The 11 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week

Nine Inch Nails is scheduled to perform on Thursday, September 13, at Comerica Theatre.
Nine Inch Nails is scheduled to perform on Thursday, September 13, at Comerica Theatre.
Corinne Schiavonne
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Need proof that the Valley is coming out of its summer doldrums? Look no further than all the fantastic shows happening this week.

An abundance of notable concerts will happen during the next several nights, including gigs by Nine Inch Nails, Comethazine, Social Distortion, Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, and E-40.

Plus, the Game of Thrones live concert tour will also invade the Valley and Miniature Tigers, who got their start in the Valley more than a decade ago, will return home on their current tour celebrating the 10th anniversary of their breakthrough album, Tell It to the Volcano.

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.

Say farewell to LVL UP when they swing through town on their final tour.EXPAND
Say farewell to LVL UP when they swing through town on their final tour.
Shawn Brackbill

Monday, September 10
The Rebel Lounge

“I can’t stop the dance / Baby, this is my last chance.” Sure, this quote from U2’s “Two Hearts Beat as One” doesn’t have anything to do with LVL UP ... OR DOES IT? It might, in fact, because coming up soon is your last chance to see this venerable New York indie band. They’ve called it quits, you see. The breakup was mutual and amicable, however, and to show the nation that no really, they’re cool with each other, they’ve set off on a farewell tour.

LVL UP was formed at SUNY Purchase way back in 2011 (feel old?) and released a bunch of records in their particularly chill, lo-fi rock style, which is a bit reminiscent of ’90s bands such as Built to Spill and Yo La Tengo. They eventually made it to Sub Pop in 2016 for their LP Return to Love. They announced their breakup with a final song, “Orchard,” which at a length of 3:38 is one of their longer tracks. There may be some tears at this show. So long, dudes! Douglas Markowitz

Social D swings through town this week.
Social D swings through town this week.
Danny Clinch

Social Distortion
Monday, September 10
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Started in Southern California in 1978 by a teenage Mike Ness, Social Distortion was inspired by the Sex Pistols and The Rolling Stones. Listen to the band's catalog of seven albums, released sporadically over the past 34 years, and you'll hear the rebellious spirit of those influences. But lyrically, Social Distortion takes an approach that's different from those two British acts. Ness sings less about emotions and spins yarns about losers, misfits, and those whom life has kicked in the face. He does what every hackneyed creative writing teacher tells students to do: He shows rather than tells. And it doesn't take getting to Social Distortion's rocking cover of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" or Emmylou Harris' "Making Believe" to recognize that the band's most obvious influence are the troubadours you're likelier to hear in old-time country music, albeit sped up on amphetamines. David Rolland

All hail The Mountain Goats, who perform at the Crescent Ballroom on September 11.EXPAND
All hail The Mountain Goats, who perform at the Crescent Ballroom on September 11.
Jeremy Lange

The Mountain Goats
Tuesday, September 11
Crescent Ballroom

Mountain Goats frontman John Darnielle has long been considered one of the best storytellers in modern rock. Hell, fans even tried to get him named U.S. Poet Laureate back in 2012. His voice and lyrics have helped to garner the band a devoted fan base, as well as 16 studio albums and more than 20 EPs. He's confronted such topics as drug addiction on “Dilaudid” to his own temperamental upbringing on “This Year,” and The Mountain Goats even put out a full album concerning professional wrestling of the '70s and '80s. Their eclectic themes all come from the through line that is Darnielle. Their latest album, Goths, focuses on exactly that, inspired by bands of Darnielle’s youth such as The Cure, Bauhaus, and Joy Division. And for the first time in Mountain Goats history, Goths excludes Darnielle’s and everyone else's guitars. They opted instead for the warm and less-intrusive sounds of keyboards and choirs, which allows the story and verse to take center stage. The album is part love letter, part cautionary tale, but it more than lives up to The Mountain Goats' illustrious reputation. Catch them if you can at Crescent Ballroom. Nicholas Bostick

Composer Ramin Djawadi will return to the Valley.EXPAND
Composer Ramin Djawadi will return to the Valley.
Courtesy of Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience

Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience
Wednesday, September 12
Gila River Arena in Glendale

Like all pop culture phenomena, Game of Thrones will not allow itself to be bound to one medium. What began as a series of fantasy books written by George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones was unleashed on the world of the illiterate through a hugely popular HBO show in 2011. But that was not enough for the fans of dragons, battles, and incest. Over the years, there have been Game of Thrones video games, conventions, and now, a live concert experience.

