Phoenix Concerts in March 2018: Pink, Lorde, ASAP Ferg, Pot of Gold, Innings | Phoenix New Times

The 30 Best Concerts in Phoenix This March

From Lorde to A$AP Ferg.
Lorde is scheduled to perform on Friday, March 16, at Gila River Arena in Glendale.
Lorde is scheduled to perform on Friday, March 16, at Gila River Arena in Glendale. Courtesy of Chuffmedia
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Hope y’all have been saving up your disposable income lately. You’re really going to need it in March, especially if you want to catch all the great concerts happening.

From arena-sized shows to small, intimate gigs, Phoenix’s concert scene will be busy during March. Plenty of big names are headed our way including Lorde, Demi Lovato, A$AP Ferg, Brockhampton, Burt Bacharach, and Dweezil Zappa.

Plus, there’s a festival every single weekend, including annual events like M3F, Pot of Gold, and Blues Blast.

We’ve got the goods on all the big concerts happening in March, which you can find in the list below. (And for even more live music events happening around town, check out Phoenix New Times’ online concert calendar.)

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Pink has a new album and a new tour.
Kurt Iswarienko
Thursday, March 1
Talking Stick Resort Arena

P!nk is nothing if not badass. In January, the superstar pop/R&B singer provided a showstopping performance of her song “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken” in support of the Time’s Up movement during this year’s Grammys. A few days later, she penned a piercing letter in response to Recording Academy president Neil Portnow’s loathsome claim that women in the music industry needed to “step up.”

Then, for a follow-up, P!nk served up a stirring rendition of the national anthem at Super Bowl LII that earned her plenty of praise, all while she battled the flu.

You can expect to see the same sort of fierce attitude and phenomenal singing prowess this week in Phoenix when P!nk performs her first Valley concert in almost five years. She’s touring in support of Beautiful Trauma, the 13-track studio album that debuted in October and has been critically lauded for its sociopolitical themes, including on its lead single, “What About Us.” Benjamin Leatherman

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The Psychedelic Furs back in the day.
Courtesy of Danny Zelisko Presents
The Psychedelic Furs
Friday, March 2
Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale

Few bands can evoke an entire era in just a few notes, but listen to a snippet of any Psychedelic Furs song and you’ll find yourself smack-dab back in the ’80s. Whether it’s the triumphant guitars of “Pretty In Pink” or the xylophone-esque melodies of “Love My Way,” something about the music feels as anchored to that time period as Ms. Pac-Man machines. It’s no wonder Stranger Things, this decade’s most reliable time machine, used the Furs’ “The Ghost In You” as part of its soundtrack.

While the Furs used keyboards and synths as ably as their ’80s contemporaries, Richard Butler’s vocals set them apart. Raspy and worn, his burnt-out croon would sound more at home fronting a Tom Waits-ian bar band than a New Wave outfit. It’s what gives the Furs’ music a timeless quality, While the melodies and instruments will forever date them, Butler’s nicotine-stained vocals makes them sound like they could have existed in any era. That kind of rumpled, weary grace never goes out of style. Ashley Naftule

Get ready for this year's M3F.
Courtesy of M3F
M3F 2018
Friday, March 2, to Sunday, March 4
Margaret T. Hance Park

Previously known as the McDowell Mountain Music Festival, this event turns 15 this year. Since it started, bands like the Avett Brothers, Dwight Yoakam, and Chromeo have commanded the stage. The 2018 lineup features Father John Misty, Dr. Dog, and Wyves, as well as local acts Treasurefruit, Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra, and The Lonesome Wilderness.

The festival always has a chill vibe and includes an array of vendors and food and beverage trucks and stands. All the proceeds of this nonprofit festival go to charity. Tickets start at $50 and single-day, three-day, and VIP tickets are available and are on sale now. Amy Young

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Little Dragon
Courtesy of Sonic PR
Little Dragon
Sunday, March 4
Crescent Ballroom

Gothenburg-based electronic group Little Dragon has left Sweden for a U.S. tour, and they’ll soon take the stage at Crescent Ballroom. Fans who have seen the Grammy-nominated band play live know that their concerts usually morph into groovy dance parties. Frontwoman Yukimi Nagano is known for her fluorescent outfits, high energy, and eccentric moves. (Fun fact: The band’s name originated from a nickname given to Nagano because of her hot temper during their early recording sessions.) Nagano’s style and theatrics are often compared to Bjork, although her vocals and Little Dragon’s sound are influenced by hip-hop and pop artists like De La Soul, Janet Jackson, and A Tribe Called Quest.

