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Here Are the Biggest Concerts Coming to Phoenix in January 2023

Ari Lennox is scheduled to perform on Saturday, January 28, at The Van Buren.
Ari Lennox is scheduled to perform on Saturday, January 28, at The Van Buren. Universal Music Group
January is a unique month for concerts in the Valley. There’s a lull to start things off, thanks to the holiday hangover, but once touring artists return to the road and get back into a groove, things really kick into gear.

From mid-January onward, a nonstop parade of big names and memorable shows will be headed to the Valley. Motown icon Smokey Robinson and current R&B star Ari Lennox. Punk icons Unwritten Law and blues/gospel legends Blind Boys of Alabama. English post-punk band Dry Cleaning and living funk legend George Clinton. Indie faves like Yonder Mountain String Band, Tim Kasher, and the Valley’s own Sean Bonnette.

Read on for more details about each of their gigs and other “can’t miss” concerts this month or click over to Phoenix New Timesonline concert calendar for more live music happening in the Valley in January.

Open Mike Eagle

Friday, January 6
Valley Bar, 130 North Central Avenue
Suffering doesn’t necessarily make for great art, but divorce can be one helluva muse. The music canon is full of spiky, bitter, and astonishing records that emerged from the smoldering wreckage of somebody’s marriage: Marvin Gaye’s Here My Dear, Richard and Linda Thompson’s Shoot Out The Lights, and pretty much every Fleetwood Mac album from 1977 to 1987. Add to that pantheon of heartbreak Open Mike Eagle’s Anime, Trauma, and Divorce, the rapper’s dark 2020 album. Open Mike Eagle has made a name for himself in the 2010s for being one of the last of the “backpack rappers” — a defiantly nerdy wordsmith with a knack for crafting cutting punchlines and delivering dense sociopolitical commentaries on albums like Dark Comedy and the hilariously caustic Brick Body Kids Still Daydream. Anime found the rapper looking inward, brutally self-critiquing himself with the same wit and wordplay he turned outward on earlier albums. His newest album, Component System with the Auto Reverse, pulls inspiration from his old ’90s rap mixtapes. If his 2020 album was about losing everything, Component System is about starting over and rebuilding your world after watching it go up in smoke. With Serengeti and Video Dave; 7:30 p.m., $17-$20 via seetickets.us. Ashley Naftule
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Chad Crawford (left) and Pouyan Afkary of Scary Kids Scaring Kids.
Equal Vision Records

Scary Kids Scaring Kids

Friday, January 6
The Nile Theater, 105 West Main Street, Mesa
If you were following local music in the mid-2000s on MySpace and elsewhere, you knew about Scary Kids Scaring Kids. Formed in 2002 as a six-piece post-hardcore/emo band by a clutch of Gilbert high-schoolers, SKSK put out the self-financed debut EP After Dark, and became regulars at Valley rock haunts. Three years later, they were signed to now-defunct label Immortal Records, released the well-received LP The City Sleeps in Flames, played Warped Tour multiple times, and were wildly successful before disbanding in 2009. In 2019, five years after vocalist Tyson Stevens died, the band reunited to celebrate the 15th anniversary of The City Sleeps in Flames. Last year, SKSK released Out of Light, their first album in more than a decade, with each song featuring a different guest vocalist, including Sianvar’s Donovan Melero and Dead American’s Cove Reber. They’re currently touring with Craig Mabbitt of Escape the Fare on vocals. With Bite The Hand and Winterhaven; 7 p.m., $22 via simpletix.com. Benjamin Leatherman
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The Iron Maidens
Alex Solca

