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Lil Wayne, Death Grips and the best concerts in Phoenix this week

Lil Wayne is scheduled to perform on Tuesday, May 9, at The Van Buren.
Lil Wayne is scheduled to perform on Tuesday, May 9, at The Van Buren. Ramona Rosales
One of the greatest rappers in the game, Lil Wayne, returns to the Valley this week for a sold-out gig at The Van Buren that will offer an epic retrospective of his hit-filled career. It’s not the only notable concert happening in town over the next few nights, as indie/alternative favorites like The Faint, Cursive, Placebo, and Pixies are all set to perform at metro Phoenix venues this week.

Read on for more details about their respective shows or check out Phoenix New Times’ concert listings for even more live music this week.
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Tim Kasher (center-left) and the other members of Cursive.
Chromatic PR


Monday, May 8
Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue
James Brown may have been the hardest-working man in show business, but Tim Kasher certainly deserves some consideration for that honor in the emo/post-hardcore business. As the frontman for Cursive and The Good Life, Kasher has released a steady stream of albums over the last 20 years. Initially formed in Omaha in 1995, Cursive put themselves on the underground's map with 2000's Domestica. A concept record about a disintegrating marriage, it established the hallmarks of Cursive's style: Kasher's strained yet impassioned vocals, excoriating lyrics, and their frenzied bursts of razor-sharp guitar work. The nine-song release is considered to be Cursive’s breakthrough album and is being performed in its entirety during the band’s current tour in honor of its 20th anniversary, which was delayed a few years because of the pandemic. With Neva Dinova; 8 p.m., tickets are available on the secondary market. Ashley Naftule
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David Lovering, Black Francis, Paz Lenchantin, and Joey Santiago (left to right) are the Pixies.
Tom Oxley


Monday, May 8
The Van Buren, 401 West Van Buren Street
When it comes to the Pixies’ 21st-century second act, that famous line from Pet Sematary comes to mind: “Sometimes dead is better.” When the group originally broke up in 1992, they left behind a perfect discography. From the scrappy yelping of Come On Pilgrim through the spacey, nervy explorations of Trompe le Monde, Frank Black, Kim Deal, and the boys developed a blueprint that countless bands (including Nirvana) shamelessly built their careers on. They left the field after playing a series of perfect games — and then they came back. Here’s the blunt truth: none of the post-reunion albums hold a candle to their early stuff. One senses the band themselves probably know this, considering their setlists are almost entirely geared around their classic material. As a live band, the reunited Pixies are a coin flip: sometimes they possess the inspired ferocity of their youth, tearing through Surfer Rosa and Bossanova deep cuts with bloody enthusiasm. Other times (like their Doolittle anniversary tour) they look and sound like they’re going through the motions. But is it worth taking that gamble for the chance to hear them deliver on immortal classics like “Debaser” and “Where Is My Mind?” One hundred percent. When the Pixies are on, no band alive can touch them. With Slow Pulp; 8 p.m., tickets are available on the secondary market. Ashley Naftule

Lil Wayne

Tuesday, May 9
The Van Buren, 401 West Van Buren Street
Lil Wayne has a bit of a dodgy history with Arizona. Back in 2008, the rap star (born Dwayne Michael Carter Jr.) was busted by the U.S. Border Patrol at a checkpoint 78 miles east of Yuma after marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine, and a .40-caliber handgun were discovered on his tour bus. The experience, which earned Lil Wayne 36 months of probation, didn’t sour the hip-hop icon on our state, as he’s returned to the Valley multiple times to put on memorable shows. Weezy’s latest visit comes this week when he brings his Welcome to Tha Carter tour to downtown Phoenix. Widely considered to be one of the greatest rappers in the game (according to no less a source than a list published by Billboard and VIBE earlier this year), the tour sees Lil Wayne perform a 39-song retrospective of his 28-year career, including multiple hits from Tha Carter album series and one-off singles from his lesser-known albums and mixtapes. Weezy might be a bit late hitting the stage (as he’s notorious wont to do), but he’ll make up for it with an epic performance. 8 p.m., tickets are available on the secondary market. Benjamin Leatherman


Tuesday, May 9
Nile Theater, 105 West Main Street, Mesa
A death metal band inspired by goblins? That’s the M.O. of Nekrogoblikon, the L.A.-based sextet that’s been serving up melodic and symphonic power metal songs about the goblin apocalypse since 2006. On albums like 2007’s Goblin Flesh, 2011’s Stench, and last year’s The Fundamental Slimes and Humours, they’ve warned mankind (sometimes in tongue-in-cheek fashion) of how its decadence will result in a mass culling by intergalactic goblins with a taste for human flesh. As freakish as it sounds, Such supernatural subject matter is par for the course in a genre where vampires, pirates, Vikings, and even Satan himself are frequently a source of inspiration. Beyond their fantastical shtick (which includes a costumed mascot named John Goblikon), the members of Nekrogoblikon perform technically proficient metal that will delight the ears of even the most discerning heshers. With Hunt the Dinosaur, Aether Realm, and Inferi; 6 p.m., $20 via Benjamin Leatherman

