L.A. Witch is scheduled to perform on Monday, April 23, at Yucca Tap Room in Tempe.EXPAND
L.A. Witch is scheduled to perform on Monday, April 23, at Yucca Tap Room in Tempe.
Courtesy of Space Agency

The 12 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week

Want to see a show? You couldn't have picked a better week, considering the sheer number of concerts happening around the Valley in the coming days.

There are a dozen gigs worth checking out at Valley music venues this week, ranging from intimate gigs at rock bars to raucous blowouts at enormous concert halls.

It's also a diverse mix that includes living legends (Judas Priest, Front 242), old favorites (Less Than Jake, Smoking Popes) and plenty of new talents (L.A. Witch, Lana Del Rabies).

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.

The 12 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week
Arden Wray

Monday, April 23
Crescent Ballroom

Indie pop band Alvvays know how to keep it tight, and definitely have a “less is more” approach to music-making and album construction. They dropped their second studio album, Antisocialites, last September. It clocks in at a lean, mean 32 minutes. “In Undertow,” the album’s lead single, was inescapable on indie radio stations in fall and late summer 2017.

That song serves as a small synecdoche for Antisocialites and Alvvays as a whole: a track with sunny, cheery production that reveals a more somber, sadder truth. Lead singer Molly Rankin delivers the hook, “There’s no turning back after what was said.” The opening track speaks of the regretful acceptance at the end of relationship over beachy guitar riffs.

Not all of the sad tracks are disguised; some are downtrodden through and through. The final track, “Forget About Life” opens with the lyrics, “I thought of going in the lake and swallowing / Thought that I had unplugged the phone until it rang.” Interestingly, this song with the darkest lyrics confronts an idea of temporary dissociation as a coping mechanism. In its final minute, Antisocialites completely flips the switch, performing a coming-together song that sounds like a breakup. Tanner Stechnij

Sade Sanchez, Ellie English, and Irita Pai of L.A. Witch.
Sade Sanchez, Ellie English, and Irita Pai of L.A. Witch.
Brandy Bell

L.A. Witch
Monday, April 23
Yucca Tap Room in Tempe

L.A. Witch conjure a strangely enchanting sound that draws from punk and garage rock, but it’s also infused with tons of reverb-laden atmosphere that imbues the trio’s songs with a ghostly, mysterious, and unsettling sense of dread.

“Baby in Blue Jeans,” from L.A. Witch’s self-titled 2017 debut album, is a seemingly straightforward love song that becomes an almost funereal incantation as singer-guitarist Sade Sanchez coos solemnly over Ellie English’s echoing drums. Bassist Irita Pai propels “Untitled” with a rootsy Gun Club vibe, and “Drive Your Car” is another surging blast of white-line fever. “Kill My Baby Tonight” is slower and more momentous, as Sanchez lulls a sleeping lover with coolly morbid vocals against a rusty framework of Dum Dum Girls/Jesus and Mary Chain-style chords. Falling James

John Nemeth (second from left) with the members of his backing band.EXPAND
John Nemeth (second from left) with the members of his backing band.
Lisa Mac

John Nemeth
Wednesday, April 25
Rhythm Room

Two acts come to mind when John Nemeth's music hits the speakers: Slim Harpo and the Fabulous Thunderbirds. Nemeth manages to hit that nice sweet spot between Harpo's snaky south Louisiana boogie and the classic Junior Wells big-city Chicago blues, a sweet spot the T-Birds knew so well.

It's no accident, then, that he's garnered nominations for both Male Vocalist and Blues Album of the Year from Blues Blast Music Awards. Nemeth may not be a familiar name to most blues fans, but the man has paid his dues.

He worked with Anson Funderburgh filling in for Sam Myers after Myers was diagnosed with throat cancer, and got called on as a vocalist and harmonica player by Elvin Bishop on last year's Grammy-nominated The Blues Rolls On. It's just this sort of journeyman work that has molded Nemeth into one of the more notable acts on the American blues scene. This one will be hot and sweaty, just like it should be. William Michael Smith

Judas Priest
Tuesday, April 24
Comerica Theatre

After nearly a half-century of blasting out heavy metal tunes, some of the lyrics in Judas Priest’s catalog aren’t as accurate as they once were. For instance, in the band’s early ’80s hit “Living After Midnight,” they boasted about “rockin’ to the dawn.” And whether or not anyone in the band is still a “Turbo Lover,” we probably don’t need to examine.