The Iron Maidens

Saturday, January 7
Marquee Theatre, 730 North Mill Avenue, Tempe
As far as concepts for tribute bands go, you can’t get much more simpler and satisfying than The Iron Maidens. Formed in 2001, the California band is an all-female Iron Maiden tribute act. They shred just as hard as their source material, with singer Kirsten “Bruce Chickinson” Rosenberg matching her inspiration note for note on vocals. The Iron Maidens work hard to give fans the full British new wave Metal experience, right down to having Maiden’s ghoulish mascot Eddie show up during shows. While you can expect the Maidens to play fierce renditions of classics like “Number of the Beast” and “Run to the Hills,” the tribute act also distinguishes themselves by putting on an intensely theatrical show with vignettes interspersed between songs. It shouldn’t come as any surprise, considering several members of the band come from musical theater backgrounds. The line between nerd and metalhead is as thin as a knife on a ceremonial altar, and the Iron Maidens walk that line with style and humor. With The Jack, Doubleblind, Empire of Dezire, and Six Million Dead; 8 p.m., $25-$55 via ticketweb.com. Ashley Naftule

Dale Watson

Tuesday, January 10
The Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School Road
Dale Watson is the archetypical country-music artist. There’s a reason he’s often referred to as the “real deal.” Yet, despite the obvious associations, Watson is adamant that country music, at least in the traditional sense, no longer exists. While he’s stayed true to his roots after growing up on a diet of George Jones, Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzell, Merle Haggard, and Johnny Cash, Watson separates himself from the so-called country music that is clogging up the airwaves. He calls himself an Ameripolitan, an artist playing music in the four traditional country music senses — honky-tonk, rockabilly, Texas swing, and outlaw country. Retro, perhaps, yet there’s no denying the appeal of his music. There’s a down-home, down-to-earth, real-life feel to Watson’s songs. These are not written by some suits sitting in an air-conditioned room in Nashville, but rather by a man living on the road, going to real places with real people and real situations. 8 p.m., $25 via seetickets.us. Glenn BurnSilver

The Sound of Animals Fighting

Wednesday, January 11
Marquee Theatre, 730 North Mill Avenue, Tempe
The Sounds of Animals Fighting don’t sound as feral and unrestrained as their name would imply, but you can’t say they don’t try. Founded by former Rx Bandits’ member Rich Balling, The Sound of Animals Fighting brought together musicians from Circa Survive, Chiodos, and other bands to form a post-hardcore supergroup. Wearing animal masks on stage to hide their identities, the group (which could balloon in size up to 12 members for live performances) released a trilogy of albums before going on hiatus. On their records, TSOAF combine the kind of instrumental virtuosity you expect from math rock with washes of beautiful ambient sounds and aggressive screamo vocals. It’s a volatile yet intricately assembled sound that marries the ferocity of hardcore music with the ambition and larger scope of progressive rock. Considering their large size and different band obligations, these animals rarely migrate to these parts so don’t miss them while they pass through here to yowl and scrape on the Marquee stage. With Hail the Sun, Concrete Castles, and Record Setter; 7:30 p.m., $32.50-$65. Ashley Naftule
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Jazz fusion pioneer Stanley Clarke.
MIM

Stanley Clarke

Wednesday, January 11
Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 East Mayo Boulevard
When we use the phrase “guitar god” it’s almost always in reference to lead guitarists. Four-string players rarely ascend to that hallowed Mount Olympus, but if any bassist deserves such an accolade it’s Philadelphia jazz legend Stanley Clarke. A fluid and limber player, Clarke cut his teeth playing with legends like Pharoah Sanders and Dexter Gordon before assembling a band of his own, Return to Forever. One of the first jazz fusion groups in the country, they created a funky jazz sound that was equally indebted to the harder-edged sound of modern rock music. After branching off on his own after a few albums with Return to Forever, Clarke has cut more than 40 albums. He’s won Grammy Awards, BMI awards, made gold and platinum records, and was even named best bassist in Playboy’s Music Awards for ten years straight. Listening to Clarke play, it’s not hard to see how he’s developed such an esteemed reputation as his mastery of his instrument is practically divine. His bass playing is robust and forceful as he strums out bass lines that snap and thrum like power lines caught in a storm. He’s not just some background player; when Clarke performs, he’s the whole show. 7 and 9 p.m., $38.50-$59.50 via mim.org. Ashley Naftule
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George Clinton during a 2016 concert.
Levan TK

