Seeing as we’re a week away from Christmas, it shouldn’t be surprising this weekend’s concert offerings include plenty of holiday shows and homecomings. When it comes to the former, local indie bands like Bear Ghost and Ring Finger No Pinky will throw festive concerts at local rock venues. In the case of the latter, homegrown superstars like Authority Zero, Markus Schulz, and Gin Blossoms all have performances happening around metro Phoenix.
Other big gigs happening from Friday, December 17, to Sunday, December 19, include shows by the legendary Johnny Rawls and Dionne Warwick, singer-songwriter Pokey LaFarge, and hip-hop artist Fat’se.
Read on for more details about each of these gigs or check out Phoenix New Times' online concert listings for more music events. Keep in mind, though, COVID-19 is an ever-present danger (particularly with cases related to the Omicron variant on the rise) and multiple local venues require proof of vaccinations or a recent negative test result to attend shows. More info can be found on the ticketing sites for each concert.
The Valley’s nightlife scene has produced its fair share of superstar DJs over the years. Besides old-school cats like Z-Trip and Eddie Amador, both of whom were staples of local clubs back in the ’90s, there are more recent success stories like Mija, Bijou, and Ghastly. Markus Schulz, however, tops ‘em all. Long before the trance mixmaster became one of the highest-paid DJs in the world and a regular at high-profile festivals like Tomorrowland and Ultra, he was honing his craft at raves and club gigs around the Phoenix area. On Friday, December 23, Schulz returns to the Valley for a gig at Sunbar, 24 West Fifth Street in Tempe, on Friday, December 17. Doors open at 9 p.m. and Sean & Xander, Cubozoa, and Nick Silvestri open. Tickets are $22. Benjamin Leatherman
What if, in a perfect world, the music genre you love the most was the only one in existence and lived on forever? Steel Panther imagines this to be true, and this weekend the glammish four-piece brings a full-on heavy-metal throwback show to Tempe’s Marquee Theatre, 730 North Mill Avenue, on Friday, December 17. The best part? Steel Panther isn't just a tribute — it is also an equal mockery of the sometimes androgynous, hair-dominating days when Poison and Mötley Crüe owned MTV. The band gets it right by aiming right at the crotch of the genre, zeroing in on the humor of the oversexed days of Sunset Strip hair metal while balancing it with original and true-to-form hook-heavy songs. Just imagine: 10 years from now, some dudes born in the '90s will be wearing greasy mops and smoking fake cigarettes on stage, attempting to pull off a semi-accurate Strokes tribute, and it won't be nearly as funny. Doors are at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 for general admission, $52 for the balcony. Bree Davies
Fats'e went through many genres before becoming a hip-hop artist.
Fats'e at The Nile Theater
Born in Minneapolis, Fats’e is the child of a musically inclined father. The two used to jam together at home, while Fats’e would play keyboard and his dad joined in with bongos, creating an “indie rock” sound. By 11, Fats’e formed a band with a few of his friends, playing shows at small venues in the Dallas area. When he was a teenager, his musical stylings grew into a “deathcore” sound, and by 2015, the artist traded emo for hip-hop as he joined a freestyling collective. It was then that Fats’e identity was born (during a session, he shouted the phrase “Big Fat C on the microphone and the name immediately stuck). On his second full-length album, Staring at the Ceiling, Fats’e amalgamates all of his musical backgrounds into a hyperpop, punk-rock package wrapped in influences of hip-hop. Sonically, it sounds like the lovechild Charli XCX and Lil Uzi Vert, but lyrically, Fats’e takes us on a cathartic journey. At the moment, he’s on tour in support of the album and is due at Mesa’s Nile Theatre, 105 West Main Street, on Friday, December 17. He shares the bill with fellow emo rapper 93feetofsmoke. The show is at 8 p.m. and tickets are $16. Alex Gonzalez
For the countless adults caught in that awkward place between Gen X and Y who remember when MTV played music, there are a handful of names that impart that deliciously distinct '90s-lost-innocence nostalgia, from Blues Traveler to Bush to Counting Crows, but it might just be Gin Blossoms who take the cake. With the salty-sweet voice of frontman Robin Wilson and hits like "Hey Jealousy," "Follow You Down," and "Til I Hear It From You," Gin Blossoms had a virtual monopoly on the soundtracks to school dances and car make-outs of the '90s. Formed in 1987 in Tempe, Gin Blossoms broke out with "Hey Jealousy," a song that became the center of a tragedy after its writer, Blossoms co-founder Doug Hopkins, was fired and later committed suicide in 1993. The rest of the band's members continued on to success before eventually breaking up in 1997. In 2002, the band reunited and has survived a shuffling in and out of members over the years, but, at least for now, they're stable and performing. Gin Blossoms will play Scottsdale’s Talking Stick Resort, 9800 East Talking Stick Way, on Saturday, December 18. The show is at 8 p.m. and tickets are $30 to $100. Jacob Utti
