Things to Do

Best Phoenix Concerts This Weekend: Futuristic, Leslie Odom Jr., Day One Block Party

Futuristic is scheduled to perform on Friday, December 31, at Crescent Ballroom.
Futuristic is scheduled to perform on Friday, December 31, at Crescent Ballroom. Jim Louvau
This weekend starts in 2021, ends in 2022, and features plenty of parties and concerts happening in between. Admittedly, a majority will be happening on Friday night in honor of New Year’s Eve – including gigs by homegrown hip-hop star Futuristic, reggae-rock band Sublime with Rome, and doo-wop ensemble Under the Streetlamp – but there are other music events happening the rest of the weekend.

It’s worth mentioning, though, that the ultra-contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19 is causing a huge surge in cases at the moment, so we don’t blame you if your weekend plans involve staying at home watching the ball drop on New Year’s Eve. For those who decide it’s worth the risk to go to a party or show, the following list of the best concerts happening in metro Phoenix from Friday, December 31, to Sunday, January 2, is for you.

Phoenix Symphony's New Year’s Eve Celebration at Symphony Hall

Some fortunate theater-goers got to see Leslie Odom Jr. originate the role of Aaron Burr in the hit musical Hamilton on Broadway. Maybe you missed his Tony Award-winning portrayal of Alexander Hamilton’s narcissistic nemesis, but you’d still love to see the talented actor and vocalist in all his on-stage splendor. You’ll have the chance this week, as he performs with the Phoenix Symphony for its New Year’s Eve Celebration, which happens at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, December 31. The concert takes place at Phoenix Symphony Hall, 75 North Second Street. Tickets are $44 to $112. Lynn Trimble
click to enlarge Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra will celebrate New Year's Eve at Valley Bar. - PAO
Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra will celebrate New Year's Eve at Valley Bar.

Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra at Valley Bar

You know when you hear a song and you can't help but react? The bass syncs up with your hips, and the drums seem to tell your feet exactly when to move. Pretty much every single one of the songs by Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra (charmingly known as PAO by fans) holds this power to make you move. And we mean move. We dare you to sit still while this multi-piece orchestra does its jazzy thing, and singer Camille Sledge demonstrates the actual definition of funk. Sledge's energy alone is contagious enough to get your out of your chair and onto the dance floor. Just give in, and let PAO's rhythm move you. Catch them on Friday, December 31, during the New Year’s Eve celebration at Valley Bar, 130 North Central Avenue. DJ Lady Staliet will also be in the mix at the event, which begins at 8:30 p.m. Admission is $15. Phoenix New Times
click to enlarge The kind of thing you'd expect to see at a massive New Year's Eve celebration. - LUIS COLATO
The kind of thing you'd expect to see at a massive New Year's Eve celebration.
Luis Colato

Decadence Arizona 2021 (Night Two) at Rawhide Event Center

The two-evening electronic dance music extravaganza and New Year’s Eve party at Rawhide Event Center, 5700 West North Loop Road in Chandler, will wrap things up on Friday, December 31, with an even bigger slate of DJs/producers than its first night. Highlights will include masked EDM artist Marshmello dropping future bass and trap, NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal performing as his DJ alter ego Diesel, Dillon Francis spinning up electro and bass house, and bass king Excision closing out the night with dubstep aplenty. (Hit up our Decadence Arizona guide for even more details.) Gates open at 5 p.m. and it's $109 to $199 for general admission and $249-$469 for VIP tickets. Benjamin Leatherman
click to enlarge Local bluesman Carvin Jones is back to live shows. - CARVIN JONES
Local bluesman Carvin Jones is back to live shows.
Carvin Jones

Carvin Jones at Pub Rock Live

If you're a Valley resident who hasn't heard of guitarist Carvin Jones, it's likely that you've been doing a little carvin' of your own, holed up in some cavernous hermitage. Since 1989, Carvin has been sauntering his way across the universe with Phoenix as his launchpad, and his six-string as his chauffeur.
Though he plays the blues, the Texas native has little to be blue about, having logged 6,000-plus performances, including opening for the likes of B.B. King and Santana. A mainstay on the international festival circuit, Carvin's Hendrix-esque stage charisma coupled with his SRV-flavored chops have garnered him success on the majority of earth's inhabitable continents. Fortunately for Valley cave dwellers, there are typically many opportunities to watch Jones do his thing on the six-string, including on Friday, December 31, at Pub Rock Live, 8005 East Roosevelt Street in Scottsdale, for its New Year’s Eve festivities, which start at 8 p.m. General admission is $25 and VIP tickets are $75. Rob Kroehler

