The 21 Best Things We've Heard in Phoenix in 2017 — So Far

The Drums at Viva PHX 2017.EXPAND
The Drums at Viva PHX 2017.
Jim Louvau
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Six months of 2017 are officially on the books. What better time to reflect on the spectacular year it's been for music in metro Phoenix? Here they are: the best festivals, CD release shows, DJ sets, music videos, and cover songs we've seen and heard so far this year.

Viva PHX 2017
March 11

Viva’s lineup featured more bands than it was possible to see, and an extra dose of craziness. Twenty venues hosted around 100 bands, including The Drums, American Football, and headliners Girl Talk and The Maine. Girl Talk’s headlining performance stole the show at Comerica with folks joining on stage and toilet paper being shot into the crowd. Lindsay Roberts

Lawrence Zubia
March 19
The Newton

How many times have I mindlessly listened to the Gin Blossoms' "Hey Jealousy"? Who knows. When Lawrence Zubia played a bare-bones version of Doug Hopkins' song at Brian Smith's Spent Saints book-signing, it was different. Chills crept up my arms. The lyrics got stuck in my throat. It was devastating. Becky Bartkowski

Sundressed's debut is killer.EXPAND
Sundressed's debut is killer.
Craig Hedges

A Little Less Put Together by Sundressed
March 24
Animal Style Records

In a time when emo nostalgia feels like it’s at an all-time high, it’s important to take note of the new class of heartstring-pullers. Sundressed’s polished debut is chock-full of soulful, driving melodies. It's perfect for those times when you just want to air-drum your feelings. Ashley Harris

Gordon Ogden at Walter Yoga.
Gordon Ogden at Walter Yoga.
Chris Patrick

DJs and Vibes
Walter Yoga

Walter Productions hosts a seasonal series of weekly yoga classes at their downtown Phoenix office/party space called Walter Yoga. It's definitely a “yoga experience,” with a DJ spinning atop of their art car Kalliope. Instructors put on a sort-of instructional performance with a theme for the class equipped with scripted words, costumes, laser lights, dozens of disco balls, and spotlights. There's really nothing else like it around town. Amanda Savage

Quadraphoenix Single Release Showcase
March 24
Crescent Ballroom

This unique show featured four bands — The Hourglass Cats, Sunset Voodoo, The Sink or Swim, and The Real Fits — releasing singles on a special compilation CD given out that night. All four bands were awesome and the place was rocking all night, complete with a signature Cori Rios howl. Henri Benard

Treasure Mammal FTW.
Treasure Mammal FTW.
Ashley Naftule

Treasure Mammal Opening for Peelander-Z
March 26
Valley Bar

Opening for a band as dynamic as Peelander-Z is a tough gig. If any local had a chance of topping them, it's Treasure Mammal. Setting up inflatable snowmen and Christmas trees, Abe and his backup dancers brought the audience onstage for a freaky dance party that brought the house down. Ashley Naftule

Bear Ghost perform at The Rebel Lounge.
Bear Ghost perform at The Rebel Lounge.

Bear Ghost Covering Queen
March 29
The Rebel Lounge

Unless you are Adam Lambert, you should not cover Queen. Bear Ghost proved me wrong with a spot-on cover of the quartet’s hit “Don’t Stop Me Now” at our Phinal Phour show at The Rebel Lounge. Their bravery for pulling it off won them a place in my heart. Jason Keil

RIOT! Women’s Pride Dance Night
April 1
Palo Verde Lounge

The monthly RIOT! Women’s Dance Night is hosted at the Palo Verde Lounge by a micro-organization of mostly female DJs called MUTINY! ????????! Tempe. And it is always good-weird. Its April date coincided with Pride Festival, which had participants in a way more imaginative zone, vogueing to everything from Blondie to La Roux. Lauren Cusimano

Steff and the Articles' “Keep You Around” Video
April 6
Yellowbox Films

As the debut single from the forthcoming album, Timekeeper, "Keep You Around" doesn’t waste any time hooking you in with a bright chorus, laced with a sprightly string section. The video is just as bold, featuring singer Steff Koeppen dancing through her lover’s quirks to find her joy in him. Ashley Harris

Lost Lake Festival's Lineup
Announced April 18
Steele Indian School Park

When Superfly, the company behind Bonnaroo and Outside Lands, dropped the lineup for the inaugural Lost Lake Festival, our jaws dropped. Chance, Pixies, Run the Jewels, HAIM, Calexico, and Huey Lewis? Yeah, we're down for that — and we can't wait for the fest to take over Steele Indian School Park in October. Becky Bartkowski

Read on for more of the best things we've heard so far this year.