George Clinton & Parliament-Funkadelic

Friday, January 13
Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street
If you missed George Clinton’s last two “farewell” tours when they rolled through the Valley, the living legend is bringing the mothership back our way for another gig. So is the 81-year-old icon finally hanging up the mic for good after serving up more than 50 years of funk? Honestly, we can’t say, and neither can Clinton (who’s stated in a recent interview that “you might not be able to get rid of me for a while”). Just be glad you’ve got another chance to see the man whose funk-drenched tunes born from a fusion of jazz, R&B, and psychedelic rock have inspired everyone from The Roots, Snoop Dogg, and Kendrick Lamar to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Fishbone. 8 p.m., $38-$69 via etix.com. Benjamin Leatherman
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The gospel vocalists of the Blind Boys of Alabama.
Jim Herrington

Blind Boys of Alabama and Charlie Musselwhite

Friday, January 13, and Saturday, January 14
Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 East Mayo Boulevard
Legendary gospel act The Blind Boys of Alabama and blues legend Charlie Musselwhite bring almost a century of American pop music with them wherever they go, and continue to breathe life into older modes of songcraft with their intimate and expressive performances. Musselwhite has played with a who’s-who of blues greats, playing his harmonica and guitar with the likes of Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf. As for the Blind Boys, they’ve been reinvigorating the gospel tradition for decades with a rootsy traditionalism informed by nearly seven decades of working together. It’s not every day you get to catch working musicians in concert who were performing before Elvis sang his first tune and see them still operating with such force and verve. Musselwhite and the Blind Boys of Alabama are witnesses and participants in the deep history of music, which makes the Musical Instrument Museum a fitting venue to host their show. 7:30 p.m., $75.50-$95.50 via mim.org. Ashley Naftule

That 1 Guy

Saturday, January 14
Valley Bar, 130 North Central Avenue
Think of a one-man band: cymbals on the elbows, drum on the back, horns under the arms, and tambourines on the knees creating a cacophony of sound designed to annoy passersby. Now, try to envision That 1 Guy, a.k.a. Mike Silverman, as he takes the one-man band concept to a whole new level with the wide-ranging sounds created on his homemade Magic Pipe. In fact, this 1 Guy sounds like a handful as he drifts through prog-rock overtures, funk dance grooves, avant-classical passages, and mind-melting free jazz expressionism. Though Silverman does have structured songs, his background practically dictates a need for improvisation and going off on sonic adventures. This month, he’s bringing his In The Gnu Gnargaverse tour to downtown Phoenix. 7 p.m., $16/$18 via seetickets.us. Glenn BurnSilver

Davina and the Vagabonds

Sunday, January 15
Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 East Mayo Boulevard
Davina and the Vagabonds are a whirlwind of bluesy, jazzy, and rootsy fun in the vein of Squirrel Nut Zippers, Asylum Street Spankers, or many similar acts mining the broad pantheon of Americana. Centered on the magnetic presence and intoxicating vocals of songstress/pianist Davina Sowers and backed by brass musicians and a Hammond B3 organ, the five-member ensemble create a potent concoction of neo-soul, jazz, and swing bubbling over with energy and verve. It’s fun, lively music that’s guaranteed to get toes tapping in the audience at the Musical Instrument Museum when Davina and the Vagabonds amble through in mid-January. 7:30 p.m., $33.50-$49.50 via mim.org. Benjamin Leatherman
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Singer-songwriter Tim Kasher.
Erica Lauren

