The 13 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

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.

Brian Setzer struts into town this weekend for his annual Christmas show.EXPAND
Brian Setzer struts into town this weekend for his annual Christmas show.
Russ Harrington

Descendents
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

The members of Young Dubliners.EXPAND
The members of Young Dubliners.
Courtesy of the artist

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

Rock veteran Timothy B. Schmit.
Rock veteran Timothy B. Schmit.
Courtesy of MSOPR

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

Descendents will be at Marquee Theatre this weekend.
Descendents will be at Marquee Theatre this weekend.
Courtesy of Epitaph Records

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

All aboard Wayne "The Train" Hancock's Americana express.EXPAND
All aboard Wayne "The Train" Hancock's Americana express.
Courtesy of Bloodshot Records

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

All aboard Wayne "The Train" Hancock's Americana express.EXPAND
All aboard Wayne "The Train" Hancock's Americana express.
Courtesy of Bloodshot Records

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

Suicide Silence
Suicide Silence
James Killian

Natalia Jiménez
Friday, December 15
The Van Buren

From singing and playing her guitar on the streets and in the subway stations of Madrid to Grammy-winning success, Latin pop singer Natalia Jiménez has been living the dream.

"It was pretty cool when you're 15 and you've got nothing to lose," laughs Jiménez as she recalls her teenage metro days. "I would just go out, take my guitar and little tamborsitos, and play like a hippie. People would throw money at me. I would walk away with like $150 in coins. It was a good deal, you know?"

Sure, la cantante "met a lot of weird people" during that time, but her exposure to such diverse crowds was a glimpse of what her future would be as an international music icon, both with Spanish pop rock crew la 5ª Estación and now as a solo artist.

The band may have formed in Spain, but la 5ª saw instant success in Mexico thanks to "¿Dónde Irán?" off its debut album Primera Toma, which was used as the theme song for Clase 406, one of Televisa's most popular soap operas of 2002.

All in all, la 5ª ended up becoming a platinum- and gold-selling group in the United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Spain, and even won a collection of Grammy and Latin Grammy awards. Like all great things, la 5ª came to an end about a year after the release of its 2009 album, Sin Frenos.

In 2011, Jiménez released a self-titled debut album produced by Emilio Estefan, which was nominated for a 2012 Billboard Latin Music Award. Two more albums followed, including 2015's Creo en Mi and Homenaje a la Gran Señora, both of which charted and added to her many successes. Laurie Charles

Indie folk/slowcore artist Julien Baker.EXPAND
Indie folk/slowcore artist Julien Baker.
Nolan Knight.

Lita Ford
Saturday, December 16
BLK Live in Scottsdale

Lita Ford first came to prominence in 1975 as the guitarist for The Runaways. Though she was 16 when she joined the now-iconic band, her chops and forceful yet graceful style stood out and gave the band a musical respectability that transcended manager Kim Fowley's gimmick of an all-female “jailbait” rock band.

After The Runaways split in 1979, Ford spent the '80s establishing herself as a respected guitarist and songwriter. Along the way, she rubbed shoulders with the rock giants of the day. Her friends included Eddie Van Halen, Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe, the members of KISS, Cheap Trick, and numerous others. She had a tumultuous relationship with Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath and was married to Chris Holmes of WASP. Ford didn't just make rock-and-roll music; she very much lived it.

In 1988, Ford released her highly successful album Lita, which garnered her hit singles in “Kiss Me Deadly” and “Close My Eyes Forever,” a duet with her then-manager Sharon Osbourne's husband, Ozzy Osbourne. Like many of the hard-rock musicians of the '80s, no matter how talented or worthwhile, Ford found her fortunes waning in the music world around the same time that she remarried and departed from music for more than a decade.

Ford's return to music wasn't exactly her idea — and thus 2009's Wicked Wonderland didn't sound like something she would have come up with on her own. A 2011 divorce and much soul-searching and personal turmoil later, Ford returned to form with 2012's Living Like a Runaway, which is also the title of her recently published memoir, in which she outlines her colorful life in and out of music. Currently on tour with an album of re-recorded material, Time Capsule, Ford has emerged from her dark years to take her rightful place as a guitar hero and rock icon. Tom Murphy

Brandon Duho and Rodney Connell of Night Drive.
Brandon Duho and Rodney Connell of Night Drive.
Robert MacCready

Freshtivus 2017 feat. Aceyalone
Saturday, December 16
The Rebel Lounge

If language were a virus, then L.A. rapper Aceyalone would be one of the sickest men ever to touch a mic. Whether pioneering the art of modern freestyle in the late '80s as part of Freestyle Fellowship or releasing classic underground albums such as '98's A Book of Human Language and '03's Love and Hate, Aceyalone has built one of the most impressive portfolios in all of hip-hop.

In many ways, he's the Jimi Hendrix of rap: spitting tongue-twisting, multisyllabic raps that are both mesmerizing and utterly exhausting. His literate and intricate style has served as a blueprint for an entire generation of underground warriors. And his live shows, which include not only a rundown of his hits but also extended freestyle ciphers, are among the most exciting and unpredictable in the business.

