Best Phoenix Concerts April 3 to 6: Bret Michaels, Social Distortion, Orwells | Phoenix New Times


The 9 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week

From Marquee to the MIM.
Cherry Glazzer is scheduled to perform on Wednesday, April 5, at Valley Bar.
Cherry Glazzer is scheduled to perform on Wednesday, April 5, at Valley Bar. Felisha Tolentino
Share this:
Final Four weekend has come and gone, save for tonight’s big showdown for the title, of course. And we sincerely hope y’all had a blast, especially those who braved the chaos and crowds at Hance Park while trying to see Aerosmith or Macklemore for free.

Now that the hullabaloo is (more or less) behind us, there’s plenty to look forward to this week, including several excellent concerts happening in the next few days.

Social D. is coming back to the Valley for one of its famous two-night stints at the Marquee, for those of you who'd like to sing along to "Story of My Life" and "Ring of Fire." Also of note, Mod Sun will bring his hippy-hop to Pub Rock in Scottsdale, reggae and dub artist Chronixx will get irie at Club Red in Mesa, and the Orwells will be blasting indie garage rock throughout Crescent Ballroom. Plus, the annual Arizona Bike Week and its slate of high-profile concerts will make a return.

What else is in store for music fans at venues across the Valley this week? Check out our extensive online concert calendar or peruse the following list of the best shows happening in the coming days.

click to enlarge
Grant Widmer and Ted Joyner of Generationals.
Courtesy of Polyvinyl Records
Monday, April 3
Valley Bar
Finding success with two different bands puts you in some pretty rarefied company. But just like Dave Grohl, Eric Clapton, and everyone in Joy Division not named Ian Curtis, Louisiana singer-guitarists Grant Widmer and Ted Joyner — the core of indie-pop outfit Generationals — have managed to pull off the feat. In 2005, the pair's old band, The Eames Era, scored a ubiquitous hit with the Strokes-meets-10,000 Maniacs single "Could Be Anything," which was featured on the first Grey's Anatomy soundtrack, alongside the likes of The Postal Service and Rilo Kiley. After The Eames Era called it quits in 2008, Widmer and Joyner quickly regrouped as Generationals and shifted their sonics a bit, drawing inspiration from '50s sock-hop rock, mid-'60s British Invasion jangle, California surf-pop, and the simple-and-crisp rhythms of early Cure. Con Law, the pair's impressive debut, arrived in 2009, and Generationals have followed up with the three even-better albums over the last few years. Melodically rich, the album's rootsy, reverb-y guitar grooves rub against effusive vocal harmonies. Michael Alan Goldberg

click to enlarge
The members of The Orwells.
Kelly Puleo
The Orwells
Monday, April 3
Crescent Ballroom
The Orwells are men in numerical age only. The 20-somethings comprising the indie band have a tendency to behave like careless teenagers when given the opportunity, which is often. The brood of rapscallions, who just released their third collection of indie garage rock titled Terrible Human Beings, made a name for themselves in 2014 when lead signer Mario Cuomo wandered aimlessly around The Late Show with David Letterman stage like a bad wedding singer who sipped too much bubbly during the ceremony. Letterman and his bandleader, Paul Shaffer, asked for an encore. Three years later, bandmate Matt O’Keefe says that the hypnotic performance is something they might never live down. “It’s on the Internet, so it’s never going to go away. People can watch it whenever they want,” O’Keefe says defiantly on the phone over the sound of his flicking lighter. “If that’s what we wanted to do, then we’d just do it. There are nights when one of us isn’t feeling it. We honestly just play how we feel. We never try to put on any act.” It is difficult to determine the need for such defensiveness and rebellion from five young white men from the affluent Chicago suburb of Elmhurst. O’Keefe claims they did not have the reputation that their latest release suggests when they were growing up ... read more. Jason Keil

