Ruthie Foster is scheduled to perform on Saturday, January 6, at the Musical Instrument Museum.EXPAND
Ruthie Foster is scheduled to perform on Saturday, January 6, at the Musical Instrument Museum.
Mary Keating-Bruton

The 11 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

So, how’s it going with those New Year’s resolutions of yours? If any of ‘em have to do with becoming more active or getting out more, this weekend’s lineup of concerts and dance events will offer you the chance to do both.

Yo Gotti will be in town to perform, as will singer-songwriter Ruthie Foster, over-the-top blues act Rick Estrin and the Nightcats, and virtuoso pianist Emanuel Ax. Oh, and Muggles will flock to Symphony Hall to hear a live performance of the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets score.

A number of theme nights and dance parties also will take place, including ones inspired by Stranger Things and guilty pleasure songs we know you secretly adore.

Full details of all these events can be found below in our rundown of the best concerts and music events in Phoenix this week. And for even more gigs happening around town, check out our live music listings.

The 11 Best Concerts in Phoenix This WeekendEXPAND
Courtesy of Revere Music Group

Kap Slap
Friday, January 5
Maya Day & Nightclub in Scottsdale

Electro-house producer Kap Slap is known for his bootlegs and mashups, which began gaining popularity while he was in college; he even started touring while still a full-time student. Now 27 and graduated, Kap Slap is playing more shows than ever and focusing on creating original content for his fans.

This former EDM hobbyist is gaining speed, seeing an ever-growing following, and performing festival-worthy sets across the country. And his newest set will take place on Friday, January 5, at Maya in Scottsdale. Doors open at 10 p.m. and admission is free. Sarah Purkrabek

From left: Lorenzo Farrell, Rick Estrin, J. Hansen, and Kid Andersen.
From left: Lorenzo Farrell, Rick Estrin, J. Hansen, and Kid Andersen.
Kent Lacin/Alligator Records

Rick Estrin and the Nightcats
Friday, January 5
Rhythm Room

For more than 30 years, singer/harmonica player Rick Estrin – he of the sharp suits, high pompadour, thick black glasses, and distinct pencil-thin mustache – was best known for fronting the swing blues group Little Charlie and the Nightcats, named for leader/guitarist Little Charlie Baty.

Since Baty left amicably for “semi-retirement” in 2008, the rechristened Rick Estrin and the Nightcats have put out two studio efforts, 2009’s Twisted and 2012’s One Wrong Turn, along with 2013’s You Asked For It…Live! All three feature the much younger Kid Andersen (guitar), Lorenzo Farrell (bass/organ) and J. Hansen (drums/vocals). “But the age thing works out,” Estrin says. “Mainly because I’m so immature!”

Many of Estrin’s songs going back for decades also include a healthy dose of humor and irony, and it’s easy to see him as a kind of befuddled character in his own tunes.

The live record has him getting turned down for credit at a suit store (“Clothes Line”), seeing his romantic future dissolved (“My Next Ex-Wife”), frolicking with plus-size ladies (“That’s Big”) and wishing he had more to him on “Smart Like Einstein.” Even the band’s cover of Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Too Close Together” forces him to switch back and forth between two suspicious girlfriends who live next door to each other.

“I probably do have more humorous songs than most blues artists. For me, I think this is such a great job, I get paid for being myself,” Estrin says. “I’m just expressing the way I see things a lot of times, and a lot of that is irony and humor. And some of it is just goofy! That’s just how my mind works.” Bob Ruggiero

'80s Holiday Hangover – New Wave Tribute Festival
Friday, January 5
The Van Buren

Any show that features sets by Depeche Mode, The Cure, Billy Idol, and David Bowie would be considered a blockbuster. And, most likely, one you wouldn’t want to miss, right?

Okay, next question: Would it matter if the aforementioned bands and musicians were all tribute artists? It really shouldn’t, considering they’re all quite skilled at mimicking their source material and are arguably the next best thing to the real McCoy.

No, seriously. The tribute bands that star in the ‘80s Holiday Hangover – including popular L.A. acts Strangelove: The Depeche Mode Experience and The Cured – are all adept at impersonating the sound, look, and feel of the actual artists.

