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Caroline Polachek, Subtronics and the Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

Caroline Polachek is scheduled to perform on Friday, April 28, at Marquee Theatre in Tempe.
Caroline Polachek is scheduled to perform on Friday, April 28, at Marquee Theatre in Tempe. Nedda Afsari
With higher temperatures on the horizon, it’d behoove y’all to get out and see a show before it gets too unbearably hot. If you’re down to see a show, hitmaking artists like avant-pop singer Caroline Polachek, country star Niko Moon, and rock band The Backseat Lovers are scheduled to perform in the Valley over the next few nights.

Other highlights of this weekend’s concert calendar include a benefit for local blues icon Big Pete Pearson, a massive EDM rager headlined by Subtronics, Trill’s four-year anniversary, and gigs by OFF! and Keb’Mo.

Read on for details about each of these gigs or check out Phoenix New Timesconcert calendar for more live music in the Valley from Friday, April 28, to Sunday, April 30.

The Psychedelic Furs

Friday, April 28
Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street
Few bands can evoke an entire era in just a few notes, but listen to a snippet of any Psychedelic Furs song and you’ll find yourself smack-dab back in the ’80s. Whether it’s the triumphant guitars of “Pretty In Pink” or the xylophone-esque melodies of “Love My Way,” something about the music feels as anchored to that time period as Ms. Pac-Man machines. While the Furs used keyboards and synths as ably as their ’80s contemporaries, Richard Butler’s vocals set them apart. Raspy and worn, his burnt-out croon would sound more at home fronting a Tom Waits-ian bar band than a New Wave outfit. It’s what gives the Furs’ music a timeless quality, While the melodies and instruments will forever date them, Butler’s nicotine-stained vocals make them sound like they could have existed in any era. That kind of rumpled, weary grace never goes out of style. With Evan Dando; 8 p.m., $35-$65 via Ashley Naftule


Friday, April 28
Valley Bar, 130 North Central Avenue
When OFF! burst onto the scene in 2009, the original quartet of vocalist Keith Morris (Circle Jerks/Black Flag), guitarist Dimitri Coats (Burning Brides), bassist Steven McDonald (Redd Kross/Melvins), and drummer Mario Rubalcalba (Earthless) had the type of pedigree that showed great promise, and the band promptly delivered the goods. Early OFF! records and shows put the punk back in punk rock with short, succinct blasts of pure first-wave hardcore fury. It was the closest thing Morris has done to his initial work with the original lineup of Black Flag, and for fans of punk, OFF! were kicking ass and taking names and seemingly having a great time doing it. In recent years, OFF! found itself with a brand-new rhythm section after Morris laid down some law and McDonald and Rubalcalba were gone from the band. Tensions between the original members arose due to differences of opinion on how much time should be spent developing the material that became OFF!’s 2022 record, Free LSD. The seeds sown by Morris and Coats when it comes to the songwriting on Free LSD have yielded some intense fruit. There are hints of Stooges-esque bursts of heavy noise layered throughout, especially on the tracks where Jon Wahl (Claw Hammer) adds some heavily distorted saxophone. New bassist Autry Fulbright II and drummer Justin Brown have more than filled the rather large shoes left by McDonald and Rubalcalba, respectively. With Hong Kong Fuck You; 7:30 p.m., $20 via Tom Reardon

Niko Moon

Friday, April 28
The Van Buren, 401 West Van Buren Street
You couldn’t ask for a better pedigree for a country musician than Niko Moon’s background. The son of a truck-driving drummer and a waitress, Moon has had one foot planted firmly in the honky-tonk since the cradle. A country-pop singer with a fondness for the looseness and improvisation of jam band music, Moon has been a behind-the-scenes player in roots music. A songwriter for artists like Dierks Bentley, Zac Brown Band, Morgan Wallen, and Rascal Flatts, Moon moved to the front of the stage in 2021 with the release of his solo album Good Time. The 14-song release builds on the writing voice Moon developed writing Zac Brown Band songs like “Beautiful Drug” and “Homegrown” — twangy raise-your-bears singalongs accented with hard beats that wouldn’t sound out of place on rap radio. You can hear the jam influence all over Good Time: songs sprawl and stretch out like they’ve taken too many edibles. This is country music you can sink into like a bean bag. With Dylan Schneider; 8 p.m., $23 via Ashley Naftule

Caroline Polachek

Friday, April 28
Marquee Theatre, 730 North Mill Avenue, Tempe
Suppose you’re only familiar with Caroline Polachek from her 12-year stint fronting indie synth-pop band Chairlift (best known for their appearance in a 2008 iPod commercial). In that case, the singer-songwriter has forged a successful second act as a solo artist. In 2019, she released Pang, her critically adored debut album through Sony Music, reportedly inspired by Disney background paintings, Magic: The Gathering, and a ’90s Versace campaign filled with dreamy and surreal avant-pop songs topped by Polachek operatic vocals. Her sophomore release, this year’s Desire, I Want to Turn Into You, offers a similarly potent mix of art pop, trip-hop, rock, and electronic elements — particularly on such singles as "Bunny Is a Rider,” “Billions,” and “Welcome to My Island” — and has earned near-universal acclaim from music scribes. With Sudan Archives; 8 p.m., $39.50-$74.50 via Benjamin Leatherman

