Phantogram are scheduled to perform on Wednesday, May 23, at The Van Buren.EXPAND
Phantogram are scheduled to perform on Wednesday, May 23, at The Van Buren.
Timothy Saccenti

The Eight Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week

Big into hip-hop or indie sounds? It's going to be a fun week for you.

A pair of notable rap stars on the rise – Tink and Pouya – both have gigs scheduled in the Valley this week. Boba Fett-worshiping nerdcore king MC Chris will also be in town for a show along with homegrown geek rapper Mega Ran.

Meanwhile, indie acts like Phantogram, Bleachers, and Geographer also have concerts taking place at Valley music venues over the next few nights.

Details about each of these shows can be found below. And for even more music events around town this week, check out Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar.

Michael Deni of Geographer.
Michael Deni of Geographer.
Paradigm Agency

Monday, May 21
Crescent Ballroom

Almost every full-time musician can tell of a serendipitous series of events that led him or her down the path of becoming a professional. Maybe Mom and Dad had some old records that sparked an interest, or tuba spots in the school band were all taken up, so they had to play drums instead. Michael Deni of Geographer was walking along one day and just happened to find a synthesizer out in the street. Seriously, he found a functioning synthesizer. Then he learned to play it.

The gods might as well have had him trip over it, then look at it curiously with a giant question mark floating over his head. The synthesizer inspired Innocent Ghosts, Geographer’s debut album, which is packed with moody synth, catchy hooks, and eerie vocals.

Since then, the band have released two more full-length studio albums and a handful of EPs, including recently release seven-song EP Alone Time. Geographer are currently touring in support of the album and visit the Crescent Ballroom on Monday night. Christina Caldwell

Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Monday, May 21
The Van Buren

Before the existence of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the post-rock genre included only a small number of touchstones, including Public Image Ltd’s krautrock/dub masterpiece Metal Box, Talk Talk’s 1991 landmark Laughing Stock, and Bark Psychosis’s Hex. Godspeed came together in 1994, the year that Hex was released. Combining a classical-music aesthetic with drone and ambient leanings, Godspeed have influenced all post-rock that has come along since.

Perhaps what sets Godspeed apart from other artists in that vein is that the band’s compositions are an orchestrated panoply of sounds that take the listener on a journey. There is nothing vague, tentative, or impressionistic about Godspeed’s music. In contrast to other acts’ more static sound, Godspeed pull the listener into psychological spaces both harrowing and tranquil. Tom Murphy

MC Chris
Tuesday, May 22
The Rebel Lounge

No rapper embraces the nerd life like MC Chris. His catalog includes rhymes from Star Wars bounty hunter Boba Fett and Neville Longbottom from Harry Potter. Gangster, right?

Professionally, the MC's humor originates with Cartoon Network's nighttime adult programming block Adult Swim. He made a living as a writer, actor, songwriter and lead animator for shows such as Space Ghost Coast to Coast and Aqua Teen Hunger Force. He's released 11 studio albums since 2001, and rumor has it another is on the way this year.

This week, MC Chris will stop by The Rebel Lounge for a Tuesday night gig. Fellow nerdcore rapper Mega Ran and video game music cover band Bitforce will open. Diamond Victoria

Jack Antonoff of Bleachers, fun., Steel Train, and a gazillion other bands.EXPAND
Jack Antonoff of Bleachers, fun., Steel Train, and a gazillion other bands.
Daniel Silbert

Tuesday, May 22
The Van Buren

What happens after your band releases a string of infectious and inescapable singles? Why, you attempt world domination with another band! Jack Antonoff, the multi-instrumentalist of fun., has headed up a side project called Bleachers, a band whose biggest competition in the indie-pop department is (more or less) every other project of Antonoff's.

The world was introduced to Bleachers through "I Wanna Get Better," the absurdly catchy first single off of their 2014 debut album, Strange Desire. With their '80s New Wave-life sound, Bleachers have given us breezy songs that keep us smiling while being constantly stuck in our heads. Brittany Spanos

The Freeze
Wednesday, May 23

Many bands who have lasted as long as punk stalwarts The Freeze have probably lost a step (or 12) over the years, and often seem like they are just touring for the money, but for vocalist and sole original member Clif Croce and his bandmates, rolling over and letting age catch up with you, or attempting to just "cash in" is not an option.

"If I felt that we were going backwards, I would want to give up. If we were in it for the money, we would have given up after I Hate Tourists [the band's 1980 album]," Croce says.

The Freeze's current lineup is a mix of desert rats and East Coast transplants. In addition to Carmichael, Cape Cod native Croce is joined by fellow Massachusetts native Joe Koonz on lead guitar, local drummer Aaron Hjalmarson, and bassist Eric DeWolf, who joins the band for local gigs and recordings. The Freeze have had, according to Croce, somewhere around 50 members over the years.

"I try to mine all the talent of every generation," Croce says. Tom Reardon

Josh Carter and Sarah Bechtel of Phantogram.EXPAND
Josh Carter and Sarah Bechtel of Phantogram.
Courtesy of Chuffmedia

Wednesday, May 23
The Van Buren

A duo from upstate New York, Phantogram will scratch that same after-hours electro-pop itch as School of Seven Bells' enchanting 2012 LP Ghostory. For most of their careers, Josh Carter and Sarah Bechtel have slid dusty hip-hop beats around the kind of shoegazey music that was made for shutting your eyes and drifting off into dreamland. You can hear these dreamy sounds on the seven EPs, and a trio of studio albums in Phantogram’s discography, including 2016’s Three. Chris Gray

Wednesday, May 23
Pub Rock Live in Scottsdale

Chicago-born rap and R&B starlet Tink was breaking musical expectations before she even entered her senior year of high school. Seriously. Pitchfork praised her as "a sort of potential long-lost member of TLC," but with major freestyling capabilities.

Don't let the cutesy moniker fool you: Tink is a ferocious force and refuses to be pigeonholed as a "look at my ass type rapper." After releasing a slew of mixtapes over the last four years (including such gems as Winter's Diary, Alter Ego, and Boss Up), Tink dropped her debut EP, Pain & Pleasure, earlier this year to much acclaim. She's been touring in support of the album, and will perform at Pub Rock Live on Wednesday night. Artemis Thomas-Hansard

The Freeze lives.
The Freeze lives.
Benny Sievert

Thursday, May 24
The Van Buren

Hip-hop artist Kevin Pouya is of Cuban and Persian descent, and has contributed to the rise of the new generation of internet rappers we've seen in the last several years. Since his breakthrough 2015 mixtape Baby Bone rocked the internet, Pouya has been garnering global attention.

His slick rhymes keep the spirit of his native city alive in songs like “FLAwda” and “Loyal to My Soil." Not long after releasing his well-received Underground Underdog mixtape, the 20-something emcee got busy working on his next project, the full-length album Five Five, which dropped earlier this year and offered up 11 songs with no features.

Pouya will be at The Van Buren on Thursday night. Fellow hip-hop artists Wifisfuneral and Shakewell will open the evening, which starts at 7 p.m. Tony Centeno

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