Social Distortion at a 2015 performance at Marquee Theatre in Tempe.
David Accomazzo
Social Distortion
Monday, April 3, and Tuesday, April 4
Marquee Theatre
Aging well is remarkably difficult in the world of punk rock. (Can you imagine Sid Vicious in his 50s?) But Mike Ness of Social Distortion still has it going on. Ness continues to win the hearts of pompadour-sporting gals because he is a textbook example of the sensitive bad boy. He's broken hearts and gone to jail (face tattoos!), all the while celebrating and staring down his demons. He's a roughneck, but tender, too, able to croon with equal parts romance and danger. He's the symbol that sums Social Distortion as a whole. Over the course of a 39-year career, Social D has released seven albums, each one straddling common themes: nostalgia, the flirtatious relationship between rock and country, struggles with women and the law. The balance of bruised love songs and the band's rebellious ethos keeps attracting new fans to Social D's latest double-header shows in Tempe. The band's longevity is a benchmark for blue-collar punk 'n' roll acts like Lucero and The Gaslight Anthem. "We just got really lucky in that we've been able to [play music for a living] and it still is relevant," says guitarist Jonny "2 Bags" Wickersham. "I don't know what else I would be doing if I wasn't playing music." Melissa Fossum

Mod Sun
Catie Laffoon
Mod Sun
Tuesday, April 4
Pub Rock
As if the music world wasn’t already confusing enough, hippy-hop artist Mod Sun released an album called Movie and a movie called Album just last month. But while the titles of the releases may seem like a prank, they’re actually signs of the Minnesota-born, L.A.-based rapper’s growth and maturity from goofy hippie rapper to legitimate lyrical wordsmith. Released by Rostrum Records in March, Movie takes a look at the singular theme that inspires all art on one level or another: death. “I feel like at the end of your days, the last thing that’s going to happen is that you’re going to watch the movie of your life,” the rapper says. “It’s very important to make sure that you love your movie and that you want to watch your movie, so I try to always make sure that I’m doing something fun and interesting.” Anyone who’s listened to Mod Sun before can probably guess that, despite its subject matter, Movie isn’t a dark or depressing record by any means. As part of his “hippy-hop” subgenre, which combines the rhymes and rhythms of hip-hop with friendly, uplifting and often beachy vibes, Mod values positivity and love as much as wordplay and flow. Josh Chesler

Reggae singer Jamar McNaughton, better known as Chronixx.
Joachim Maquet
Tuesday, April 4
Club Red
Jamaican-born reggae and dub singer Chronixx is a passionate believer in the music that his home nation has produced and, more to the point, keeps on producing. The son of Chronicle, a popular reggae singer, Chronixx has been immersed in music and the arts pretty much from birth. As a result, he’s also been surrounded by talented musicians from childhood. So when Chronixx says we should quit referring to all Jamaican music as reggae, and when he reminds us that a country as culturally rich as Jamaica is bound to produce a multitude of different types of musicians, all with their own little flavors, and that even those classified as reggae can vary dramatically in sound, we should listen. It’s relevant, because Chronixx has been roundly lumped in with a perceived “reggae revival,” along with other contemporary artists like Dre Island, Jah Bouks, Protoje and Jesse Royal, among others. But he's keen to point out that the phrase “reggae revival” is a media creation, and not something that the musicians dreamed up. For certain, Chronixx isn’t interested in spearheading any such movement. “I didn’t sign up [for that], but I really feel like I’m a part of something very powerful that is happening in the Jamaican music space, because it is undeniable that a lot of attention and a lot of great music has been coming from young people in Jamaica in the music space. Not just in reggae, but dancehall.” And rather than follow in anyone’s footsteps, Chronixx wanted to create something all his own. Brett Callwood

