The Valley's summertime concert season is the gift that keeps on giving.
This week, we're getting shows by such blockbuster bands and notable acts as Foster the People, The Breeders, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Neurosis, Jay Som, and Reckless Kelly.
Other concert offerings include performances by rising country singer Jeremy Pinnell, working-class ska heroes Bad Manners, and Tucson's Xixa.
Details about each of these gigs can be found below. And for even more live music happening around the Valley this week, hit up Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar.
Monday, July 16
The Rhythm Room
Jeremy Pinnell is a mountain of a man whose style of country carries plenty of emotional heft. On his 2015 critically lauded debut, OH/KY, the Kentucky native lays bare his soul with 10 songs tinged with heartache, longing, and regret, all punctuated with steel guitar twang and traditional country touches.
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His sophomore effort, last year's Ties of Blood and Affection, remains just as emotionally honest, albeit with a pivot toward embracing his everyman status and the joys of family, faith, and friendship. And while such themes are a longtime staple of country music, when Pinnell sings of how his wicked heart has found redemption and maybe a place in the hereafter, it seems more heartfelt than hokey.
Judge for yourself when Pinnell performs at the Rhythm Room on Monday night. Jim Bachmann and Ryan David Orr open the show, which starts at 8 p.m. Admission is free, which should leave you enough change to buy some tallboys and kick back for an evening of crooning. Benjamin Leatherman
Monday, July 16
The Van Buren
Once upon a time, rock 'n' roll was scary. Hell, somewhere right now, some parent is afraid of the picture their son or daughter just put on the wall of their room depicting a singer or band that makes them nervous about the future. Quite possibly, out there in the world right now, there is a band playing that is scaring the heck out of their audience, and for a brief fleeting moment, rock ’n’ roll is even dangerous again.
In the magical time of the 1990s, Oakland, California’s Neurosis were scary and intimidating, and their live shows were often fraught with the impending feel of a bad trip coming on. In fact, to drop acid at a Neurosis show was worthy of some sort of secret Boy Scout badge that only the most badass kids would seek out. When you combined their heavy-as-a-cement mixer punk, death, and hardcore sound with the dark, painful, primal fear-inducing imagery their visual directors (who were really the sixth member of the band) would put together between 1990 and 2012, there was nothing else like it. If you were there, you know, and if you are brave enough to venture out to The Van Buren on July 16, you’ll get a glimpse of what rock ’n’ roll can truly be. Tom Reardon
Foster the People
Monday, July 16,
Marquee Theatre in Tempe
But history is repeating for the Los Angeles-based quartet in 2018. Just in time to be the song of the summer, the breezy grooves of “Sit Next to Me,” from the band’s soul-influenced third album, Sacred Hearts Club, is making a slow burn up the charts. The single’s subject matter is somewhat lighter than the band’s debut seven years ago, focusing on a couple who are attempting to remain friendly after a painful breakup. Foster the People’s new dance sound has made waves in the hip-hop community as well. The Knocks recently collaborated with the indie group for their track “Ride or Die.” Jason Keil
Tuesday, July 17
The Valley has been blessed with Jay Som performances lately. Only two months after performing a set at FORM, Melina Duterte, known by the aforementioned moniker, is bringing her
Jay Som’s music is often allocated to the “bedroom pop” genre. But there’s a much more analog-driven approach to her songs, in comparison to the likes of bonafide DIY artists like
Tuesday, July 17, and Wednesday, July 18
Musical Instrument Museum
Many folks probably only learned about the great songwriter JD Souther because of his stint on the ABC prime-time drama Nashville, which is as unfortunate as his character's name, Watty White. His role as a revered Music Row insider on the hit show is only his second most interesting television appearance of late: In Showtime's documentary The History of The Eagles, Souther's artful contributions are well-detailed, as he's responsible for many of the wildly popular but polarizing California country-rock band's best-known hits.
