The 30 Best Concerts in Phoenix This April

David Byrne is scheduled to perform on Thursday, April 19, at Mesa Arts Center.
David Byrne is scheduled to perform on Thursday, April 19, at Mesa Arts Center.
Jody Rogac
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Get ready for a month of great concerts in the Valley. And that's no April Fools joke.

It's going to be wall-to-wall with four weeks of big shows, including gigs from such famous names as George Clinton, Ty Dolla $ign, Dick Dale, Clint Black, Front 242, and Nightwish.

As is the norm this time of year, many of the bands scheduled to perform at Coachella (including the legendary David Byrne) will stage gigs in the Valley both before and after the high-profile California music festival.

And speaking of fests, there will be several taking place here in the Valley in April, like Phoenix Lights, KUPD's Ufest, and Country Thunder.

Find details about each of these events (and many more) in our rundown of the best concerts in the Valley in April. For even more music happening around town, check out Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar.

George Clinton at a 2016 concert.EXPAND
George Clinton at a 2016 concert.
Levan TK

George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic
Sunday, April 1
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

After 40-plus years in the business, George Clinton still knows how to put on a party. A true showman and the author of several timeless tracks, Clinton has been featured in mainstream films, sampled by a legion of hip-hop and R&B groups, and a card-carrying member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for 20 years. At age 76, he is showing few signs of slowing down.

He's also kept a steady hand on the current scene, collaborating with Outkast and, more recently, Kendrick Lamar. Although his famed Mothership resides in the Smithsonian — it was retired from touring years ago — Clinton's shows still brim with excitement and wonder. His longtime band, Parliament Funkadelic, will be in tow for his stop at Marquee Theatre in Tempe on April 1. Jeff Strowe

Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.EXPAND
Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.
Courtesy of Tell All Your Friends PR

Monday, April 2
The Van Buren

In the ’80s, the masses got familiar with English synth-pop band Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark (OMD) the same way they got familiar with other non-mainstream acts of the time — like Spandau Ballet, Yello, and Simple Minds. They heard them in a John Hughes movie.

OMD’s “If You Leave” plays at the most crucial moment of Hughes’ teen romance Pretty in Pink, which was titled for another tune of those times by The Psychedelic Furs. Inclusion on that soundtrack showed the world what electro-pop fans, college radio heads, and alternative dance club dwellers already knew: OMD created well-crafted and heartfelt electronic tunes, the kind that can make you simultaneously dance and cry.

Aside from a 10-year break from 1996 to 2006, the group founded by Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys in 1978 is still going strong. In 2017, they released The Punishment of Luxury, a 12-song record that matches in quality of their early notable full-lengths like the band’s self-titled album in 1980, or Junk Culture, which came out in 1984. “Isotype” keeps you moving with its driving backbeat, whereas the sparse “As We Open, So We Close,” is dark and haunting, allowing you to get properly mopey. Amy Young

Patrick Stickles of Titus Andronicus.
Patrick Stickles of Titus Andronicus.
Ray Concepcion

Titus Andronicus
Tuesday, April 3
Valley Bar

Since forming Titus Andronicus in New Jersey in 2005, frontman Patrick Stickles has pushed the band past their rabble-rousing punk roots and into expansive concept albums and rock operas. “When I get full of beans and I’ve got all this energy and ambition, I lay out these grand plans for myself,” he says. While he’s changed and broadened the scope of the band’s sound over the years, one constant has held firm throughout his body of work: an unflinching honesty about his struggles with manic depression.

On A Productive Cough, the latest LP from Titus Andronicus, they’ve embraced the ramshackle folky sounds that older songs like “A Theme From Cheers” from 2010's The Monitor only hinted at. Titus Andronicus have gone from squatting in DIY punk crashpads to shacking up in The Band’s Big Pink.

“I like to use the metaphor that Titus Andronicus, over the course of our career, has built a large house with many rooms, and each of these rooms represents a certain aesthetic component of our music,” Stickles says of the new direction. “On previous albums, we tried to run about wildly from room to room and do lots of different things; on this album we picked one special room, pulled up a comfortable chair, and got ensconced.”