No matter. Even if these days they’re only playing shows that have you home before midnight, this seminal band from England still keeps heads banging and hands waving in the air, fingers dutifully locked in the heavy metal horns sign. Those tracks and other fan favorites like “The Ripper” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” exemplify their thick, aggressive, guitar-driven sound.

Singer Rob Halford won’t have to travel far for this local show, as he’s been a Phoenix resident for many years now. He wasn’t the band’s original vocalist, but he came into the picture in the early ’70s, not long after they formed in 1969. His vocal range, from low and growly to ear-shattering falsetto, has been instrumental in defining the group’s sound. An early pioneer of heavy metal fashion, his studded leathery outfits gave tons of ’80s glam rockers a whole lot of apparel ideas. Amy Young

Catch Futurebirds on Tuesday at Valley Bar.
Catch Futurebirds on Tuesday at Valley Bar.
David McClister

Tuesday, April 24
Valley Bar

Futurebirds haven’t put out a new record in a couple of years, but that’s no reason to miss these guys in 2018. Coming from Georgia, this group does the folk, country, and rock blend that appeals to fans of the softer side of Beck, early My Morning Jacket, and the entire catalog of the Flying Burrito Brothers.

They do have some newer material to play, including songs from their two-part Portico EP series, including the single “Only Here for Your Love.” There is definitely an easy vibe to their songs, but you won’t need to bring a sleeping bag and pajamas to this show. Eric Grubbs

The members of Jukebox the Ghost.EXPAND
The members of Jukebox the Ghost.
Eric Ryan Anderson

Jukebox the Ghost
Tuesday, April 24
Crescent Ballroom

Jukebox the Ghost's breakthrough debut, Let Live and Let Ghosts, led the group on a two-year touring binge, topped by an opening slot for like-minded ivory tickler Ben Folds. Rather than make a tired sophomore record centered around their status as exhausted road warriors, the piano-guitar-drum trio lightened up their oft-dramatic tracks for Everything Under the Sun. The aptly titled collection of optimistic piano jingles plays like secular Sunday-school party jams.

They've put out three more albums since then (including the recently released Off to the Races) and will visit the Valley this week for a gig at Crescent Ballroom. Tom Murphy

Less Than Jake is headed to Scottsdale with Face to Face in tow.
Less Than Jake is headed to Scottsdale with Face to Face in tow.
Nicole Kibert

Less Than Jake & Face to Face
Tuesday, April 24
BLK Live in Scottsdale

Less Than Jake built a strong reputation over the past 25 years with constant touring and having piles of EPs and 7-inches in their catalog. Their mix of ska rhythms and pop-punk attitude helped the band stand out from numerous other acts riding ska-punk's mid-to-late-'90s wave of popularity. The vocals of LTJ's guitarist Chris DeMakes and bassist Roger Lima were not afraid to be user-friendly, singing lyrics that drummer Vinnie Fiorello wrote. They even covered a handful of songs from Grease for an EP. And fans ate it up.

When the ska-punk craze hit, Less Than Jake benefited greatly, inking a deal with Capitol Records. The albums they cut for the major, Losing Streak and Hello Rockview, were well-received. Like most trends, ska fell out of fashion and then became a joke. But Less Than Jake didn’t quit. The longest they’ve been between shows is six months.

Less Than Jake's current tour, which hits BLK Live in Scottsdale this week, sees them teaming up with punk legends Face to Face, and Fiorello is happy they're along for the ride. Face to Face is a pop-punk survivor that has survived many rough patches, making inspiring music for decades that speaks to teenagers and adults. “It’s good to tour with a band we’ve never toured with 26 years in,” Fiorello says. Eric Grubbs

Sam An, better known as Lana Del Rabies.
Sam An, better known as Lana Del Rabies.
Tyler Griffin

Lana Del Rabies
Wednesday, April 25
The Lunchbox

If there’s a better stage name in Arizona than Lana Del Rabies, we haven’t heard it yet. Not only is it a clever pseudonym, it also sums up the feverish, toxic quality of the artist’s music. On albums like In the End I Am A Beast and Shadow World, Lana Del Rabies sounds like what might happen if Lana Del Rey succumbed to some brain-eating sickness. Her music shivers and growls with a feral, carnivorous energy.

