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 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
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
Tuesday, April 3
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
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
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
Wednesday, April 4
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
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
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
Friday, April 6
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.
All of these combined like nitroglycerin, and while the British Invasion quickly drove Dale into
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
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
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/
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
Blue Oyster Cult
Friday, April 13
Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale
Blue Öyster Cult
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
Friday, April 13
The Van Buren
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
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