Constantly redefining the band’s status quo is how he keeps going. It’s also how Stickles keeps himself from feeling overwhelmed by his mental health issues. “… I try to paint myself into a bit of a corner as a contingency plan for when the dark times come … because they always do.” Ashley Naftule

Tyrone William Griffin Jr., better known as rapper Ty Dolla $ign.EXPAND
Tyrone William Griffin Jr., better known as rapper Ty Dolla $ign.
Gabe Shaddow

Ty Dolla $ign
Wednesday, April 4
The Van Buren

Whether you know it or not, Ty Dolla $ign is one of your favorite singers — he just has to be. Few other artists have had the impact on this decade’s hip-hop/R&B landscape as the 32-year-old L.A. native has with his silky smooth hooks. The Rolodex of artists he’s worked with reads like a who’s-who of Grammy winners and Billboard Hot 100 charts — Post Malone, Wiz Khalifa, Nicki Minaj, Ludacris, 2 Chainz, T.I. Nick Jonas, Big Sean, Migos, YG, Lil Wayne, Future, and dozens more. Ty Dolla $ign is about as close as you can get to guaranteeing a hit if he’s a part of the track.

On his own, he’s dominated radio waves and clubs with hits such as “Paranoid,” “Or Nah,” and “Blasé” that lend themselves closer to the R&B side of life, and that’s where he wants to live. The Don’t Judge Me Tour’s namesake is from a track off his latest album, Beach House 3, and as he told Rolling Stone last fall about the work, "I sung my ass off. But it's still gonna be a mainstream vibe. That's all I'm trying to do: Make a lane for the singers." In a world dominated by hip-hop, Ty Dolla $ign is trying to make room for R&B. Be there on April 4 to see him state his case. Mikel Galicia

Kim Schifino and Matt Johnson of Matt and Kim.
Kim Schifino and Matt Johnson of Matt and Kim.
Matt Miller

Electric Six
Wednesday, April 4
Valley Bar

Most of America got to know Electric Six in the video for the 2003 single “Gay Bar,” which featured the sextet’s members gyrating and cavorting while dressed as hot-pants-clad Abraham Lincoln impersonators. That song, from the band’s debut, Fire, represents the height of their commercial success, but not their creativity.

In the 15 years since, Electric Six has released 11 albums, from the hyperactive, funk-filled I Shall Exterminate Everything Around Me That Restricts Me From Being the Master to the guitar-driven Mustang. But its members, who perform under stage names like Dick Valentine and Smorgasbord, have never lost their playfulness. Adam Roy

The legendary Dick Dale.
The legendary Dick Dale.

Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox
Thursday, April 5
Mesa Arts Center

Scott Bradlee, a jazz pianist who's been recording vintage-style cover tracks from his basement apartment, takes today’s pop hits, puts them in a time machine, and sends them back to the present from the Golden Age of swing, jazz, and soul. You’ll recognize the lyrics, but the song itself is a whole new tune. Whether you've stumbled across his addictive YouTube channel or are intrigued by the twists Bradlee puts on your favorite radio hits, his unique set is worth checking out.

“This is going to be a trip back in time,” Bradlee says. “If you imagine back in the 1940s, the Golden Age of Hollywood and going to a New Year’s Eve party with Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, that’s what our show is. It’s a variety show. We have multiple singers and emcees, a tap dancer, and incredible musicians.”

Postmodern Jukebox started in Bradlee’s living room in Queens, where it has remained since 2013. As a kid, Bradlee was naturally drawn to older styles of music like jazz, swing, and Motown, but he didn’t have many peers who shared his interest. Since they were all listening to the pop tracks on the radio, he thought it'd be interesting to join that conversation by taking the contemporary songs they played on repeat, and transforming them into older styles to sound like the kind of music he loved. Michelle De Carion

The scene at last year's Wet Electric.EXPAND
The scene at last year's Wet Electric.
Benjamin Leatherman

Country Thunder 2018
Thursday, April 5, to Sunday, April 8
Canyon Moon Ranch in Florence

The big names of contemporary and throwback country music are once again rounding up at Canyon Moon Ranch in Florence for the annual Country Thunder music festival.

Over 100,000 country and western fans are expected to the festival grounds from Thursday, April 5, to Sunday, April 8, for 10-gallon headliners such as Jason Aldean, Big and Rich, Luke Bryan, Tracy Lawrence, Cole Swindell, and Luke Bryan.

Ticket prices range from $75 for a single-day pass to $190 for four-day general admission at the Country Thunder website. There are also VIP packages, camping, parking, and other perks and amenities.

