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Best Phoenix Concerts This Week: Dry Cleaning, Will Sheff, King Pari

Dry Cleaning is scheduled to perform on Monday, January 23, at Crescent Ballroom.
Dry Cleaning is scheduled to perform on Monday, January 23, at Crescent Ballroom. Guy Bolongaro
It’s a new week with new opportunities to experience live music in the Valley. Over the next four nights, you can check out performances by English post-punk band Dry Cleaning, indie pop duo King Pari, folk rockers Will Sheff and Okkervil River, and renowned blues guitarist/vocalist Robert Cray Band. Other highlights of this week’s concert calendar include Grateful Dead tribute act Dark Star Orchestra, a gig showcasing Flagstaff’s music scene, and a string quartet playing Radiohead tunes.

More details about each concert can be found below. For more shows happening in the Valley from Monday, January 23, to Thursday, January 26, visit Phoenix New Timeslive music listings.

Dry Cleaning

Monday, January 23
Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue
Dry Cleaning’s Florence Shaw is a sneaky vocalist. She doesn’t sing in the conventional sense: Shaw talks over the music, issuing spoken word narratives over the tense and dynamic soundscapes crafted by bandmates Tom Dowse, Lewis Maynard, and Nick Buxton. What makes her sneaky is how she lulls you in with her flat vocal effect only to wallop you with a devastating line or sudden shift into melodicism. Consider the heartbreaking “Gary Ashby” off last year’s Stumpwork. A song about a lost pet turtle, Shaw’s talk-singing conveys genuine loss and sadness in a way that normal singing wouldn’t. She sounds numb and restrained, trying to put on a brave face while mourning a beloved four-legged family member. On paper, Dry Cleaning can seem like a cold, intellectual exercise. “Spoken word over nervy post-punk” definitely sounds like an acquired taste, doesn’t it? But Dry Cleaning knows how to turn that formula into something thrilling. Only two albums into their career, they’ve found all sorts of ways to play with their style and confound expectations. They can even be anthemic: when Shaw cooly intones “Do everything and feel nothing” on New Long Leg’s “Scratchcard Lanyard,” it feels like both a rallying cry and a summation of the inertia of life during the lockdown. With Nourished by Time; 8 p.m., $22/$25 via Ashley Naftule
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The entrance to Valley Bar in downtown Phoenix.
Benjamin Leatherman

Candlelight: A Tribute to Radiohead

Wednesday, January 25
Valley Bar, 130 North Central Avenue
As composer Steve Hackman’s inventive Brahms v. Radiohead project demonstrates, the tunes of the acclaimed art rock/alternative band become even better when they’re transcribed into classical music. (It’s not surprising, considering Thom Yorke and company have been influenced by various composers and songs like “Paranoid Android” and “Exit Music For a Film” feature classical music structures and elements.) This week, the musicians of the Listeso String Quintet — which includes a cello player, upright bassist, a viola player, and two violinists — will perform close to a dozen different Radiohead songs during two candlelight concerts at Valley Bar. The playlist will include “Karma Police,” “Let Down,” “Fake Plastic Trees,” “Fake Plastic Trees,” “All I Need,” “Burn the Witch,” and many more. 7 and 9 p.m., $42-$62 via Benjamin Leatherman

Dark Star Orchestra

Thursday, January 26
Marquee Theatre, 730 North Mill Avenue, Tempe
There are more than 600 different Grateful Dead tribute acts in the U.S., according to one website. But only Chicago-born cover band Dark Star Orchestra actually plays the Dead. Let us be a little clearer. DSO pick a Grateful Dead show from a list of thousands spanning the Dead's 50-plus-year career, listens to them (almost everything the Dead did is archived), and then performs that setlist. The band always bring in the right equipment — including organs, pianos, percussion instruments, and even the “Donna” — to replicate the feel as accurately as possible. DSO don't try to emulate the concert note for note, but rather offer their own take on the show. Having studied the Dead for so many years and having performed over 2,000 concerts, DSO accurately capture the feel and intensity that was the Grateful Dead. This is as close to the real thing as it gets. 7:30 p.m., $35-$65 via Glenn BurnSilver

