You don't want to miss Sean Watson's Halloween Costume Ball on Tuesday, October 31, at Crescent Ballroom.EXPAND
You don't want to miss Sean Watson's Halloween Costume Ball on Tuesday, October 31, at Crescent Ballroom.
Benjamin Leatherman

The 11 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week

Ain’t tuckered out from all that partying this past weekend? The good news is that there’s still a lot of Halloween left to celebrate.

Some apropos shows will take place on Tuesday in honor of the holiday, including gigs by psychobilly band Nekromantix and goth-punk duo One-Eyed Doll. Meanwhile, various parties will be happening, such as Sean Watson’s ultra-popular Halloween costume ball at the Crescent Ballroom.

The rest of this week’s slate of shows includes concerts from indie pop singer Børns, freak-folk artist EMA, electropop singer/songwriter Halsey, rock band LANY, and pop act Saint Motel.

Details about each of these performances and events can be found below in our rundown of the best concerts in Phoenix this week. (And for even more gigs happening around town, hit up our online live music listings.)

Saint Motel
Monday, October 30
The Van Buren

This week’s answer to the music lovers' prayer for a full dance floor is a band that makes pop music that's not just a guilty pleasure. Amen, it's Saint Motel, performing a weeknight gig at The Van Buren in downtown Phoenix.

Saint Motel is among the bands that have recently taken the sting out of the designation "pop music." By virtue of making high-quality music and occasionally embodying the stereotypical metrosexual modern dude, the band has won fans beyond the tween base. This is pop music for anyone who related to High Fidelity – "I don't wanna listen to old sad bastard music, Barry" – and is planning to dance to the point of being completely un-shaggable at Saint Motel’s show.

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Refreshingly unafraid to heckle its own image, the band's single "My Type" embodies the inherent blithe tone of Saint Motel: "You're just my type/You got a pulse and you are breathing." Saint Motel is epigrammatic, but lyrically, there's enough sweetness and ambiguity to allow listeners a personal interpretation. Musically, energetic horns and happy key melodies bridge for an overall good-time-band sound. Stephanie Grey

Ted Leo
Mindy Tucker

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
Tuesday, October 31
Valley Bar

The Hanged Man is one of the most misunderstood tarot cards. Depicting a man hanging by his foot off a tree or cross, it doesn’t seem to portend anything good. But the card is auspicious, a sign of wisdom and strength gained from a period of self-sacrifice and struggle. If you’re going through a tough time, the card’s a sign that you won’t be dangling from that tree forever.

Ted Leo’s latest album is called The Hanged Man. It’s an apt title. The years between his last album, 2010’s The Brutalist Bricks, and his triumphant return this year were full of trials for Leo. He’s dealt with his former record label, Matador, dropping him. He’s had to face a changing musical landscape where it’s hard for even a musician of his stature to make a living. Leo’s family has struggled with health issues. The singer was briefly separated from his wife, and the couple had to cope with a tragic miscarriage.

Considering the hand life dealt him, you might imagine that Leo’s new album would be a dark, somber affair. This isn’t the case. The Hanged Man is one of his most adventurous, sonically diverse records. The lyrics are some of the most emotionally devastating, revealing words he’s ever written. Ashley Naftule

Tuesday, October 31
Talking Stick Resort Arena

Electropop singer/songwriter Halsey was raised on “Biggie and Nirvana,” like she tells us in her song “New Americana,” but neither act, among her many other influences, defines her sound. She’s just nodding to the stuff that she heard — via her parents, while growing up — that helped her develop her love of music.

That passion eventually turned into an interest in performing. The singer, who took her stage name from the Halsey Street subway stop in Brooklyn, started showing off her whisper-driven, soulful voice on a variety of social media platforms. That led to a record deal with Astralwerks, who signed her 2014.

Since then, she’s been recording and touring. Mirroring her eclectic interests, she’s toured with some diverse acts, too. She’s hit the road with bands like Britpoppers the Kooks, R&B artist The Weeknd, and rockers Imagine Dragons.

Halsey’s song “Closer,” a collaborative effort with DJ duo The Chainsmokers, was a number-one hit on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. Now, she’s touring on the heels of Hopeless Fountain Kingdom, her second full-length release. The 2017 recording shows a focused polish in its overall production, where her debut, Badlands, was a bit edgier. She’ll be performing songs from both on her Phoenix stop. Amy Young

Two awesome costumes from last year's Halloween ball at the Crescent Ballroom.EXPAND
Two awesome costumes from last year's Halloween ball at the Crescent Ballroom.
Benjamin Leatherman

Sean Watson’s Halloween Costume Ball
Tuesday, October 31
Crescent Ballroom

A word to the wise: If you’re planning to hanging out at the Crescent Ballroom on All Hallows Eve, you’d better be in costume. Seriously. It’s one of the entry requirements for the venue’s phenomenally popular Halloween party each year and will be strictly enforced.

