Looking for something to do this weekend? Look no further. Here are the best concerts happening in Metro Phoenix this weekend. Check out our comprehensive online concert calendar for even more live music options.
Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour - Friday, January 15 - Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
In 2016, the world's largest jazz festival will celebrate its 59th anniversary — an impressive feat that jazz fanatics should take note of, as this year's dates are set for mid-September, so be sure put in that request for vacation time soon. The Monterey Jazz Fest features more than 500 bebop, Dixieland, and jive artists performing during a nonstop two-day, three-night musical blowout in Northern California. But for those who can’t make it to the massive jazz party, the good news is that the festival will come to them. Every year, a slew of talented performers participate in the Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour, which celebrates the spirit of the festival in a number of cities across the country. On Friday, January 15, the tour visits the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts and will include the jazz stylings of Ravi Coltrane, Gerald Clayton, Nicholas Payton, Raul Midón, Joe Sanders and Gregory Hutchinson, who will offer the crowd a chance to revel in just the smallest taste of one of the craziest, finger-snapping, toe-tapping parties of the year. ERIN DEWITT
Black Violin - Friday, January 15 - Chandler Center for the Arts
Gilbert’s Lindsey Stirling might seem like the only crossover violinist playing a stringed instrument over hip-hop-inflected beats. But consider Black Violin. Before Piers Morgan even considered humiliating Stirling on America’s Got Talent, Black Violin had released its debut album. Consisting of violist Wilner Baptiste and violinist Kevin Sylvester (Wil B. and Kev Marcus, respectively), the group has a song featuring cerebral rapper Pharoahe Monch and has appeared on stage with Wu-Tang Clan. On the title track of the duo’s latest release, 2015’s Stereotypes, Sylvester says, “Just because I’m 6-foot-2, 260 pounds, doesn’t mean you’re supposed to be afraid of me. I feel like just when I walk into an elevator and there’s like four, five different other people in there . . . maybe they’re not afraid, but they’re on notice.” Black Violin seems intent on challenging the perceptions of what a classical musician is, and what classical music can be. DAVID ACCOMAZZO
Markus Schulz - Friday, January 15 - Maya Day & Nightclub
There are certain DJs who've long denounced trance, even though the genre helped turn them into international superstars. But not Markus Schulz. The German-born, Miami-based dance music veteran and stalwart supporter of trance (who spent the formative years of his now-legendary career working the Valley club circuit before he rocketed to superstardom) says, "It shouldn't be a dirty word." Perhaps Schulz is comfortable with the label because he's always been secure in his musical identity, whether during the trance trend of the early 2000s or now that "trance," as the DJ admits, "has gotten a bad reputation." This weekend, Schulz returns to the city where he cut his teeth in the DJ biz for a solo gig at Maya Day & Nightclub in Scottsdale. S. PAJOT
Phoenix Rock Lottery - Saturday, January 16 - Crescent Ballroom
For the third year, Crescent Ballroom will play host to the Phoenix Rock Lottery. How does it work? Take 25 local musicians, put them in a room, mix them up, and give them a day to come up with a brand-spanking-new name, three original songs, and time to master one cover. The result? Some of the most interesting juxtapositions in the Valley. Past incarnations have included members of Captain Squeegee, Dry River Yacht Club, Emby Alexander, Mergence, Slow Moses (the band formerly known as Wooden Indian), and Jimmy Eat World. In fact, it was at last year’s Lottery that Jim Adkins and friends started Wet Lab, a pop punk quintet who went on to release a cassette single. This year’s roster will include members of decker., Califone, Man Hands, Playboy Manbaby, The Technicolors, Andrew Jackson Jihad, Cherie Cherie, and Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra. The only way to witness the wild stuff these impromptu bands will invent is to see it yourself. Warning: Last year, the show sold out. TROY FARAH
Ladysmith Black Mambazo - Saturday, January 16 - Musical Instrument Museum
