The 11 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week

The Interrupters are scheduled to perform on Wednesday, February 27, at The Van Buren.
The Interrupters are scheduled to perform on Wednesday, February 27, at The Van Buren.
Courtesy of Epitaph Records
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This week’s concert calendar is loaded up with big shows. Muse is returning to the Valley, rapper Meek Mill will be at Comerica Theatre, folk-blues act The Woods Brothers will perform at Crescent Ballroom, and influential punk band Leftöver Crack will invade Nile Theater in Mesa. And that's just on Tuesday night.

The rest of the week features a variety of notable names as well, including ska-punkers The Interrupters, post-hardcore kings Single Mothers, ultra-talented vocalist Sarah Brightman, and former Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen.

Details about each of these gigs can be found below in our list of the best shows happening in the Valley this week. And for even more live music happening around the Valley, hit up Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar.

Joy Williams is on her own after the end of The Civil Wars.EXPAND
Joy Williams is on her own after the end of The Civil Wars.
Andy Barron

Joy Williams
Monday, February 25
Musical Instrument Museum

Joy Williams has been building a steady following of fans for years now. A winner of multiple Grammy awards, her career started in the early 2000s as a faith-based musician before morphing into a larger scope with her musical involvement in the critically acclaimed duo, The Civil Wars. Following their dissolution, Williams decamped to Los Angeles and used her new surroundings to cope with both the professional breakup and the death of her father. There, she also released Venus, a hook-laden album with a broader pop palette than many of her fans were accustomed to hearing.

Fast-forward to late 2018 and Williams is in a more settled place. For starters, she and her family have traded in the California coast for a relocation back to Nashville. That familiarity and a renewed sense of confidence led her back into the studio where she has recently put the finishing touches on Front Porch, a new collection of songs that hearken back to the warmth of spirit reflected in a lot of her previous work. Jeff Strowe

John 5 invades the Valley in February.
John 5 invades the Valley in February.
Alfred Nitsch/CC BY-SA 3.0/via Wikimedia Commons

John 5
Tuesday, February 26
Club Red in Mesa

When John 5 received his first guitar at age 7, it became a lifelong love affair (lucky for us). He had no way of knowing that, within just a few decades, he would be seen as one of music's most acclaimed and sought-after guitar-slingers. All I gotta say is when Slash calls you one of the most mind-blowing guitarists around, you know you're doing something right. Not that John 5 needs little endorsement, even from our favorite top hat-wearing shredder.

He's played guitar for an array of high-profile artists, including David Lee Roth, k.d. lang, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Marilyn Manson, and Rob Halford. Since 2005, he's worked as Rob Zombie's main guitarist and released a string of solo albums, cementing himself as a virtuoso guitar hero and pioneering a style that's part shred guitar, part wild country pickin', part flamenco, part mesmerizing macabre. Lauren Wise

Oliver Woods (left), Chris Woods (center), and Jano Rix (right).EXPAND
Oliver Woods (left), Chris Woods (center), and Jano Rix (right).
Alysse Gafkjen

The Wood Brothers
Tuesday, February 26
Crescent Ballroom

In addition to his duties with avant-jazz-funk band Medeski Martin & Wood, Chris Wood has been half of the Wood Brothers, the folk act that pairs him with his older brother, vocalist/guitarist Oliver. Appropriately, this side project allows Chris to show, well, another side of himself. Rather than clone the jazzy vibe of Chris’ longtime group, the Wood Brothers serve up a bluesy blend of Americana and folk that's naturally boosted by genetics. Oliver plays acoustic and electric guitars while Chris mans the upright bass (multi-instrumentalist Jano Rix rounds out the trio). They’ve released seven studio albums since the act’s formation in 2014, including last year’s critically lauded One Drop of Truth. Catch them in town on Tuesday night when their current tour swings through the Crescent Ballroom. Carsie Blanton opens. Tom Murphy

The punks of Leftöver Crack.EXPAND
The punks of Leftöver Crack.
Courtesy of Fat Wreck Chords

Leftöver Crack
Tuesday, February 26
Nile Theater in Mesa

The New York City-based anarcho-punks don’t advocate for hopes and dreams as solutions. They call for unequivocal, sociopolitical action and have been doing so since Mediocre Generica, their debut album, which serendipitously (or, ill-fatedly, depending on your view) was released on 9/11/01.

That was nearly 18 years ago. It’s been a decade and a half since the band’s 2004 ska-core classic, Fuck World Trade. The cuts from those albums were passionate, call-for-change songs about police brutality, ecological destruction, war-mongering and prisons for profit. Because nothing has changed on those fronts — and arguably has gotten worse in practically every case — LoC’s is still singing about those same issues today. The band will blend a healthy mix of songs both new and old at its upcoming Nile Theater show this week. Jesse Sendejas Jr.