Read on for more must-see live music this week — including Old 97's and Gaby Moreno.
click to enlarge
The masked men of Old 97's.
Courtesy of ATO Records
Old 97's
Wednesday, April 5
It’s hard to say what pioneers like Hank Williams would think of today’s country-music landscape. The hits that get played on country stations are basically just pop songs sung with a country affectation. Meanwhile, bands like Old 97’s are forced to lug around the awkward “alt-country” moniker, despite sounding a lot more like something Williams and his kind would recognize. Whatever you call it, Old 97’s main man Rhett Miller does a great job of throwing his angst and longing into his records and live shows like so much beer and vomit on a honky-tonk floor. The band’s latest, Most Messed Up, finds Miller and company at their most raw and honest — country brains with rock guts. Try finding something like that on the next Country Music Awards show. Oakland L. Childers

click to enlarge
The glittery members of Cherry Glazerr (from left): Sasami Ashworth, Tabor Allen, and Clementine Creevy.
Daria Kobayashi Ritch
Cherry Glazerr
Wednesday, April 5
Valley Bar
Not a lot of people can lay claim to being the frontwoman for their own band while also playing one on TV before they’re old enough to legally drink, but Clementine Creevy can. Creevy is the frontwoman for Cherry Glazerr; she also played the frontwoman for Glitterish, the fake rock band on Transparent. Creevy started writing songs, released a tape on Burger Records, and formed a band before she left high school. As the lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist for the group, her sensibilities are all over Cherry Glazerr’s work. Their music is spiky, punchy, and full of hooks. Their lyrics run the gamut from being goofy and food-obsessed (like their ode to grilled cheese sandwiches on their last album) to being thoughtful explorations of gender solidarity (the thunderous “Told You I’d Be With The Guys,” the lead-off track on their new album). Now signed to Secretly Canadian, Cherry Glazerr has recently dropped Apocalipstick, a stellar rock album that’s going to be hard for any other band in 2017 to top. It still features Creevy’s soft, girlish voice, but now backs it up with fuzzy riffs, stomping drums, and a fiercer attitude. They’ve traded in their Go-Go’s albums for Black Sabbath. And while their songs still pack their share of jokes and junk food love, they’ve also got bite. Cherry Glazerr has become a poppy garage rock band that’s not afraid to give you tinnitus. Ashley Naftule

Bret Michaels
Thursday, April 6
Arizona Bike Week at WestWorld
Believe it or not, but Bret Michaels is more than just a reality TV star. Long before the father of two daughters was the three-time star of Rock of Love, a show where women competed in borderline Hunger Games-style challenges for a chance at being Michaels’ girlfriend, and also willingly participated in Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice 3, he was the lead singer of ‘80s hair metal balladeers Poison. Michaels, a former resident of Scottsdale, has been blending a country sound into his guitar-driven anthems, a move surely not driven by a calculated attempt to capitalize on the increasing popularity of country radio. That doesn’t mean the former Poison front man and current face of the Live Bret Michaels store at won’t belt out “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” though. There’s a good chance Michaels will also play one of the three new tracks from his 2015 release True Grit, an album containing 21 songs, when he helps kick off this year’s Arizona Bike Week at WestWorld on Thursday. Daniel Mikelonis

click to enlarge
Gifted singer-songwriter Gaby Moreno.
Jose Leon
Gaby Moreno
Thursday, April 6
Musical Instrument Museum
Gaby Moreno is that rare songwriter from Guatemala who’s crossed over into mainstream success in the United States. She sings in English and Spanish, and her music is an ebullient blend of R&B, jazz, blues and folk. Her songs are flexible enough to work as straightforward singer-songwriter pop and also to be twisted into rootsy Americana, as in “Illusion,” the delicate, fanciful title track off her latest album, which she’s performed on A Prairie Home Companion as a rustic ballad alongside bluegrass mandolinist Chris Thile. “All I have are these daydreams until he comes back to me,” Moreno coos reverentially, even as she drops playful references to Gandhi and Jean-Luc Godard. “Life’s a despairing illusion,” she confides, her voice trailing off sweetly into the night sky. Falling James
KEEP NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls. Make a one-time donation today for as little as $1.