Producer and beatmaker Simon Green, better known as Bonobo, has become one of the most respected names in electronic music. Once an obscure DJ on the roster of the U.K.'s Ninja Tune Records, Green routinely packs venues and tops festival lineups around the world. Phoenix is no exception: Bonobo is scheduled to perform a DJ set at Walter Where?House, 702 North 21st Avenue, on Saturday, December 18. He's also an unlikely superstar. While Green's records — including 2017's Migration — have their share of danceable moments, he's no Top 40, party-banging DJ. His music steers toward the ethereal, often borrowing soundscapes from far-off cultures. His music is catchy, but also profound. Hear it for yourself this weekend. Tickets for the 9 p.m. show are $17 to $28. Chris Walker
Phoenix-born “adventure rock band” Bear Ghost will serve up an evening local music on Saturday, December 18, at Last Exit Live, 717 South Central Avenue, at their annual holiday concert (which is referred to as a “Yuletide wondershow.” Joining them will be rock acts The Deadbeat Cousins and Damn the Weather. If the photos from previous editions of the show are any indication, you can expect musicians in Santa hats and amusing sweaters, festival decorations, and some onstage antics. Doors are at 6 p.m. Admission is $15 in advance, $18 at the door. Benjamin Leatherman
Johnny Rawls at The Rhythm Room
Johnny Rawls is a decidedly old-school kind of guy. An award-winning singer, he takes his cues from classic R&B singers like Otis Redding, Solomon Burke, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, and his personal mentor, O.V. Wright, the man he credits with launching his career. “I sing soul,” Rawls says. “I stand out because I do original songs that have a good beat to them. It’s a different side to the blues. I take a lot of time and effort to write songs so they don’t sound like they were just thrown together. In order to stand out, you have to write great songs.” And you can hear these great songs being performed by Rawls on Saturday, December 18, at the Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School Road. Tickets for the 9 p.m. gig are $12. Lee Zimmerman
Authority Zero members, from left to right, Mike Spero (bass), Chris Dalley (drums), Jason DeVore and new guitarist, Eric Walsh.
Authority Zero at Marquee Theatre
Mesa's favorite punks Authority Zero have come a long way over the course of the last three decades. Since forming in 1994, the band has gone from intimate (and often free) local shows to playing events like Warped Tour and, eventually, touring the world and releasing a grip of hit albums. Authority Zero is now a household name in the Valley scene, and a tried and true Arizona trademark like Jimmy Eat World. Their local fanbase is likely to turn out in droves when the band brings its Ollie Ollie Oxen Free tour to Marquee Theatre, 730 North Mill Avenue in Tempe, on Saturday, December 18. Doors are at 6 p.m. and tickets are $22 for general admission, $52 for balcony access. Melissa Fossum
Dionne Warwick at Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino
Ask your teen niece if she knows who Dionne Warwick is, and you may get a no. Still, it's likely she knows the words to "I Say a Little Prayer." Dionne Warwick has maintained great popularity since she started her career singing gospel as a kid. She comes from a musical family, some of whom were members of Drinkard Singers, a gospel group that Elvis wanted to join him on tour. Also, Warwick's cousin was Whitney Houston, and you cannot beat that kind of familial clout unless you're Paris Jackson. When the great Warwick comes to the Showroom at Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino, 5040 Wild Horse Pass Boulevard in Chandler, on Saturday, December 18, don't "Walk on By." Her concert is at 8 p.m. Tickets are $47 to $87. Liz Tracy
Back in the early '90s, when the Cleveland natives of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony were first starting out, they performed over the phone for N.W.A.'s Eazy-E who was feeling them out for his Ruthless Records label. Rapper Krayzie Bone told Thrasher Magazine that Eazy put them on speaker so everyone could hear them. The people in the room hadn't heard anything like it before. No one had, in fact. The group — originally consisting of members Bizzy Bone, Layzie Bone, Krayzie Bone, Wish Bone, and Flesh-N-Bone — had a crazy original sound that included majestic, melodic harmonies (hence their name). When “Thuggish Ruggish Bone” came out in 1993 and "Tha Crossroads" was released in 1996, Bone Thugs took the world by storm, winning a Grammy for the latter. They’re scheduled to return to Tempe’s Marquee Theatre, 730 North Mill Avenue, on Sunday, December 19. Doors are at 6 p.m. and tickets are $40 to $80. Liz Tracy
It’d be easy to write off Midwestern-born singer-songwriter Pokey LaFarge as an archetypical hipster, a one-man Mumford & Sons, complete with banjo, fedora, and bow tie. But of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Combining elements of modern Americana music with deeper cuts into ragtime, early jazz, and folk-blues, with just a vaudevillian touch of warbling rockabilly, LaFarge’s background as a busking drifter in his youth will certainly be apparent during his performance at 7 p.m. on Sunday, December 19, at the Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 East Mayo Boulevard. Tickets are $49.50 to $54.50. Nicholas Bostick
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