Crowded House

Wednesday, May 10
Mesa Arts Center, 1 East Main Street, Mesa
If Australian rock has an elder statesman, Neil Finn is best suited for the job. Not as wild as Nick Cave nor as arch and obscure as The Go-Betweens’ Robert Forster, Finn is nevertheless one of the continent’s most prolific and skilled songsmiths. From his early work as part of New Zealand’s Split Enz to fronting Crowded House, Finn’s facility for sticky pop hooks and witty lyrics is almost without peer. For anyone whose familiarity with Finn’s work begins and ends with inescapable ’80s hits like “Don’t Dream It’s Over” and “Something So Strong,” they’re missing out: there’s a lot of gold in those Crowded House hills. While Finn remains the band’s center, Crowded House are in many respects a family affair. His brother Tim was a key collaborator for much of the band’s life, and Neil’s sons Liam and Ellroy would also become members. Despite lineup changes and a few breakups and reformations, the band's core sound remains intact: a smooth blend of jangling guitar pop, new wave lushness, Irish folk, indigenous Maori music, and Finn's yearning, expressive voice. 7:30 p.m., $50-$128 via Ashley Naftule

The Black Dahlia Murder

Wednesday, May 10
The Underground, 105 West Main Street, Mesa
The five musicians of melodic death metal band Black Dahlia Murder have been performing for more than two decades straight, collecting a legion of fans who attest to the band's incredible live shows while surviving various lineup changes (including the tragic death of original vocalist Trevor Strnad last year). Formed in 2001, the band grabbed the metal world's attention with their stunning demo, What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse, releasing a four-track EP, A Cold-Blooded Epitaph, a year later and their debut album, Unhallowed in 2003. Eight full-length albums have followed — including 2020’s Verminous — each released on influential label Metal Blade Records and filled with unnervingly powerful death metal anthems. With Terror, Frozen Soul, Fuming Mouth, and Phobophilic; 6 p.m., $25 via Lauren Wise
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Stefan Olsdal (left) and Brian Molko (right) of Placebo.
Mads Perch


Wednesday, May 10
Marquee Theatre, 730 North Mill Avenue, Tempe
Placebo's best-known song in the U.S. is the 1998 single "Pure Morning," and the iconic opening line "A friend in need's a friend indeed/A friend with weed is better." However, Placebo's significance extends far beyond this particular late-’90s single. Cited as a major influence by emo icons My Chemical Romance and Panic! at the Disco, Placebo maintained a rabid cult following in the States due in large part to the lyrical themes of depression, isolation, and addiction. A collaboration between Brian Molko and Stefan Olsdal since its inception in 1994, Placebo released its eighth studio album and first album in nearly a decade, Never Let Me Go, last year to positive reviews and have since been on a massive world tour. With Poppy Jean Crawford, 8 p.m., $37-$57 via Benjamin Leatherman

Death Grips

Thursday, May 11
The Van Buren, 401 West Van Buren Street
Here's the thing about Death Grips: The experimental hip-hop/noise rock act don't need an elaborate stage show, or any KISS-style bells and whistles. Live, Death Grips — which consists of rapper-vocalist MC Ride, drummer, and producer Zach Hill, and keyboardist/programmer Andy Morin — are a force to be reckoned with, due to the intensity of their playing. And it's an intensity that's matched a hundred-fold by the audience. The incessant harsh rhythms of their music transform crowds into a wave-pool of pressed flesh and flailing arms and sweat. A Sargasso Sea of limbs wrapped up in each other, heads rebounding off shoulder blades, and legs tangled up in trips and lunges. Experience it yourself when Death Grips invade The Van Buren on Thursday night. They’re not touring behind anything new (as their most recent album is 2018’s Year of the Snitch), but the show will be memorable enough that you likely won’t care. 8 p.m., tickets are available on the secondary market. Ashley Naftule
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The members of indie rock band The Faint.

The Faint

Thursday, May 11
Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue
In the early 2000s, Omaha was a hotbed for indie rock. The hometown of Saddle Creek Records hosted emo heavyweights like Bright Eyes and Cursive along with cult groups like tapping-dance indie-pop sensation Tilly and the Wall. The synth-noodling dirtbags in The Faint were an outlier in both the local and national scene: they were going HAM on the ’80s revival beat before other bands made “going electronic” their big pivot. To The Faint’s credit, few bands have done as good a job at making something jagged and unique out of ’80s nostalgia as The Faint’s Danse Macabre. While The Faint have several strong albums to their name (including 2004's Wet from Birth and 1999's Blank-Wave Arcade), it's on 2001's Danse Macabre that Todd Fink and company came into their full glory. A demented slab of New Wave poisoned by too much PBR and nose candy, it’s the rare record that sounds both retro and futuristic: their sleazy, squealing keyboards are timeless. Every decade will produce its own brand of messy-haired, horny cokeheads, and they will dance to "Your Retro Career Melted" as awkwardly as we do now. With Secret Attraction; 8 p.m., $25-$38 via Ashley Naftule
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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
Lauren Wise has worked as a rock/heavy metal journalist for 15 years. She contributes to Noisey and LA Weekly, edits books, and drinks whiskey.
Contact: Lauren Wise

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