In addition to country stars taking the stage, Country Thunder 2017 also offers retail vendors, partner activities, on-site bars, a food court, and additional entertainers and activities at Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row (featuring local country and indie artists) and Electric Thunder (offering activities like karaoke, line dancing, and a silent disco). Lauren Cusimano

Singer-songwriter Moses Sumney.
Singer-songwriter Moses Sumney.
Ryan Hope

Dick Dale
Friday, April 6
Rhythm Room

Dick Dale is a rock 'n' roll colossus. Inarguably one of the most significant and influential electric guitarists of the 20th century, Dale is a force whose broad-shouldered shadow falls across rock and roll as far and wide as Charlie Christian’s silhouette dominates jazz. The 80-year-old lefty innovator’s upside-down guitar had more presence and personality than anyone had ever managed to unleash, and his recordings of “Let’s Go Trippin’” and “Miserlou” provided a radical redefinition of the instrument profound in its reach and implications.

Dale’s big-toned, destructo ax arrived at an evolutionary point when rock and roll guitar was still wedded to a watered-down blend of wannabe primitive blues and honky-tonk soloing (e.g. Link Wray, Duane Eddy). His style completely exploded the genre’s prevailing standards and practices. It was electric guitar run amok, a hammering, savage amalgam of personal atavism (his manifest desire to aurally recreate the physical sensation of surfing), his fixation on the percussive rapture of Gene Krupa’s drumming, and the impact of an exotic mutt musical background bestowed by his Lebanese father and Polish mother.

All of these combined like nitroglycerin, and while the British Invasion quickly drove Dale into commercial stalemate, nothing could diminish his influence. He’s rocketed through American pop culture in a wildly colorful orbit. Jonny Whiteside

Get ready for a close encounter of the EDM kind.
Get ready for a close encounter of the EDM kind.
Benjamin Leatherman

Moses Sumney
Saturday, April 7
Musical Instrument Museum

Moses Sumney has racked up a lot of sweet support gigs over the years. He's toured with Sufjan Stevens, opened for Erykah Badu and St. Vincent, and shared stages with Thundercat. If you want to check out the Baroque pop/indie folksinger-songwriter as headliner, though, you can do so later in early April during his solo show at the MIM.

Sumney’s tender vocals weave through layers of acoustic guitar and atmospheric elements to create a melancholy and slightly psychedelic feel that has won over fans across genres, such as DJ/producer Damian Lazarus, who brought in the singer for his album Damian Lazarus and the Ancient Moons. More famously, the folks at Moogfest tapped Sumney for a cover-song EP, Translational Drifts. His rendition of Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman” is nothing short of gorgeous.

After putting out a few EPs of his own, including 2014's Mid-City Island and 2016's Lamentations, Sumney released his debut full-length, Aromanticism, last year to widespread acclaim. Critics everywhere praised the 11-song effort and it appeared on numerous "Best of 2017" lists, including those published by Pitchfork, NPR, and the New York Times. Liz Ohanesian

Don't fear the reaper.EXPAND
Don't fear the reaper.
Courtesy of Blue Oyster Cult

Phoenix Lights 2018
Saturday, April 7, and Sunday, April 8
The Park at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler

The Phoenix Lights are returning for another close encounter with the Valley. No, not that unexplained UFO formation that buzzed our city two decades ago and became a part of local lore. We’re talking about the extraterrestrial-themed electronic dance music festival that takes place each spring and will so again in early April. And this time, it will be touching down in a new location.

The two-day EDM extravaganza will take place at The Park at Wild Horse Pass, a brand new outdoor venue that spans 29 acres and will be located next to Rawhide Event Center, which has played host to numerous Relentless Beats events and outdoor concerts over the last few years.

As for the festival's lineup, it will include a slew of EDM superstars, including such names as Mad Decent/Major Lazer co-founder Diplo, big room house producer Martin Garrix, British-born house music guru Chris Lake, melodic dubstep artist Seven Lions, and electronica/trip hop producer Gramatik. Hip-hop artist Gucci Mane is also scheduled to perform. Benjamin Leatherman

Matt and Kim
Tuesday, April 10
The Van Buren

Like the mythical Pied Piper, who lured and hypnotized followers with the sweet sounds of his magical flute, the dance-band duo from Brooklyn known as Matt and Kim have that same capacity to take hold of their audience.

