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Best Phoenix Concerts This Week: Andrew McMahon, Blue October, Mastodon

Mastodon is scheduled to perform on Tuesday, November 30, at Mesa Amphitheatre.
Mastodon is scheduled to perform on Tuesday, November 30, at Mesa Amphitheatre. Clay Patrick McBride
Hope you’ve got some disposable income available to spend on concert tickets, since a number of notable indie, alt-rock, and even ska bands are performing around town this week. The list includes pop-influenced acts like The Happy Fits and TV Girl, alternative favorites Blue October, and indie singer-songwriter Andrew McMahon.

You can also experience a double dose of thunderous metal from Mastodon and Opeth, spend an evening skanking to The Toasters, or slam-dance to punk sounds unleashed by Off With Their Heads.

Read on for more details about each of these gigs or check out Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar for more music events this week. Keep in mind, though, most local venues require proof of COVID-19 vaccinations or a recent negative test result to attend shows. More info can be found on the ticketing sites for each concert.

TV Girl at The Van Buren

If The Jetsons were reality, it’d be easy to picture some space-age teen trying to wow Judy Jetson with a mixtape full of TV Girl songs. A Los Angeles-based trio, TV Girl makes music that sounds simultaneously futuristic and retro. They blend ’60s-style pop melodies with electro-dance vibes and samples, creating a weird kind of introspective indie dance music. Imagine Belle & Sebastian trying to follow in the footsteps of indie dance-rock acts like St. Etienne and Screamadelica-era Primal Scream. TV Girl’s music sounds so playful and disorienting because of their deft sampling skills. Disembodied voices from yesteryear bob in and out of the mix, creating an anything-goes atmosphere that recalls classic sample-heavy albums like Paul’s Boutique and 3 Feet High and Rising. TV Girl's current tour is celebrating their 2014 debut album French Exit and comes to The Van Buren, 401 West Van Buren Street, on Monday, November 29. Jordana opens the 8 p.m. show and tickets are $22.50 to $25. Ashley Naftule
click to enlarge Ska stalwarts The Toasters. - NEXT BIG THING PR
Ska stalwarts The Toasters.
Next Big Thing PR

The Toasters at Yucca Tap Room

The Toasters have the distinction of being America’s first ska band, even though their leader is of English descent, and have been playing tight, groove-laden riddims since 1981 and shaping a sound that endures today. In many ways, the Jamaican roots-based band are trapped between the late-1970s 2-Tone second-wave ska revival and today’s more popular third-wave ska bands like Sublime with Rome, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and Reel Big Fish. When Hingley immigrated in 1979, America had not yet been fully introduced to ska, though the scene across the pond was buzzing with bands like The Specials, Madness, the English Beat, and The Selector. Working off the 2-Tone blueprint, yet adding edgier guitars and a sometimes more aggressive horn section, The Toasters pioneered an original ska style right for the American palate. Thirty-five years later, it still tastes great. They’re scheduled to perform at Yucca Tap Room, 29 West Southern Avenue, on Tuesday, November 30, with support from local ska bands 2Tone Lizard Kings and Bowcat. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show are $15. Glenn BurnSilver
click to enlarge The metal maniacs of Mastodon. - CLAY PATRICK MCBRIDE
The metal maniacs of Mastodon.
Clay Patrick McBride

Mastodon and Opeth at Mesa Amphitheatre

The newest Mastodon record, Hushed and Grim, is the sort of album Cecil B. DeMille would love, were he still alive and into inventive prog-metal. The first double album of the Grammy-winning band’s 20-plus year history is broad and dramatic like those CinemaScope blockbusters. Mastodon will be featuring songs from the album when they return to the Valley on Tuesday, November 30, at Mesa Amphitheatre, 263 North Center Street, with Swedish progressive metal/rock band Opeth. Hushed and Grim features the familiar, driving guitar work from Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher remains, supported by Troy Sanders on bass and Dailor on drums. Thematically, the album is a drama fueled by the sense of loss but also the promise of hope. If you plan to Mastodon’s Mesa Amp gig, the show starts at 5:30 p.m., when Swiss avant-garde metal band Zeal & Ardor opens. Tickets are $46.50 to $48.50. Jesse Sendejas Jr.
click to enlarge The members of indie band The Happy Fits. - THE SYNDICATE
The members of indie band The Happy Fits.
The Syndicate

The Happy Fits at Valley Bar

Last fall, NPR rock critic Ken Tucker noted that the Happy Fits are “making some of the freshest, catchiest pop music around right now.” The New Jersey band isn't exactly new to the music game. Since forming in 2016, the trio, which infuses their blend of folk and indie rock with huge dollops of pop, has accumulated over five million streams with the song “Too Late” and tallies more the 861,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. And in 2020, the Happy Fits released their sophomore album, What Could Be Better, to critical acclaim. They’re back on the road after pandemic-related delays caused their touring plans to be put on hold and will roll into Valley Bar, 130 North Central Avenue, on Wednesday, December 1. Indie rock multi-instrumentalist M.A.G.S. and rock band Snarls open the 8 p.m. show. Admission is $20. Kendall Little
click to enlarge The current lineup of Off With Their Heads. - EPITAPH RECORDS
The current lineup of Off With Their Heads.
Epitaph Records