Also, it better not be something you’ve thrown together at the last second, considering the costumes that have been worn to Crescent’s yearly Halloween party are some of the best-looking and most clever in the Valley. Just ask Sean Watson, who’s lent his name to the event for the past several years and is always impressed by what he’s seen. “I swear to God, every year, those costumes get even better at that party. It’s insane. They're so good every year.”

In other words, when you show up to the ball on Tuesday night for this year’s event, which features a “Land of the Misfit Robots” theme, you’d better not be slacking off.

Besides offering a parade of killer costumes, the ball will feature sets in both Crescent’s concert hall and an outdoor stage by Watson and fellow local DJs like Stoneypie and Cormac. Others scheduled to perform include DJ/producer Astronomar SHRBT, local hip-hop collective Guild, and dance music duo Deux Yeux. Benjamin Leatherman

Kimberly Freeman of One-Eyed Doll.EXPAND
Kimberly Freeman of One-Eyed Doll.
Jason Rufuss Sewell

One-Eyed Doll
Tuesday, October 31
Club Red in Mesa

There’s a wonderful dichotomy to the Austin, Texas, duo One-Eyed Doll. On one hand, Kimberly Freeman and Jason Rufuss Sewell’s project is so disturbingly on-the-nose, so contemporarily goth-punk, that they might as well have Emily the Strange singing for them, Gorillaz-style. But that’s just the surface, and it needs to be scratched.

Dig a little beyond the superficial, and there’s a staggering amount of depth to be uncovered. Most notably, Freeman is not your standard angsty goth with a notepad full of sub-standard Marilyn Manson lyrics and a penchant for The Crow and Adult Swim. She's a genuine artist, a poetic songwriter, and a charismatic frontwoman.

Her work stands up, to the point that she has a parallel career as a solo singer-songwriter, often performing stripped-down versions of One-Eyed Doll songs. But it’s with her band that she excels. She's been known to have an entire room full of concertgoers follow her around a room just by raising her arm and beckoning.

Will the same sort of scene develop during One-Eyed Doll’s Halloween night gig at Mesa’s Club Red? One thing’s for certain, it’ll be an entertaining show. Local bands CO-OP, Ciphered Existence, After the Calm, and Doll Skin (who grace the cover of this week’s issue of Phoenix New Times) will open. Brett Callwood

Scott H. Biram ain't nobody to mess with.EXPAND
Scott H. Biram ain't nobody to mess with.
Sandy Carson

Scott H. Biram
Tuesday, October 31
Rhythm Room

Mr. Scott H. Biram is nothing short of a total and complete badass mofo. First of all, he is the one man in his namesake one-man band, and his many quality releases over the past 16 years have proved he doesn't need anyone else to help him get the job done, and done well.

From vocal duty to playing guitar and percussion, Biram delivers his style of hillbilly country with a vengeance – tangling it up with elements of punk, blues, metal, classic rock, and an undeniably ferocious spirit. Whether he's blasting out a fierce and noisy tune or bringing it down a little more low and slow, you know he isn't holding back anything.

Another testament to his tenacity: Biram survived a head-on collision with a semi-truck in 2003, suffering multiple internal and external injuries, including the loss of a substantial portion of his organs. A mere month later, with a couple of broken legs, he took the stage in Austin, Texas, performing in a wheelchair, an IV still hanging from his arm. Just like his tunes, that's pretty fuckin' tough. Amy Young

Scott H. Biram ain't nobody to mess with.EXPAND
Scott H. Biram ain't nobody to mess with.
Sandy Carson

Dub-Jam Halloween feat. Steel Pulse
Tuesday, October 31
The Van Buren

Hailing from Birmingham, England, by way of the West Indies, Steel Pulse is the first – if only – reggae band to perform at an American president's inaugural celebration (specifically, Bill Clinton’s in 1993).

As trivial as Steel Pulse's rank is among ultra-roots purists who kneel before the holy trinity of Bob Marley, Culture, and Burning Spear, the outfit started out with the lofty intention of most rastas: burning down Babylon, then salting the ashes.

In the good old Thatcher-baiting days, Pulse would dress like vicars, coach footmen, and powder-wigged aristocrats, sharing eclectic bills with U.K. rabble-rousers like the Clash, the Stranglers, Generation X and the Police. Along the way, however, the protest-minded vision of frontman David Hinds branched into watered-down crossover territory such as synth-soaked party anthems.

