The live music lineup over Valentine’s weekend has something almost everyone will love: profanely funny heavy metal acts, R&B legends, a locally focused rock festival, profound blues artists, geeky rappers, alt-rock heavyweights, an enormous EDM throwdown, and even a show aimed at protecting the naughty bits of men everywhere.
Here are our picks for best concerts in Phoenix over the next 72 hours. Check out our comprehensive concert listings for more options.
Hawthorne Heights - Friday, February 12 - Livewire
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Few bands captured the mid-'00s MTV rock essence quite like Hawthorne Heights. At its core, the band was relatable in ways that made its Total Request Live contingency ball their fists in angst and A&R heads smile greedily. Hawthorn Heights captured the Fall Out Boy crowd without the twee and the My Chemical Romance crowd without the theatrics. Hailing from Dayton, Ohio, where the band still resides, Hawthorne Heights also appealed to the restless suburban set and became the poster children for Hot Topic shoppers around the country, whether the band liked it or not.
Regardless of your take on that much, much maligned term "screamo" (for which Hawthorne Heights also became the unwilling poster children), there's no denying the band's early brilliance in their instrumental approach. With the original lineup including three guitarists, there was less layering and more interplay, lending weight to an attack that was much more than just the palm-muted downpicking of their contemporaries. The 2014 acoustic rerelease of The Silence In Black and White, the decade-old record still stands strong when stripped down. If not for the millennial nostalgia alone, JT Woodruff and company have always been apt songwriters — even if their aesthetic dated them, the discontent that fueled the band's songs is ageless. K.C. LIBMAN
Homegrown Heroes Music Festival - Friday, February 12, and Saturday, February 13 - Club Red
This two-night event is all about celebrating the local scene with some bands that you may or may not have heard of. It’s a great way to get a taste of what is on the rise in both the rock and metal scenes. The first night on Friday, February 12, will include performances from Groove Street, Desert Purple, Something Like December, Dwarf, Nocturnal North, Painting Fences, Elyse Wieland, and Starcross. Part two of the festival on Saturday, January 13, will offer an array of Arizona bands of the metal variety, including Fatal Malady, The Audio Virus, Hounds of Tindalos, Ironkill, Artesyn, Fire Glass, Bekkoning, Empire of Dezire, Absolute Adversary, and Duntov. LAUREN WISE
Steel Panther - Saturday, February 13 - Livewire
Cock rock is dead? Hardly. For more than a decade now, the gleefully ribald members of Steel Panther have built a large fan base by simultaneously skewering and embracing hair-metal tropes at Sunset Strip venues. Their streetwalker attire, their synchronized leg kicks and their devotion to their fans' breasts are all part of the fun. Guitarist Russ Parrish once played alongside Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford. Vocalist Ralph Saenz briefly fronted L.A. Guns and impersonated David Lee Roth in Van Halen tribute band The Atomic Punks.
Though initially focused on the rendition of hits by Cinderella, Poison and Warrant, Steel Panther suddenly are popular from their own material. Their second major-label album of originals, Balls Out, debuted at No. 40 on the Billboard Top 200 in November. In year's past, they've opened for Guns N' Roses and toured the United Kingdom alongside Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe. The group's original songs combine the party-hard sensibilities of Andrew W.K. with Andrew Dice Clay-style humor, on songs like "It Won't Suck Itself." "Fat Girl (Thar She Blows)" is basically a rip-off of Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again," while anal-sex ode "Weenie Ride" ("Just bring the baby wipes and the Astroglide") resembles Mötley Crüe's "Home Sweet Home" in parts. But it's clever, and that goes a long way. "We don't do 'serious' music," Parrish says. "People need a break from that. Our stuff is fuckin' fun." CLAY MARSHALL
Crush Arizona 2016 - Saturday, February 13 - Rawhide
Whether you’re ready for it or not, the spring season has pretty much arrived in the Metro Phoenix area. Yeah, we know it’s not even the middle of February (and thus, still technically winter), but that’s not stopping Mother Nature from turning up the heat a few weeks early. And with the onset of springtime comes the onslaught of major music events and big-name festivals that will dominate the concert calendar over the next few months. That includes the electronic dance music festival Crush Arizona 2016 on Saturday, February 13, at Rawhide in Chandler. .