Tim Kasher and Sean Bonnette

Sunday, January 15
The Rebel Lounge, 2303 East Indian School Road
Mick Jagger said it best in 1966: What a drag it is getting old. Tim Kasher wouldn’t disagree, as the perils and pitfalls (and surprising pleasures) of getting older are his chief lyrical concerns on his 2022 album Middling Age. The frontman of both The Good Life and Cursive unpacks the compromises and complications of hitting the middle of the road, exploring the anxieties that come when wondering if you’ve wasted your life and fear of what comes next. Fans expecting the vitriol and aggression of his best Cursive records might be disappointed, though, as this is a far more mellow affair. But while his guitar playing might not draw blood, his words certainly do. Kasher continues to collapse within himself as a songwriter, which isn’t a bad thing: few songwriters are as good as plumbing the depths of self-loathing, self-recrimination, and self-deprecation as he can. Kasher gazes deep into his navel and sees things that would turn H.P. Lovecraft’s hair white. It’s a gift that hasn’t dimmed with middle age. He’s joined on his current tour by AJJ co-founder (and onetime Valley resident) Sean Bonnette and both singer-songwriters will perform selections from across their respective careers. With Veronica Everheart; 8 p.m., $16/$18 via seetickets.us. Ashley Naftule
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The interior of the historic Celebrity Theatre and its "theatre in the round" setup.
Celebrity Theatre

Jazz is Dead

Tuesday, January 17
Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street
Jazz music and the Grateful Dead may not seem, at first blush, to be comfortable bedfellows, but they share a few commonalities. Jazz loves to push beyond the constraints of pop music, to soar past the three-minute mark and improvise, vamp, and elaborate on a theme as musicians from the genre cook on a groove to see how far it can go. Anyone who’s ever attended a jam band show will tell you that the Dead and their ilk share that love of taking the scenic route with songs. The legendary band were forever in search of new ways to play the same songs, so it only makes sense for Jazz Is Dead to bring Jerry and jazz together. An acclaimed all-star instrumental ensemble led by Alphonso Johnson, Jazz Is Dead reinterprets Grateful Dead songs in a jazz style. To celebrate the upcoming 50th anniversary of Wake of the Flood (the Dead's sixth studio album) Jazz Is Dead will be performing that album in its entirety along with other Grateful Dead classics. Johnson will be joined by Pete Lavezzolli, Bobby Lee Rodgers, and Steve Kimock (who, along with Johnson, played in the post-Garcia Grateful Dead offshoot The Other Ones with Bob Weir). 7:30 p.m., $35-$45 via etix.com. Ashley Naftule

EDEN

Tuesday, January 17
The Van Buren, 401 West Van Buren
“I spent too many late nights just thinking a hole in the earth,” EDEN’s Jonathon Ng sings on “Drugs.” Like so much of his output, the song deftly intertwines beauty and bleakness. Currently performing under the name EDEN, Ng has worked on a few different projects in the past: EDEN is the latest iteration of his sound, pushing his electronic dance music style into a more pop-friendly direction. Not many musicians can boast of moonlighting as a model, but EDEN has walked runaways when he’s not writing and recording his own songs. A multi-instrumentalist, the Dublin-born artist was trained in classical violin from the age of 7. As The Eden Project, he released a series of EPs, singles, and remixes that integrated confessional songwriting with dubstep and drum ‘n’ bass sounds. On his more recent albums as EDEN (Vertigo, No Future, and last year’s ICYMI), he continues to work in the electronic realm but embraces more emotional and hook-driven songs. These are tunes that are primed for dance floors and late-night headphone listening; songs with the capacity to move you physically and emotionally. 8 p.m., $30-$130 via livenation.com. Ashley Naftule