Rapper Meek Mill.EXPAND
Rapper Meek Mill.
Miller Mobley

Meek Mill
Tuesday, February 26
Comerica Theatre

After being released from prison in April 2018, Meek Mill didn't just start advocating for prison reform: He also returned to the studio and released his highly anticipated album Championships. The record is a true return to form for the rapper, with both the album and “Going Bad” featuring Drake topping the charts. His show at Comerica Theatre in February is guaranteed to be Mill at his most triumphant. When the low horns in the intro of street anthem “Uptown Vibes” begin to play over the sound system, the spot is sure to blow up. Julian Hernandez

Muse are incapable of anything other than maximalism.EXPAND
Muse are incapable of anything other than maximalism.
Jeff Forney

Tuesday, February 26
Talking Stick Resort Arena

Muse has been on cruise control since they became an arena band in the United States. They're still a band that wants to play metal-tinged pop rock crossed with electronica and Queen-like pomp, but the music is a bit more arena-friendly now. People who loved them early in their career have moved on as Muse reached the heights they always wanted. Embracing dubstep and their hard-rock roots, they're a different band now. Their latest, Simulation Theory, arrived late last year, so expect the focus to be on songs from that, in addition to some older tunes. And visually, they're one of the more dazzling sort of bands out there. Laser lights and video projections are on a much more futuristic level with this band, and the results are quite amazing. Eric Grubbs

Pop singer Tori Kelly.
Pop singer Tori Kelly.
Courtesy of Paradigm Talent Agency

Tori Kelly
Tuesday, February 26
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Whether you know her powerful voice and curly blonde hair from pop hits like “Should’ve Been Us” and “Dear No One” or her soulful duet with Ed Sheeran “I Was Made For Loving You,” her appearances in commercials for Nationwide, or maybe as the voice of the shy elephant in the animated film Sing, Tori Kelly can do just that: sing. Like hell.

This fall, Kelly released the eight-track album Hiding Place, written with the help of 12-time Grammy Award-winning Kirk Franklin. To her audience’s delight or dismay, it was a gospel album. She mashes up hymns and psalms and sings words like “Lord,” “Hallelujah,” the whole Jesus-y nine yards. What started as an idea to do one gospel song turned into something much bigger. Kelly’s newest album is purely and unapologetically Christian. In concert, however, she flip-flops between her new album and her older pop songs.

Any fan of Kelly can attest to her incredible vocals, and somehow she sounds even better live. Though the songwriting for the gospel album is for the most part just OK and sometimes on the edge of cliché Christian music, Kelly’s voice carries each song so well that it hardly matters. Isabel Arcellana

Famed soprano Sarah Brightman.EXPAND
Famed soprano Sarah Brightman.
Courtesy of Ticketmaster

Sarah Brightman
Wednesday, February 27
Comerica Theatre

She has the voice of an angel and she sort of looks like she came out of an episode of Game of Thrones. Sarah Brightman has been serenading the world with her silky soprano voice for 40 years, becoming one of the biggest classical crossover artists ever. Later this month, the legendary English lady makes a stop at Comerica Theatre for a night of her signature ethereal pop music. Golden-voiced singers Vincent Niclo and Narcis Iustin Ianau are opening. Falyn Freyman

Former Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen.EXPAND
Former Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen.
Scotty Hall

Jorma Kaukonen
Wednesday, February 27
Musical Instrument Museum

For good or ill (usually the latter, alas), some associations haunt performers for their entire careers. Del Shannon became synonymous with his biggest hit, "Runaway," and was typecast as an "oldies act." Stevie Nicks will forever conjure visions of '80s big hair, white platforms, and gauzy shawls. The name Jorma Kaukonen – original guitarist of Jefferson Airplane and pre-“Built This City” Starship – evokes San Francisco's Summer of Love, "tear down the walls" '60s rebellion, and acid casualties. But there's much more to Kaukonen.

Even while still a member of Kantner-Slick Inc., he adopted an unfashionable-at-the-time (1970) roots-oriented side project, Hot Tuna (originally Hot Shit, but the record company balked). Their repertoire consisted almost entirely of acoustic blues from the ‘20s and ‘30s. Gradually, Tuna amped up, but things went full circle; now, Jorma Kaukonen performs largely in an acoustic context. Since 1974’s Quah, He’s recorded a dozen different studio albums on his own, including 2015’s Ain’t No Hurry, his most recent effort that’s a mix of folk and blues. Mark Keresman

The Interrupters
Wednesday, February 27
The Van Buren

As ska devolves further from its Jamaican roots in the late 1950s, the genre these days often replaces soul and imagination with jock-rock conformity, transforming ska's madly insidious rhythms and uplifting messages into mere background music for frat parties. Of course, the Two-Tone revival in Britain in the early '80s helped reinvigorate the genre and give it new life, but so much modern ska is merely escapist and shallow. The Interrupters don't add anything new to the style, but singer Aimee Allen imbues her band with just enough personality and hooks to justify the whole affair. If tracks such as "She’s Kerosene" don't really evoke Jamaica's diversity and violent contradictions, they're at least mindlessly catchy, with suburban-punk guitars and Allen's gruff, Joan Jett-like phrasing. Falling James

Single Mothers
Thursday, February 28
The Lunchbox

Post-hardcore, especially of the more experimental ilk like the Jesus Lizard or At the Drive-In, is one of those genres that refuses to die. It might go more emo or more punk, but it sticks around and continues to be exciting bands like Single Mothers rock it out to its logical conclusion and then find more ground to cover. This insistent Canadian act is not one to be missed for fans of hard-rocking post-hardcore, but be sure to show up early enough at The Lunchbox to check out aggro-punk duo Mobina Galore and local “dysfunctional indie rock” act Go Outside!, both of which will open. Doors are at 7:30 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. Admission is $8. Corey Deiterman

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