the empty calories of most cover bands. LINA LECARO
Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas - Saturday, July 11 - Rebel Lounge
On a wide-ranging debut album, Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas bring together gripping soul ballads, new wave sheen, throwback Motown vibes, gypsy punk and an amped-up rockabilly.
The Detroit born and raised singer-songwriter presents Secret Evil as a collection of her musical roots and ever-evolving influences. Hernandez’s soulful voice is at the core of every song, creating a fluid album that springs out in a number of stylistic directions.
After moving back to Detroit in 2009 after stints in Chicago and Kansas City, Hernandez transitioned from solo singer-songwriter to bandleader, putting together the Deltas and working out the songs that would form Secret Evil. After the success of Secret Evil – which included a television debut on the Late Show With David Letterman – Hernandez and her band began writing and demoing songs for a new record, working at a cabin in northern Michigan.
One potential direction for a sophomore album is in the style of “Don’t Take My Man to Idaho,” a sharply humorous punk-soul hybrid written from the perspective of a woman who’s lost her man to cocaine. Hernandez and the Deltas released the single in April (backed with a choice cover in Le Tigre’s “Deceptacon”) prior to a summer of performances at major festivals like Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza as well as smaller nightclubs. ERIC SWEDLUND
Son Lux - Saturday, July 11 - Crescent Ballroom
Alternative hip-hop and post-rock are two genre’s not usually played by the same act, but Son Lux finds a way. It’s an interesting project that New York City-based Ryan Lott heads up and he’s going to be bringing his strange sounds to the Crescent Ballroom. As of late the band has been extensively touring the United States, making stops at many of the biggest festivals in the country along the way, in the support of their recently released album Bones, which came out on June 23. Lott found his way to musical prominence after spending years working as a full time producer of music for commercials and on his way up the musical ladder has been responsible for the scores of multiple motion pictures including the 2014 film The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, and this year’s Paper Towns among others. Getting the necessary exposure to break by having music in a television show or film isn’t exactly a revelation for the music industry but over the past decade or so it has seem to become more and more common. Son Lux is no fad band however; their dark and haunting dream like post rock songs are definitely show the chops to stand
alone, while the alt hip hop and trip hop are soothingly psychedelic. Son Lux has already put it’s stamp on the Eastern United States and is using this record to begin their ascent into the West Coast, starting in Phoenix. JEFF MOSES
Oh, to have been a fly getting high on the wall of JD Souther's L.A. pad in the late '60s. His roomie was Glenn Frey, and his neighbor was Jackson Browne, and the tunes that fermented there would become the sweet wine of California country rock. Souther's co-writes for the Eagles — "Best of My Love" and "New Kid in Town" — had a dreamy sheen and unabashed sentimentality that, like his biggest solo hit "You're Only Lonely," sounded great on early FM radio. Blame him for soft rock if you must, but just try to resist humming along. There's probably no better tour guide to the SoCal scene of the '70s, so bet on Souther to cover all the hits, just as he did on 2011's revisionist albumhttp://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/event/social-distortion-7360608 Natural History. ROY KASTEN
Smashing Pumpkins & Marilyn Manson - Saturday, July 11 - Comerica Theater
Despite all our rage, our inner angsty teenaged selves are pretty damn excited by this summertime tour featuring both Smashing Pumpkins and Marilyn Manson. Just imagine all the beautiful people who will come out to see both acts share the stage at Comerica Theatre for arguably one of the hottest summer shows of 1996 — uh, we mean 2015. (Hey, whatever. '90s goth and alternative is timeless, which is why we always think that today is the greatest.) Being a fan of Billy Corgan isn't always the easiest, we'll grant that. But just because we sometimes catch ourselves pretending that he stopped making music after "1979" doesn't mean we aren't still excited to see the avowed cat-lover bring the Pumpkins back to town. Throw Manson into the mix and it's like we get to relive the old days of Lollapalooza. As far as double bills go, this ranks right up there with Courtney Love joining Lana Del Rey this spring. This particular tour, dubbed "The End Times," is part of the Pumpkins' promotional run for last year's Monuments to an Elegy. (Credit where it's due: Corgan has never lost his knack for overwrought titles, God bless him. JEFF GAGE
Throughout his lengthy recording career — now clocking in at five decades — Boz Scaggs has been a tireless sonic alchemist, whose output is the epitome of musical amalgamation. While best known for the blue-eyed soul and dance grooves of the monstrously successful 1976 Silk Degrees record, a casual listen to his discography also shows dips in the waters of blues, R&B, jazz, crooning, Latin, and rock styles. On his last effort, 2013's Memphis, Scaggs tapped the essence of that city with a record largely of old soul covers. They were laid down in the city's famed Royal Recording Studios, where producer Willie Mitchell and singer Al Green did their seminal work. Scaggs continues his elegant musical meanderings, tracking mostly further southwest this time, in A Fool to Care, released earlier this year. The dozen songs feature covers written by Al Green, Curtis Mayfield, Huey P. Smith, members of the Band, and bluesman Jack Walroth. This one was put together at Nashville's Blackbird Studio in just four days. The material — from a funky, greasy "Rich Woman" and the torchy "Love Don't Love Nobody" to the Latin-infused "Tango on 16th Street" to the '50s balladry of the title track — covers a lot of ground, just like Scaggs himself. BOB RUGGIERO
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Gov't Mule formed in 1994 as a side project of Warren Haynes and Allen Woody, who were then members of the Allman Brothers Band. While both men continued to play with the Allman Brothers, Gov't Mule became quite a viable entity on its own, rooted in a similar blend of blues, jazz and rock, with a penchant for improvisational elaborations on a theme. The Mule has long had a rotating cast of guest musicians with an exhaustive list that reads like a who's who of the improvisational rock, blues and jazz world. With the untimely death of Woody in August of 2000, the same year as the release of the band's critically acclaimed album, Life Before Insanity, Gov't Mule might have called it a day. But it didn't and as if to celebrate Woody's life, the group has since written music and been involved collaborations that would have made the bassist proud. TOM MURPHY
Sundressed - Sunday, July 12 - Rebel Lounge
As much as people like to rag on pop-punk judging by the turnout for Fallout Boy in March at Tempe Beach Park, there are still plenty of people totally enamored with the genre. Even Lucky Man’s next big Tempe Beach Park shindig has a major pop-punk element in Brand New and Jimmy Eat World. Sundressed has been pushing their familiar brand of music for nearly five years, all culminating in their debut label/vinyl release Dig Up a Miracle going down July 12 with a party at Psyko Steve’s new digs The Rebel Lounge. The EP was already released locally on April 7 and can be purchased through the band’s website. But according to lead singer Trevor Hedges, just a week before the release of their six-song record Massachusetts record label Take This To Heart Records contacted the group to put their tunes onto vinyl. As fate would have it their release date also lined up with one of their label mates, No Tide, rolling through the Valley, so Sundressed can show their Nebraska comrades how Phoenix gets down. JEFF MOSES