Jagwar Twin

Tuesday, January 17
Valley Bar, 130 North Central Avenue
Jagwar Twin is the nom de plume of L.A. native Roy English. A singer, songwriter, and producer, English found success crafting music for artists like Teddy Riley and TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek, but his own music — a poppy take on modern rock accented with experimental flourishes of electronic noise and percussive loops — struggled to find its place in the pop firmament. With his latest album, the tuneful and sprawling 33, English may finally find his way to break through to greater fame. Before striking out on his own as Jagwar Twin, English played in bands like Dead Letter Diaries, Eye Alaska, and Canary Dynasty. His debut studio album, Subject to Flooding, didn't lack for star power — Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker lent his talents to the proceedings. The material on 33, though, sounds like the work of an artist who found his groove. In songs like "Online" and "It's Your Time" he combines inspirational storytelling with propulsive rhythms and even a bit of vocal scatting. For better or worse, English sounds like no one but himself. With Diva Bleach and Trubbleboy; 7 p.m., $9.33/$15 via seetickets.us. Ashley Naftule
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Bruce Hornsby knows how to bring the rock.
Keith Lanpher

Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers

Friday, January 20
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, 7380 East Second Street
Bruce Hornsby has had a storied career as a rock ‘n’ roll performer, songwriter, and side man. From his time with Bruce Hornsby and the Range (1984 to 1991) to a stint with the Grateful Dead (1988 to 1995), the 68-year-old musician has enjoyed one of the more successful careers of any of the late-80s Grammy winners for Best New Artist. His song "The Way It Is" achieved number-one status on the U.S. and Canadian charts and cemented Hornsby as one of the most widely recognized songwriters in the world, even if many fans would have walked right by him on the street without noticing him. The unassuming singer and keyboardist has continued to create great music, with an easy style and accessible sound, for the past 30-plus years. And there seems to be no end in sight. Hornsby has collaborated with Sting, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, and many others while continuing to write and record his own music. Later this month, Hornsby brings his current band, The Noisemakers, to Scottsdale. 8 p.m., $58-$85 via scottsdaleperformingarts.org. Tom Reardon
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Singer-songwriter Sarah Jarosz is coming to the Valley along with Shawn Colvin and Marc Cohn.
Josh Wool

Shawn Colvin, Marc Cohn, and Sarah Jarosz

Friday, January 20
Highlands Church, 9050 East Pinnacle Peak Road, Scottsdale
Singer-songwriters Shawn Colvin, Marc Cohn, and Sarah Jarosz are nothing if not esteemed. Between the three of them, they’ve collectively won eight Grammy Awards and sold millions of records. All three are firmly in the folk vein, tapping into the interconnected realms of bluegrass (Jarosz), alt-country (Cohn), and Americana (Colvin). Cohn is best known for writing the influential 1991 hit “Walking in Memphis,” but also has such notable tunes as "Silver Thunderbird," "True Companion," and "Walk Through the World." Colvin’s no slouch in the songwriting department, as 1998’s “Sunny Came Home” charted highly on the Billboard Hot 100 and won Grammys for both song of the year and album of the year. Jarosz has been acclaimed for her bluegrass-infused rootsy folk music and was described as “a songwriter of uncommon wisdom” by the Austin Chronicle. 7:30 p.m., $34-$76 via azmusicfest.com. Benjamin Leatherman

Yonder Mountain String Band

Saturday, January 21
Marquee Theatre, 730 North Mill Avenue, Tempe
Hailing from Colorado, the Yonder Mountain String Band is one of the nation’s preeminent jamgrass band. Imagine the traditional instrumentation of bluegrass crossed with the digressive, loose improvisations of jam band music and you’ve got a sense of the musical Frankenstein that is jamgrass. In the wrong hands, it’s a rampaging monster of corny vibes and never-ending banjo solos, but you can put your pitchforks and torches down when Yonder Mountain String Band take the stage. YMSB is a musical phoenix, rising from the ashes of Dave Johnston’s old band The Bluegrassholes (yes, you read that right). Fiddles, guitars, banjo, and mandolins come together to create a freewheeling sound anchored by the group’s collective vocals. They play a mix of originals and covers, which include an infectious take on King Harvest’s “Dancing in the Moonlight.” Their latest album, 2022's Get Yourself Outside, is Grammy nominated for Best Bluegrass Album. 8 p.m., $30-$60 via ticketweb.com. Ashley Naftule