If that sounds like a good time, put on some comfortable shoes and maybe do some light stretching. Little Dragon’s most recent album, Season High, released in April 2017, is full of luxurious, midtempo smooth jams. The opener, “Celebrate,” is reminiscent of Prince with its sultry melodies and spastic guitar solo, and standout track “Sweet” lights up with arcade sounds and a catchy beat. Expect to hear hits from previous records like their 2011 breakout Ritual Union and 2014 follow-up Nabuma Rubberband. Meagan Mastriani

Demi Lovato & DJ Khaled
Sunday, March 4
Talking Stick Resort Arena

Demi Lovato returns to the Valley in March, and this time it’s with DJ Khaled for a show at Talking Stick Resort Arena. As you’d expect, Lovato’s performance will focus on her newest album, Tell Me You Love Me, which was released last September. It’s gotten good reviews from critics and has been described as running the gamut from “churchy soul to seductive slow-burners to showstopping ballads designed to showcase every single one of Lovato's diva moves.” And you’re pretty much guaranteed to see those moves in concert during her upcoming Valley show.

DJ Khaled will likely show off a few moves of his own while opening for Lovato, be it on the mic while rapping, acting as his own hype man, or working the mixers. Don’t let his now-infamous performance at last year’s EDC (where he was booed offstage after technical problems and other snafus caused his set to become a clusterfuck), the dude’s got major skills as a performer. Benjamin Leatherman

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Jake Shimabukuro brings his ukulele to town in March.
Courtesy of Shore Fire Media
Jake Shimabukuro
Tuesday, March 6
Mesa Arts Center

Jake Shimabukuro's fingers run up and down a ukulele's tiny, two-octave fretboard as nimbly as any rock guitarist's. But he stays true to the song. Indeed, much of Shimabukuro's success over the years has been tied to his spot-on renditions of famous rock and pop tunes. (He shot to fame more than a decade ago thanks to his cover of the Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," one of the first viral videos on YouTube.) And some songs have been extremely tricky to translate to ukulele. He struggled, for example, to arrange Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody."

Shimabukuro's last album, Nashville Sessions, was his first collection of all-original songs. His forthcoming album, The Greatest Day, is about half originals and half covers, and the track list includes Jimi Hendrix's "If 6 Was 9," the Beatles' “Eleanor Rigby,” the Zombies’ “Time of the Season," and an island-reggae version of Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You."

The Hawaii-based Shimabukuro is in the midst of an extensive national tour to promote The Greatest Day. At this point in his career, he's very familiar with the touring grind. On average, he plays between 110 and 130 shows a year, which inevitably results in some wear-and-tear on his hands.

"When we have a lot of back-to-back shows, sometimes my fingertips get a little raw," he says. "You really want to dig in and give it your all, so there are times when the fingers get tender, but when you start playing, the adrenaline kicks in and you feel no pain." Howard Hardee

How spacey will Celebrating David Bowie at Mesa Arts Center get, you think?
Jimmy King
Celebrating David Bowie
Wednesday. March 7
Mesa Arts Center

It still feels strange to talk about David Bowie in the past tense. His music is woven into the fabric of our culture, soundtracking everything from car commercials to rocket launches. In the two years since his death, many have tried to keep his creative spirit alive. Those efforts have run the gamut from second-rate vocalists singing Bowie’s songs with local orchestras to his closest friends and collaborators performing his albums live.

Thankfully, Celebrating David Bowie falls into the latter category, but with a cool twist. The Starman’s longtime keyboardist Mike Garson is joined by guitarists Earl Slick and Gerry Leonard, vocalist Bernard Fowler, and bassist Carmine Rojas to play hits like “Rebel Rebel” and “Ziggy Stardust,” along with some less-known gems from his eclectic catalog. Many artists whom Bowie influenced will drop in throughout the tour. Currently slated to make an appearance at Mesa Arts Center’s Ikeda Theater is the British producer Mr. Hudson (Duran Duran, Kanye West) and Sting’s son Joe Sumner. Jason Keil

Here comes Brockhampton.
Ashlan Grey
Wednesday, March 7, and Thursday, March 8
The Van Buren

People have had a hard time finding the appropriate label for Brockhampton. Is it a rap crew? A music collective? A hip-hop group? A boy band? Brockhampton's members say, yes, a little bit of each – but absolutely a boy band.