Besides, after a few drinks you either won’t know the difference or simply won’t care, preferring to just have a good time instead of nitpicking. Electric Duke: A Tribute to David Bowie and Idol X: A Tribute to Billy Idol will also perform. Doors are at 7 p.m. and tickets are $15. Benjamin Leatherman

Relive the music and magic of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets this weekend.
Relive the music and magic of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets this weekend.
Warner Bros.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in Concert
Friday, January 5, to Sunday, January 7
Symphony Hall

Potterheads have likely exhausted any sense of discovery and wonderment watching the films based on J.K. Rowling’s series of books about the young wizard Harry Potter. One of them always seems to be playing on television at any given moment.

But the Phoenix Symphony might have just the thing to help you relive what it felt like to watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets for the first time. As the movie plays on a giant screen, the orchestra will perform composer John Williams’ score live onstage.

Recapture the magic at 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 6, at Symphony Hall, 75 North Second Street. Tickets are $40 to $99. For more information, visit the Phoenix Symphony website. Jason Keil

Yo Gotti
Saturday, January 6
Celebrity Theatre

Yo Gotti raked it up in 2017. With a double-platinum certification for his hit “Down in the DM,” Gotti — whose real name is Mario Mims — found his way to even more chart success before the year’s end. His single “Rake it Up,” which features Nicki Minaj, hit No. 8 on the Hot 100, and his most recent single, “Juice,” just debuted on the charts.

However, the Memphis native continues to stay grounded by remembering his roots. Recently, the rapper released a documentary called I Still Am, which follows the making of his latest record (also titled I Still Am) and the young Tennessee artists he mentors.

The documentary is meant to inspire his fans as well as children growing up in Memphis, Yo Gotti has said in recent interviews. While it remains to be seen what the new year holds for the rapper, there’s no debating what went down in 2017. Emily Roberts

Expect to hear some Icona Pop tracks at The Van Buren on Saturday night, courtesy of A Claire Slattery and Jared Alan.EXPAND
Expect to hear some Icona Pop tracks at The Van Buren on Saturday night, courtesy of A Claire Slattery and Jared Alan.
Fredrik Etoall

Guilty Pleasures Dance Party
Saturday, January 6
The Van Buren

Every person has a few guilty pleasure songs they love jamming out to, especially when no one’s watching. But don’t worry, we’re totally not judging you. And neither will A Claire Slattery and Jared Alan while they DJ at The Van Buren on Saturday night during their Guilty Pleasures Dance Party.

According to Slattery, the two will spin a variety of “current pop with a gem or two from the past,” all of which will fall into the category of guilty pleasure songs (hence the name of the event).

“I think a lot of people feel guilty for liking pop music,” Slattery says, “So that's where the title for the night ‘guilty pleasures’ was formed.”

She’ll also spin music from such artists as Tove Lo, Ellie Goulding, Daya, Katy Perry, CHVRCHES, Kesha, and Icona Pop. You can also expect to hear tracks from Lady Gaga, The 1975, Justin Timberlake, Carly Rae Jepsen, Rhianna, Halsey, Lorde, Liam Payne, Pink, Lana Del Rey, and others throughout the evening. The 21-and-over party starts at 9 p.m. and admission is $5 in advance, $7 at the door. Benjamin Leatherman

Singer-songwriter Ruthie Foster.EXPAND
Singer-songwriter Ruthie Foster.
Courtesy of Ruthie Foster

Ruthie Foster
Saturday, January 6
Musical Instrument Museum

It’s hard to imagine how Ruthie Foster’s roof-raising voice will be contained by the relatively intimate Music Theatre at the Musical Instrument Museum. “I want to be ready when joy comes back to me,” the Texas native wails above the strains of R&B and soul on the title track of her latest album, Joy Comes Back. In the past, quoting Maya Angelou, Foster has declared, “I’m not cute or built to suit or fashion-model size,” but her voice is an awesome force of beauty in its own right.

