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Best Phoenix Concerts This Week: The Unlikely Candidates, Booker T. Jones, and Closet Goth

The Unlikely Candidates are scheduled to perform on Tuesday, January 4, at Crescent Ballroom.
The Unlikely Candidates are scheduled to perform on Tuesday, January 4, at Crescent Ballroom. Zach Burns
Metro Phoenix’s music scene is having a bit of a lull at the moment, thanks to both the holiday hangover and the current surge of COVID-19 cases. That’s not to say there aren’t notable shows or music events to attend this week, as touring acts like indie rock band The Unlikely Candidates and R&B multi-instrumentalist Booker T. Jones will be taking stages around the Valley.

You can also see blues king Big Pete Pearson doing his thing, hear the newest music from Closet Goth, or raise a toast to the legendary David Bowie.

Read on for more details about each of these gigs or click over to Phoenix New Timesonline concert calendar for more live music happening from Monday, January 3, to Thursday, January 6.

As we mentioned, though, the ultra-contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19 is spreading like wildfire at the moment. Most local music venues are mandating proof of vaccination or a recent negative test to attend shows, and might also require masks or face coverings. Visit the ticketing pages for each event for more information.

The Unlikely Candidates at Crescent Ballroom

A decade and a half ago, high school friends and Fort Worth, Texas residents Kyle Morris and Cole Male thought they’d liven up a party by playing a tune. In what became their first public performance, the duo drunkenly felt their way through a Blink-182 song as their friends gathered around. This was the birth of their band The Unlikely Candidates. What started out as a party trick has turned into a lucrative career as an indie rock band. Since 2013, TUC has released three EPs – including critically lauded albums Bed of Liars and Danger to Myself in 2017 – and a string of hit singles, such as 2019’s “Novocaine.” (The band has also been working on its first full-length album off and on over the years.) They’re set to take the stage at Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue, on Tuesday, January 4, with support from The Criticals and The Deadbeat Cousins. The show is at 8 p.m. and tickets are $18. Nicholas Bostick

Closet Goth at Trunk Space

Closet Goth may claim to hail from “Party City, Phoenix,” but their actual home might be somewhere in SoCal circa 1988. That’s not just because theirs is a very specific brand of punk, bouncy hardcore made for weirdos to listen to on cassette while skating around and smoking dope. There’s also the fact that the band champions that early hardcore mentality of releasing as much stuff as possible. Since the pandemic, lead vocalist Col Bauer will be the first to admit they started Closet Goth several years ago with nary a clue. In that time, though, they've grown into a competent and inventive songwriter, and Closet Goth's more recent output, including several charity singles, reflects that maturation. At the same time, quarantine has pushed Bauer to rethink what the band's capable of and how to maintain their forward momentum. Get a taste of what new music Bauer and Closet Goth created during the pandemic during their gig on Wednesday, January 5, at the Trunk Space, 1124 North Third Street. Duen, Logan and Kyle Experience, and Camus Seance open the 8 p.m. show. Admission is $10. Chris Coplan

Big Pete Pearson at Westside Blues & Jazz

Born in 1936 in Jamaica, raised in Texas, and based in Phoenix, Big Pete Pearson is a living legend and reigning statesman of the blues. Likely among the last of the breed of Chicago-style bluesmen, Pearson has a burly, somewhat raspy, heartfelt bellow of a voice in the vein of late icons Muddy Waters and Junior Wells. His songs are usual 12-bar rants about big-legged women, romantic discord, partying, fealty, and man's eternal quest for his baby — but another thing Big Pete corroborates: 'tain't what you say, but the way you say it. Pearson breathes fire (and a bit of drollness) into routine subject matter, while his accompanists stoke the flames with urgent, terse string-bending and cracking drums. This week, you can catch Pearson performing at Westside Blues & Jazz, 17045 North 59th Avenue, #104, in Glendale, on Thursday, January 6. His set starts at 6:30 p.m. and admission is $15. Mark Keresman
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The late, great David Bowie.
Jimmy King

Let's Dance! David Bowie Nite at Crescent Ballroom

It’s been six years since David Bowie shuffled off the mortal coil and departed the surly bonds of Earth – and the stars have looked very different ever since. In honor of the legendary musician, actor, and cultural icon, who died in January 2016, local DJ Mitch Freedom will fill the lounge of Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue, on Thursday, January 6, with music from throughout the White Duke’s epic career. Bowie’s music videos and film appearances will also be played on screens in the lounge throughout the evening. Put on your red shoes and dance the blues beginning at 8 p.m. Admission to the 21-and-over event is free. Benjamin Leatherman
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Booker T. Jones is scheduled to perform on Thursday, January 4, at the Musical Instrument Museum.
Piper Ferguson

Booker T. Jones at Musical Instrument Museum

It’s almost always impossible to not sound like a doofus when you’re trying to explain to someone what an instrumental song sounds like. After a few attempts, you usually end things with the statement, “You’d know it if you heard it.” That’s true for Booker T. Jones’ classic rock-and-soul instrumental, “Green Onions,” recorded by his then-band, Booker T. and the M.G.’s. Released in 1962, the track rose to No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and topped the R&B list. It saw some action again in the late ’70s after being included in The Who-based film Quadrophenia. Jones is a multi-instrumentalist, but his relationship with the Hammond B-3 organ is one that generally gets mentioned when he’s the topic of conversation. He’s played it, as well as the guitar, on his own efforts, as well as in the studio for a number of bands, including Willie Nelson, Elton John, and Rancid. He’s scheduled to perform at the Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 East Mayo Boulevard, at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 6. Tickets are $49.50 to $59.50. Amy Young
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.

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