The 10 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week

Bones is scheduled to perform on Monday, March 12, at Club Red in Mesa.
Bones is scheduled to perform on Monday, March 12, at Club Red in Mesa. Courtesy of Red Light Management
Can’t take a week off to party at this year’s South by Southwest? Don’t sweat it. Several bands performing at the influential music festival in Austin, Texas, will come to you.

Acts like The Dead South, SadGirl, and Bones will all pass through the Valley and play shows before continuing on to the Lone Star State.

With that said, there’s more going on in Phoenix’s concert scene this week than just SXSW-bound bands making a pit stop.

To wit: A$AP Ferg will perform a long-awaited show at The Van Buren, blues wunderkind Jason Ricci will be at Rhythm Room, Video Games Live will present its symphonic ode to joysticks, and local band Harrison Fjord will celebrate the release of their debut album.

Details about each of these gigs can be found below in our rundown of the best concerts in the Valley this week. And for even more live music happening around town, check out Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar.

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Ready player one.
Courtesy of AEP
Video Games Live
Monday, March 12
Symphony Hall

In 2016, composers Tommy Tallarico (Earthworm Jim) and Jack Wall (Mass Effect) broke world records with Video Games Live. The largest audience at a video game concert? Surpassed. The most video game concerts ever performed? It’s theirs now.

When you look at the playlist for the touring production, it’s easy to see why. Instead of focusing on the music from one game, this family-friendly event has symphonic renditions of everything from Atari 2600 classics to Halo.

Come to Symphony Hall early to participate in the costume contest and play video games against other fans. Level up at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, March 12. Tickets are $24 to $82. Jason Keil

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Carmen Vandenberg (left) and Rosie Bones (right) of UK band Bones.
Courtesy of Red Light Management
Monday, March 12
Club Red in Mesa

The first thing you should know about Bones is that they aren’t an EDM act. Granted, the female-fronted UK band, which features Rosie Bones on vocals and Carmen Vandenberg on guitar, incorporates a significant amount of electronic elements and production in their industrial-laden hard rock. But overall, Bones is more akin in sound and spirit to bands like Nine Inch Nails and Front 242.

Besides including rivethead-friendly flourishes like heavy percussion and a dark verve, their music is also filled with Vandenberg’s epic six-string work as she wails away, fires off titanic riffs, and even borrows a few tricks from B.B. King in tracks like “Beautiful is Boring,” “Happy,” and the ironically named “Girls Can’t Play Guitar.” Be prepared to throw up some hook’em horns in appreciation of her work when Bones hits Club Red in Mesa. Benjamin Leatherman

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The members of The Mowgli's.
Courtesy of Paradigm Talent Agency
The Mowgli's
Tuesday, March 13
Valley Bar

The Mowgli's was started by a group of friends who wanted to make music with universal appeal. The act's sound is rooted in the kind of breezy, folk-inflected, psychedelically tinged music from Southern California that dominated the '60s and '70s, and its outlook is imbued with a positive spirit that matches the summery pop confections

Over the last six years, The Mowgli's have released four studio albums, including their most recent effort, Where'd Your Weekend Go? They’re still touring in support of the 11-track album and will swing through Valley Bar on Tuesday. Mainland will open. Tom Murphy

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The musicians of Las Cafeteras.
Rafael Cardenas
Globalfest on the Road feat. Las Cafeteras
Tuesday, March 13
Alliance Pavilion at Mesa Arts Center

Las Cafeteras stir up a swirling, mesmerizing sound with just their voices and such traditional acoustic instruments as jarana jarocha, marimbula and requinto jarocho. Singers Daniel French and Denise Carlos and requinto jarocho stylist David Flores weave together circular riffs on their guitar-like axes and nearly all the members do zapateado, a percussive style of dance.

On their 2012 album, It’s Time, the East L.A. septet segue easily from uptempo, foot-stomping tracks like “La Bamba Rebelde” and “El Zapateado” to such romantic ballads as “Luna Lovers,” in which Leah Gallegos and French exchange verses with gently lilting melodies. Although the group is deeply rooted in traditional folk styles like son jarocho, Yukicito’s remix of “Mujer Soy” demonstrates how seamlessly their acoustic-based music can insinuate itself within electronic sounds.

Las Cafeteras will pay a visit to the Valley along with all-female mariachi ensemble Flor de Toloache for a free outdoor show at the Mesa Arts Center’s Alliance Pavilion stage as a part of the Globalfest on the Road tour. Falling James

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Progressive metal band The Contortionist.
Courtesy of Strong Management
The Contortionist
Tuesday, March 13
Club Red in Mesa

When The Contortionist released their first full-length record, Exoplanet, in 2010, they were one of the most exciting things to come out in the realm of progressive metal for a long time. Where the genre so easily verged into tired clichés or overused tropes, as in the later releases of bands like Dream Theater and Between the Buried and Me, The Contortionist had the right mix of heavy-ass death metal and progressive tendencies.