With charming smiles, saccharine, almost childlike demeanors, and the fortitude to crowd-surf over thousands of fans, Matt and Kim live are mesmerizing. Their 2015 single "Get It" exemplifies their talents, especially their simple, catchy lyrics: "At 1 a.m.," goes the verse, "We go for gold. At 1 a.m. when we, we lost control. At 1 a.m.  / Oh yeah, goddamn, goddamn! / We don't wanna go home!" Who can't get on board with that mentality? It's celebratory and rabble-rousing all at once.

Matt Johnson and Kim Schifino came together in 2004 and started making dance music with a strong pop sensibility — not necessarily the droning club-style many are familiar with but rather music to shake your booty to that's more relatable, with standard verse, chorus, and bridge structuring.

Since then, Matt and Kim have released six albums (a seventh is on the way), and their 2006 song "Daylight" was certified as a gold record. With raucous live shows to match their uplifting sound, Matt and Kim are a quintessential modern pop sensation. Jacob Uitti

Country music king Clint Black.
Country music king Clint Black.
Kevin Mazur

Blue Oyster Cult
Friday, April 13
Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale

Blue Öyster Cult are probably best known to casual fans for their hit singles “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper,” “Godzilla,” and “Burnin’ for You,” which remain in heavy rotation on classic-rock radio today. Historically they’ve been labeled a metal band, yet their music encompasses so much more, with elements of progressive and psychedelic rock mixed in with the hard stuff.

Their sound is unique and not easily categorized; many songs are downright strange and weird, in a good way. Founding members lead guitarist Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser and lead vocalist Eric Bloom just keep on trucking after numerous lineup changes; in a more just world, BÖC would be playing sold-out arenas and record an album of new material as their musical peers Black Sabbath did before retirement. Then again, it is nice for BÖC fans to see the band play intimate venues on this current trek and not have to pay an arm and a leg for the pleasure. David Rozycki

Gus Unger-Hamilton (left), Joe Newman (center), and Thom Green of Alt-J.
Gus Unger-Hamilton (left), Joe Newman (center), and Thom Green of Alt-J.
Mads Perch

Friday, April 13
The Van Buren

Atl-J are currently in the middle of a North American tour for their latest record, Relaxer. The Guardian called the album “short, belligerent, and odd.” Though Relaxer certainly turns up the volume on some of the stranger aspects of a band known for its eccentric musical flourishes, those words hardly describe the members themselves.

The members – lead singer and guitarist Joe Newman, keyboardist and backing vocalist Gus Unger-Hamilton, and drummer Thom Green – met a decade ago in college and hit it off almost immediately. The band was originally a four-piece, but founding member Gwil Sainsbury quit in early 2014. Instead of wilting after losing a crucial piece, the group blossomed into a larger, more vibrant outfit.

Still, even after the trio has released three albums and many hit singles, critics, fans, and the media struggle with what to make of Alt-J. At times they’ve been criticized for being boring, yet their music can be bizarrely sexy. For example, on “Every Other Freckle,” Newman sings, “I’m gonna bed into you like a cat prance into a bean bag / Turn you inside out and lick you like a crisp packet,” and earlier, on “Fitzpleasure,” he serenades us with “In your snatch fits pleasure, broom-shaped pleasure.” It’s no wonder their tracks often end up on sexy-time playlists. Angel Melendez

Peelander-Z brings its colorful chaos to Scottsdale in mid-April.EXPAND
Peelander-Z brings its colorful chaos to Scottsdale in mid-April.
Brian Byers

Saturday, April 14
Pub Rock Live in Scottsdale

When it comes to putting on a show, few bands put as much effort into their performances as Peelander-Z. Calling themselves a “Japanese action comic punk band hailing from the Z area of Planet Peelander,” the New York band thrashes out speedy and catchy tunes with titles like “Ninja High School” and “High Five Boy” while looking like they come from another planet. Dressed in color-coded costumes that range from sentai suits to kimonos and monster outfits, Peelander-Z brings an outrageous B-movie atmosphere to their shows.

