Up for seeing a concert this weekend? There are plenty to choose from that will be happening at venues throughout the Valley over the next 72 hours (give or take). Here are our picks for your best bets for live music in Metro Phoenix. For more options, check out our comprehensive concert calendar.
56th Street Records Holiday Show - Friday, December 11 - Trunk Space
All you need to know about this show is on its flyer — Santa Claus, bent over at the waist , pants halfway down his legs, revealing a lacy set of undergarments. This may be a Christmas gig, but it’ll be a the type of gig you’d want to attend — less emphasis on sweaters and cookies and more so on raunchy and raucous music. 56th Street Records is the label owned by local stoner rapper extraordinaire HotRock SupaJoint, and playing the show will be local nerdcore group Nerdzerker, indie art punks Soft Deadlines, artsy trailblazers RPM Orchestra, punk rock troubadour Andy Warpigs, and songwriter John Banks Jr. This is one holiday show that doesn’t even threaten to be nice; with that lineup and that organizer, we expect the party to be all naughty. DAVID ACCOMAZZO
Casey Veggies - Saturday, December 12 - The Pressroom
Casey Veggies is not a new name. The 22-year-old rapper popped up on radars as a member of the Odd Future crew in 2007. According to math, he was 14 when he began releasing mixtapes, and he stayed heavy buzzing through 2013, releasing seven hot tapes. In 2014, he made inroads on national radio. His single "Backflip," featuring fellow Californians YG and Iamsu!, exposed him to a broader mainstream audience. His follow-up with Dej Loaf, "Tied Up," saw him take new territory on the U.S. R&B charts.
Now he celebrates his greatest accomplishment to date: the release of his first official album, Live & Grow. It builds on Casey's near-decade of experience, with 13 tracks that capture a range of feelings and styles. In between is a myriad of smart clips, funky flows, and booty beats, he raps about the importance of following one's dreams, and he bemoans the fake and fickle world of fame. One minute, he's starting the party with a track about strippers; the next, he's waxing poetic about lives lost through police brutality. "I think I'm a well-balanced person," he says. "I just got different elements to me as a person, so I just want that to come across in the music. I think as a rapper, as an artist, you should be able to give the listener every element, every emotion. That's what I wanted to do on this album, just express myself, and every song is expressing something different." KAT BEIN
Scott Kelly - Saturday, December 12 - 51 West
“I do very minimalist, dark acoustic songs. They are largely barren but for my voice and guitar,” says Scott Kelly. The 48-year-old musician is known mostly for his work in the seminal Bay Area doom pioneers Neurosis, but on December 12, he will be joined by Bruce Lamont of Yakuza and Corrections House (also a Kelly side project) and a special acoustic performance by local one-man band Via Vengeance. Kelly will do a solo set and be joined by Lamont for some of their Corrections House songs and maybe a special treat or two. Kelly sites Hank Williams, Townes Van Zandt, Nick Drake, and Joy Division among his most significant influences for his solo material, but he doesn’t seem to have a problem figuring out which project to allocate his riffs to. “I feel like my influences come through in whatever it is I’m working on. It’s just the tonality of the music that really changes the sound. I can hear all of my influences in my solo work, Neurosis, Corrections House, or anything else I’ve ever done,” Kelly says. One thing we know for sure: The show probably will be the most intense acoustic performance of the year. TOM REARDON
The Mowgli's and Lights - Saturday, December 12 - Marquee Theatre
Similar to the vibe cultivated by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, The Mowgli’s specialize in creating an upbeat, neon type of pop rock. Every song seems to contain a joyfully chanted chorus and an optimistic refrain. Sounds just about right for a band named after the Jungle Book protagonist. The band just released a relentlessly rosy album with the saccharine title Kids in Love, and they come to the Marquee as co-headliners with Valerie Poxleitner, better known as Lights. The Mowgli’s seem to have a sunny outlook on life, which makes sense when you learn that the bulk of the band attended high school together in Los Angeles. Buoyed by both a thick sound created by its six-person lineup, Mogwli’s are poised to become the next band suburban high schoolers scream along to at the top of their lungs as they take their first road trips and their first steps into adulthood. DAVID ACCOMAZZO