The band is still alive and kicking these days and have withstood a few lineup changes, including the departure of vocalists Jonathan Carpenter and Jake Morris. They’ve been pretty productive over the last decade, putting out four studio album (including last year’s Clairvoyant) and touring constantly. This week, The Contortionist will be at Club Red in Mesa for a midweek show with support from Silent Planet, Skyharbor and Strawberry Girls. Corey Deiterman
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Blues musician Jason Ricci.
Beate Grams
Jason Ricci and the Bad Kind
Tuesday, March 13
Rhythm Room

Back in his 20s, the prodigiously talented harmonica player Jason Ricci was compared to Jimi Hendrix by music scribes, owing to his ingenious ability to warp and transmogrify the warbling tones of the instrument into unheard of sounds akin to a sitar, saxophone, or some otherworldly aural kinkiness. Backed by torrid and bluesy riffs from his current backing band Bad Kind, Ricci's musical oeuvre ranges from straight Delta blues to expansive jam-rock trips to lackadaisically moody songs bordering on emo (befitting his past as a punk rocker).

His vocals are equally as enthralling, as he moans, croons, and caterwauls lyrics which can be bombastic, baleful, or bizarre. Having first picked up a mouth harp at 15, Ricci gruelingly studied such harmonica idols as Sonny Boy Williamson and Pat Ramsey, won a slew of awards before he turned 21, and has shared stages with legends like R.L. Burnside and Nick Curran. Schooled by these traditionalists, he's made a habit of bending and shaping the blues into parts unknown. Benjamin Leatherman

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Kevin and Jeff Saurer of Hippie Sabotage.
Courtesy of Paradigm Talent Agency
Hippie Sabotage
Wednesday, March 14
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Hippie Sabotage is an EDM duo that comprises Saurer brothers Kevin and Jeff. They first earned attention after their remix of Tove Lo's "Habits (Stay High)" racked up a half-billion hits on YouTube and have paved their own way ever since. Projecting a confident aggression similar to that of the Gaslamp Killer, their sound is a mix of hip-hop flourishes and chill grooves that gets crowds moving.

The Saurers' performances seem as interactive as you can get. Kevin spends time roaming among the crowds and both of the brothers appear to be having a lot of fun, recognizing that part of their success so far is based on their connection with people beyond the music. Apparently, the two had spent a year living out of their car not so long ago, so no matter what you thought of their set, it's impossible to criticize people enjoying the moment and bringing others along with them. Tom Murphy

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The Dead South are headed to the Valley, y'all.
Courtesy of Atomic Music Group
The Dead South
Wednesday, March 14
Yucca Tap Room in Tempe

One look at this five-member acoustic ensemble and their wardrobe (which includes white shirts, black suspenders, traveler hats, and bolo ties) will immediately tell you that their particular bent is of the old-timey ilk. And one listen to their music, which runs the gamut from murder ballads to foot-stomping bluegrass numbers about being damned to hell, will absolutely confirm it.

That’s not to say that The Dead South subsist solely on folksy string band tropes or take themselves too seriously. Since emerging from the sprawling Canadian plains of Saskatchewan in 2012, The Dead South have poked fun at both themselves and the whole folk/bluegrass thing, including dubbing themselves the “evil twins” of Mumford & Sons (right down to the mandolins) and satirical songs like “Banjo Odyssey” (which pokes fun at the hillbilly chic stereotypes of their genres).

In other words, you might find yourself chuckling when The Dead South performs at the Yucca Tap this week and not just snapping your fingers and tapping your toes. Benjamin Leatherman

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That A$AP Ferg show you've been waiting for is finally happening.
Jason Goodrich
A$AP Ferg
Wednesday, March 14
The Van Buren

Ice skating fans who press play on A$AP Ferg’s new single “Kristi YamaGucci” might not get what they came for. But the rapper’s fans will.

Though named for the two-time World Champion American figure skater, the surprise drop spends little time on Tonya Harding’s rival. Yamaguchi gets a single shoutout and nary a mention of her Winter Olympics gold. Instead, the track finds Ferg and his Mad Man tourmates IDK and Denzel Curry in fine form and flaunting it.

NickNPattiWhack opens the single with lines reminiscent of his much-memed smooth-talker persona. “Aw lord baby, she got a flip phone. Damn baby, I been smokin’.” It’s a launch pad for Ferg’s verse, stuffed with requisite bragging about his hit “Plain Jane” and how he and other members of the Harlem-rooted A$AP Mob modeled for Calvin Klein. In between those highs, Ferg reflects on the lows, calling on his late friend A$AP Yams to let him know he’s coping and to say hi to Ferg’s late father.

That balance makes Ferg a compelling emcee. But don’t think he skips out on turning things back around on his rivals. He runs this shit like relay, he says, and they might just have to press replay. Cold? Maybe. But it’s all gucci. Becky Bartkowski

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Get a taste of Harrison Fjord's new album on Thursday at Crescent.
Freddie Paull
Harrison Fjord (Album Release Party)
Thursday, March 15
Crescent Ballroom

It may have been a few years since Harrison Fjord has released any sort of new project, but the local indie/psych act has made up for it with Polychrome, their debut album. Released last month, the nine-song effort builds on the jazzy and New Wave-y grooves the band had in their 2015 EP, Puspa in Space. Plus, it’s got lots of glorious harmonizing by vocalist by guitarist Mario Yniguez, jammy and dreamy rock tracks, and even some wailing sax from Chris Hoskins of Captain Squeegee fame on tracks like “Viewmaster” and “Winnebago.”

You can pick up a copy of Polychrome for yourself on Thursday night at Crescent Ballroom when Harrison Fjord celebrates the release of the album. Locals band Luxxe and Colour TV will open the evening, which starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10. Benjamin Leatherman
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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski
Jason Keil was the Phoenix New Times culture editor from August 2019 to May 2020.
Contact: Jason Keil
Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.

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