This week's concert calendar offers shows by both old-school and new-school artists. That is to say, it’s a mix of O.G. music legends, indie and alt-rock icons, and up-and-coming bands and musicians who are making waves and turning heads.
In the former category, you’ve got renowned ska progenitors The Skatalites, infamously offensive punkers Dayglo Abortions, alternative kings Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Sonic Youth co-founder Thurston Moore.
On the other side of the spectrum, there’s noise rock/post-punk band Protomartyr, synthy emo balladeer Cuco, and local multidimensional jazz act House of Stairs.
Previews for each these artists and details about their upcoming gigs can be found in the following list of the best concerts in Phoenix this week. (For even more shows happening around town, hit up our online live music listings.)
Austin, Texas, is a musical hotbed. Though many bands coming out of the hill country dig locally for a blues, country, or roots-rock sound (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Willie Nelson, Los Lonely Boys), The Black Angels time-trip east for inspiration, namely late 1960s New York City and The Velvet Underground.
Hell, the band’s name is even a Velvets song derivative, while the band’s latest album title, Death Song, completes VU’s original song title. Dark, moody, brooding, loud, fuzzy, flighty, haunting, and gritty, The Black Angels conjure up a trippy, psychedelic montage of sound and nuance that stabs and claws at the senses, all the while soaking into one’s pores like acid.
Deftly slipping latent pop hooks into the swirling undercurrent awash with floating, breathy, and sometimes political lyrics (check out the greed-chasing “Currency”), the ride gets a little heady. In these dark days, who wouldn’t benefit from a little head trip? Glenn Burnsilver
The Thurston Moore Group has hit the road in support of Moore’s fifth solo release, Rock n Roll Consciousness, which dropped in April. The record only contains five songs but runs nearly an hour, with a couple of tracks, “Turn On” and “Exalted,” passing the 10-minute mark. Its overall sound is classic Moore: noisy, intricate, and a little spacey. It’s permeated by a dreamy sonic haze.
A member of New York’s seminal noise rock band Sonic Youth, Moore has remained busy since that band’s demise in 2011, both with solo records, collaborations, and his project Chelsea Light Moving, inspired by the legendary writer William S. Burroughs, who penned provocative fiction works Junkie and Naked Lunch.
In addition to Moore on guitar and vocal duties, The Thurston Moore Group is currently a mix of outstanding musicians who all have lengthy rosters of achievements. There’s Steve Shelley, who drummed with Moore in Sonic Youth and is the current recording drummer for indie band Sun Kil Moon. Deb Googe from My Bloody Valentine and Primal Scream is on bass, and James Sedwards from bands Nought and Chrome Hoof plays guitar. Amy Young
If anything is going to take you back to your high-school ska phase, it's going to be this show at Last Exit Live starring famed Jamaica outfit The Skatalites.
Originally founded back in 1964, the band was instrumental in forming the rude-boy sound by collaborating with iconic artists including Prince Buster. Unlike many of their contemporaries from ska’s first and second waves, The Skatalites are still around to this day, having survived and endured through multiple breakups and hiatuses. Much of the band's original lineup – they feature have a four-piece brass section – still rocks steady on signature tracks and hits as such as "Guns of Navarone" and "Garden of Love."
Local ska act 2Tone Lizard Kings will open the evening, and the duo of DJ Beat Betty and DJ FullStop (a.k.a. the Phoenix City Sound System) will spin dancehall, rocksteady, and skank-worthy music between sets. Chandler Levack
Phoenix’s jazzy House of Stairs cite Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher — known for a mathematical style of design — as an influence. But they aren’t trying to emulate Escher’s visual aesthetic through asymmetrical haircuts or black-and-white outfits. Instead, they use his calculated style as an inspiration for their songs (and their name).
That approach helps House of Stairs deliver a unique twist on soulful jazz. By playing with the vocals and strategically layering them, they inject their music with a futuristic vibe. It’s hard not to be immediately sold when you hear Holly Pyle’s powerful voice. It has so much age and wisdom in it, you might guess she was bred in a jazz lab.
But beyond the frontwoman is a band that thoughtfully creates a sonic landscape full of unexpected edges and corners that flow so smoothly they feel soft and winding.
This show at The Lost Leaf is a chance to enjoy them in an intimate setting, soaking up the sounds and enjoying the way they play with space, time, and rhythms. Amy Young
Aww, Cuco! This shy teenage romantic and former bedroom musician (born Omar Banos) only started performing (backyard shows!) last fall, but his dreamy vaporwave beats and sensitive, bilingual lyrics about love and longing already have his growing legion of young Latina fans in a tizzy.
The 19-year-old L.A. native reps his Chicano roots hard by pulling from two great traditions of tenderness – Mexican balladas and American emo – creating a nuevo sonido all his own.
Despite his relatively brief career, he’s already headlined some festivals and event in his hometown (including Viva! Pomona) and nabbed hundreds of thousands of views with his songs on YouTube. He’s also packing ‘em in at venues, both in his hometown (he sold out famed L.A. spot The Smell earlier) and in other cities. In fact, Cuco’s show this week in the Valley, originally scheduled for Valley Bar, got moved to much bigger digs at the Crescent Ballroom. Sarah Bennett
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