Jessica Lea Mayfield is scheduled to perform on Tuesday, January 23, at Valley Bar.Courtesy of ATO Records
Things are about to pick up in the Phoenix concert scene. The post-holiday lull is finally behind us, which means countless artists and acts have resumed their touring schedules and are headed our way in the weeks and months ahead.
And this week, that will include such names as influential indie rockers Pinback, singer-songwriter Jessica Lea Mayfield, power pop band Charly Bliss, and country mainstay John Hiatt, who have gigs at Valley music venues over the next few nights.
Other highlights of this week’s concert calendar include ska kings The Toasters, thrash metal band Machine Head, experimental/post-punk act Glaare, and jazz legend Lewis Nash.
Details about each of these shows can be found below in our list of the best concerts in Phoenix this week. And for even more options, check out Phoenix New Times' concert calendar.
Like a lot of country musicians, John Hiatt got his start as a songwriter for a publishing company in Nashville. He moved to Tennessee from his home state of Indiana at 18 and began penning tunes for $25 a week. The job required him to record the songs he wrote, and that ended up landing him a record deal.
More than 40 years later, he’s still going strong. The sincerity in his songs has always been a draw. Hiatt’s tunes are loaded with emotion. He incorporates blues and folk into his country style, and his ability to craft poignant tunes seems endless. Whether it’s the pure sadness or witty snark he sometimes uses to pepper his tunes, Hiatt knows how to haunt the listener.
The artist’s current tour celebrates 30 years with his backing band, The Goners, and features slide guitar master Sonny Landreth, who like Hiatt, has collaborated with a list of greats, including Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler. Hiatt has recorded more than 20 studio albums and earned a number of awards, including the Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting in 2008, and a star on Nashville’s Walk of Fame. Amy Young
Go to an online search engine and enter "Toasters." The first thing that comes up are numerous sales pitches for the kitchen appliance. Oh, well. Search a little harder, and The Toasters, America's first ska band (though their leader is of English descent), finally appears in the results, even though the band has been playing tight, groove-laden riddims since 1981 and shaping a sound that endures today.
In many ways, their relevance in your Google search epitomizes the plight of this multiracial, Jamaican roots-based band. The Toasters are trapped between the late-1970s 2-Tone second-wave ska revival and today's more popular third-wave ska bands like Sublime with Rome, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and Reel Big Fish. The Toasters, says founder Robert "Bucket" Hingley, are "the missing link between the two waves." True.
When Hingley immigrated in 1979, America had not yet been fully introduced to ska, though the scene across the pond was buzzing with bands like The Specials, Madness, The English Beat, and The Selector. Working off the 2-Tone blueprint, yet adding edgier guitars and a sometimes more aggressive horn section, The Toasters pioneered an original ska style right for the American palate. Thirty years later, it still tastes great. Glenn BurnSilver
On his newest album, The Living Daylights, Mesa-based rapper Teek Hall gives listeners deeper insight into his childhood and weaves stories of heroes and villains into his own narrative. Hall collaborated with underground hip-hop artists and groups on tracks such as “Hunger Pains,” “The Gospel,” and “Beautiful Loss.”
The artist will celebrate the release of his new 11-track album on Monday, January 22, at The Rebel Lounge. Along with new music from Hall, the release party will showcase local rappers Dela Preme, Johnnie ApeShxt Bananerrz, Toure' Masters, Mega Ran, and Juan Pedro Stude. There will be live art by IxChel Tolteca.
Tickets to the 21-and-over event are $10 to $15. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., and the show starts at 8. For more information, visit the Rebel Lounge's website. Laura Latzko
Jessica Lea Mayfield has risen through the songwriting ranks with one foot in the old and the other in the new. She got her start touring with her family bluegrass band, but after a stroke of luck, she was suddenly pushed into the spotlight with high-profile tours accompanying the likes of Black Keys, Ray LaMontagne, Lucero, and Jay Farrar.
But success hasn't seemed to make her too happy: Her songs are still dark, brooding little things you'd expect more from a cranky old woman, not a 28-year-old. Listening to her, you might think she was an old country or folk performer, as her drawl comes across as something you'd be more likely to hear in the '70s than today. Still, she doesn't always play the jaded, lovesick adult, and 2011's Tell Me experiments more with rock and pop than her debut. Thorin Klosowski
The Cocteau Twins, The Cure, Kate Bush, and Slowdive are all listed as acts that darkwave, post-punk trio Glaare dig. And it shows. Glaare’s sound is a mixture of gothic-inspired genres that are rooted in instrumentalism and experimentation. The Los Angeles-based group is coming to share that sound with Phoenix and teaming up with their Funeral Party Records labelmate, Fearing, and local experimental DJ A0n.
Glaare will be supporting their latest album, To Deaf and Day, which was just named as one of the best albums of 2017 by post-punk.com.
Nu/flesh, a local group that curates dark electronic concerts in Phoenix, is hosting the show. For those unfamiliar with the macabre sounds of alternative punk and gothic genres, Glaare is a great introductory point due to their dream pop accessibility and intimate lyrics. Catch them at The Lunchbox on Tuesday, January 23. Admission is $10, and the show starts at 9 p.m. Tanner Stechnij
The Rebel Lounge will host the prairie folk meets country blues of The Deep Dark Woods. There's something about the soulful music this Canada-born band makes that could give you the chills while warming you, and their last album Yarrow from last year is pretty amazing. Ditto for their previous efforts, including 2011’s The Place I Left Behind and 2013’s Jubilee.