It wasn't until Ladysmith Black Mambazo's seminal work on Paul Simon's Grammy-winning Graceland that the world truly took notice of the South African a capella group, but the ensemble's been on a cross-cultural journey from the moment the members came together in the early 1960s. In the years since, they've worked with fellow Africans as well as international blues, jazz, hip-hop, soul, rock, and country artists, among others. Founded by Joseph Shabalala, LBM's strength is its ability to transform any song through vocal inflections that range from deep baritone to a soaring tenor, including precisely timed shouts, shuffles, whistles, trills, and animal-like sounds, along with handclaps and foot stomps for added depth and nuance. The singing style delves from the Zulu traditions of isicathamiya harmonies, something Shabalala took to heart after a series of recurring dreams instructed him to form a musical group. More than 50 albums along, the group's core songs remain based on South African folklore and traditions, mixed with occasional religious and political numbers. But the group has no problem tackling other musical styles, having covered Sam Cooke's "Chain Gang," "People Get Ready" by Curtis Mayfield, Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine," and even Bob Dylan's "Knocking on Heaven's Door." GLENN BURNSILVER
Car Seat Headrest - Sunday, January 17 - Valley Bar
Will Toledo didn't christen his musical project Car Seat Headrest because he wanted to prove his tunes were strong enough under the burden of the world's worst band name. No, the moniker alludes instead to early recording sessions during which the teenager wailed into a computer while sitting in a car — sometimes while parked outside a SuperTarget in his hometown of Leesburg, Virginia — because he was too embarrassed to sing in his parents' house. A lot has changed since then. Toledo, now in his early 20s, is signed to Matador Records, which recently released Teens of Style, featuring new versions of songs culled from the whopping 11 albums he made on his own and shared on Bandcamp. Now, in advance of Teens of Denial, a new album cut in a proper recording studio that's due in the coming months, he's on the road with a four-piece combo, playing shows that will find him singing to actual human beings, as opposed to upholstery. Car Seat Headrest's music is catchy, hooky and rough-hewn in the classic indie-rock tradition, and his lyrics are simultaneously funny and poignant — a difficult trick Toledo pulls off with casual aplomb. MICHAEL ROBERTS
Styx - Sunday, January 17 - Talking Stick Resort
Few bands sound more like that heady intermediary between the ’70s and the ’80s than Styx. The band’s tendencies leaned toward power ballads drenched in hairspray as much as they did prog, twisted and scuplted to fit the burgeoning technology of the 1980s. Dennis DeYoung’s soaring vocal lines always sounded as though he was seeking more headroom to go higher and louder, embodying the sentiment of the band in one fell swoop. Styx is as storied as any band of the era, with accusations of Satanism (à la Judas Priest) and internal conflict (à la Fleetwood Mac), which drove DeYoung away from the band. Touring alongside bands like Def Leppard and Foreigner over the past five years has left Styx looking like one of those great nostalgia acts, with most modern work overshadowed by the strength of past singles. With five platinum records, 16 Top 40 singles, and songs like “Lady” and “Mr. Roboto” etched into the stone of rock history, it’s hard to highlight what new music could ever top the hits of the band’s prime. The majority of Styx’s newer work is as equally masked as the ongoing legal battle between DeYoung and Styx, which makes more headlines today than most anything else. (Lawrence Gowan replaced DeYoung in 1999 and has been with the band ever since.) Disagreements aside, nostalgia for Styx must be great, as the event is sold out at Talking Stick. That’s the power of writing songs as big as Styx has, and the legacy it has left behind. K.C. LIBMAN
Bright Light Social Hour - Sunday, January 17 - Crescent Ballroom
Ah, Austin, that little beacon of psychedelic light in a sea of ultra-conservative Texas darkness. Where else can you find bands like The Black Angels or The 13th Floor Elevators? Heck, Austin is even where (duh) Austin Psych Fest is held every year! Strange that such stellar activity happens in a state firmly against anything remotely psychoactive (except Budweiser, of course). And in this oasis of a state that seemingly will never know the ecstasy of anything lysergic, The Bright Light Social Hour also has carved out a name for itself with its own brand of trippy blues rock. Space Is Still the Place, the four-piece’s sophomore album, could not be more aptly descriptive of these 45 minutes of bliss. From opener “Sweet Madeline” to the tongue-dissolving “Escape Velocity,” BLSH prove that you don’t have to go to Australia for Tame Impala-like whirlwinds. Therefore, it was completely deserved when BLSH swept the floor at the 2011 SXSW Austin Music Awards, earning six awards covering everything from Band of the Year to Song of the Year. TROY FARAH
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