The 13 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

Indie folk/slowcore artist Julien Baker.
Indie folk/slowcore artist Julien Baker. Nolan Knight.
In the mood for some live music this weekend? If so, you've got a variety of choices.

Latin pop singer Natalia Jiménez will be in town for a performance, as will pioneering pop-punk band Descendents, gifted indie folk singer Julien Baker, badass rock icon Lita Ford, future-wave duo Night Drive, and hard-boiled country artist Wayne "The Train" Hancock.

Naturally, there are also tons of holiday shows on tap, such as Brian Setzer’s annual "Christmas Rocks!" tour visiting Celebrity Theatre and Coolin’ Out’s Freshtivus party at The Rebel Lounge.

Read on for even more notable concerts this weekend. You can also hit up our extensive online live music listings for even more gigs happening around town.

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Descendents will be at Marquee Theatre this weekend.
Courtesy of Epitaph Records
Friday, December 15
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

On the surface, Descendents seem like goofball heroes — spastic, caffeinated kids of the black hole that effortlessly spun lovelorn punk songs like “Hope” and spawned 100,000 band wannabes. Yet their intelligence and inventiveness still run wide and deep.

Influenced by everything from first-wavers like the Alley Cats to the experimental contortions of avant-garde jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman, their music defies all boundaries and norms, becoming some kind of volatile hybrid.

Meanwhile, their new tunes, for instance “Feel This,” emote like powerhouse punk-pop with bite and gritty propulsion; “No Fat Burger” burns just as hard and fast as their classics while weighing the tribulations of adulthood (like avoiding bypass surgery!), and “Human Being” addresses homelessness and nuclear warheads in less than one minute.

As always, they manage the seemingly impossible: a commitment to uncompromising musicality and lyrics that tuck in heartache as well as barbed and insightful sarcasm, which is all underpinned by swells of conscience. David Ensminger

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Brandon Duho and Rodney Connell of Night Drive.
Robert MacCready
Night Drive
Friday, December 15
Valley Bar

Future-wave act Night Drive is a simple setup: Rodney Connell sings lead while Brandon Duhon sings harmony and plays keyboards and samplers. The resulting sound, as found on their singles, is highly danceable and very engaging.

Harkening back to '80s synth-pop hits from New Order, Depeche Mode and Erasure, their songs don't overstay their welcome by going too long or get boringly redundant. "I like the pop-song structure, as it distills the most potent parts of a song," Duhon says. "In the same way that Philip K. Dick did short stories. [He] took the novel and slimmed it down into a short story."

Along the way, they have opened for CHVRCHES, Nervous Curtains, YACHT, and The Psychedelic Furs. They've spent the past couple of years working on their self-titled debut album, which debuted in February and is the impetus behind their current tour. "We plan on touring the shit out of it, honestly," Connell says. "Our plan for next year is to go far and wide as much as we can."

That includes a stop this weekend at Valley Bar. Bogan Via, Saro, and Upsahl will open. Eric Grubbs

Brian Setzer Orchestra: "Christmas Rocks!"
Friday, December 15
Celebrity Theatre

Ex-Stray Cat Brian Setzer has found life after rockabilly by stepping forward into the past with a dazzling big band that rips up the roots of swing, jazz, and early rock 'n' roll.

A warmly kitschy vibe pervades the Setzer crew’s annual Christmas really-big-show, which sees the nattily dressed guitarist-singer leading a brass-heavy ensemble in a compendium of classics from decades past, plus some Stray Cats stuff and a sprinkling of Christmas standards tricked out in appropriately swingin’ settings.

This is a visually spectaclar extravaganza, done up all purdy and nice on a stage strewn with Christmas trees, giant wrapped gifts, a golden arch framing vintage video clips (hot rods, sock hops, dancing Santas), and a glimmering jukebox center stage. The Texas Gentlemen will be along for the ride. John Payne

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The members of Young Dubliners.
Courtesy of the artist
Young Dubliners
Friday, December 15
Crescent Ballroom

Forced out by oppression – presumably Thin Lizzy's terrorist twin guitar attack, the monumental weight of the Corrs' shite pop polluting the moors, and the shame Black 47 bestowed upon the Irish with its dodgy hip-hop from men far too old to be "chillin'" – a pair of Celtic immigrants traded their lush, troubled land for Los Angeles and began anew.

Formed in 1994 by Dublin natives Keith Roberts and Paul O'Toole, the Young Dubliners brought back the anthems of the Waterboys and the Alarm, plus a bit of Simple Minds balladry. Like Hothouse Flowers, the band rolls its rock in Irish folk that's accessible to an audience whose only exposure to the Emerald Isle is The Commitments.

The Young Dubs' modernized take on the music of the homeland is unhindered by expatriate identity, allowing Roberts and company to explore themes and styles as they see fit. All need not be drinking, drugging, and dames, ya know. Rick Skidmore

Suicide Silence
Friday, December 15
Club Red in Mesa

Suicide Silence is a loud, energetic, positive force to be reckoned with, which some find ironic considering the band’s moniker.

But in 15 years of existence, the band has received a 2009 Golden God award for Best New Talent, has helped pioneer the deathcore genre, has produced four diverse yet strong full-length studio albums, and has toured relentlessly.

The band suffered a tragedy when frontman Mitch Lucker died in a tragic 2012 motorcycle accident, but it has emerged stronger than ever with 2014’s appropriately titled You Can’t Stop Me. Often in the face of tragedy and anger, people can fall apart, but Suicide Silence has shown strength in the face of adversity.

In February, Suicide Silence released its latest, a nine-track self-titled album, which they’re touring in support of currently. This weekend, the band comes to Club Red in Mesa. Upon A Burning Body, Winds of Plague, Slaughter to Prevail, Prison, and Arboroth will open. Lauren Wise

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Indie folk/slowcore artist Julien Baker.
Nolan Knight.
Julien Baker
Saturday, December 16
Crescent Ballroom

Although she's just 22 years old, Nashville's Julien Baker performs with a haunting and hypnotizing style reminiscent of someone who has seen some heavy stuff go down.

Her 2015 album, Sprained Ankle, landed on many influential year-end "best of" lists and propelled her into appearances on NPR and at the Newport Folk Festival.

Recently signed to Matador Records, Baker’s dropped her second full-length release, Turn Out the Lights, in October after recording the 11-song project at Tennessee's Ardent Studios with assistance from Sorority Noise's Cameron Boucher. It’s gotten rave reviews and makes up the bulk of the setlists on Baker’s current tour, which comes to Crescent Ballroom on December 16. Jeff Strowe
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.