This weekend, Aceyalone headlines Freshtivus 2017, the annual holiday event put on by local hip-hop shop and lifestyle brand Coolin’ Out. The lineup will also include sets by One Be Lo, Jabee, RoQy TyRaiD, DJ Cw?TCH, and Domi Young. Coolin’ Out’s crew of DJs and turntablists – including Fact135, Tricky T, Les735, Astonish, and Akshen – will spin throughout the evening. Samuel Chennault

Aceyalone headlines this year's Freshtivus.
Aceyalone headlines this year's Freshtivus.
Courtesy of Bionik Music

The Lonesome Wilderness
Saturday, December 16
Shady Park in Tempe

Attention, lovers of vinyl and local music ephemera: Phoenix-based rock band The Lonesome Wilderness is set to release a limited-edition record at Shady Park in Tempe on December 16. Only 50 copies exist, and audiophiles already have snatched some of them on preorder, so the launch party may be the last chance to grab one. Vocalist and guitarist Joe Golfen spoke with Phoenix New Times via email about the pressing and the band’s upcoming celebration.

“I think the number-one question we’ve gotten from people after a show is, ‘Do you have a vinyl?’” Golfen says. “Plus, it’s something we’ve always really wanted to do, just because the music sounds so good on record and it’s a really cool thing to have in your collection.”

The band has jokingly dubbed the record “The Lonesome Wilderness Box Set” because it’s a complete collection of their music so far. The band’s self-titled EP from 2015 and Lush from January of this year each have five tracks, so it made sense to include them as two sides on vinyl. Listeners will be able to experience their psychedelic, Southwestern tunes in a new and tangible way when they drop the needle on favorites like the plucky song “Tropicana” and the meditative single “Alright.”

The Lonesome Wilderness headline the show with support from Dirty Sunset, Sara Robinson Band, and The Bittersweet Way. Along with the opportunity to purchase one of the 180-gram rarities, word is there will be other surprises in store for attendees. Meagan Mastriani

Latin pop singer Natalia Jiménez.EXPAND
Latin pop singer Natalia Jiménez.
Courtesy of Sony Music Latin

Desert Frostover III (Day Two)
Saturday, December 16
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Missed out on Desert Frostover’s first night? The good news is that the annual festival returns for a second round at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe this weekend. It’s packing more of a diverse lineup, too, which will span such genres as alternative (Good Boy Daisy and Torn at the Seam), pop-punk (Overpriced America and A Step Ahead), and ska (Mad Dog Tannen).

And, yes, they’ll have heavy metal and hard rock acts as well, like Sicmonic, Monaghans Dixon, and Slor. Other local bands on the loaded lineup include The Edisons, Colten Hood, Jam Now, Post Hoc, Future Speak, Vintage Wednesdays, Cody Ballentine, While She Waits, Toxic Hearts, April Anne, Stealing Sanity, and Clint Stevens.

This time it's more of an afternoon show, with doors opening at 2 p.m. Tickets are $13. Benjamin Leatherman

At long last, a Lonesome Wilderness record on vinyl.
At long last, a Lonesome Wilderness record on vinyl.
RaySquared Productions

Wayne "The Train" Hancock
Saturday, December 16
Rhythm Room

Wayne "The Train" Hancock is not your typical country music singer, nor is he a backwoods, tobacky-chewin' redneck. His style of music is unique. It's a quality ode to an era when musicianship, tradition, and stories of old-time America ruled all the jukeboxes in every single country joint.

His music transcends cultures and the bullshit of politics, inviting everyone to throw down a hillbilly boogie. His disposition is often reminiscent of a grown-up Dennis the Menace, wearing classic Chuck Taylors with greaser cuffed jeans. This Dennis, though, has an affinity for tattoos, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and probably an occasional shot of whatever whiskey you've got handy.

Hancock is a mad scientist of Texan swing, an alchemist mixing honky-tonk, traditional country, and rockabilly swag. He's worked on his musical amalgam since the early 1990s. You can compare him to Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, and Jimmie Rodgers, but Hancock is always original and never a rip-off. This sonic sorcerer's powerful potion will be in full effect this week when he rolls into the Rhythm Room. And all the cool cats are likely to come out to party on his high rollin' train. Lizzie Rae

Rock legend Lita Ford.EXPAND
Rock legend Lita Ford.
Dustin Jack

Timothy B. Schmit
Saturday, December 16, and Sunday, December 17
Musical Instrument Museum

Timothy B. Schmit is a classic rock jewel. As a member of The Eagles and Poco, he's responsible for some of the most memorable melodies of the '70s and '80s.

Over the years, Schmit has also been hip to collaborate with a large variety of rock legends, including on such notable songs as “Africa” by Toto, Bob Seger’s “Fire Lake,” Richard Marx’s “Don’t Mean Nothin,” and “Wasted on the Way” by Crosby, Stills and Nash. He’s also spent a spell as a member of Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band and Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band.

Schmit has had plenty of his own releases during his 57-year career in the biz, including six studio albums and hits like 1982’s "So Much in Love" and 1987’s "Boys Night Out."

This fall, Schmit has been touring on his own in support of Leap of Faith, his first album of solo material in more than seven years. He visits the Musical Instrument Museum this weekend for a two-night set. Jeff Strowe

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