The 12 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week

Daymé Arocena is scheduled to perform on Thursday, April 19, at the Musical Instrument Museum.
Daymé Arocena is scheduled to perform on Thursday, April 19, at the Musical Instrument Museum. Courtesy of Montuno
David Byrne fans of the Valley, this is the week that y'all have been waiting for quite patiently. The Talking Heads co-founder's long-awaited show is on Thursday night at Mesa Arts Center, and he'll likely burn down the house (metaphorically speaking, of course).

It's not the only highly anticipated concert in the Valley this week, however. Cuban-born vocalist Daymé Arocena, post-punk act The Soft Moon, and indie-rock band The War on Drugs are all scheduled to perform at local venues in the coming days.

Other notable shows happening this week include gigs by Dale Watson, Twiztid, Bebel Gilberto, Dustbowl Revival, Hot Club of Cowtown, and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.

In other words, it's going to be a great week for concerts in the Valley.

Details about each of these show can be found in our rundown of the best concerts in the Valley this week. And for even more music events happening around town, check out Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar.

click to enlarge Luis Vasquez of The Soft Moon. - DENNIS SHOENBERG
Luis Vasquez of The Soft Moon.
Dennis Shoenberg
The Soft Moon
Tuesday, April 17
Valley Bar

Catholic guilt is a powerful thing. Look no further than the Soft Moon’s latest album to see the power of shame and self-recrimination. Band founder Luis Vasquez revealed in interviews that he called his latest record Criminal because of his own feelings of guilt that were inspired by growing up in a Catholic environment. Listening to the harsh, deeply personal lyrics of songs like “Choke” and “Like a Father,” it sounds like Vasquez is using his music the way medieval flagellants used whips and flails: to scourge himself for his sins.

This turn to the personal marks an interesting evolution for Vasquez’s work. Starting off as a lo-fi, gothic instrumental band, the Soft Moon’s post-punk sonic palette has expanded with each new release. But on Criminal, Vasquez goes beyond the emotionally reserved insularity of his past records, injecting his vocals with some real bite and bile. He’s embraced his inner Trent Reznor, giving Criminal an industrial kick that makes it a delightfully uneasy listen.

“I am the stranger living in my skin,” Vasquez croons on the album’s opening track. If Vasquez is guilty of anything, it’s identity theft. On Criminal he’s become a whole new person, and this stranger is out for blood. Ashley Naftule

Dale Watson
Photo by Leann Mueller
Dale Watson
Tuesday, April 17
Rhythm Room

Dale Watson is about as country music as it gets. Dapper in classic western attire, complete with Stetson, big belt buckle, and boots, his shock-white pompadour and rich, deep tenor lend an air of authenticity. There’s a reason he’s often referred to as the “real deal.”

Yet, despite the obvious associations, Watson says he is not a country artist. He's separated 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.

“Ameripolitan is a new genre that had to come about because the music we make doesn’t have a home in country music,” Watson says. “They put us in the same category as novelty music or something like that. They think it’s retro.”

Retro, perhaps, yet no matter what he calls it, there is no denying the appeal of his music. There is 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 a man living on the road, going to real places with real people and real situations. Glenn BurnSilver

click to enlarge The Hot Club of Cowtown swings into the MIM on Wednesday. - COURTESY OF THE KURLAND AGENCY
The Hot Club of Cowtown swings into the MIM on Wednesday.
Courtesy of The Kurland Agency
Bebel Gilberto
Tuesday, April 17
Crescent Ballroom

Bebel Gilberto is considered by many to be at the forefront of modern Brazilian music. Though she was actually born in New York City, she was born into all-star lineage, her mother being Brazilian singer Miucha and her father Joao Gilberto, considered by many to be the "Father of Bossa Nova." But the influence of NYC is very much alive in her music too, as is that of Europe, and basically every other far-flung place Gilberto has ventured throughout her life.

Hers is a varied and eclectic blend of traditional bossa with modern sounds like pop, dance and electronica, and all of it melds together over the constant underlying currents of romance and sensuality. Sounds good, right? Well, it is. Unfortunately, you won't get to see that for yourself live, which you can do on Tuesday at the Crescent Ballroom. Christopher Lopez

click to enlarge Twiztid's Jamie Madrox and Monoxide Child. - COURTESY OF ADRENALINE PR
Twiztid's Jamie Madrox and Monoxide Child.
Courtesy of Adrenaline PR
Tuesday, April 17
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

As the first major artists from Psychopathic Records who weren’t Insane Clown Posse, the Detroit rappers in Twiztid were collectively known as ICP’s “baby brother band” from 1997 to 2012. They wore the makeup, threw all of the Juggalo hand gestures, and said things like “whoop whoop” and “fam” — even stating in 2010 that they were happy to be “the best number two in the business.”

Things have changed a little since then: In 2012, Twiztid split from Psychopathic and went its own way — sort of. The band may be on its own Majik Ninja Entertainment label now, but it’s still part of the old crowd, performing at events like the Gathering of the Juggalos and JCW Wrestling.

