After a lull of about two weeks, the Phoenix music scene has come alive this week, with a series of big-ticket concerts leading the charge, as well as welcoming two new music venues, Valley Bar and Rebel Lounge, into the fold. There are many musical options for your enjoyment this week, and you will see below. Here are our picks for the best concerts in Phoenix this week. For more options, visit our comprehensive concert calendar.
Train - Monday, May 25 - Ak-Chin Pavilion
If you're the type of person who drives around singing "Hey Soul Sister" at the top of your lungs, this concert is for you. Yes, Train is still around, and though the band hasn't replicated the success of its 2009 album, Save Me San Francisco, which contained "Soul Sister" as well as the band's other biggest hits, "Marry Me" and "If It's Love," they haven't stopped creating. In September, Train released a new album, Bulletproof Picasso, and they've been touring ever since.
Action Bronson - Tuesday, May 26 - Marquee Theatre
Video-game nerds have their own rappers, but foodie rap isn’t yet a thing. There are no rappers dedicating albums to perfectly seared steak, sous vide preparation, or handmade pasta. Maybe there should be, but for now, the closest thing food-lovers have is Action Bronson, Queens’ gourmet chef turned rapper. Peppered into his rhymes are allusions to fine dining, and his larger-than-life persona bastes high cuisine into everything he does. Born to a Jewish mother and an Albanian father, Ariyan Arslani attended culinary school in the Big Apple and then worked at high-end restaurants in the city. He had an online cooking show called , but once his hip-hop career took off, he stopped preparing meals to focus on concocting rhymes. He recently released Mr. Wonderful, his major label debut album for Atlantic Records. As the distance from his cooking career grows, the food references have started diminishing in his rhymes, but they’re still there. “All I do is eat oysters / And speak six languages in three voices,” he spits on the new album. If we could choose one rapper to prepare munchies after the show, Action would be number one, though maybe he’d better wait until 2016 to make it in Arizona. He once told that “My go-to dish is a buccatini pasta with olive oil and a little bit of sour diesel [marijuana oil] mixed into it.” DAVID ACCOMAZZO Update, 10:30 a.m. 5/26/2015: The Action Bronson show has been "postponed until further notice," according to a post on the rapper's Facebook page.
Skid Row - Wednesday, May 27 - Marquee Theatre
The up and down career of Skid Row is a microcosm of just about any successful 80's metal act. Hitting a peak with the 1991 sophomore effort Slave to the Grind, the band was quickly derailed by the grunge movement and ended up losing lead singer Sebastian Bach. Amazingly, the band reemerged in 1999 with Dallas' own Johnny Solinger as the vocalist and they seem to have been on the road ever since. DARRYL SMYERS
Romeo Santos - Thursday, May 28 - Comerica Theatre
Romeo Santos is a hero to many kids beyond his hometown of NYC for his lush, R&B-textured bachata music. Setting out on his grand adventure two decades ago, Santos worked his way into the hearts and car stereo systems of millions, first as the lead-singer of the groundbreaking bachata boy-band Aventura, and now as a solo artist. Santos has been called the "King of Bachata," a claim that will be absolutely undisputed when his visits Comerica Theatre just prior to Memorial Day weekend for what's certain to be a lively show. WINSTON GROMAN
Sure Shot: A Beastie Boys Tribute - Thursday, May 28 - Monarch Theatre
Local artists take to the Monarch Theatre to pay tribute to Brooklyn's finest, the Beastie Boys. Billed as an art show with a musical component, local hip-hop groups Drunken Immortals, Nuclear Beach Party, and Ebinezer will cover the Beasties' greatest hits. You won't have to fight for your right to party here.