The TV show's composer, Ramin Djawadi, conducts an orchestra and chorus that play selections of the music that accompanied the many deaths, resurrections, and bare-breasted brothel scenes throughout the past seven seasons of Game of Thrones. A massive screen hanging above the players will broadcast images of the Starks and Lannisters battling and embracing (though you will have to subscribe to HBO to see the R-rated material).

The live concert experience provides special effects whose descriptions, like the show on which it is based, will be preceded by spoiler alerts. During explosions, flames shoot up from the stage; at times, to represent wildfire, the flames are appropriately green. When the action takes audiences to the frozen tundra of the North, snowflakes fall from the rafters.

So although Game of Thrones fanatics might have to wait months for the next season to begin, fear not: This show offers a chance to get your fix of Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister, and all the other magical and brutal figures of their ever-expanding world. David Rolland

SoundCloud rapper Comethazine.EXPAND
SoundCloud rapper Comethazine.
APA Agency

Thursday, September 13
Pub Rock Live in Scottsdale

You may not have heard of him, but earlier this year, St. Louis rapper Comethazine had the No. 1 song on SoundCloud. This, of course, was due to some shenanigans: An account hosting previous No. 1 song YBN Nahmir’s “Bounce Out With That” quietly switched the audio file with Comethazine’s “Bands.” Some Reddit users investigated and the song was pulled, but the “damage” had been done, and the rapper had gained some serious clout.

Not that he needed it, of course: The blond-haired former mechanic, who says he can take apart a car in an hour, is one of the most interesting rising rappers in the weird world of SoundCloud rap. Aside from that rogue SoundCloud account, he’s also earned fans on Twitter, with influential account @BillRatchet tweeting “Listening to ‘V12’ by Comethazine makes me feel like i could single-handedly defeat ISIS.” “Bands” is a perfect summation of what makes him unique, from the wild, woozy production to the way he asks us to “watch me do my dance-dance-dance.” He also has a weird fixation on Demi Lovato that rivals Lil Pump’s crush on Miranda Cosgrove in intensity, name-dropping her on nearly every song. Somebody please come and get your mans-mans-mans! Douglas Markowitz

Southern rock jam band Gov't Mule.
Southern rock jam band Gov't Mule.
Anna Webber

Gov't Mule
Wednesday, September 12
The Van Buren

Gov't Mule formed in 1994 as a side project of Warren Haynes and Allen Woody, who were then members of the Allman Brothers Band. While both men continued to play with the Allman Brothers, Gov't Mule became quite a viable entity on its own, rooted in a similar blend of blues, jazz, and rock, with a penchant for improvisational elaborations on a theme. The Mule has long had a rotating cast of guest musicians with an exhaustive list that reads like a "who's who" of the improvisational rock, blues, and jazz world. Tom Murphy

Valley native Charlie Brand (top-center) and the other members of Miniature Tigers.
Valley native Charlie Brand (top-center) and the other members of Miniature Tigers.
Courtesy of Miniature Tigers

Miniature Tigers
Thursday, September 13
The Rebel Lounge

When I first heard music from the Miniature Tigers, I had recently turned 14 and I was filled with hope about love, life, and the future. I was listening to One Direction while working on math homework during class and the boy sitting behind me pulled out my headphones and said he was going to "show me some actually good music." As it turns out, he was right: he proceeded to show me “Cannibal Queen,” arguably the most popular song off of Tell It to the Volcano, the band’s debut album.

Now, 10 years after they released that album and seven years after I discovered them, they’re going on an anniversary tour to celebrate. Charlie Brand, the band’s lead singer, says the band went into the making of that album not knowing anything about anything. “It was the first album we ever made, and we were just trying things and experimenting and going into the studio and having fun and not overthinking,” he says.

