We’re rolling into one of the busiest weeks of the year for live music – and it's not only because the Halloween party season is about to kick into gear. By sheer happenstance, a slew of great concerts will be happening over the next few nights at Valley venues, and every one of ‘em features influential or tastemaking talent.
To wit: rock goddess and Arizona native Stevie Nicks returns home this week to kick off the latest leg of her 24 Karat Gold Tour at Talking Stick Resort Arena. That same night, the doom-metal ghouls of Ghost will haunt Comerica Theatre, while Of Montreal stages one of its over-the-top performances at Crescent Ballroom and Rasputina brings its arty cabaret to the Rhythm Room. And that’s just on Tuesday.
The rest of the week features a variety of other “can’t miss” concerts, including gigs at the Arizona State Fair by Slayer and Garbage, as well as KUPD’s Big Red Night of the Dead featuring Five Finger Death Punch and Shinedown, and a performance by dark metal fiends Huntress.
(If none of these shows suit your fancy, hit up our extensively updated online concert calendar for even more options.)
LVL UP – Monday, October 24 – The Rebel Lounge The ’90s continually get buried, dug up, and rebaked, and LVL UP could easily have been thrown in with the rest of the bands riding that never-ending wave of nostalgia. Happily, that’s not the case. In 2014, after growing tired of releasing work on its own popular DIY label, Double Double Whammy, the band found itself at a crossroads. On the verge of a breakup, fate connected the group with Sub Pop, which released its Return to Love earlier this year. The scratchy guitar sound and misfit lyrics might be reminiscent of Pavement and Dinosaur Jr., but LVL UP — now signed to Sub Pop — has found a niche all its own. From self-recording project to label-supported touring band, LVL UP has created a signature brand of droning rock, utilizing a unique, multi-lead-vocalist style that brings the act well into the 2000s. BREE DAVIES
The Pretty Reckless – Monday, October 24 – Livewire In 2009, erstwhile actress Taylor Momsen formed the band the Pretty Reckless, which became known not only for its hard-hitting energetic rock songs full of crunchy guitars, catchy melodies, and Momsen’s signature gravelly vocals — but also the controversial videos and her smoldering sexuality. But what people mistook as shock value and the typical “she’s getting by on her looks” phase blossomed into what was apparent underneath the surface all along: authenticity and the need to make things, well, real. The Pretty Reckless had three consecutive number-one hits on the chart in a row (“Heaven Knows,” “Messed Up World” and “Follow Me Down,” all from 2014's Going To Hell) — the first female-fronted band to do so since the Pretenders three decades ago. And on the band's newest album, Who You Selling For, the lead single, “Take Me Down,” reached number one — the band’s fourth —in just seven weeks. Momsen’s style is unique in the sense that she has somehow avoided becoming jaded over all these years; the reason she started composing music as a child is still the reason she plays today. And with this newest album, the Pretty Reckless has brought that exact reason to the forefront. They aren’t asking for a renaissance — they’ve decided to record it themselves. LAUREN WISE
Stevie Nicks – Tuesday, October 25 – Talking Stick Resort Arena As a solo artist, Stevie Nicks has plenty of classic songs to fill an entire headlining set for an arena. Whether it's "Edge of Seventeen," "Stand Back," or "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," the Valley native has long since proven she can stand on her own without Fleetwood Mac. Even though she has spent the past few years with the Mac, this is one of her first solo tours in a while. You're very likely to hear Mac songs, too, like "Landslide" or "Gold Dust Woman." She remains an icon as an individual and still has that fantastic rasp in her voice. Paired with the Pretenders, who open for Nicks as a part of her 24 Karat Gold Tour, it should be a pretty entertaining double bill. Chrissie Hynde and band have returned with a new album, Alone, and will play the older tunes you'd expect, like "Brass in Pocket" and "Don't Get Me Wrong." ERIC GRUBBS