The Backseat Lovers

Saturday, April 29
Arizona Financial Theatre, 400 West Washington Street
“She’s got a fake ID and a nose ring / Those kind of girls tend to know things better than I do,” Joshua Harmon sings on “Kilby Girl,” the breakout 2019 single for The Backseat Lovers. For a song about partying and fake IDs, it’s pretty innocuous: a lilting indie folk-rock song that builds to a Feelies-style strumming guitar freakout. They may call themselves The Backseat Lovers, but their lyrics do all their heavy petting over the sweater. Formed in Provo, Utah, the band’s core duo of guitarist Jonas Swanson and singer/drummer Harmon met at an open mic. After winning a battle of the bands, the now-quartet released their first EP. The Backseat Lovers is already set in stone on Elevator Days: stripped-down and spare instrumentation, earnest vocals, and an easy-going vibe that can best be described as “jamming in the dorm room when everyone else is on break.” With a new album, 2022’s Waiting to Spill, under their belt, The Backseat Lovers are here to rock you — but not too hard. With Renata Zeiguer; 8 p.m., $47-$205 via Ashley Naftule
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Jesse Kardon, better known as DJ/producer Subtronics.
Ching Chen


Saturday, April 29
Phoenix Raceway, 7602 Jimmie Johnson Drive, Avondale
The United States Geological Survey’s seismographs might detect a massive quake emanating from the Avondale area on Saturday night, though it won’t be caused by any tectonic phenomenon. A lineup of bass-happy electronic dance music producers — including Rusko, Dirt Monkey, Level Up, Grabbitz, and Sweettooth — will be putting subwoofers through their paces at Phoenix Raceway with thick mixes of dubstep, grime, bass house, and similarly low-end genres. The festival-like event, which will feature a massive outdoor stage, will be headlined by superstar Subtronics, who’s touring in support of his latest release Antifractals and will blast bass-drenched beats that are as twisted as his wonky hairdo. 8 p.m., $75-$125 via Benjamin Leatherman
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Trill celebrates its fourth anniversary this weekend.

Trill Four-Year Anniversary

Saturday, April 29, and Sunday, April 30
Trill, 1817 East Indian School Road
Ain’t no show like a Trill anniversary show, because the Phoenix hip-hop shop really goes all out with the two-day affairs. Vendors and artists set up in the parking lot during a “Funky Flea Market.” Local b-boys and b-girls battling inside the store. And a huge roster of rappers, DJs, and hip-hop artists perform on an outdoor stage. Such will be the scene during Trill’s four-year anniversary this weekend, which will be headlined by indie and underground rap talents like Cannibal Ox, El Da Sensei of the Artifacts, the duo of Scarub and Very G (a.k.a. Afro Classics), Joe Louis, Unorthodocks, MC Supernatural, Mystik Journeymen, and the Grammy-nominated hip-hop group Freestyle Fellowship. There will also be sets from the Coolin Out DJ Squad, live art sessions, food vendors, and more. Noon, $30 via Benjamin Leatherman

Keb' Mo'

Sunday, April 30
Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street
Blues guitarist Keb' Mo' is something of a household name at this stage in his career. He's got a pocketful of Grammys and assorted other music awards, was a central character in Martin Scorsese's critically acclaimed 2003 miniseries The Blues, and has performed on episodes of Sesame Street and The West Wing. The 71-year-old singer, guitarist, and songwriter, born Kevin Moore, is also known for his wide smile, rakish hats, and mastery of the blues idiom. His particular take on the genre, which has incorporated varying amounts of folk, rock, R&B, soul, jazz, pop, and country, can be heard on any of the 19 albums in his discography, including Good to Be… from 2022. The 12-song effort received favorable reviews from critics — including being called “some of [his] smoothest, most upbeat music” by Blues Blast Magazine — and further cementing his broad appeal. 7:30 p.m., $45-$85 via Glenn BurnSilver

Big Pete Pearson Sunday Blues Benefit

Sunday, April 30
Chars Live, 4631 North Seventh Avenue
Big Pete Pearson is a legendary figure in Arizona blues. Born in Jamaica and raised in Texas, he started performing at age 9 as a guitarist and vocalist before sharing stages with the likes of B.B. King, T-Bone Walker, and Etta James. Pearson came to the Valley in the ‘50s and became a fixture of the local scene in the ensuing decades, filling countless bars and venues around town with his raspy vocals while singing about big-legged women and romantic discord. He’s beloved by numerous local blues artists, many of whom will perform at a benefit concert on Sunday at Chars Live that will raise money to cover Pearson’s various medical expenses he’s racked up during his ongoing battle with prostate cancer. The lineup will include True Flavor Blues, Rocket 88s, Brian Fahey, Matt Rowe, Cadillac Assembly Line, Hans Olsen, Brian Lovings, Tommy Washington, Kirk Hawley, Honest Soulz, Jimmy Payton, Ron Trapiano, Alice Tatum, and Chuck Hall. Pearson and his band will also perform and items like a Squier Bullet Telecaster to a 2001 Harley Davidson motorcycle will be auctioned off. Noon, $15 via Benjamin Leatherman
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Glenn BurnSilver
Contact: Glenn BurnSilver
Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.
Ashley Naftule
Tom Reardon has written for Phoenix New Times since 2013. He's been in several notable bands over the last 25 years including Hillbilly Devilspeak, North Side Kings, and the Father Figures.
Contact: Tom Reardon

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