Still, it can only be healthy for Twiztid’s members to get out and spread their wings. The group plays the Marquee Theatre in Tempe on Tuesday night and the show is likely to be wild, sweaty, goofy fun. It's also going to be loaded up with openers as Blaze Ya Dead Homie, Gorilla Voltage, Poizonous Logik, Diva Deville, and Tr3ypound Mag are all scheduled to perform prior to Twiztid's headlining set. Brett Callwood

The multitude of musicians making up the Dustbowl Revival. - COURTESY OF TALLEY MEDIA
The multitude of musicians making up the Dustbowl Revival.
Courtesy of Talley Media
Dustbowl Revival
Tuesday, April 17
Musical Instrument Museum

"My tastes have always been a little schizophrenic," says Zach Lupetin of the Dustbowl Revival. "I love traditional blues, swing, and New Orleans jazz band stuff, but I'm also a huge Wilco and Nirvana fan. I like to say that we appeal to free-spirited nerds who can reference 10 different genres in a short period of time."

While Lupetin's musical leanings are many, his career focus is singular. Last year marked a decade for the group that he started with the help of a quirky Craigslist ad. "I moved out to L.A. from Chicago about 10 years back," Lupetin says. "I put up a kind of tongue-in-cheek posting that turned into a meetup of a bunch of like-minded folk and jazz musicians who helped me expand some of the stuff I was writing, and it became a full-time eight-piece about six years ago.”

After assembling a large aggregation of players and cultivating the eclectic cabal, the ensemble released their first album, The Atomic Mushroom Cloud of Love, in 2008. The band, which now plays as many as 200 shows per year, followed their debut with You Can’t Go Back to the Garden of Eden in 2010. In 2011, the act, now known simply as the Dustbowl Revival, put out an EP, Holy Ghost Station, and then their Carry Me Home CD in 2013. The outfit found a bigger audience in 2015 when the video for “Never Had to Go,” from With a Lampshade On, starred band fan Dick Van Dyke and became an internet sensation. Nick Hutchinson

click to enlarge The War on Drugs comes to Phoenix in April. - COURTESY OF ATLANTIC RECORDS
The War on Drugs comes to Phoenix in April.
Courtesy of Atlantic Records
The War on Drugs
Wednesday, April 18
The Van Buren

The War On Drugs mastermind Adam Granduciel seems uprooted from a more careful and considerate age, but his sprawling, texture-rich songs have resonated with modern audiences like few other rock acts in recent memory. Already famous for the painstaking process he uses to construct both songs and albums, lyrically Granduciel turns that same exacting gaze onto human relationships in a manner that has already earned him all the comparisons to Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen any songwriter needs in one lifetime.

Though it would be wrong to call any War On Drugs song “typical,” they generally bloom from the ground up and float off in unpredictable but exhilarating directions. As polished as Granduciel’s work feels — breakout 2014 single “Red Eyes” is a fine example, or “Holding On” from last month’s A Deeper Understanding — it’s beyond rare to encounter an artist whose music feels this transcendent and down-to-Earth all at once. Believe the hype. Chris Gray

Wishbone Ash in concert in 2015. - CARLOS DELGADO/CC-BY-SA 4.0/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Wishbone Ash in concert in 2015.
Wishbone Ash
Wednesday, April 18
Rhythm Room

More influential than most of today's hard-rock fans realize, Wishbone Ash falls in along with UFO, Status Quo and Humble Pie as groups that have been all but forgotten except by those who remember them all too well. Founded in 1969, the UK band featured a relentless dual-lead-guitar attack that soon filtered down to such '70s greats as Lynyrd Skynyrd and Thin Lizzy, and through them just about any multi-guitar band fond of bone-crunching riffs and lightning-fingered solos.

Like many of their era, Wishbone Ash – newcomers should start off with their 1970 masterpiece Argus – dabbled in prog-rock and full-tilt boogie; unlike them, they kept right on going. Now steered by co-founding guitarist Andy Powell, in recent years Wishbone Ash have released critically lauded albums like 2011's Elegant Stealth and 2014's Blue Horizon. Chris Gray

click to enlarge The Hot Club of Cowtown swings into the MIM on Wednesday. - COURTESY OF THE KURLAND AGENCY
The Hot Club of Cowtown swings into the MIM on Wednesday.
Courtesy of The Kurland Agency
Hot Club of Cowtown
Wednesday, April 18
Musical Instrument Museum

Milton Brown and His Musical Brownies and Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys combined the au courant hot jazz with the fiddle music of their Southwestern upbringings and invented western swing in the early 20th century. Similar influences and instincts led to something called rock 'n' roll a couple of decades later, yet western swing remains a classic American dance genre that never sounds dated.

