Fifth Harmony - Friday, August 7 - Comerica Theatre
Fifth Harmony began when all five members auditioned on X Factor, and the five ladies have since taken the pop music world by the throat. The group's debut album, Reflection, sold more than any girl group since the Pussycat Dolls released their 2008 album, and right now "Worth It" is lighting up the Internet and playlists nationwide. At the very least, the group deserves credit for being possibly the only girl group to name-check the first lady ("Michelle Obama Michelle Obama / Purse so heavy gettin' Oprah dollahs," from "BO$$").
Summerfest - Friday, August 7 - The Icehouse
This is a can't-miss First Friday show. Plus, it's free. With 15 local bands on the bill, including Haymarket Squares, Boss Frog, Dadadoh, Fathers Day, the Stakes, and more, it's pretty much the place you want to be.
Steff and the Articles - Saturday, August 8 - Pho Cao
Steff Koeppen is the bandleader of Steff & the Articles, her art-pop four-piece that tends to frequent Phoenix as much as it does Tucson. 2012's "Two Cities," a single that became the band's de facto introduction, was blatantly heartfelt, reading like an intimate missive. She has employed the same approach with "Corner of the World," her latest single from a forthcoming record.
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Whereas Koeppen was firmly rooted in "Two Cities" earlier, "Corner of the World" questions just what lies beyond those two cities now. Following in Koeppen's tradition of artfully written pop songs, "Corner of the World" builds on the angularity of past tracks like "Te Extraño," with hints of the fragile melancholy of "Finding." Writing songs that play off pop structure yet still employ arrangements that catch the ear of fellow musicians has always been Koeppen's modus operandi. K.C. LIBMAN
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Grace Potter has been known as the guitar-wielding, gravel-and-satin-voiced frontwoman of blues rock group Grace Potter and the Nocturnals for the past 13 years. Though the Vermont band earned its success slowly, Potter has always demonstrated a commanding onstage presence, whether it's alongside the Nocturnals, the Rolling Stones, or country stars like Kenny Chesney. On her debut solo album, Midnight, Potter departs from her previous work to boast a slick, modern sensibility anchored by the psychedelic '80s dance beats she grew up listening to at home. STEPHANIE CHEN
Lucinda Williams - Sunday, August 9 - Crescent Ballroom
For lo these 30 or so years, Lake Charles, Louisiana, singer-songwriter-guitarist Lucinda Williams has forged an idiosyncratic path through American roots music, melting down Delta-infused country soul, funky folk and rock strains into her gritty, Southern Gothic sound. Her smartly sassy worldview drenched her self-titled album in ’88, which along with the Grammy-winning Car Wheels on a Gravel Road launched and defined the Americana movement of the ’90s. Highly literate songwriting, nice singing and great playing abounds on Williams’ 2014 double-disc set, Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone, a ridiculously good-feeling thing released on her own Highway 20 label and graced by guests such as Tony Joe White and Ian MacLagan. JOHN PAYNE