And that’s what's so special about them: They are reinventing a musical genre. They are transcending the predetermined rules of popular culture yet breaking through the corporate noise; after all, Brockhampton, which surprisingly formed on KanyeToThe, a Kanye West fan forum, has been running its own project independently.

Brockhampton lands outside of traditional genres while playing with them at the same time. These musicians don't have an either/or, but rather a both/and kind of project. And the group isn't subtle, either. It's 14 members strong, they’re multiracial, and they know exactly how to open a show.

Hitting the floor with the high-energy dance track "BOOGIE," they encourage audience members to mosh and stoke the crowd to a frenzy, feeding off each other’s energy, which tends to get the audience's hands in the air, belting out the lyrics and dancing their hardest. Don’t be surprised if a similar situation unfolds inside The Van Buren during Brockhampton’s two Valley shows in early March. Eneri Rodriguez

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Zsuzsanna Ward, better known as singer ZZ Ward.
Gus Black
ZZ Ward
Friday, March 9
Crescent Ballroom

ZZ Ward's intonations are instantly recognizable from her foot-stomping saloon song "Put the Gun Down," which has accompanied plenty of movie soundtracks already. Zsuzsanna Ward (whose name is worth about 99 points in Scrabble), with her bluesy, note-bending voice, appeals to modern pop sensibilities while adding just enough flair to make her stand out from the crowd. Even if you can't put a face to a name, you can recognize Ward just by hearing "whoo-hoo-hoo" from a mile away. Matt Wood

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Be ready to put your phones away at Lane 8's show.
Andy Cotterill
Lane 8
Friday, March 9
The Van Buren

Daniel Goldstein, better known to listeners as Lane 8, has gained a following in recent years for his lush sound, a potent blend of the more propulsive elements of electronica and the hypnotic quality of deep house.

More recently, Goldstein’s generated headlines for his “This Never Happened” series of shows, which ask concertgoers to leave their phones in their pockets — no 10-second snaps, no selfies, nothing to distract from the ambiance Goldstein is working to cultivate behind the decks.

Beyond dispatching with the annoyance of distracting flashes of light, Goldstein says the best part about “This Never Happened” has been the stories he’s heard after stepping away from the turntables.

“[I have] people telling me after shows or a few days later that they made a bunch of friends at one of my shows,” Goldstein effuses. “That clubbing ideal that you go out and make a bunch of new friends on the dance floor — that’s what made me fall in love with going out and hearing music in the first place! So to hear that people are doing that now at my shows — that’s the absolute dream.”

As of late, Goldstein has been living out plenty of dreams. In addition to the ongoing success of “This Never Happened," 2018 has seen him release his sophomore Lane 8 album, Little by Little, to great acclaim, as well as found a record label named after “This Never Happened.” Zach Schlein

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Renowned blues guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd.
Mark Seliger
Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band
Friday, March 9
Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale

This far into his 20-year career, Kenny Wayne Shepherd has proven time and again his relevance in blues and country — and he's only in his 30s. Yeah. This guy's career technically started when he was 13 years old when blues guitarist Bryan Lee invited Shepherd on stage to play alongside him.

And similar to members of The Beatles, Elvis Presley, and Stevie Ray Vaughn, Shepherd hasn't let his inability to read music get in the way either, making it abundantly clear that some folks are just inherently talented. He pays homage to some of the great blues artists who inspired him in his latest album, Goin' Home, released in 2014, as a collection of covers. Diamond Victoria

Flying Burrito Music & Food Festival
Saturday, March 10
Crescent Ballroom

A new music and food festival is coming to the Valley this spring, courtesy of Phoenix concert promoter Charlie Levy. It's called the Flying Burrito Festival and will include performances from 25 bands on four stages set up along Second Avenue and at Crescent Ballroom in downtown Phoenix. (Full disclosure: Phoenix New Times is a sponsor of the event.)

"We're taking over all of Second Avenue all the way from Van Buren close to Fillmore," Levy says of the event's setup. Albert Hammond Jr., No Age, and Courtney Marie Andrews are scheduled to perform at the fest, whose name is a reference to the classic country-rock band The Flying Burrito Brothers.