Smokey Robinson

Saturday, January 21
Mesa Arts Center, 1 East Main Street
Music legends don’t get any bigger than Smokey Robinson. Widely viewed one of the greatest singer-songwriters ever (no less a source than Bob Dylan considers him to be “America's greatest living poet”), the silky-voiced Detroit native is a national treasure who was the creative force behind dozens of R&B, soul, and pop hits of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Robinson’s career took off in the late ‘50s as a member of The Miracles, resulting in such gems as “Shop Around,” “Who's Loving You,” and “The Tears of a Clown.” Working behind the scenes at Motown Records, he penned songs for The Temptation (“My Girl,” “Get Ready”) and such artists as Mary Wells (“My Guy”), the Four Tops (“Stillwater”), and Marvin Gaye (“Ain't That Peculiar”). Robinson is still going strong at age 82 and will bring his glorious pipes to the Ikeda Theater at Mesa Arts Center later this month. 8 p.m., $60-$175 via mesaartscenter.com. Benjamin Leatherman

Destroy Lonely

Saturday, January 21
The Van Buren, 401 West Van Buren Street
Shit-talking is  an art form. While Atlanta’s Bobby Wardell Sandimanie III (a.k.a. Destroy Lonely) has yet to paint his masterpiece, his brag game is strong on “NOSTYLIST.” “Diamonds flooded like a pool, yeah, my necklace wet as shit,” Destroy Lonely spits. Boasting that he’s more fly than a pigeon, the young rapper has good reason to be feeling himself: his profile has steadily climbed over the last few years, especially after getting signed to Playboi Carti’s Opium label. Already turning heads with his stylish appearance and the unique beats on his mixtape, Destroy Lonely looks like he’s about to blow up in 2023. Destroy Lonely’s debut studio album No Stylist is packed with strange instrumentals: beats that stutter and warp, as though they’re fucked up on the Xanax that inspired his name (Sandimanie embraced the Destroy Lonely moniker after battling through substance abuse and feelings of isolation). He rides the beat with serene confidence, dropping boasts and threats and comedic asides with the poise of someone who’s been doing this a lot longer than he is. Considering his growing popularity, loneliness is one thing he won’t have to worry about this year. 8 p.m., $37 via livenation.com. Ashley Naftule
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The punk rockers of Unwritten Law.
Cleopatra Records

Unwritten Law

Sunday, January 22
Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue
San Diego punk band Unwritten Law left their high-water mark on commercial music charts in the early 2000s with their LP singles "Seein' Red" and "Save Me," and while the band hasn't appeared in the mainstream limelight since then, a devout fan base has kept them alive and well. They’ve endured numerous lineup changes over the years – including losing members like Ace Von Johnson, Tony Palermo, John Bell, and Rob Brewer – but have kept on going with their current lineup of Scott Russo, Wade Youman, Jonny Grill, Scotty Mac, and Chris Lewis. Last year, Unwritten Law put out The Hum on Cleopatra Records, their first album in more than a decade and are touring in support of the release. With Zebrahead, Tyler Posey, and Tony Lovato; 7 p.m., $25/$30 via seetickets.us. Caleb Haley