Ghost – Tuesday, October 25 – Comerica Theatre History shows it’s close to impossible for a band to balance worldwide fame, longevity, and anonymity. A few, like Slipknot and Daft Punk, have been successful on different levels. And then there’s Ghost. At the 2016 Grammys, Ghost won Best Metal Performance for “Cirice” off 2015’s Meliora, beating out head-banging staples like Slipknot and Lamb of God. Now the band’s brand-new EP, Popestar, brings their music to a catchier level, with covers of bands like Echo and the Bunnymen and the Eurythmics, and a new riff-laden single, “Square Hammer.” Ghost’s biggest denouement is the ability to maintain anonymity while sparking controversy and conversations. Papa Emeritus III and the Nameless Ghouls are in constant flux; you’re never quite sure who might be behind the masks. In fact, word on the street is that Dave Grohl has even been in the mix on occasion. The six-piece act exploit cultural iconography and dissect social commentary, creating complex compositions fit for a service at the Vatican — all while also being accused of worshipping Satan. Their story and melodramatic personas evoke a range of responses, typical for those forging offshoots from the paths of theatrical trailblazers like Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd, and Gwar. However, with their popularity on the rise, who knows how long anonymity will last? Soon, the cat may be out of the bag, lives much changed, and the music will evolve. LAUREN WISE
Of Montreal – Tuesday, October 25 – Crescent Ballroom Of Montreal fans have, in a sense, been reading frontman Kevin Barnes’ diary for the past 20 years. Endearingly vulnerable and addictingly frank, his lyrics are emotionally magnetic, with enough highbrow literary references and sesquipedalian terminology to make you feel like you’re in with the smart kids if you get it. However, with the names of real people and real events included, he’s the first to admit that he’s had to begin thinking about the impact his music can have on those he’s writing about. The band’s 2016 release, Innocence Reaches, offers an “open journal” exploring Barnes’ personal, therapeutic processing of events — it’s almost equally about battling with love, giving into new love, and being alone. Aside from relationships, the album also serves up glimpses of Barnes’ own views on gender politics. The first eight words on the record ask, “How do you identify? How do you I.D.?” Half the fun of seeing Of Montreal live is the theatrically grandiose original productions that each tour brings, with Barnes at the helm presenting an “exaggerated version” of himself for your viewing pleasure as he uses the stage for his own gender inquiry. He says this round of shows incorporates about five costume changes on his part and a fair amount of drag elements (as well as a large inflatable penis with a Donald Trump mask that gets arrested by police only for that all to devolve into a strip tease of sorts). HEATHER HOCH
Rasputina – Tuesday, October 25 – Rhythm Room The cello might be most often associated with orchestras and stuffy chamber-music ensembles, but in Melora Creager's hands, the bassy stringed instrument becomes a magic divining rod that ignites all manner of deliriously inventive flights of fancy. Some of Rasputina's albums from the last decade, like Sister Kinderhook and Oh Perilous World, are crammed with tangled riffs and knotty cello interplay, while Creager's demented lyrics place historical figures like Mary Todd Lincoln and Clara Barrus in fantastic shaggy-dog fables that, for all of their rampant surrealism, ultimately make some resonant statements about modern warfare and U.S. imperialism. Creager is the one constant member in the ever-evolving Rasputina collective; even as the group's arrangements shift from dense to minimal, she maintains a sense of playful subversion with her colorful, atemporal costumes and whimsically dark melodies. FALLING JAMES
Greensky Bluegrass – Tuesday, October 25 – Livewire For the better part of the past 16 years, this band from Kalamazoo, Michigan, has toured like it was a life mission. True to its name, its roots are in bluegrass — but there's also an improvisational side to the music that recalls the more interesting guitar work of Jerry Garcia. On the strength of hundreds of shows, not to mention a mastery of the art form, Greensky Bluegrass won the Telluride Bluegrass Festival Band Competition in 2006. Combining covers of traditional songs with excellent original material, the group is at its best in the live setting, as the All Access series of live albums attest. Greensky's extended improvisations, like some of the best music from the Allman Brothers and the Dead, are more inspired reinterpretation than indulgence. TOM MURPHY
Slayer – Wednesday, October 26 – Arizona State Fair Slayer is at a point in their career where it's not weird for parents to bring their kids to shows. The generation who loved Reign in Blood and Seasons in the Abyss as teenagers still love what this band does, and they're happy to share it with younger generations. That doesn't mean Slayer has softened their edge. Down to original members Kerry King and Tom Araya, along with longtime members Paul Bostaph and Gary Holt, the songs remain crushing and blistering. Tunes from their latest album, Repentless, fit right in with the sound they have cultivated since the '80s, so there won't be any curveballs. The Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the Arizona State Fairgrounds plays host to a night of metal that has lasted over decades of trends and still resonates with people young and older. ERIC GRUBBS