Donavon Frankenreiter - Thursday, May 28 - Livewire
Musician and professional surfer Donavon Frankenreiter has been all over the world and seen his share of big waves. Still, he marvels at the daredevils who routinely tackle giant waves, including an estimated 100-footer recently surfed in Portugal. "It's unbelievable what some of these guys do," he says by phone from his home in Kauai, Hawaii, "but they know that when they do this, they could die. When I'm out there surfing, I love the feeling I get when the waves are a little bit dangerous, but I don't want to put myself in a situation that could [end badly]. I want to have fun, play music, and surf waves that aren't going to kill me — and do it around the world. I don't need to add a 100-foot wave into my day."
While Frankenreiter may take a safer approach in the water, the opposite is true in the studio. At a time when many artists strive for a consistent continuity of sound (keeping fans happy and, they hope, boosting sales), each of Frankenreiter's five albums is a different musical journey. Just as Frankenreiter never knows what the ocean might offer up, his studio time begins the same way — with a take-it-as-it-comes approach. "Going into the studio [to record Start Livin'] I wasn't really thinking about anything, as far as how I wanted to make this record," he says. "It's always a challenge when I do it myself. When I write a song on acoustic guitar, it can stay on acoustic or go to electric. It can be full-band or broken down. It's all about how I feel and how it comes together on that day." GLENN BURNSILVER
Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience - Friday, May 29, at Ovations Live!
If the face isn’t familiar, the last name probably is: Bonham. The son of Led Zeppelin’s legendary drummer, the late John Bonham, Jason is also a fine drummer in his own right. The younger Bonham has had a fine career, leading his own band, Bonham, as well as playing in numerous others including UFO, Virginia Wolf, Black Country Communion and, currently, Circle with Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony of Van Halen. Yet, his pedigree practically assured him that should Led Zeppelin ever reform, he’d be the first drummer called. Eventually, the surviving members did call. Jason Bonham took his dad’s seat for a 1988 one-off concert, and again in 2007 at London’s O2 Arena (resulting in the Grammy-winning Celebration Day album). Having a taste of what Zep was all about— meant Bonham needed something “to wean myself off the amount of Led Zeppelin in my veins,” he says. The Led Zeppelin Experience, formed in 2010, gives him that. Playing 25 shows a year, LZE goes beyond other tribute-style bands by anticipating where Led Zeppelin—a rock band with improvisational jazz tendencies—might have taken a song. Like father, like son? Almost. But, sometimes that counts in more than just horseshoes and hand grenades. GLENN BURNSILVER
2 Chainz - Friday, May 29 - Celebrity Theatre
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To any artist unsatisfied with their career: take note of 2 Chainz. The rapper had the biggest hit of his career in 2012, “Birthday Song,” in 2012 — at the ripe old age of 35. In the world of music, where youth sells almost more than it does in Hollywood, that’s no small feat. But if it seemed like “Birthday Song” and the other singles off Based on a T.R.U. Story (“No Lie,” “I’m Different”) seemed like they came out of nowhere, you just weren’t paying attention. From the late-’90s until 2011, 2 Chainz was known as Tity Boi, one half of the Atlanta duo known as Playaz Circle. And before you dismiss the moniker as sexist, the rapper says that “Tity Boi” was a childhood nickname that referred to how he was breastfed — his even claims his dad now calls him Tity Man. Playaz Circle had a string of minor hits, and they had a some legit credibility after Ludacris signed the duo early in their career. But 2 Chainz’ greatest success has come after striking out on his own late in his career. Who says musical stardom is for the young? DAVID ACCOMAZZO
William Elliott Whitmore - Saturday, May 30 - Rebel Lounge
William Elliott Whitmore's songs are set in the fields of Iowa and on the banks of the Mississippi, but his guitar and banjo have traveled the globe, opening stages for the likes of the Pogues, Billy Bragg, Chris Cornell, and Social Distortion. On Saturday, Whitmore brings his weary blues-folk to the Triple Rock. The gruff and heartfelt singer's music brims with passion and honesty, and the close confines of the small room are a perfect setting to fully capture his charm. Field Songs , released in 2011, was a lament of hardworking Americana and agriculture that is equally befitting of modern music and classic folk. LOREN GREEN