His work includes the driving "How Long" – the only listenable song on the Eagles' last album, The Road Out of Eden. In the early 1970s, Souther was a part of the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band. Along with his bandmates at the time, Chris Hillman (The Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers) and Richie Furay (Buffalo Springfield), Souther helped define what is now known as alt-country by mixing sweet harmonies and arrangements that could waltz along or rock about. Indeed, Souther's music is what makes him worth knowing about – not the fact that he's on a show with the cheerleader from Heroes. Kelly Dearmore
Wednesday, July 18
Since brothers Willy and Cody Braun moved to Austin, Texas, almost two decades ago, their band Reckless Kelly has always been considered a part of the Texas music phenomenon, but they've also always managed to stand slightly apart from that whole thing. To their credit, the band has never used the beer-taco-Mexico-tequila-Texas-Texas-Texas-more-beer lyrical template that most of the so-called Texas music bands wore like a frat pin. From the beginning, Reckless had real songs and, when they didn't have anything new, they'd rev up amazing covers of Led Zeppelin or Elvis Costello to fill the void. This week, they’ll amble through the Valley for a gig at the Musical Instrument Museum. William Michael Smith
Thursday, July 19
Marquee Theatre in Tempe
The Breeders are back, mellowed but still hungry. Not only is the rock band’s new release, All Nerve, their first album in 10 years, but it also boasts the lineup that delivered 1993’s Last Splash: twin sisters Kim and Kelley Deal (guitars/vocals), Josephine Wiggs (bass), and Jim MacPherson (drums).
On All Nerve, the ’90s icons aren’t reinventing the alt-rock wheel, but the signature sound is powerful and treads, however lightly, on more personal territory than usual. The Deal sisters are both on the long
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Thursday, July 19
The brainchild of Ruban Nielson (formerly of noise-rock outfit the Mint Chicks), UMO have put out three albums that feature a distinctly progressive take on psychedelic music. Nielson’s fearless approach to songwriting imbues his brand of psych rock with elements of jazz, funk, and hip-hop, creating a veritable genre-smash in the process.
His lyrics are similarly fearless: His critically acclaimed 2015 album Multi-Love dissected the ecstasy and dysfunction of the polyamorous relationship he shared with his wife and another woman for a year. The album’s lead single, “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone,” is an absolute banger about the way we love now, while “Like Acid Rain” is all synth swagger and winking innuendo. Neither song sounds like something pulled from the Zombies’ lost vault, and that just might be what makes UMO so appealing. Tom Murphy
Thursday, July 19
XIXA came to exist almost by accident. The Tucson sextet – formerly known as Chicha Dust – formed and began playing the Peruvian style of psychedelic cumbia as a way to get more gigs without overbooking the solo projects of its two co-founders, Brian Lopez and Gabriel Sullivan. With almost zero self-promotion, Chicha Dust found themselves in far more demand than expected.
Having both played as sidemen in Giant Sand, Lopez and Sullivan put their own solo projects on the back burner as Chicha Dust began growing more popular in Tucson and Phoenix. Their blend of Latin rhythms and psychedelic guitar rock found an instant connection with audiences no matter if the lyrics were in Spanish or English.
Along the way, Lopez and Sullivan picked up the bandmates who fill out the XIXA roster: Jason Urman on keyboards, Geoffrey Hidalgo on bass, Efren Cruz Chavez on timbales and percussion, and Winston Watson on drums. Much of the sound of XIXA exists in the band’s contrasts. As lead vocalists, Lopez has drawn comparisons to Jeff Buckley, while Sullivan’s rough voice lands more on the Tom Waits end of the spectrum. Similarly, Cruz came to the band only knowing Latin music; Watson is a well-known rock drummer, having toured with Alice Cooper and Bob Dylan.
Finding more of a unique identity led the band to shed the Chicha Dust name, selecting XIXA for its striking visual geometry, without a particular regard for pronunciation (though they’ve since settled on "
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Thursday, July 19
Yucca Tap Room
If your knowledge of ska is limited to the genre's brief '90s breakthrough – when many bands, unfortunately, often appeared in a regrettable burst of Hawaiian shirts and jazz-band dorkiness – then pay attention. Here's a crash-course for the unschooled: Ska existed
It's around this time that bands like Bad Manners (as well as The Specials, and The Selecter, and Madness, and so on) were born, and their music and audience reflected a particularly time-stamped, British sensibility. The funny thing is, because of this re-inspection of the past, many of the two-tone bands' biggest fan hits were actually covers. Both types of songs find their way into the sets of Bad Manners.
Fronted by the lovable, famously chubby frontman Buster Bloodvessel since their formation in 1976, Bad Manners has brought a hooligan's jolly brio to ska over the last four decades. He leads the band through generally friendly, astonishingly enthusiastic bounce-along sets that feature scores of old favorites, like classic covers of "Sally Brown," "Skinhead Girl," "My Girl Lollipop," and originals that celebrate his pudge ("Lip Up, Fatty," "Fatty, Fatty").
You can witness Bad Manners and Buster Bloodvessel for yourself this week when they visit Yucca Tap Room in Tempe on Thursday night. Madman Theory and BowCat will open the show, which starts at 8 p.m. Presale tickets are $20. Arielle Castillo