Feeling bummed because most of the spring’s biggest music festivals have come and gone? Well, buck up, buttercup, and dry those tears. There are still plenty of concerts happening in the Valley and plenty of notable acts and artists are headed our way. (You just won’t have to fight for breathing room or stand in impossibly long lines just to see 'em.)
Country music living legend Willie Nelson, who is performing at the Celebrity Theatre on Tuesday, will be in town this week, as will metal icon Phil Anselmo, indie rock singer-songwriter Sallie Ford, the ska stalwarts of The Slackers, and the groovy funkmeisters of Orgone.
Get the details on all of their shows by checking out the following list of the best concerts in Phoenix this week. (And for even more shows happening over the next few nights, be sure to visit our online concert calendar
CJ Ramone, a legit Ramone.
John Paul Allen
Monday, April 24
The Rebel Lounge
What is it that makes an artist keep performing their band's music, year after year, long after the original band broke up? These days, Ramones bassist CJ Ramone is doing it, too. Along with longtime Ramones producer Daniel Rey on guitar, Ramone has taken his act, which consists of his three-piece band performing Ramones hits, on the road. The thing about CJ is, he's always loved being a Ramone. He joined the band in 1989; at this time, former bassist Dee Dee Ramone had had enough, to the extent that he left the band and embarked on an ill-fated hip hop career under the name Dee Dee King. Dee Dee's burnout caused the Ramones to fill the void with a bassist who relished his role as a Ramone, and CJ fit the bill. He stayed with the Ramones until they retired in 1996, after which time he played in several other bands, none of which brought him the success he saw with the Ramones. This begs the question: if CJ loves the Ramones' music, and enjoys performing it, why shouldn't he go out and play Ramones tunes? Laura Mann
Breaking Benjamin's current lineup.
Courtesy of Hollywood Records
Monday, April 24
Marquee Theatre in Tempe
Despite Breaking Benjamin’s ever-revolving lineup of members, they hard rock/alternative metal act has remained pretty consistent in their sound, likely due to Benjamin Burnley (the band’s namesake) staying firmly planted as lead composer and vocalist. The original lineup formed back in 1999 and scored big a few years later when their first single, “Polyarmourous,” made an impact on rock radio in their native Pennsylvania, leading to a deal with Hollywood Records. Hit records like 2002’s Saturate
, 2004’s We Are Not Alone
, and 2006’s Phobia
followed, and Breaking Benjamin toured constantly with the likes of Puddle of Mudd, Seether, Skiller, and Three Days Grace in tow. A three-year hiatus and a nasty legal battle between Burnley and former members Aaron Fink and Mark Klepaski may have sidelined BB, but the singer reformed the act in 2013 with a mostly new lineup and started rolling again. Breaking Benjamin's latest album, Dark Before Dawn
, was released in 2015 to critical acclaim. Catch the band on Monday at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe and see for yourself how they've managed to keep even their earliest fans satisfied. Diamond Victoria
Tuesday, April 25
The man, the myth, the legend: Willie Nelson.
Country music legend, poet, outlaw, and marijuana entrepreneur Willie Nelson is back. This time, it’s with God’s Problem Child
, his (depending on how you count) 110th album. Featuring all new material, the record is out on April 28, one day before Nelson’s 84th birthday. We may be averse to talking honestly about aging in our youth-obsessed culture, perhaps because it feels so unimaginable to our younger selves, but this album gives a glimpse into what it’s like to be in your 80s with your sense of humor intact regarding your own mortality. “Still Not Dead” confronts rumors of Nelson’s demise. Written by Donnie Fritz and Lenny LeBlanc, “Old Timer” reflects, “You think you’re still a young bull rider, until you look in the mirror and see an old timer.” Former poet laureate Donald Hall wrote in Essays After Eighty
a couple of years ago that “old age is a ceremony of losses.” Yet, his essays were, at times, pugnaciously funny. This is similar terrain to God’s Problem Child
. Laconic, wry, and humorous, Nelson is still going strong. And at this point, he’s as beloved as Santa Claus, albeit a skinny, pot-smoking Santa. The last track, “He Won’t Ever Be Gone,” is a tribute to old friend Merle Haggard, who died last April. Sativa Peterson
Tomorrows Bad Seeds
The reggae-rockers of Tomorrows Bad Seeds.
Courtesy of Regime 72
Tuesday, April 25
Last Exit Live
Formed in 2003, Tomorrows Bad Seeds took LA by storm with their punk-rock, pop, and reggae-influenced style. The band’s ability to connect with their fan base quickly brought them to the top of the budding California reggae scene in 2004 and beyond. Tomorrows Bad Seeds toured heavily for nearly eight years, selling out venues across the country before deciding to take a break to focus on other artistic projects, spend time with family and, ultimately, get re-inspired. ("I just had a son and named him Kaden," says vocalist Moises Juarez, "and he is my new inspiration in life.") The band’s third full-length album and most recent work, The Great Escape
, was released in June 2012 and received mixed reviews from fans that didn't understand their increasingly pop-influenced sound. Soon after, Juarez and TBS guitarists/backup vocalists Matt McEwan and Sean Chapman formed a side project called LIFE in order to further develop their evolving style apart from the reputation of Tomorrows Bad Seeds’ heavier sound. The trio released an EP in 2014, but soon realized that it was time to give their diehard fans something they had been longing for — new music from Tomorrows Bad Seeds. A year later, they did just that, reuniting and releasing a number of new songs, including "War Letter" and "Throwback." David Garcia
Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra
You know your band is big when you need a wide-angle lens just to fit everyone in the picture.
Tuesday, April 25
Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra is one of the top local bands to seek out if you’re looking to dance, and after seven years of existence, the group finally released its first album, the well-received PAO!
, just last year. Founded by David Marquez in 2010, the ensemble now boasts 16 members, fronted by lead vocalist and “leader of rituals” Camille Sledge. She joined in 2013, when the band played its first shows. “I would definitely call us a tribe,” Sledge says. “We congregate and make music with hands, feet, rhythms, and sounds.” Afrobeat master Fela Kuti is the band’s main inspiration. Starting in the ’60s, Kuti played with a large band called Africa 70, which later changed names to Egypt 80. Kuti coined the genre Afrobeat, and once he recorded a song, he is said to have never played it again. “I think we are chasing the quality that was set about by guys like Fela Kuti and Tony Allen when they started Afrobeat music,” Marquez says. Beyond sonic inspiration, Kuti’s music also inspired PAO in social ways. “You can’t do Afrobeat without a protest or human element,” Marquez says. It’s a notion that Sledge definitely agrees with. “We want people to all stand up. It’s not a sit-down thing where you can be idle and just listen to it,” she says. “This is a serious message that needs action behind it. Maybe you’ll start thinking about what’s going on in the world around you in one way or another.” Kayla Clancy
Read on for previews of even more great concerts happening this week, including Superjoint, Sallie Ford, and Orgone.