Sublime with Rome at Marquee Theatre

If you’re unsure about attending Sublime with Rome’s show on Friday, December 31, at Marquee Theatre, 730 North Mill Avenue, ask yourself, “WWBND?” (What would Bradley Nowell do?) Nowell, along with bassist Eric Wilson and drummer Bud Gaugh founded Sublime back in the late 1980s in Long Beach, California, where the trio developed a unique sound that we now know and love, a masterful blending of ska and punk. Sadly, Nowell struggled with addiction and died from a heroin overdose in 1996, resulting in the group’s disbanding after releasing just three studio albums. Their final, self-titled album cemented Sublime’s place in music history with massive hits such as “What I Got,” “Santeria” and “Wrong Way,” which still fill radio waves today. Over three decades and one lawsuit later, Sublime lives on under the moniker Sublime With Rome, fronted by the eponymous Rome Ramirez on vocals and guitar, Carlos Verdugo on drums, and original Sublime member Wilson. Tickets for the 8:30 p.m. show are $50.50 to $175. Local bands Katastro, The Irie, and Jahlos and the Rebels open the evening. Chelsey Norris

Futuristic Album Release Party at Crescent Ballroom

Homegrown hip-hop artist and onetime Valley resident Futuristic will spend his New Year’s Eve celebrating the release of his latest album, Don’t Want To Be Famous, in the main room of Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue, on Friday, December 31. Local rappers Khiry, Toure Masters, Samara Cyn, Oswin Benjamin, Sam Opoku, and Dela Preme will provide support. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. General admission is $15 to $20 and a VIP package (which includes an autographed copy of the album, a Q&A sesh with Futuristic, and the chance to perform during the concert) is $200. Benjamin Leatherman

Under the Streetlamp at Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino

The men from Under the Streetlamp might be Generation X'ers, but they have a real love for music more often associated with boomers. The doo-wop quartet, started by singers from the popular Chicago cast of the Broadway musical Jersey Boys, have a set-list that's an amalgamation of pop tunes from the 1940s to the 1960s. (To get a good idea of what to expect, think The Beach Boys meet The Drifters.) The ensemble’s current lineup — which includes Michael Ingersoll, Shonn Wiley, and Christopher Jones — touches on various hits from the American Radio Songbook, a term they coined to encompass their style of music. Expect to hear some classic Christmas tunes thrown in as well when the quartet comes to Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino, 15406 North Maricopa Road in Maricopa, on Friday, December 31. Their performance starts at 9 p.m. Tickets are $49. Allison Wagoner

Day One Block Party at Sunbar

Before joining creative forces as Gorgon City, Kye Gibbon and Matt Robson-Scott were already celebrated DJ/producers in their own right. Going by Foamo and RackNRuin, respectively, the two came up as part of London's beloved Black Butter artist collective and label, which also spawned the likes of Rudimental and international chart-topping quartet Clean Bandit. Gibbon and Robson-Scott have come a long way since those days and have toured the world multiple times, played innumerable high-profile festivals, and racked up countless frequent flyer miles. This weekend, their travels bring them to the Valley to co-headline the Day One Block Party on Saturday, January 1, at Sunbar, 24 West Fifth Street in Tempe. The event kicks off at 3 p.m. and will also include sets by co-headliner green velvet, as well as Legendz, Von Gold, and The Brunch Bros. Admission is $49.75. Sean Levisman and Benjamin Leatherman
click to enlarge Long live Selena. - MICHELLE SASONOV
Long live Selena.
Michelle Sasonov

Club '90s Selena Night at Crescent Ballroom

If there was one word to describe Selena Quintanilla, from her style to her music, it would be iconic. Start off 2022 celebrating the late Tejano queen’s music legacy on Saturday, January 1, with a night of endless bidi bidi bom bom during Selena Night at Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue. Dance, sing, and enjoy an evening full of Selena jams from the ’90s mixed with other cumbias and Latin anthem throwbacks. The celebration begins at 9:30 p.m. and is a 21-and-over affair. Tickets are $13 in advance and $15 at the door. Melina Zuñiga
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.