King Pari

Thursday, January 26
The Rebel Lounge, 2303 East Indian School Road
King Pari describe themselves as a “Rube Goldberg machine of chill-ass vibes.” You can hear the machine operating at peak efficiency on “Love Me Or Leave Me,” a stoned and sleek ballad buoyed by keen falsettos and dreamy atmospherics. A “stonersoul” band, King Pari make lo-fi R&B that sounds like it was recorded in a garage. Inspired by Prince and the Minneapolis Sound, Cameron Kinghorn and Joe Paris Christensen make billowy, psychedelic soul music with an appealing layer of grit and murkiness layered on top of it. Imagine if Robert Pollard from Guided By Voices was more interested in sounding like a five-dollar Morris Day than a dollar bin Roger Daltrey and you’ve got some idea of what to expect from King Pari. The Minneapolis duo’s origin story is as laidback as their music. Born from a jam texted by Christensen to Kinghorn, the two started working on building up loops on a tape machine, recording their gloomy-yet-groovy soul sound in Christensen’s bedroom. Art can thrive on constraints, and you can hear the creativity in King Pari’s music that’s born from their limited resources. The contrast between the expansiveness of their soul sound and their restrained, on-the-cheap productions is the friction that makes them so compelling. With Pleasure Cult and Palo Brea; 8 p.m., $15-$18 via Ashley Naftule

Greetings From Flagstaff

Thursday, January 26
Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue
Can’t make it up to Flagstaff to sample its vibrant music scene anytime soon? No prob. The scene will come to you instead. A handful of bands from the northern Arizona city will make the two-hour drive down to the Valley to star in the latest edition of Crescent Ballroom’s “Greetings From …” series. The show will include sets from dream folk duo Sleep Stampede, alternative band The Last Canaries, and singer-songwriters like folkster Brian Gotshall (a.k.a. Dos Argentés) and Americana musician Sierra Bryan. Best of all, the show is completely free. 8:30 p.m. Benjamin Leatherman
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Singer, songwriter, and Okkervil River frontman Will Sheff.
Bret Curry

Will Sheff and Okkervil River

Thursday, January 26
Valley Bar, 130 North Central Avenue
If you like your folk-rock a bit more on the poetic and abrasive side, you’ve probably dipped your toes into the black waters of Okkervil River. Fronted by Austin’s Will Sheff, the group’s lineup has waxed and waned over the years while putting out a series of striking records that include The Stage Names and Black Sheep Boy. Okkervil River songs are jammed with allusions and poetic turns of phrases, as well as squalls of electric guitars and lilting passages of acoustic reveries. After nine albums, Sheff is bending the river in a different direction: he’s finally recording under his own name. On Nothing Special, Sheff works with a group of old and new collaborators (including musicians from Dawes and Death Cab For Cutie) to produce his rawest record to date. It makes a sharp departure from his past work as Okkervil River, signaling the start of a new phase in Sheff’s distinguished career. But don’t lose hope, Okkervil River fans: you’ll hear some old favorites along with Nothing Special cuts when Sheff takes the stage at Valley Bar this week. With mmeadows; 8 p.m., $25-$28 via Ashley Naftule
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Renowned blues guitarist and vocalist Robert Cray.
Turner Cray Inc.

Robert Cray Band

Thursday, January 26
Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street
Back in 2012, this very publication stated that “you should expect greatness” whenever bluesman Robert Cray is in concert. It still holds true more than a decade later, as the Georgia-born guitarist and vocalist offers virtuoso performances whenever he’s in concert. Cray’s ace musicianship (which mixes elements of R&B, roots, and soul) and his electric charisma have lighted up venues when he’s performed solo, with his backing band, or sharing stages alongside the likes of John Lee Hooker, Tina Turner, Chuck Berry, and Eric Clapton. A multiple Grammy Award winner who’s been performing professionally since he was 21, Cray experienced crossover success with his 1986 album Strong Persuader and its hit single “Smoking Gun.” He’s released a whopping 17 albums since then, including 2020’s critically acclaimed That's What I Heard. Cray and his backing band, which includes legendary drummer Steve Jordan, are still touring in support of the album. 7:30 p.m., $30-$55 via Benjamin Leatherman
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