And it begins. One solid week where rich outsiders and big money descend on Phoenix, inflating ticket prices, creating traffic, and bringing the nation's eyes upon our sleepy little valley. All things Super Bowl don't really ramp up until Wednesday, but until then there's still plenty to do. Here are the our concert picks, and be sure to check out our comprehensive concert calendar for more options. And don't forget to check out our list of the 20 best concerts of Super Bowl week.
If the sum total of your knowledge of soul, funk, and especially Motown music is limited to either Urban Outfitters' pithy vinyl selection or what you heard on the Get On Up soundtrack, you're in desperate need of enlightenment. And some of the Valley's best turntablists would love to help clue you in during the weekly session of Motown on Mondays.
Described as a "convergence of soul music and dancing," it offers a different sort of vibe than most other DJ nights in the Valley scene, and not just because its taking place during one the slowest nights of the week.
Here's the setup: A combination of some of the better scratchers, mixmasters, and wax workers from around Phoenix -- including Tricky T, Pickster One, DJ M2, DJ Organic, and others -- trade off each and drop dance music-oriented remixes of Motown classics on the ones and twos, as well as "close relatives" that boast the same groove and many soul, funk and disco joints to boot. And they often spin similar remixes that have been laid down by other Motown on Mondays events across the nation. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
White Arrows frontman Mickey Church approached writing the band's latest, In Bardo, as though it were the end of his musical world on Earth. The result: a playfully quirky, anything-goes-into-a-pop-song groove inhabiting the album from start to finish.
"I didn't really know or care what was going to happen after this," Church says. "I treated this as if this were going to be the last album I was going to make, and I wanted it to be something I was proud of. Beyond that, it's out of my control. It was actually liberating [to think] whatever happens happens. There was no sacrifice. Whatever I wanted to say -- whatever I wanted to do -- on this record, I did. I know it sounds kind of vulnerable, and it's a little bit hard to talk about, but it's all about just going for it."
This Los Angeles indie quintet deftly aligns electro-pop with gritty guitars, dark bass romps with falsetto vocals, synth extrapolations with Latin shakedowns, and assorted one-off sound effects for added depth. Toss in a world music sensibility of beats and rhythmic textures, and the songs feel fresh, airy, and, at moments, uplifting. Despite all the layers, rarely do these mini-epics feel overdone. GLENN BURNSILVER
Of all things that may be lost on Todd Snider, emotion is not one of them. Over the past 20 years, Snider has blurred the lines between alt-country and folk, often being slapped with the "Americana" label, weaving stories of hardship and tribulation, often foiling them against his brand of left-of-center humor. Where folk music has the tendency to lean toward the serious, the dusty, and the mundane, Snider holds the ability to temper that darkness. He also has followed the Ryan Adams model of abandoning a major label to strike out on his own and release a boatload of material. Thankfully, Snider's fans are nothing short of ravenous -- with his genre-blending comes a fan base whose appetite rivals that of Deadheads, if anything elevating Snider to cult-figure status in certain circles. Snider probably couldn't care less either way. He's a musician who somehow stumbled his way into some form of stardom, the degree of which seems unimportant to the man himself. Most of his interviews read this way, self-effacing and poetic to a beautiful fault, contradicted by his prodigious work ethic. Whether he's playing with his newest outfit, Hard Working Americans (alongside Neil Casal of The Cardinals and Dave Schools of Widespread Panic), or as a solo act, Snider cannot be denied as one of the quieter folk greats of today. When most artists are poking their finger out at the crowd, Snider points his to his chest, calling himself both the rodeo clown and the cowboy. K.C. LIBMAN
Despite the vast differences in their music (one's big into melodic Latin pop and ballads while the other favors hip-hop and reggaeton), there's a lot of common ground between Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull. Both hail from Miami, have a bit of heartthrob things going, and have moved millions of units, including the three tracks they've collaborated on (like last year's hit single, "I'm a Freak.") Plus, they've been hitting the road together for the past several months on their current tour, which swings through downtown Phoenix on January 29. Reggaeton singer J. Bolvin will open the show, which starts at 7:30 p.m. PHOENIX NEW TIMES
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Many nighttime extravaganzas during the build up to the big game will feature a mix of hip-hop and jocks, including rapper Big Sean's gig at Maya on January 29, which will be hosted by Arizona Cardinals defensive end Darnell Dockett and feature DJ Don Cannon in the mix. Super Bowl week seems like a natural fit for the hip-hop artist, considering that he played a star high school quarterback (coached by Kanye, no less) in music video for his hit track "I Don't Fuck With You" and titled his latest album Hall of Fame. We're guessing, however, that Big Sean is more likely to be tossing rhymes around Maya versus footballs during his performance. Gates open at 9 p.m. General admission is $50 and the VIP tickets are $125.
A smorgasbord of pop, R&B, hip-hop, reggae, and dance music is on tap those who attend the second evening of the DirecTV Super Fan Fest, as it will feature a combination of electro-house from Calvin Harris and Alesso, as well as the R&B artistry of Jason Derulo, reggae fusion from Magic!, and the raps and rhymes of female hip-hop artist Becky G. Together, these artists have dominated pop radio and the streaming music charts for the past year. PHOENIX NEW TIMES