Off With Their Heads at Pub Rock Live

After rescheduling this show previously, the third time will be the charm when punk-rock band Off With Their Heads takes to the stage at Scottsdale’s Pub Rock Live, 8005 East Roosevelt Street, on Wednesday, December 1. According to local promoter Permanent Vacation, the gig was originally scheduled for October 2019 but was postponed a couple of times due to the pandemic. Now, 25 months and a new acoustic album later, Off With Their Heads is ready to bring what we have been missing out on for so long. The band's brand of punk rock is heavy with singer/guitarist Ryan Young's thunderous baritone seeming to always be on the verge of a complete nervous breakdown. In addition to indie-pop band Slingshot Dakota, power-pop band Supercrush will also perform an opening set. Admission is $17 for the 8 p.m. show. (Note: The bands are also requiring proof of vaccinations or a recent negative test result.) David Fletcher
click to enlarge Andrew McMahon returns to the Valley at the end of November. - BRENDAN WALTER
Andrew McMahon returns to the Valley at the end of November.
Brendan Walter

Andrew McMahon at The Van Buren

Andrew McMahon is a man who knows exactly where he is, where he's been, and where he's going. At the age of 9, he began playing piano and writing songs. It was his EP Ready Break with his band Something Corporate that first found the then-17-year-old a record deal. A couple of years later, when he was fronting the band Jack's Mannequin, calamity struck. He was diagnosed with leukemia. After more than a decade in remission, McMahon says he still carries psychic scars from fighting cancer.

His 2016 record, Zombies on Broadway, had the celebratory vibe of a man who has bested disease. However, on 2018’s Upside Down Flowers, there’s more of a nostalgic vibe as McMahon recalls memories of childhood, family, founding Something Corporate, and dealing with illness. As is the norm for any McMahon project, it involves vivid and evocative storytelling. He’ll perform on Tuesday, November 30, at The Van Buren, 401 West Van Buren Street. Singer-songwriter Annika Bennett opens the 7 p.m. show. Tickets are $32.50 to $35. David Rolland
click to enlarge Percussionist and sound artist Tatsuya Nakatani comes to the Trunk Space this week. - TATSUYA NAKATANI
Percussionist and sound artist Tatsuya Nakatani comes to the Trunk Space this week.
Tatsuya Nakatani

Tatsuya Nakatani at The Trunk Space

Tatsuya Nakatani is a sound artist and master percussionist hailing from New Mexico. Whereas so many new music/avant-garde musicians tend to stay rooted in one place, Nakatani is a veteran road dog. He frequently tours across the country, either doing solo shows or as the ringleader of his Nakatani Gong Orchestra. While he’s issued a decent amount of recordings over the years, the real magic is watching Nakatani live. It’s like watching live-action painting: The final result isn’t the point; it’s the process, the high-wire act tension of seeing someone’s imagination flare to life in a blur of hands and furrowed brows, that makes it worthwhile. Nakatani is scheduled to perform on Thursday, December 2, at the Trunk Space, 1124 North Third Street. Experimental/avant-garde sound art groups Butoh Sonics and Windy Boijen open the 8:30 p.m. show. Tickets are $10. Ashley Naftule

Diamond Rio at Celebrity Theatre

Since 1989, Diamond Rio has consisted of the same six members, allowing its sound and style to remain consistent for the past 32 years. The band's 1991 single, "Meet in the Middle," was the very first to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Diamond Rio also recorded a string of Christian contemporary songs, which lack the band's original harmonies and style. But its most recent album, I Made It, released in 2015, is truer to the group's traditional country roots. They’re due at Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street, on Thursday, December 2. Matt Farris will be the special guest and tickets for the 8 p.m. concert are $29 to $59. Diamond Rodrigue
click to enlarge Alternative rock band Blue October. - ABEL LONGORIA
Alternative rock band Blue October.
Abel Longoria

Blue October at The Van Buren

Blue October’s records have always reflected vocalist Justin Furstenfeld’s mental state. The band hit it big with angst-ridden tracks like “Hate Me” and “Into the Ocean,” which explored drug addiction, suicidal ideation, and depression. But since the early 2000s, Furstenfeld – who found sobriety and subsequently peace – has focused on the positive, and Blue October’s last three albums have consequently abounded with positivity and life-affirming messages. They’re touring in support of their latest release, 2020’s This Is What I Live For, and will play The Van Buren, 401 West Van Buren Street, on Thursday, December 2. Doors open at 7 p.m. and tickets are $37 to $40. Matthew Keever
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.