Those bros aren't slated to make an appearance, though Levy jokes that Andrews might toss in a cover for good measure. But the event will deliver on booze, bands, and actual burritos. The lineup also includes sets by The Frights, Vox Urbana, Anarbor, Son Led, Porches, The Buttertones, U.S. Girls, Haunted Summer, Dræmings, Current Joys, and many more. Becky Bartkowski

Amber Giles, better known as Mija.
Ryan Farber
Saturday, March 10
Monarch Theatre

Amber Giles is a big proponent of living outside your comfort zone, especially if you happen to be an artist. It’s a distressing and vexing experience, sure, but also one that could potentially expand horizons, fuel creativity, and lead to bigger and better things. And Giles’ ever-evolving career in electronic dance music is proof.

Over the past several years, she’s gone from being a teenage raver, raging away to happy hardcore and drum ’n’ bass at local underground parties, to promoting events herself, becoming a popular DJ dropping house and techno at downtown Phoenix nightspots like Bar Smith. Now, she’s become one of EDM’s fastest-rising talents.

Her biggest change came in late 2014 when Giles, who performs under the stage name Mija, left Phoenix for L.A. The move came a few months after some attention-grabbing performances at high-profile music festivals (including a spontaneous back-to-back sunrise set with Skrillex at that year’s Bonnaroo that hit big online) and was an eye-opening experience that broadened her horizons and musical palette considerably.

Mija returns to the Valley in March at the Monarch Theatre as a part of her current tour. Expect to hear her latest sounds when she performs in the venue’s Scarlet Lounge upstairs. Benjamin Leatherman

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The Andy T. Band will headline this year's Blues Blast.
Courtesy of the Andy T. Band
Blues Blast 2018
Saturday, March 10
Margaret T. Hance Park

If you're a fan of blues music, particularly the kind proffered by local bands and artists, plan to spend part of this weekend soaking up some 12-bar down-home sounds in the great outdoors along with plenty of sun. The latest Blues Blast, the Valley's annual festival celebrating the genre, takes place on Saturday, March 10, at Margaret T. Hance Park and features both local and touring artists alike performing throughout the day.

This year's festival is headlined by Nashville, Tennessee-based combo the Andy T. Band, who will be joined by Alabama Mike and Little Charlie for their performance. Locals on the lineup for this year's Blues Blast include the legendary Big Pete Pearson, Cold Shott and the Hurricane Horns, Smokestack Lightning, Nina Curri, and Dan Rutland. Stan Bindell

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Thrash metal gods Iced Earth.
Courtesy of Century Media Records
Iced Earth
Sunday, March 11
The Pressroom

Iced Earth came out of the rich heavy metal scene in Tampa Bay, Florida, in the late '80s. At a time when melodic heavy metal, especially the glam variety, was on the wane, Iced Earth came in with the wave of metal that produced a melodic speed metal as well as the sort that became known as death metal from the mid '80s to around the turn of the decade with peers like Deicide, Death, and Morbid Angel, who helped to establish further a newer, more brutal aesthetic than fully existed before.

But Iced Earth's musical roots were more grounded in speed metal as pioneered by bands out of the new wave of British heavy metal and its thrash descendants. You can hear evidence of such on any of the dozen or so albums that Iced Earth has released over the last 28 years, including 2017’s Incorruptible, or during their upcoming Valley show at The Pressroom on March 11. Tom Murphy
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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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A$AP Ferg is headed to the Valley.
Jason Goodrich
A$AP Ferg
Wednesday, March 14
The Van Buren

The world got its first taste of Fergenstein on Live. Love. A$AP., the purple-tinged, codeine-soaked 2011 debut mixtape from New York newcomer A$AP Rocky. The tape ushered in Rocky as a breath of fresh air in the hip-hop game and introduced A$AP as not just a young collective of adventurous New York MCs, but a full-blown, trilled-out lifestyle brand. On the track "Kissin' Pink," A$AP Mob member Ferg infused the tape with one of its most standout moments, a cheeky, Dirty South-flavored, half-sung verse that left us wanting more.

Born Darold Ferguson, 25-year-old A$AP Ferg hails from Harlem, where his father used to design and sell his own clothing line to a crew of luminaries like Puff Daddy and Biggie. A hustler and Renaissance man in his own right, when the self-proclaimed Hood Pope said his debut album, Trap Lord, would "change your life," he meant it.