The 21 Best Things We've Heard in Phoenix in 2017 — So FarEXPAND
Courtesy of Team Solo Patch

Team Solo Patch CD Release
April 27
The Rebel Lounge

This might have been the best-kept local secret of 2017. Even though it wasn’t heavily attended, the band ripped the stage into splinters with their video-game/mad scientist feels. Lead singer and computer keyboard operator Chris Pena was just awesome, so into it and moving nonstop. See this fun band. Henri Benard

Dinosaur Love's The Gospel
April 28
Related Records

Who would have thought that one of the best local albums to come out this year would be about dinosaur conspiracy theories? Peter Kulikowski crafted a record full of driving garage rock organ sounds to soundtrack his tales of dinosaur saviors, meteor crashes, and Illuminati plots. Save us, Jesusaurus Rex! Ashley Naftule

Banana Gun perform at the Last Exit Live four-year anniversary party.EXPAND
Banana Gun perform at the Last Exit Live four-year anniversary party.

Last Exit Live's Four-Year Anniversary Party
April 29

Last Exit Live owner Brannon Kleinlein threw an all-out local love fest to celebrate the venue’s biggest achievement to date. The bill included several heavy-hitting locals, and fans responded by packing the house and dancing all night. Last Exit is going stronger than ever, and looks like it's here to stay. Henri Benard

May 3
Valley Bar

Fresh off a tour with The Damned, Bleached gave Valley Bar a nonstop mix of Ride Your Heart, Welcome the Worms, and new singles. The Valley Bar set was especially relatable during "Wednesday Night Melody." Because yeah, it was Wednesday night. Lauren Cusimano

Andy C. during his amazing drum 'n' bass set.EXPAND
Andy C. during his amazing drum 'n' bass set.

Andy C at Bassrush Massive Arizona
Saturday, May 6
Rawhide Event Center

Dubstep, hardstep, future bass, and grime. The first-ever Bassrush Massive Arizona definitely lived up to its name when it blasted dance music fiends with an overwhelming onslaught of bass-heavy genres. Andy C amped things even harder by dropping a sonic bomb of scorching drum ‘n’ bass that was 80 minutes worth of exhilaration and face-melting fun unlike any other set that night. Benjamin Leatherman

Solange and her back-up singers.
Solange and her back-up singers.

Solange at FORM
May 12

Solange played the first night of FORM 2017, and there was no topping that set. Bathed in red light and dressed head-to-toe in the same shade, the R&B singer commanded the stage, hit crystalline high notes, ran her band, and served up post-modern choreography at Paolo Soleri's experimental city. In other words, she out-FORMed FORM. Becky Bartkowski

Z-Trip in the mix.EXPAND
Z-Trip in the mix.

Z-Trip at The Blunt Club's 15th Anniversary
May 26
Crescent Ballroom

Whenever Z-Trip gets behind a pair of Technics 1200s, it’s typically a master class in turntablism and rocking the record decks. Such was the case when the local legend headlined Blunt Club’s 15th anniversary, spending close to two hours spinning and scratching as he mixed and mashed up rap, funk, and rock with aplomb for a packed house. Benjamin Leatherman

Jerusafunk and I Am Hologram Performing The Goblin King's City
May 27
Unexpected Art Gallery

Playing original tunes alongside covers of David Bowie classics like “Changes” and “Magic Dance,” Jerusafunk and I Am Hologram were killer house bands for The Goblin King's City. Mixing puppets, stilt walkers, and two of downtown's most versatile bands together, it was a charming adaptation of Jim Henson's Labyrinth. Ashley Naftule

Cosplayers celebrate winning the Best in Show award at Phoenix Comicon's Masquerade this year.EXPAND
Cosplayers celebrate winning the Best in Show award at Phoenix Comicon's Masquerade this year.
Benjamin Leatherman

"Prince Ali" at Phoenix Comicon’s Masquerade
May 27
Phoenix Convention Center

The ultra-catchy tune "Prince Ali" from Disney’s animated hit Aladdin never sounded better than when it was lip-synced by a crew of 11 during the cosplay masquerade at Phoenix Comicon 2017. Probably because it involved a rousing performance recreating that particular scene from the film with a show-stopping dervish of dancing, elaborate costumes, and an enormous papier-mâché elephant. Unsurprisingly, it won Best in Show. Benjamin Leatherman

Party on.EXPAND
Party on.
Emma Trim

City Hearts
May 28
Monarch Theatre

Desert Hearts' stop in Phoenix was, to me, a much-needed fusion of the rave and nightclub cultures. Each DJ performance was fresh, unique, and presented totally different styles of dance music along with a great selection of "I haven't heard this before" track choices. This show, along with other trends, has shown me recently that a new wave of post-EDM dance music lovers exists in mainstream music culture — and that they seek more creativity and technical prowess. Amanda Savage

Dead & Company performs at Ak-Chin Pavilion on Sunday, May 28, 2017.EXPAND
Dead & Company performs at Ak-Chin Pavilion on Sunday, May 28, 2017.
Jim Louvau

Dead & Company
May 29
Ak-Chin Pavilion

Being a Dead gig, there were misses. “Dear Prudence” never clicked, despite Bob Weir’s clear passion. But there was transcendence, too. All doubts about John Mayer’s vibey credentials vanished during a soulful “Sugaree” and a dementedly fast close to “Casey Jones.” Following a gorgeously fried “Scarlet > Fire,” the temptation to follow along to California was tough to resist. Jason P. Woodbury

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