As with its did in 2014 and 2015, Crush will serve as an unofficial kickoff of sorts to the festival season here in the Valley, as well as being a “can’t miss” EDM event in its own right with nine straight hours of world-renowned talents dropping sounds outdoors. In fact, this year’s event arguably features Crush’s best lineup ever and will feature such chart-scorching acts as Keys N Krates (who dominated clubs with “Save Me”), Netsky, Jauz, and Borgeous. Other superstas scheduled to perform include Billy Kenny, Peking Duk, Seven Lions, and Wax Motif. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Ball-A-Palooza - Saturday, February 13 - Club Red
Testicular cancer claims about 8,000 lives a year in the United States, but when detected and treated, it’s one of the most curable types of cancer. The detection bit is the important part, and awareness is the first step. Enter Ball-A-Palooza, a noon-to-midnight music festival at Club Red held to raise money for testicular cancer causes. All proceeds from the event will go to charity. A huge number of local bands are on the bill for this event, including Japhy’s Descent, Day Before Plastics, Ana Log, Cockswain, and about a dozen more. Supporting local bands and cancer prevention? There are worse ways to spend $20. DAVID ACCOMAZZO
Smokey Robinson - Saturday, February 13, And Sunday, February 14 - Wild Horse Pass
Berry Gordy might have built Motown, but Smokey Robinson certainly played a major role in its construction. The Detroit-born soul singer not only has a voice of pure silk, he has flexed his songwriting chops and his business acumen throughout his career. It’s safe to say that without Robinson’s contributions, Motown wouldn’t have experienced the degree of success it enjoyed. Robinson and Gordy met in the early ’60s, when Brunswick Records made the unfortunate decision to not offer Robinson a deal.
Impressed with Robinson’s songwriting ambition, Gordy took Robinson under his wing, and when Gordy started Motown, one of the first acts he signed was the Miracles, Robinson’s soul group. The group would go on to produce dozens of Top 40 hits, starting with “Shop Around” and continuing with eventual number one hit “Tears of a Clown.” While he was writing and recording with the Miracles, Robinson was pulling double shifts, writing hit songs for other Motown acts, including “Get Ready” for the Temptations and “Ain’t That Peculiar” for Marvin Gaye. Few musicians have ever rivaled Robinson’s Motown period in terms of sheer output and commercial success. DAVID ACCOMAZZO
Mike Zito and the Wheel - Sunday, February 14 - Rhythm Room
“I think the blues is fresher than ever if you consider the blues to be a broad-based American art form,” says Mike Zito, the St. Louis rocker who cofounded Royal Southern Brotherhood. “If you think that it's only blues if it sounds like the 1950s, then you're probably going to be let down. I don't know that staying true to the roots of a genre is very creative, and it's certainly not what the originators did.” While his allegiance to blues music is beyond reproach, Zito has made it clear he's not content following any single trajectory.
Zito’s struggles with addiction and homelessness would certainly give cause to sing the blues, and to do so from a very real and personal place. Yet, on his brilliant new album, the aptly titled Keep Coming Back, Zito stakes a claim to being not only an expressive purveyor of genuine R&B but also an accomplished rocker and balladeer. He sings from the gut as well as true-life experience. Songs such as “Keep Coming Back,” “Chin Up,” “Get Busy Living” and, in particular, the autobiographical ballad “I Was Drunk” (cowritten with Anders Osborne), Zito details his past struggles with an honesty and conviction that mutes any hint of affectation. LEE ZIMMERMAN
MC Chris - Sunday, February 14 - Crescent Ballroom
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Nerdcore, my ass — if you want to hear someone rap about comic books or science fiction or anime, you can pick up an album by MF DOOM or Del the Funky Homosapien instead of glomming onto some kid who's too caught up in geek culture to learn how to flow. mc chris (remember all lower-case when you spell the man's name) is a notable exception: despite being a pioneer of the nerdcore scene, he's expressed numerous reservations about being lumped in with the more one-movement in his wake. And while his uber-nasal high-pitched voice (as heard on classic episodes of [adult swim] series Sealab 2020 and Aqua Teen Hunger Force) and enthusiasm for all things dork have made him a star amongst the Internet People set, all his Star Wars and D&D references are spit with a lyrical agility and a sharp-tongued sense of humor that set him miles above his peers. NATE PATRIN
Hoodie Allen - Sunday, February 14 - Marquee Theatre
When we hear the name Hoodie Allen we envision a cross between Big Baby Jesus, a.k.a. Dirt McGirt, or Wu Tang Clan's Ol' Dirty Bastard, and Larry David. Sounds too soft for you? Well, in the absence of an MC that dares to pair gangsta ribaldry with Hasidic orthodoxy, we'll make do with this guy. Good ol' Hoodie (his mama named him Steven Markowitz) is like if Asher Roth didn't drop out after a semester and a half of binge drinking - and brief addiction to green tea caffeine pills - got good grades, joined a fraternity, and started three fucking honor societies. Ultimately, the MC's true persona may more closely align with the latter half of his namesake, having sampled Death Cab For Cutie and Marina & the Diamonds, alongside other user-friendly indie rock. Y'know, the kind of stuff Alvy Singer would have on his iPod if he actually existed. MATT PREIRA