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

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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.