Obscura's Star Wars Party - Saturday, December 12 - Rips
The force is pretty strong with DJ Alex Transistor, especially when it comes to mixing up Britpop and post-punk. While there’s no way of measuring the man’s exact midichlorian count, he’s proven to be quite adept as a selector during various performances at such L.A. dance nights as Club Underground and Part Time Punks, as well as at the annual Smiths/Morrissey Convention in Hollywood. This weekend, Transistor will head through hyperspace to Rips where he’ll perform alongside DJ Matty at Obscura’s Star Wars Party on Saturday, December 12. The infamous CenPho dive will transform into the Mos Eisely Cantina for the affair, which will celebrate the impending release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens with an intergalactic photo booth stocked with lightsabers and masks, concert ticket and CD giveaways, and more. Star Wars-themed costumes are encouraged, but not required. The party blasts off at 8:30 p.m. Admission is free before 9 p.m., $5 thereafter. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Chicano Batman - Saturday, December 12 - The Rebel Lounge
Chicano Batman resemble freaky-deaky prom kings as they play their psychedelic cumbias and Farfisa-driven ballads and prog-pop gems. The East Los Angeles quartet's latest album, Cycles of Existential Rhyme, is warm and deeply funky. Even an eightysomething mom can give it up for singer Bardo Martinez, a crooner with plenty of Brazil in his voice. And there's more than a little trippy tropicália in the cool crusaders' cozy yet structurally akimbo jams, which reassemble Mexican balladry filtered through early Pink Floyd. RICHARD GEHR
A.A. Bondy - Sunday, December 13 - Valley Bar
Auguste Arthur "A.A." Bondy is well into his second act as a musician after the dissolution of his band, Verbena. That Alabama outfit released one of the best unsung albums of the '90s, 1997's Dave Fridmann-produced Souls For Sale, full of delicious boy/girl harmonies and Sticky Fingers-era Stonesy country-rock swagger. They went out with a whimper rather than a bang after two under-promoted Capitol Records releases. Bondy sold all his equipment, gave up music and moved to upstate New York. But as fate would have it, he married Clare Felice around the time her brothers were launching their own careers, prompting Bondy to restart his.
"Some of what they were doing rubbed off on me in terms of they don't give a fuck. They only do what they want to do," Bondy says. His solo debut, 2007's American Hearts, explored minimalist folk-blues. The 2009 follow-up, When the Devil's Loose, embraces a band setting, though it's still pretty austere. Nonetheless the album is more fleshed out, its foreboding melancholia and stories of lives in transit dovetailing with the collapse of Bondy's marriage. His 2011 album, Believers, retains the loping pace and late-night longing, but the mood's more spectral and dreamy, supported by supple organ peals and a sense of resigned acceptance. CHRIS PARKER
David Wax Museum - Sunday, December 13 - The Rebel Lounge
Mexican folk isn't nearly the same as New England folk — the intersection of that Venn diagram might just say "into fringe" — but for this border-crossing Americana duo, the culture clash produces a subtle flavor, like pesto pasta with a dash of picante. It's a fruitful mix, with guitarist David Wax doubling on the Mexican jarana, and fiddler Suz Slezak marking time with the rhythmic jangle of the quijada, a donkey jawbone. It often has the lovelorn spirit of a heartache borne in Boston, but the pulsing soul of a Mayan harvest festival. AIDAN LEVY
Alt AZ’s Ugly Sweater Holiday Party 2015 - Sunday, December 13, and Monday, December 14 - Mesa Amphitheatre
While we can’t guarantee that everyone in attendance at either day of Valley radio station Alt AZ’s annual Christmastime concert will actually be sporting an unsightly holiday-related pullover or sweater, we’re fairly certain they’ll be kept in rapt attention by all of the indie rock and pop acts scheduled to perform during the two-night event at Mesa Amphitheatre, which kicks off on Sunday, December 13. The lineup, which leans pretty heavy on international acts, will include British-born indie poppers Bastille, Scottish electronica band Chvrches, and London-based alternative rockers Wolf Alice on Sunday, December 13; followed the next night by Iceland’s Of Monster and Men, singer-songwriter George Ezra, and X Ambassadors (the alt-rockers that helped sell millions of Jeep Renegades). BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
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