Dry Cleaning

Monday, January 23
Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue
Dry Cleaning’s Florence Shaw is a sneaky vocalist. She doesn’t sing in the conventional sense: Shaw talks over the music, issuing spoken word narratives over the tense and dynamic soundscapes crafted by bandmates Tom Dowse, Lewis Maynard, and Nick Buxton. What makes her sneaky is how she lulls you in with her flat vocal affect only to wallop you with a devastating line or sudden shift into melodicism. Consider the heartbreaking “Gary Ashby” off last year’s Stumpwork. A song about a lost pet turtle, Shaw’s talk-singing conveys genuine loss and sadness in a way that normal singing wouldn’t. She sounds numb and restrained, trying to put on a brave face while mourning a beloved four-legged family member. On paper, Dry Cleaning can seem like a cold, intellectual exercise. “Spoken word over nervy post-punk” definitely sounds like an acquired taste, doesn’t it? But Dry Cleaning knows how to turn that formula into something thrilling. Only two albums into their career, they’ve found all sorts of ways to play with their style and confound expectations. They can even be anthemic: when Shaw cooly intones “Do everything and feel nothing” on New Long Leg’s “Scratchcard Lanyard,” it feels like both a rallying cry and a summation of the inertia of life during lockdown. With Nourished by Time; 8 p.m., $22/$25 via seetickets.us. Ashley Naftule

King Pari

Thursday, January 26
The Rebel Lounge, 2303 East Indian School Road
King Pari describe themselves as a “Rube Goldberg machine of chill-ass vibes.” You can hear the machine operating at peak efficiency on “Love Me Or Leave Me,” a stoned and sleek ballad buoyed by keen falsettos and dreamy atmospherics. A “stonersoul” band, King Pari make lo-fi R&B that sounds like it was recorded in a garage. Inspired by Prince and the Minneapolis Sound, Cameron Kinghorn and Joe Paris Christensen make billowy, psychedelic soul music with an appealing layer of grit and murkiness layered on top of it. Imagine if Robert Pollard from Guided By Voices was more interested in sounding like a five-dollar Morris Day than a dollar bin Roger Daltrey and you’ve got some idea of what to expect from King Pari. The Minneapolis duo’s origin story is as laidback as their music. Born from a jam texted by Christensen to Kinghorn, the two started working on building up loops on a tape machine, recording their gloomy-yet-groovy soul sound in Christensen’s bedroom. Art can thrive on constraints, and you can hear the creativity in King Pari’s music that’s born from their limited resources. The contrast between the expansiveness of their soul sound and their restrained, on-the-cheap productions is the friction that makes them so compelling. With Pleasure Cult and Palo Brea; 8 p.m., $15-$18 via seetickets.us. Ashley Naftule

Will Sheff and Okkervil River

Thursday, January 26
Valley Bar, 130 North Central Avenue
If you like your folk rock a bit more on the poetic and abrasive side, you’ve probably dipped your toes into the black waters of Okkervil River. Fronted by Austin’s Will Sheff, the group’s lineup has waxed and waned over the years while putting out a series of striking records that include The Stage Names and Black Sheep Boy. Okkervil River songs are jammed with allusions and poetic turns of phrases, as well as squalls of electric guitars and lilting passages of acoustic reveries. After nine albums, Sheff is bending the river in a different direction: he’s finally recording under his own name. On Nothing Special, Sheff works with a group of old and new collaborators (including musicians from Dawes and Death Cab For Cutie) to produce his rawest record to date. It makes a sharp departure from his past work as Okkervil River, signaling the start of a new phase in Sheff’s distinguished career. But don’t lose hope, Okkervil River fans: you’ll hear some old favorites along with Nothing Special cuts when Sheff takes the stage at Valley Bar at the end of January. With mmeadows; 8 p.m., $25-$28 via seetickets.us. Ashley Naftule

Lalah Hathaway

Saturday, January 28
Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 North Arizona Avenue
For Lalah Hathaway, soul is a family affair. The daughter of soul legend Donny Hathaway, the vocalist has carved out a distinguished career in her own right. The key to her success is her multiphonic singing style, which allows her to take advantage of overtones in her music and “split” her voice into several distinct notes singing at the same time. It lends a prismatic quality to her recordings: a single soulful voice arching out into a rainbow of melody and deeply rooted feeling. Born in 1968, Hathaway took her time studying music and developing her voice before recording her first album in 1990. In addition to writing her own songs she displayed a knack for covers, reinterpreting songs by Sly Stone and Luther Vandross. While soul is her first love, she's branched out into gospel and jazz as a well. Her love of jazz can be seen clearly in her live performances, where she'll often expand on her studio recordings with new, longer arrangements. 7:30 p.m., $48-$78 via ticketmaster.com. Ashley Naftule