Since then, Ferg’s put out a couple of solo albums, 2016’s Always Strive and Prosper and last year’s Still Striving, not to mention a slew of singles and his contributions to the A$AP Mob’s two Cozy Tapes albums. We expect you’ll hear tracks from all of these projects when Ferg hits Phoenix in mid-March. Falyn Freyman

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Lorde surfaces in the Valley in mid-March.
Courtesy of Chuffmedia
Friday, March 16
Gila River Arena in Glendale

Back in 2014, Lorde was pretty much inescapable. Her album Pure Heroine sold a bazillion copies (and went triple platinum in the U.S.) while its lead single, “Royals,” was seemingly played hourly on the radio. She became a pop wunderkind at the age of 17, won a Grammy, was famously skewered by South Park, and practically became a saint in her home country of New Zealand.

The utter success of Pure Heroine made crafting a follow-up seem like a daunting task, to say the least. Lorde rose to the challenge, however, with 2017’s Melodrama, an 11-song album. It’s earned acclaim from Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, and numerous other outlets, all of whom lauded her “fantastically intimate vocals” and the lyrics and subject matter, which range from introspective musings to lovelorn relationships. Benjamin Leatherman

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Esteemed composer and pianist Burt Bacharach.
Courtesy of Gila River Hotel & Casino

Burt Bacharach
Saturday, March 17
Wild Horse Pass & Casino in Chandler

Although his upbeat songs and brilliant music career seem the definition of the philosophy "do what you love and success will follow," Burt Bacharach says that, despite the success he's achieved through it, writing music is not always fun for him. "Music is what I do, but I am very hard on myself as a writer," Bacharach says. "So sometimes I can't say it's a lot of fun doing it."

We think he's just being humble. We would believe that statement coming from most people. But not from a man whose musical career spans six decades and includes a staggering number of chart-topping songs, numerous creative collaborations, and a surprise or two that shakes up his image every so often. From Burt Bacharach, we don't buy it for a minute.

It sounds like he's having fun to us. Creating the soundtrack to The Blob? Fun. Collaborating with musicians such as Elvis Costello, Ronald Isley, and Dr. Dre? Fun. Working with Marlene Dietrich and making cameos in all three Austin Powers movies, including on top of a bus, no less, in International Man of Mystery? More fun. And even though he's produced a large volume of songs over the years, he hasn't had a stinker yet. Stephanie Durham

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PNB Rock will perform at this year's Pot of Gold Music Festival.
Jimmy Fontaine
Pot of Gold Music Festival 2018
Friday, March 16, to Sunday, March 18
Rawhide Event Center in Chandler

This annual festival rocks for three straight days with a lineup that includes headliners Phil Lesh, Sturgill Simpson, and Russ. There’s plenty more, like G. Love and Special Sauce, Donavan Frankenreiter, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, O.T. Genasis, and Pouya.

In addition to the national acts, there’s also a stage designated for local bands. Food and drink will be available on-site, and there will be a vendor village. Amy Young

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Helios Creed of Chrome.
Bridget Louise/CC BY-SA 2.0/via Flickr
Tuesday, March 20
Club Red in Mesa

Chrome was one of the most influential experimental bands, presaging the harsh, angular, mechanistic songwriting that would become industrial music. Founded in San Francisco in 1975, the act's paranoid vision of a dystopian world expressed itself in sounds that recalled the late-'60s psychedelic rock of the 13th Floor Elevators shot through with a dark, sinister electricity.

With the tragic passing of Damon Edge in 1995, control of the group's name and legacy was passed on to guitarist Helios Creed, and Edge's original equipment came into the possession of Tommy L. Cyborg, of Hawkwind fame.

Creed used to tour under a dual name and perform both Chrome songs and his equally impressive and expansively powerful solo material. However, after releasing two new Chrome albums in recent years – 2014’s Feel It Like a Scientist and 2017’s Techromancy – Creed’s been touring as Chrome, bringing plenty of the band’s deep-space dark intensity to every performance. This month, the band returns to the Valley for their first show in decades. Tom Murphy

Guantanamo Baywatch
Wednesday, March 21
Valley Bar

Portland, Oregon's Guantanamo Baywatch formed in early 2009 and mulched the aesthetics of early surf rock with punk and the early psychobilly of artists like Hasil Adkins and The Cramps in threading together its core sound.