In a recent profile in The Wire, Lana Del Rabies’ Sam An admits that the name also comes from her early practice of turning Lana Del Rey songs into drone music. Del Rey isn’t the only artist An has worked her dark magic on. She’s also taken Leadbelly’s “In The Pines” (a.k.a. Nirvana’s “Where did you sleep last night?” song) and turned it into an unsettling pile-up of vocal overdubs.

On Shadow World, her latest album, An has crafted some of the most beguiling music of her career. Intense and rhythmic, this new music straddles the line between industrial and noise music. You can actually dance to some of it and hum along. It’s only fitting that her music is getting catchy: Rabies is infectious, after all. Ashley Naftule

Gregg Ziemba (left), Kyle Gray (center), and Alex Raymond of Rubedo.
Gregg Ziemba (left), Kyle Gray (center), and Alex Raymond of Rubedo.
Jackie Zoeller

Front 242
Wednesday, April 25
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

It’s a rivethead's dream come true: an opportunity for industrial music fans who have been dancing to “Headhunter” or “Welcome to Paradise” at club events for decades to see Front 242 in person. At the vanguard of ‘80s industrial music through 1988 breakthrough Front By Front, the Brussels-formed group also coined the term “Electronic Body Music” and to this day is synonymous with that particularly throbbing strain of techno.

Since the zenith of their popularity in the early ‘90s — the video for “Rhythm of Time” was featured in the 1992 stalker thriller Single White Female — Front 242 has worked steadily, both together and with the members’ other projects, and tours Europe often (the States not so much). In 2016, they released the single “Lovely Day,” inviting fans to send in their remixes via Bandcamp and promising to release the top three on their next single. The response was overwhelming, proving that Front 242 is still a popular act even after all these years. Chris Gray

Wednesday, April 25

You might hear Rubedo anywhere. In their nine years of existence, the Denver psych rock trio has played at bars in San Diego and rallies in their hometown. They have played a dance music festival in the shadow of an NFL stadium and an art festival on the Mexican border. They’ve even played in a backyard in Santa Fe while people danced naked around a fire. Rubedo, then, is a band of tremendous flexibility.

Kyle Gray, who sings, plays moog synthesizers and ukulele, Gregg Ziemba, who plays drums and Alex Raymond, who plays guitar, are exceptional musicians with voracious sonic appetites. Raymond has been known to show up to practice with Peruvian music made by artists influenced by American rock 'n' roll from the '60s.

"We hope that [our music] is the voice of the music culture of today, which would encompass all music," says Ziemba. "Because it's all good." Raymond agrees. "And it's all accessible," he says. Kiernan Maletsky

Josh Caterer of the Smoking Popes.EXPAND
Josh Caterer of the Smoking Popes.

Smoking Popes
Thursday, April 26
Yucca Tap Room in Tempe

The brothers Caterer had no way of knowing the far-reaching effect they would have on the music world when they formed the Smoking Popes in 1991.

How could they? At the time the youngest of the three, guitarist Eli, was only 16 years old. Fast-forward nearly three decades, and the seminal pop-punk band's work is cited by many of today's giants of the field as an influence.

Alkaline Trio's Matt Skiba has said it was one of the reasons he started a band in the first place; Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz has compared the group favorably to fellow Chicago act Naked Raygun. In this writer's opinion, however, Smoking Popes blows all of the aforementioned bands out of the water. Daniel Hill

Dallas-born jazz band The Funky Knuckles.
Dallas-born jazz band The Funky Knuckles.
Courtesy of Ground Up Music

The Funky Knuckles
Thursday, April 26
Last Exit Live

The Funky Knuckles have been together for almost a decade. In 2014, the band's second album, Meta-Musica, hit No. 1 on iTunes’ jazz chart the first day of its release. The band, which fuses pastiche of jazz, funk and hip-hop, has played with major national and local acts such as Beyoncé, Erykah Badu, Chrisette Michelle, Talib Kweli, Puff Daddy, and the Polyphonic Spree. The band also incorporated elements of improv into its sets, as well as thoughtful compositions. Last year's release, New Birth, has seen much critical acclaim within the jazz community. Diamond Victoria

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