Fitz and the Tantrums

Saturday, January 28
Talking Stick Resort, 9800 East Talking Stick Way, Scottsdale
Some songs were born to be cell phone jingles. "HandClap," the hit single off Fitz and the Tantrums' self-titled third album, has soundtracked more commercials than there are songs on that 2016 record. It’s not hard to hear why: full of hand-claps and sneaky sax hooks, it burrows its way into your eardrums. Fitz and the Tantrums have a knack for getting under people’s skin: their music is gaudy, insistent, and hard to shake off. Built around the core of Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs, the Los Angeles are an indie-pop band that draws heavy influences from classic Stax and Motown records (along with a bit of glam). One of the band’s most distinctive elements is their eschewal of rhythm and lead guitars. In the Fitz musical world, percussion, horns, and keyboards reign supreme. With five albums under their studded belts (2022's Let Yourself Free being the latest one), the soulful Tantrums show no signs of slowing down. 8 p.m., $30-$125 via ticketmaster.com. Ashley Naftule
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R&B/soul singer Ari Lennox.
Beth Saravo

Ari Lennox

Saturday, January 28
The Van Buren, 401 West Van Buren Street
At first listen, Ari Lennox’s “Pressure” sounds like it could have come from the heyday of late 90’s R&B when diva giants like Mary J. Blige and Aaliyah dominated the charts. The attitude is sassy, the production is pillow-soft, and Lennox’s voice is hypnotic and assured. Listen to it again and the raunchiness of its lyrics situates the song in the 2020s. “Too fucking for all these clothes anyway,” Lennox sings, buoyed by backup singers that would sing just at home backing up Diana Ross. “Pressure” isn’t just a banger of a single; it’s a compression, a distillation of fifty-plus years of female-fronted R&B music. Hailing from Washington, D.C., Lennox was the first female artist signed to J. Cole’s Dreamville records. An uncredited cameo on Cole’s “Change” put Lennox on the map, but it was her head-turning work on her debut album Shea Butter Baby that defined her territory. Pulling from influences as diverse as classic Motown, neo-soul legends like Erykah Badu, and 90's pop (there's quite a bit of Whitney Houston in her artistic DNA), Lennox still manages to sound uniquely herself. On 2022’s Age/Sex/Location, she pushes her fusion of modern and classic sounds forward with even more ribald and bold lyrics. 8 p.m., $175 via livenation.com. Ashley Naftule

The 502s

Tuesday, January 31
Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue
Full of bright horn licks, energetic banjo strumming, and Ed Isola’s earnest vocals, “Just A Little While” epitomizes The 502s vibe. This is upbeat indie-folk — Americana for a day at the beach or a walk in the park with your sweetie. Since 2016, The 502’s have been refining this folk-pop sound, placing themselves on a continuum with acts like Mumford and Sons, The Avett Brothers, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. They’ve got the booming stomps and gang vocals you come to expect from modern folk rock, but with a sugary melodicism that sets them apart. Isola got his start writing songs in college with a borrowed banjo before recruiting his cousins back home to start a band. The newly formed 502’s quickly made a name for themselves by winning music contests, playing folk music festivals, and getting their song “Olivia” on NPR. The band’s sound has grown over time, incorporating more horns and pianos into their sound. The sound might be old-timey but their laidback attitude and good-times mentality makes them spiritual cousins of bands like Sublime. They’re a group that folk aficionados, jam band lovers, and college stoners can all agree on. With Oliver Hazard; 8 p.m., $20-$69 via seetickets.us. Ashley Naftule
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Glenn BurnSilver
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When Caleb isn't writing about music for New Times, he turns to cheesy horror movies and Jim Beam to pass the time.
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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.
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