With members putting on tiger and squid outfits, the band punctuates their set with superhero/monster fights, unicycle riding, and even “human bowling.” You haven’t lived until you’ve seen the members of Peelander-Z turn themselves into human-sized bowling balls and pins and roll a strike on each other. You can see their Power Rangers-meet-Kaiju antics live and in person on Saturday, April 14, when they’ll turn Pub Rock Live in Scottsdale into their own personal Saturday morning cartoon show. Ashley Naftule

Sunday, April 15
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Formed in 1996, Nightwish gained instant popularity in their native Finland with the 1997 release of their first album, Angels Fall First. Eventually, Nightwish achieved international success with album sales in excess of over 8 million worldwide, yet the group has struggled to achieve popularity and recognition here in the States.

Nightwish delivers chugging distorted guitars, double-bass kicks, fast tempos, and time changes – the signature traits of any metal band. But the act's songs also include classical structures and arrangements and have featured an orchestra and a choir, bolstering a classically trained female vocalist – all of which has earned them a "symphonic metal" designation, a tag the members are comfortable with. Brandon Marshall

The War on Drugs comes to Phoenix in April.EXPAND
The War on Drugs comes to Phoenix in April.
Courtesy of Atlantic Records

Clint Black
Sunday, April 15
Chandler Center for the Arts

Hailing from Long Beach, New Jersey, by way of Kirby, Texas, Clint Black is coming back to the Valley for some boot-scootin’ fun. The silk smooth baritone took his inspiration from the likes of Waylon Jennings, George Strait, and Willie Nelson, so it comes as no surprise that Black was a fixture on the country music charts in the ’90s and early 2000s.

Black’s style is a far cry from the bro-country pop that seems to be the choice de jour nowadays, opting to sing a more traditional brand of country filled with lonely nights, ruined relationships and the occasional beer. His most recent album, 2015’s On Purpose, was a welcome surprise after a nearly decade-long gap between albums, and luckily lived up to Black’s legacy, reaching number 13 on the Billboard U.S. Top Country Albums chart. So if you’re looking to dust off your dancing boots, then this is a show guaranteed to get you and your friends two-stepping into the night. Nicholas Bostick

The multitude of musicians making up the Dustbowl Revival
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

Australian-born indie pop singer Vance Joy.EXPAND
Australian-born indie pop singer Vance Joy.
Justin Bettman

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

David Byrne will be burning down the house in Mesa on April 19.
David Byrne will be burning down the house in Mesa on April 19.
Jody Rogac

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

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

Jukebox the GhostEXPAND
Jukebox the Ghost
Eric Ryan Anderson

KUPD's Ufest 2018
Friday, April 20
Riverview Park in Mesa

For those who like it loud, this one-day festival is for you. Local hard rock radio station KUPD is behind this metal-edged event featuring performances by Five Finger Death Punch, Jonathan Davis, Sevendust, and Bad Wolves. According to the KUPD's website, the one-day festival is subtitled “The 420 Smokeout,” probably because it's, um, happening on April 20. Gates open at 3 p.m. General admission tickets are $49 and on sale now. Amy Young

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble is coming to Tempe.EXPAND
Hypnotic Brass Ensemble is coming to Tempe.
Ray Yau

Vance Joy
Saturday, April 21
Comerica Theatre

From Australia comes Vance Joy, an on-the-cusp indie pop singer-songwriter who's got a knack for the ukulele. Look no further than his single "Riptide" for clarification on the matter. It's a bright and sunny number that will remind you of a blue ocean and palm trees if you close your eyes and just press play. The aforementioned song has surely caused a riptide on the charts, peaking at No. 6 on the Australian ARIA charts and No. 1 on Billboard's Alternative Songs chart.

His latest album, Nation of Two, is proving to be just as popular. Buoyed by the success of such hit singles as "Lay It on Me" and "We're Going Home,” it's topped the charts in his homeland (natch), as well as cracking the top 10 of Billboard 200. As his fellow Aussies might say, good on ya, mate. H. Drew Blackburn

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble
Saturday, April 21
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble’s backstory is incredible: Seven of the Chicago brass band’s nine members are sons of jazz trumpeter Phil Cohran, best known for his work in Sun Ra’s Arkestra, and as a founding member of Chicago free-jazz collective Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. But unlike Sun Ra or AACM, whose structures were loose, HBE makes funky, tight instrumentals, which draw from the New Orleans brass band tradition but infuse the sound with skippin’ hip-hop rhythms.

On their 2009 debut album, HBE showed incredible dynamic range. Songs like “Jupiter” are soft and focused but contain so much texture and variation that you can just see these dudes in the basement working it out over and over again. There’s an intuitiveness to the arrangements, which comes from sharing the same blood and fire. A track like “War” arrives in a burst of brass. You can almost feel your hair knocked back by the blast.