Finish Ticket – Wednesday, October 26 – Crescent Ballroom Finish Ticket is an act that blurs the line between the dated ideas of "indie" versus "pop." Brendan Hoye's striking singing sounds are reminiscent of Sam Smith or Ed Sheeran, but the bouncy synthesizer-driven instrumentation sounds eerily similar to Two Door Cinema Club. And while there's been a long-standing unspoken requirement for indie pop/rock to include vocalists with strange affectations, Hoye's more traditional delivery is refreshing and never lacking in power. But don't worry, they've performed with the Black Keys, which restores any "indie cred" they might've lost otherwise. MATT WOOD
Garbage – Thursday, October 27 – Arizona State Fair Shirley Manson, Butch Vig, Duke Erikson, and Steve Marker made Garbage a '90s alt-rock radio staple. While trippy production loops and sampling beats made the music stand apart from some of their grunge and alternative comrades, it's always been Manson's sultry and mysterious vocals that stand out. A bit sexy, a bit defiant, and a bit matter-of-fact, Manson is a versatile frontwoman, as capable of lovingly belting out torch anthems as she is delivering tales of woe and bad news with a menacing snarl. While they've never matched the chart success of their self-titled debut — "Only Happy When It Rains" and "Stupid Girl" are still ubiquitous earworms — Garbage has consistently been recording new music and touring with great frequency. Manson's vocals still pack a punch, and with Vig onstage, it's safe to assume a great deal of sonic wizardry will keep the show fresh and fulfilling. If they've been off your radar for a while, their show at this year's Arizona State Fair would be a good time to get reacquainted. JEFF STROWE
KUPD’s Big Red Night of the Dead – Thursday, October 27 – Talking Stick Resort Arena Five Finger Death Punch formed in 2005, when Zoltan Bathory and Jeremy Spencer started putting together their next band. Ivan Moody, a singer who'd moved out to LA without knowing a soul and had been sleeping in his rehearsal space, heard the nascent project's demos and ended up joining the band. Originally from Colorado, Moody proved to be a charismatic and cathartic frontman, and the band has since gone on to become one of the most popular bands in modern hard rock and metal. This week, Five Finger Death Punch co-headlines KUPD’s Big Red Night of the Dead, the annual Halloween week concert put on by the popular Valley hard rock station, which will also feature Sixx:A.M. and As Lions. TOM MURPHY
Huntress – Thursday, October 27 – Pub Rock There's a lot to love about Huntress, and it's not just because frontwoman Jill Janus is gorgeous, bad-ass, and intelligent. The band's debut album, Spell Eater, recorded and produced by Chris Rakestraw, earned stellar reviews. The musicians — Janus, guitarist Blake Meahl, bassist Ian Alden, and drummer Carl Wierzbicky — thrive on heavy riffs and spectral solos, occult science and bong rips, and a love for thrash and black metal. Influences like Judas Priest and King Diamond come into play, but with a modern sensibility about the heavy-metal industry. And then of course, there's vocalist Jill Janus. Trained as a classical opera singer from childhood, she was drawn to metal from the first time she heard Suicidal Tendencies at the tender age of 13. That led to metal, punk rock, and then thrash with her four-octave coloratura soprano range and a natural ability to growl and scream. She's been part of a witch coven since the age of 15, and hosted a weekly cabaret/dance night in the World Trade Center literally up until the night before 9/11. Spooky. LAUREN WISE
Dance Gavin Dance – Thursday, October 27 – Nile Theater Imagine the creative funk breakdowns of an Incubus and the post-rock guitar noodling of a Mutemath combined with the suburban rage of a Memphis May Fire, and there lies the foundation of emo/hardcore outfit Dance Gavin Dance. Featuring three vocalists (clean, unclean, and rap) and a penchant for both screamo and jazz fusion, Dance Gavin Dance is an attempt to lasso a wild assortment of styles into a singular menagerie. The band in its current format (they’ve had many musicians join their ranks) is celebrating the 10-year anniversary of its formation and touring the well-received Instant Gratification, released earlier this year. ANGEL MELENDEZ
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