Local singer-songwriter Daryl Scherrer and psych-folk act Meet the Sun will open for The Deep Dark Woods during their Phoenix show on Wednesday, January 24, which starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door. David Garrick
Putatively named after Dan O'Bannon's character in John Carpenter's shlocky 1974 science-fiction film Dark Star, Pinback was started in San Diego in 1998 by Three Mile Pilot's Zach Smith and Rob Crow, who had been involved in various experimental bands of the time, including Heavy Vegetable.
While the outfit didn't exactly invent math rock, it did take a certain musical precision and employ it in inventive, emotionally expressive ways rather than using the music as a mere display of technical prowess. Thanks to 2001's Blue Screen Life, Pinback broke away from being a truly underground phenomenon, while the band's three subsequent albums revealed its breadth of creativity, including 2012’s Information Retrieved, which featured Smith and Crow working their signature textures into entrancing, transporting atmospheres.
While Pinback hasn’t put out a studio album since Information Retrieved, they released the compilation Some Offcell Voices (a merger of two of their earliest EPs, 2000’s Some Voices and 2003’s Offcell) last year and are currently in the midst of their latest tour. Tom Murphy
“I’m gonna die in a getaway car,” Charly Bliss’ Eva Hendricks sings on the band’s ecstatic single “Percolator.” Not since J.G. Ballard’s Crash has vehicular violence sounded so desirable. Hendricks croons the chorus like she’s singing about winning the lottery. And the catchy music that surrounds those lyrics begs listeners to sing along.
A four-piece band from Brooklyn, Charly Bliss are a throwback to the ’90s. Rather than trying to reanimate the corpse of flannel rock, though, the Blissers pull inspiration from poppier rock bands of that decade like Veruca Salt and Letters to Cleo. Combining Hendricks’ girlish vocals with driving guitars, Charly Bliss have created a grungy bubblegum sound. If someone remakes 10 Things I Hate About You in the near future, they’d be a shoo-in to play the prom band.
While the band have been around since 2014, it wasn’t until last year that they dropped a full-length album. The 10-song sugar rush Guppy was one of 2017’s most impressive debuts. Songs like “Westermarck,” “DQ,” and “Ruby” burst at the seams with unshakeable earworms and sharp hooks. Guppy is a bracing reminder of how fun rock can be when it’s punchy, bratty, and to-the-point. Ashley Naftule
Esham, better known as the creator of the "wicked shit."
Since releasing his first album in 1986 at the age of 13, Esham’s personalized style of acid rap has influenced rappers like Tech N9ne and Insane Clown Posse, leaving a major mark in the subgenre of horrorcore.
Thirty years later, Esham Smith is still making music and expanding his community of those looking to share in the “wicked shit,” including those who in the audience at Last Exit Live on Wednesday. “The ‘wicked shit’ is a particular type of music that we do, the acid rap,” Smith says. “It’s a genre that dives into dark imagery and really mental subjects. A lot of kids choose to express themselves through this musical artform instead of violently at times, and this music originated in Detroit, Michigan.”
Decades later, the "wicked shit" is carried on by horrorcore artists around the world. “Everybody keeps it going, and we are all inspired by each other,” Smith says. “Whether it’s ICP hosting the Gathering of the Juggalos or taking the culture even further in other ways, I think we all learn from each other.” Lauren Archuletta
At one time (read: 25 years ago), local wunderkind Lewis Nash had instant name recognition in any major U.S. city with a thriving jazz scene. And did his hometown extend him the same courtesy? Eh, not so much. There was little evidence in Phoenix of that era of the famed drummer’s exploits alongside the the likes of Branford Marsalis, Art Farmer, or the late Dizzy Gillespie. However, times have changed.
Fast forward to today, and the 59-year-old musician's name is up in lights, literally, as the namesake of downtown jazz joint The Nash. And you could cover the walls inside with a tally of all the legends and luminaries that Nash has accompanied or collaborated with during his 36-year career, from his esteemed mentor Max Roach to such jazz giants as Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins, and McCoy Tyner. He's also appeared on upward of 500 records with no signs of slowing down.
This week, Nash will visit his namesake venue on Wednesday, January 24, to show off the skills that made him famous during a pro jam session. Pianist Mike Kocour and bassist Ben Hedquist will also participate in what’s sure to be a master class in jazz artistry. Benjamin Leatherman
Any list of great thrash-metal bands – Slayer, Metallica, Hatebreed, and a few others – has to include Oakland's Machine Head. Approaching its 20th year, the band deserves props for longevity alone and continues to raise the bar, despite sometimes confounding fans with elements like the rap-style vocals of 1999 LP The Burning Red. And with multiple members coming and going, drug abuse, record-label shenanigans, and general personality disorders, Machine Head seems perfect for a big-screen biopic.
Their 2011 full-length Unto the Locust marked a return to form for a band that seems to have finally righted its ship, with "ReaperMan" of the online Encyclopaedia Metallum opining, "These are the kinds of songs that the band could walk out onto a stage, play, throw down their instruments, and walk off, the unsaid (and unanswered) challenge being 'follow that.'"
Machine Head’s been busy as of late putting the finishing touches on its new album, Catharsis, which drops on January 26 via Nuclear Blast Records. The night before, they’ll be causing the brick walls of the Nile Theater in Mesa to shake with their thrash-metal. William Michael Smith
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