In late April, the ensemble will make their way to the Valley to perform at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe, which is a makeup date for its previously cancelled show that was originally supposed to take place in January. Randall Roberts

Courtesy of Rise Records

Big Sean
Monday, April 23
Comerica Theatre

It's been more than a year since Detroit-based rapper Big Sean released his latest chart-topping solo album, I Decided, and he's still packing 'em in at his concerts. Such is likely to be the case when he visits Comerica Theatre in downtown Phoenix on April 23 on his current tour.

After getting signed to Kanye West's GOOD Music in 2007, Big Sean maintained a prolific touring and recording schedule, releasing four studio albums, four mixtapesm, and countless feature verses where he often outshines his peers.

Fans can experience his talents firsthand during his Valley show, which will feature openers PlayboiCarti, Shy Glizzy, and GASHI. Tickets are $40.50 to $80.50. Byron Graham

Judas Priest
Tuesday, April 24
Comerica Theatre

For the true-blue metal fans out there, seeing Judas Priest perform is a nigh-religious experience. This English speed metal band has been going since 1970, so they have figured out exactly how to put on a show. And this isn’t the so-called Beach Boys, touring with only one original member and a bunch of other guys propping him up. Rob Halford is not only still hitting those high notes, his voice actually sounds better than ever. On an international scale, Judas Priest are considered one of the biggest and best metal bands of all time.

And after their two newest albums, including the recently released Firepower, both showed up in Billboard’s Top 10, Judas Priest are as big as they’ve ever been here in the States. If you're not a hardcore fan, then the elaborate leather boy wardrobes and hellacious stage design should make you want to worship at the unholy temple of the devil horns. Jeremy Hallock

The members of Futurebirds.
The members of Futurebirds.
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

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 in late April for a gig at Crescent Ballroom. Tom Murphy

Country Thunder attendees at the festival in 2016.EXPAND
Country Thunder attendees at the festival in 2016.
Leavitt Wells

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

Country Thunder attendees at the festival in 2016.EXPAND
Country Thunder attendees at the festival in 2016.
Leavitt Wells

Wet Electric 2018
Saturday, April 28
Big Surf in Tempe

Pool parties are a quintesstial springtime activity in the Valley. Ditto for outdoor music festivals where big-name artists and hitmakers perform in the great outdoors for thousands of fans. And then there’s the event that combines the two: the annual Wet Electric at Big Surf in Tempe.

Every April, the electronic dance music extravaganza, which features all the hallmarks of both a DJ-powered pool party and festival rager, takes over the iconic waterpark and transforms it into a one-day haven of beats and bass. As such, the mainstage at Wet Electric is set up in the middle of Big Surf’s Waikiki Beach wave pool, which becomes an enormous dance floor as EDM fans move to the music and splash about as numerous world-renowned DJs and producers perform.

The lineups each year feature close to a dozen heavy hitters from the dance music world, including those of both nationally known and local variety. The 2018 edition of Wet Electric will he headlined by Adventure Club and also include sets from Bro Safari, Crizzly, Dr. Fresch, Loud Luxury, Sevenn, JPhlip, SNBRN, and other DJs and EDM artists. Benjamin Leatherman

Country Thunder attendees at the festival in 2016.EXPAND
Country Thunder attendees at the festival in 2016.
Leavitt Wells

Toots and the Maytals
Sunday, April 29
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Toots and the Maytals have been around since reggae's very beginnings. In fact, the Kingston crew, founded by Frederick "Toots" Hibbert in the early '60s, is widely credited with giving the genre its name via a 1968 ditty called "Do the Reggay." The Maytals' ska origins live on in what remains their most famous song, "Pressure Drop," which appeared in Jimmy Cliff's definitive reggae movie The Harder They Come (1972) and, when covered by the Clash and the Specials, helped form an important bridge between original and second-wave ska as well as punk rock.

Seminal '70s LPs Funky Kingston, In the Dark — including a stunning rendition of John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads" and a remake of Hibbert's account of his time in prison, "54-46 Was My Number" — and Reggae Got Soul further cemented the Maytals' status as reggae royalty, and (albeit with different rosters) the group has never left the road for very long ever since. Chris Gray

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