The result? Music that sounds like it could be from the '60s but is just ineffably weirder than most of that stuff. Stylistically, this group's music has more in common with modern outfits like Shannon and the Clams and Hunx and His Punx than with something from 50 years ago.

Guantanamo Baywatch is headed to the Valley in late March for a gig at Valley Bar. New York-born psych-punk/alternative band Acid Dad and locals The Rebel Set will open. Tom Murphy

The Dollyrots are scheduled to perform on Tuesday, March 28, at The Rebel Lounge.
Jen Rosenstein
The Dollyrots
Wednesday, March 21
The Rebel Lounge

Ever wonder what happened to your eighth-grade comrades? For most people, those folks become distant memories, or possibly fodder for some “back when” stories. Kelly Ogden and Luis Cabezas of pop-punk band the Dollyrots don’t have to ponder how each other’s lives evolved.

The pair met during that middle-school year and ended up a longtime couple who added a kid to the mix a few years back. The Dollyrots formed in 2000, after their previous band, No Chef, went through a member reformation. Ogden handles lead vocals and bass duties, while Cabezas rips on guitar. The band has had a healthy rotation of drummers in the mix. Stacey Jones from Letters to Cleo and Miley Cyrus both contributed drum tracks on the band’s 2013 release, Barefoot and Pregnant, recorded while Ogden was both of those things.

For almost two decades, the band has toured consistently to perform their anthemic, bubblegum-pop-punk that maintains a sassy, stompy sensibility. They’ve played with everyone you can think of, from The Go-Go’s to the Buzzcocks, and their catchy song “Because I’m Awesome” has been used for several different TV spots, not their only tune to be selected for that medium. Amy Young

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Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope of Insane Clown Posse.
Melissa Fossum
Insane Clown Posse
Wednesday, March 21
The Pressroom

More than most of this country's musical groups, Insane Clown Posse has an American-dream backstory — but not the kind that makes for typical Hollywood movie material. Joseph Bruce had been involved with gangs; to get out, he became a professional wrestler. Disillusioned with the nonsense of that world, Bruce ultimately teamed up with Joseph Utsler to make hip-hop.

From there, ICP grew into arguably the most successful DIY band of all time, and one of the few to have a massive cult following, attracting disaffected youth from the largely forgotten poverty-stricken segment of American society.

Addressing social issues that affect the poor while also writing cartoonish horror raps, ICP has never forgotten its roots — and always delivers an unforgettable spectacle of a show, especially after they break out the Faygo. Tom Murphy

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The musicians of Sorority Noise.
Kyle Thrash
Sorority Noise
Friday, March 23
Nile Theater in Mesa

To quote Lennie James’ character Morgan from The Walking Dead, everything gets a return. Crazy fashions come back into vogue, beloved movies get remade, and even once-maligned musical subgenres get a chance at redemption. Case in point: the emo revival.

In the last couple of years, some of the strongest rock albums have come from emo revivalists like Modern Baseball, Sorority Noise, and The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die. The “nu emo” scene may be the only sector of indie rock left where guitar-wielding bands play songs that aren’t begging to be sampled or cosigned by Drake. It’s impassioned, energetic rock music that also manages to avoid the toxic masculinity and misogyny that plagued emo version 1.0 of the early aughts.

Sorority Noise have positioned themselves at the front of this new and improved class with their bold and devastating album, You’re Not As ___ As You Think. Inspired by the deaths of several close friends, it’s a moving collection of songs about grief, loss, religion, and depression. It also rocks hard enough to wake the dead. The quartet will fill in the blank when they play the Nile in Mesa in late March. Fair warning: Bring some tissues and a pair of earplugs. Sorority Noise’s music will make your eyes water and your ears bleed. Ashley Naftule

Innings Festival
Friday, March 23, to Sunday, March 25
Tempe Beach Park

Scheduled to take place March 23 through 25 in Tempe, the inaugural Innings Festival coincides with the annual Cactus League spring training games in the Valley (hence its name). The weekendlong event will feature three stages and 36 bands over the three days.

Country wunderkind Chris Stapleton, the foot stompin' Avett Brothers, and Palm Springs rockers Queens of the Stone Age round out the top billing. QOTSA is one of two Josh Homme projects on the list, which also includes his band Eagles of Death Metal.

The rest of the lineup is a who's who of (mostly) alternative darlings, including Young the Giant, The Head and the Heart, Dispatch, Counting Crows, The Decemberists, and Cold War Kids. There's even a local music presence, with Tempe legends Gin Blossoms on the bill.