From its 1978 debut, Handsworth Revolution to the Grammy-garnering Babylon the Bandit, the ever-changing lineup has dabbled in jazz, Latin grooves, contemporary dancehall lite, and even a killer Jah-slanted take on Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl." John La Briola

The Nekromantix will invade Mesa on Halloween night.
The Nekromantix will invade Mesa on Halloween night.
Courtesy of Hellcat Records

The Nekromantix
Tuesday, October 31
Nile Theater in Mesa

Melding the skronk of the Cramps with the grim stylings of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Denmark's Nekromantix have been swaying suggestible American kids into the dark and decadent waters of psychobilly since their 2002 album Return of the Loving Dead was released on U.S. label Hellcat Records.

Prior to that, the band had been active in their native land since 1989, making them already seasoned scene vets and import-only curiosities.

Since followed by three more LPs and a live album, Dead was a blistering 13-track workout featuring lead bassist and singer Kim Nekroman's trademark coffin-bass plucking and frantic howling.

If you have any predilection toward Texas' hellacious Reverend Horton Heat, you will find Nekromantix their perfect Danish counterpart. Break out the pomade and the fangs, kids. They’ll be at the Nile in Mesa on Halloween night with like-minded psychobilly act The Brains. Craig Hlavaty

Erika M. Anderson, better known as EMA.EXPAND
Erika M. Anderson, better known as EMA.
Courtesy of Chromatic PR

Wednesday, November 1
The Rebel Lounge

The music Erika M. Anderson makes as EMA is as beautiful as it is unnerving. Burying her affecting vocals in songs that buzz and crackle with industrial menace, she’s America’s leading cyberpunk folk singer. Singing about the alienating effects of technology and how it feels to be marginalized in the “outer ring” of society, EMA is the songbird that technophobes and online junkies alike have been looking for.

On early songs like “Marked,” she displayed an aching vulnerability that didn’t tug at heartstrings so much as it sawed through them like a knife. She also showed off a knack for Garbage-style goth-pop jams on songs like “Milkman” and “So Blonde.”

On her latest album, 2017’s Exile in the Outer Ring, Anderson has leaned into what she really does best: creeping menace. Songs like “Breathalzyer” and “Blood and Chalk” hum with sinister intent, like the radiator in a murder victim’s motel room. Self-described as “33, nihilistic, and female,” EMA’s wounded voice captures what it feels like to feel adrift and lost in an automated world that needs humanity less and less with each passing day. Ashley Naftule

Børns will perform a free concert at Tempe Marketplace this week.
Børns will perform a free concert at Tempe Marketplace this week.
Chuck Grant

Thursday, November 2
Tempe Marketplace

If a lot of today’s music sounds something like mid-‘80s pop with the sharpness, contrast, saturation, and sugar content cranked way up, then Børns sounds something like the late ‘70s variation on that theme.

While he certainly looks backward for inspiration – “Electric Love” is a prime example, with its heavy psych guitars and warbly prog synth opening – his records have that genetically modified, test-tube grown goodness we’ve come to expect from modern major radio acts. (The similarities both aural and in name between his “Electric Love” and MGMT’s “Electric Feel” are both relevant and instructive here.)

On his most recent record, 2015’s Dopamine, Børns worked with Emile Hanyie (Lana Del Rey) and Jeff Bhasker (Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy), and it shows: It’s a quick, slick, neuroelectrical burst of psych-tinged pop pleasure, with Børns’ dialed-in falsetto slipping easily past the blood-brain barrier.

You’ll probably hear several songs from Dopamine, as well as his latest singles "Faded Heart" and "Sweet Dreams,” during Børns’ free concert at Tempe Marketplace on Thursday, November 2, which starts at 7 p.m. Elliot Wright

It's pronounced "lay-nee," in case you were wondering.EXPAND
It's pronounced "lay-nee," in case you were wondering.
Courtesy of Chuffmedia

Thursday, November 2
The Van Buren

LANY is a deceptive name for a band formed in Nashville, Tennessee. Pronounced "lay-nee," an acronym for "Los Angeles New York," the group at first glance looks and sounds like the ultra-urban minimalist Instagram fodder touted by one-word bands these days. But its repeatable, warm sound also offers comfort, like a friendly waitress in West Virginia. This polarity is what makes LANY so frustrating and so fascinating at the same time.

It is odd that a trio of thoroughly greater-Midwestern guys who met in the South would create music you’d hear at Forever 21. Their self-titled debut album is shiny and produced much in the same vein of those by the band The 1975, and its lyrics are as delightfully millennial and straightforward. But one can’t help but notice the undeniable heart and dedication that go into music so unfussy about itself.

First off, the band, now based in L.A., tours like freaking Hendrix, having completed 117 shows last year and embarking on a 135-show tour this year. It’s no secret that musicians nowadays make far more money on live shows than album sales, but LANY's drive stems from work ethic (if also survival) in the old-school tradition.

The band's beat-driven synth and fun California-centric melodies can easily be classified as indie pop. Though LANY certainly sounds like pop, its creative process comes entirely from its three members with no professional producers, which is why its members take little issue settling on the noncommittal “indie” descriptor. Stefanie Fernández

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