Amid the new album’s blues pleas and gospel exhortations, she surprises with a chilling reinvention of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs,” which Foster has transformed into a dusty blues opus replete with anguished harmonic cries and her own wickedly slithering slide guitar. Falling James

Feel free to wear your Stranger Things costumes at Linger Longer Lounge on Saturday.EXPAND
Feel free to wear your Stranger Things costumes at Linger Longer Lounge on Saturday.
Benjamin Leatherman

Linger Things: An Upside Down Theme Party
Saturday, January 6
Linger Longer Lounge

Don't put away your Casios, tube socks, and saved Eggo boxes. Stranger Things is never going away. See for yourself at Linger Things: An Upside Down Theme Party hosted by Dinosaur Rockstars from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturday, January 6, at Linger Longer Lounge.

Costumes are strongly encouraged (come on – don’t be Nancy), and cash prizes will go to the best dressed attendee and a runner-up. Tickets are $5 at the door, and special Demogorgon shots are $1.50 when DJ Adrian throws on the theme song. You can use the Facebook event page to invite friends instead of your walkie-talkie. Lauren Cusimano

Nanami OzoneEXPAND
Nanami Ozone
Ryan Caldwell

The PHX Pedal Challenge
Sunday, January 7
The Rebel Lounge

The PHX Pedal Challenge is the kind of chaotic musical event that you’ve gotta see in person, according to Ark Calkins, the event’s host. He brought the must-see event to Phoenix from Florida in 2016.

Here’s how it works: The anarchy begins with 12 challengers, including one who is picked at random either from the signup at the event’s website or drawn from a hat at the event. The dynamic dozen proceed to compete against each other in four rounds of pure, unadulterated sonic chaos. Each musician is given a random instrument and a pedal of unknown origin that affects the sound of the instrument. And then? They have to improvise for a whole minute.

At the end of each round, three judges will decide who is eliminated based on creativity, performance, and use of the pedal. The stakes increase with each round, with audience participation playing a role in the third. (Previous editions of the event have involved karaoke or the music of a Nintendo 64 being run through the pedals). Valley-based indie rock quartet Nanami Ozone will perform once a musician is declared victorious. So really, everybody wins in the end. Jason Keil

The Rhythm Room will pay tribute to the King of Rock 'n' Roll this weekend.EXPAND
The Rhythm Room will pay tribute to the King of Rock 'n' Roll this weekend.
MGM/Library of Congress

Elvis Birthday Celebration
Sunday, January 7
Rhythm Room

For some strange reason, society tends to be really good at remembering the day their most beloved entertainers died, but rarely the day they were born. Perhaps it’s because our brightest stars so often manage to depart this life in such an untimely manner.

Well, the Rhythm Room, one of Phoenix’s most reputable venues, is doing something about it. While his untimely death at just 42 still pains millions of fans worldwide, the illustrious life of Elvis Presley is indeed worthy of remembrance, albeit one day removed from his actual birthdate.

More than a dozen local blues, Americana, and rockabilly acts will pay tribute to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll on Sunday, January 7, at the venue during its Elvis Birthday Celebration. Brenda Lee Pinup will emcee the event, which will feature performances by Mike Eldred, Brea Burns, Pat Roberts and the Heymakers, Laura Walsh, Mario Moreno, Kevin Daly, Hank Topless, Jaime Waldron, Rhythm Room owner Bob Corritore, and others. The show starts at 6 p.m. Admission is $8. Rob Kroehler

Piano virtuoso Emanuel Ax.
Piano virtuoso Emanuel Ax.
Lisa Marie Mazzucco

Emanuel Ax
Sunday, January 7
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Few artists in the classical music world command the respect that pianist Emanuel Ax does. As a young boy, Ax left his native Poland (where both his parents were concentration camp survivors) and settled in Canada before going on to the Juilliard School of Music.

Considered one of the greatest musicians of his generation, Ax has won competitions (the Arthur Rubenstein) and awards (the Avery Fisher Prize and a batch of Grammys), but most importantly, he’s won the hearts of audiences all around the world. His virtuosity and remarkable range have earned him a legion of fans, including fellow musician Yo-Yo Ma, a frequent collaborator.

This weekend Ax will perform Mozart’s “Sonata No. 15 in F Major” and Bach’s “Partita No. 5 in G Major,” as well as works by Liszt and Beethoven, inside the Virginia Piper Theatre at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. The matinee show begins at 4 p.m. and tickets are $29-$69. Olivia Flores Alvarez

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