They try to maintain that same energy through touring as well by not getting worked up or stressed when something goes wrong, choosing to highlight mistakes instead of shunning them. “I’ve never been a perfectionist or found perfection in art to be that interesting,” Brand says. “I like when I see a band having fun on stage rather than trying to be perfect or put forth this airtight performance.” Angelica Cabral

Black Joe Lewis & the HoneybearsEXPAND
Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears
Courtesy of Billions

Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears
Thursday, September 13
Valley Bar

Blues, funk, soul, country – why pick one when you could have them all? That’s the ethos behind Austin, Texas, native Black Joe Lewis and his band the Honeybears, who’ve caught so many comparisons to so many different artists, it’s hard to list just a few (but we’ll try: James Brown, Howlin’ Wolf, The Gun Club, Sam Cooke, the Stax Records lineup, and so on). They’re a like a compendium of American music history, smashing every great genre from the 20th century together in a guitar-laden smorgasbord on albums like 2017’s Backlash. You might learn something at this show. Douglas Markowitz

Thursday, September 13
The Pressroom

When I think E-40, like anyone else in the hip-hop world, I think “Tell Me When to Go.” Back in 2006, it was impossible not to hear it on the radio, on the TV, or in nightclubs everywhere. But long before that smash hit, the Vallejo, California native otherwise known as Earl Stevens had already built a long, steady career as rapper, producer and entrepreneur with a magic touch in the studio.

Besides racking up hit features with other mainstream artists, E-40 has released 20 studio albums. This is a number some artists don’t even see in the span of their career. But what’s even more fascinating is the pace at which these works have been released: From 2010 to 2012 alone, E-40 dropped a total of nine studio albums. One was a collaborative album with Too Short, another respectable rap figure hailing from the West Coast. Three of these albums were released in 2012 alone. On top of that, he's also been prolific composing film soundtracks, building businesses, and writing books. Frankly, we're not even sure where he finds the time to tour. Devin Papillion

JJ Grey in concert.EXPAND
JJ Grey in concert.
All Eyes Media

JJ Grey and Mofro
Thursday, September 13
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

After just a few notes, anyone witnessing JJ Grey in action can't help but notice how strong his stage presence is. He doesn’t need pyrotechnics or an elaborate stage show or costumes to pull a crowd in. All he needs is a microphone, a harmonica, and a guitar or two, and he’ll pull the crowd down to his world of dirty, authentic Southern grooves and deep-fried soul lyrics. Grey epitomizes what a frontman should be, and the rest of Mofro kick out grooves that would make a dead Confederate dance like his reanimated life depended on it. His lyrics are reminiscent of the great Southern poets; fiercely personal, universal, and political without a hint of superiority or peachiness. Jonathan Cunningham

Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails.
Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails.
Jeremiah Toller

Nine Inch Nails and The Jesus and Mary Chain
Thursday, September 13, and Friday, September 14
Comerica Theatre

There is a chance that, for a lot of younger music fans, the name “Trent Reznor” doesn’t make one think of Nine Inch Nails, but of Facebook. In 2010, Reznor and Atticus Ross, who joined NIN in 2016, produced the Oscar-winning score to David Fincher’s The Social Network, the Mark Zuckerberg biopic that becomes more thought-provoking with every dark fact that’s revealed about the now-massive corporation. Much of that is thanks to Reznor and Ross’ chilly, atmospheric music, and they’ve since extended their aesthetic to Fincher’s other works (Gone Girl, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) and to Ken Burns’ documentary The Vietnam War. Of course, that doesn’t mean NIN itself has been put by the wayside. Far from it: The band has released three EP-length records in the last two years, with the latest, Bad Witch, coming out in June.

Another band that readers are likely to know from the cinema? If you’ve ever seen Lost in Translation, Sofia Coppola’s superb romantic drama about two Americans stuck in Tokyo, you’ll remember its killer soundtrack, which included songs from Phoenix, Happy End, and My Bloody Valentine. You’ll also remember the very end, where Bill Murray’s bittersweet departure from the Land of the Rising Sun is set to “Just Like Honey,” by the Jesus and Mary Chain. That jangly guitar tone, those echoing, “Be My Baby” drums, those murmured vocals — it was a perfect cap to a mysterious, bewitching film. Of course, the Chain weren’t some unheard rock band plucked from obscurity. They were a major force in the U.K.’s indie scene in the late ’80s, and their album Psychocandy is a classic. They open for NIN on both Phoenix dates. Douglas Markowitz

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