Asleep at the Wheel revived it 40 years ago (and are still swinging full-speed ahead) and the Hot Club of Cowtown are damn fine 21st-century practitioners. Fiddler and smooth singer Elana James and Django-esque guitarist Whit Smith met through a 1996 Village Voice ad seeking compatible pickers and realized their blend was a match – the kind that starts a fire. Add one upright bassist (currently Jake Erwin) and they had themselves a combustible trio that nailed Bob Wills' tunes ("Ida Red"), Hoagy Carmichael ("Stardust") and original compositions. Michael Simmons

click to enlarge David Byrne will be burning down the house in Mesa this week. - JODY ROGAC
David Byrne will be burning down the house in Mesa this week.
Jody Rogac
David Byrne
Thursday, April 19
Mesa Arts Center

“The skin is just a roadmap,” David Byrne sings on “Everybody’s Coming To My House," the first single off his new album, American Utopia. One can only imagine the long and winding roads marked on Byrne’s body. From serving as Talking Heads' frontman to becoming an author, filmmaker, label head, solo artist, speaker, and arts advocate, Byrne’s been to places few of us can dream of.

And he’s on the road yet again. Byrne is currently on tour to promote American Utopia, which came out last month, and is scheduled to visit Mesa Arts Center's Ikeda Theater on Thursday, April 19, along with his 12-piece band.

Fans of Byrne’s Big Suit days can rejoice: In addition to performing new material, Byrne says he’ll play classics from his solo career and from his days with the Talking Heads. Byrne describes the choreographed concert as “the most ambitious show I’ve done since the shows that were filmed for Stop Making Sense." Considering that's one of the greatest concert films ever made, we can only imagine how ambitious and innovative Byrne’s new stage show will be. Ashley Naftule

click to enlarge Cuban-born artist Daymé Arocena. - COURTESY OF THE MUSICAL INSTRUMENT MUSEUM
Cuban-born artist Daymé Arocena.
Courtesy of the Musical Instrument Museum
Daymé Arocena
Thursday, April 19
Musical Instrument Museum

The story of the Cuban people is one of many trials, but it is just as much a song of triumph, and damned if it doesn’t have a killer beat. It is a culture that must be recognized and celebrated, and when Daymé Arocena opens her mouth to sing, her rich, rooted vocals do just that.

The 26-year-old artist perfectly represents the Cuban culture’s sumptuous blend of cultures and styles. She mixes a bit of Afro-Cuban with neo-soul and modern jazz for an arresting style that uplifts and enlightens as it sets crowds to dance.

Her sound has been recognized by critics across languages, including nabbing a place on NPR Music’s 50 Favorite Albums list back in 2015. And now she’ll take the stage at the Musical Instrument Museum's music theater on Thursday night. Kat Bein

Highly Suspect
Thursday, April 19
The Van Buren

In 2009, Highly Suspect was a Cape Cod bar band playing cover songs by legends like Sublime, Jimi Hendrix, and Pink Floyd. Six years, four albums/EPs, and two Grammy nominations later, the band clearly didn’t just change their musical concept. In fact, Highly Suspect has helped redefine a lot in the industry.

It’s 2018, and their sound mixes atmospheric interludes with charging, sludgy riffs, coated heavily with that trendy bluesy fuzziness. It’s angsty desperation meets lightheartedness, New York versus Los Angeles, taut with sexual energy. Lead vocalist Johnny Stevens embodies that let-it-all-go, gritty, Jim Morrison-esque eccentric energy. And somehow, it’s authentic — not a shred of hipster to be found.

They don't want to be in a music video. They want to dilate your pupils with music. And if they can't do that in person from the stage, they want to make movies for you. Just check out the Wild West Tarantino-esque story in "Bloodfeather" or the controversial video for "Lydia." Lauren Wise

click to enlarge Bone Thugs-N-Harmony return to the Valley this weekend. - COURTESY OF LUCKY MAN
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony return to the Valley this weekend.
Courtesy of Lucky Man
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
Thursday, April 19
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Ohio rappers Bone Thugs-N-Harmony are a fractured bunch. Since the mid-’90s, when N.W.A.’s Eazy-E first co-signed their melodic, rapid Midwest sound, the collective have shed and readded members with a dizzying frequency. Although it can be hard to keep track of which Bones — including Krayzie, Wish, Flesh-N, Layzie, and Bizzy — constitute Bone Thugs-N-Harmony at any given point, what’s remained consistent is the crew’s sonic density. Established on early hits like “Thuggish Ruggish Bone” and “The Crossroads,” Bone Thugs’ signature sound has carried the group through numerous reunions and reconstitutions.

While 2013’s The Art of War: World War III, found the group incorporating new stylistic elements, its original members Bizzy and Krayzie’s 2017 record New Wave, released under the stripped-down Bone Thugs moniker, is the one that hints toward future glories. Featuring collaborations with Stephen Marley, Bun B., Yelawolf, and Jonathan Davis of Korn, it finds the duo exploring Auto-Tuned reggae on “Coming Home” and summer-jam funk on “Fantasy.” It’s not likely to achieve the chart heights of the group’s classic material but should add a few followers to the band’s fervent cult-fan base. Jason P. Woodbury
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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
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
Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.