Other artists on the bill include Sylvan Esso, Phosphorescent, Craig Finn & The Uptown Controller, Luke Combs, Citizen Cope, Bishop Briggs, J Roddy Walston and the Business, The White Buffalo, Lord Huron, and Local Natives. Ashley Harris

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Wyclef Jean will perform in the Valley in March.
Web Summit/CC BY 2.0/via Flickr
Wyclef Jean
Sunday, March 25
BLK Live in Scottsdale

Wyclef Jean is a true Renaissance man. His career started with the Fugees. Think about that fact – one of the most original, distinct collective voices in hip-hop was only the beginning for this Haitian rapper, producer, and politician.

After the trio's second and final album, The Score, went multiplatinum in 1996, the Fugees pretty much imploded. The influential group served as a launching pad for its members, including spawning the illustrious and still-relevant solo careers of Jean and Lauryn Hill.

To date, Wyclef has released a dozen different solo albums since then. He’s also won a few Grammy Awards, served as a visiting fellow in the Department of Africana Studies at Brown University, and tried to run for the Haitian presidency in 2010. Last year, Jean released two albums, a full-length effort entitled Carnival III: The Fall and Rise of a Refugee and a separate EP J'ouvert. Expect to hear songs from both during his concert at BLK Live in Scottsdale on March 25. Matt Preira

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Martin Sexton
Courtesy of the Musical Instrument Museum
Martin Sexton
Thursday, March 29
Musical Instrument Museum

Martin Sexton is a singer's singer. Whereas most male vocalists are tethered by timbre to a particular style, Sexton bends his voice with the fluid flexibility of a skilled instrumentalist, adapting to fit his frequent stylistic tangents with aplomb. An instrumental analogy is apt, as Sexton is equally likely to employ his vocal cords for nonverbal effect.

For a lesser vocalist, it would be a dangerous enterprise, at best, to make such frequent use of potentially contrived-sounding techniques like scat singing, whistling, and (most alarmingly) vocal simulation of actual instruments. Sexton does it so casually and effectively, though, that it never feels out of place or affected.

He's no slouch with an actual instrument, either, frequently relying on an acoustic guitar as backup to his vocal shenanigans. The guitar becomes an extension of his voice (or vice versa), and the two share the duty — and the spotlight — with equal verve and charm. Nick Hall

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Dweezil Zappa is keeping his daddy's legacy alive.
Björn Söderqvist/CC BY-SA 2.0/via Flickr
Dweezil Zappa
Friday, March 30
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

The music of Frank Zappa, whose gonzo brand of rock kept it weird when that phrase really meant something, was so far ahead of its time it’s still an acquired taste. No matter the electric free-jazz mania of Hot Rats or dead-on ‘80s satire of “Valley Girl,” his spiritual influence far outpaced his commercial impact. And one of the cats keeping Frank’s laser-brained legacy alive is the one man who knows his dad’s music better than anyone (except perhaps one person), his eldest son, Dweezil.

Despite an ongoing feud with brother Ahmet over who owns the trademark to the copyrighted terms “Zappa” and “Frank Zappa” — prompting the name of Dweezil’s group to revert from Zappa Plays Zappa to his own name — Dweezil is forging ahead with his tours celebrating his dad’s music. The newest is entitled “Choice Cuts!” and features a variety of hits from Frank’s legendary discography. Chris Gray

Alt-bluegrass act Yonder Mountain String Band.
Jay Blakesberg
Yonder Mountain String Band
Saturday, March 31
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Yonder Mountain String Band is one of the most respected names in bluegrass, and alt-bluegrass in particular, a genre that includes artists such as Split Lip Rayfield and Trampled by Turtles. The act got its start playing small bars in Boulder, Colorado, and the nearby mountain communities to small but enthusiastic audiences who found something more than bluegrass within this bluegrass band.

Audiences discovered a sound that draws on musical influences as diverse as hard rock, punk, metal, and jazz in shaping a sound, though bluegrass-based, that is progressive in direction and scope and not bound by staunch traditional formulas.

The band is just as likely to draw off Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder, or Ozzy Osbourne as they are Bill Monroe or David Grisman. Such genre-blending lures fans of the jam-band scene – people looking for inspiration in improvisation and unexplored musical avenues, as well as highly danceable music. Glenn BurnSilver
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