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The 10 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week

Captured! By Robots is scheduled to perform on Tuesday, September 25, at Yucca Tap Room.
Captured! By Robots is scheduled to perform on Tuesday, September 25, at Yucca Tap Room.
Sarah Passon

There's no shortage of colorful characters livening up the Phoenix concert scene this week, including a few robots, ogres, and Glitch Mobs.

But don’t take our word for it, check out the following list of the best shows happening in the Valley this week, including gigs by Greta Van Fleet, Loudon Wainwright III, Liz Phair, and Bobby McFerrin.

And for even more live music happening around the Valley this weekend, hit up Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar.

Legendary singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III.EXPAND
Legendary singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III.
Ross Halfin

Loudon Wainwright III
Monday, September 24
Musical Instrument Museum

For 50 very odd years, Loudon Wainwright III's lacerating wit, unflinching candor, and impish glee have combined to skewer everything in sight, from the near and dear to the feared — which, as it now turns out, is the Grim Reaper.

LW3's favorite protagonist has always been himself, and he's made self-deprecation a highly twisted art form. His 2012 album, Older Than My Old Man Now, is a morbid laugh riot about "death 'n' decay," physical infirmities, geriatric medication, fractured families, regrets, confusion, and fleeting time, and was apparently triggered by the 72-year-old III lapping II, who died at 63.

Wainwright is cheerfully sardonic throughout his performances, cleverly peppering the tunes with wry humor. But there's also inevitable poignancy at work, bittersweet and haunting, as he pokes at a lifetime of uncomfortable truths. Rick Mason

Liz Phair: one of the all-time greats.
Liz Phair: one of the all-time greats.
Elizabeth Weinberg

Liz Phair
Tuesday, September 25
Crescent Ballroom

After releasing a short run of independently released cassettes titled Girly Sound in the early '90s, Liz Phair quickly garnered critical acclaim for her offbeat sense of humor and knack for quirky, inventive pop songs. On the strength of those releases, Phair signed to Matador Records, which released her debut full-length, Exile in Guyville, in 1993.

A humorously serious answer to the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main St., Guyville both established Phair as one of the premier songwriters of the alternative era and garnered some withering criticism from the likes of Steve Albini. The latter acknowledged the importance of the album to so many women during his interview on the bonus DVD of the 2008 reissue of Guyville, so Phair can claim something like vindication for her work.

In the last few years, Phair has been scoring television shows, which has led, in part, her to experimenting with her own songwriting. The result is a group of exuberantly playful songs that are eclectic, humorous, and smart. You can hear them on Funstyle, her most recent album, or during her upcoming show at the Crescent Ballroom. Tom Murphy

Robot roll call.EXPAND
Robot roll call.
Raymond Ahner

Captured! By Robots
Tuesday, September 25
Yucca Tap Room in Tempe

Hate to break it to you, fellow carbon-based lifeforms, but we’re slowly but surely being replaced by automatons. That creeping sense of existential dread you get watching those videos of AI-powered ’bots awkwardly walking is completely justified, considering it’s a harbinger of our impending obsolesence as machines learn to do our jobs better than we can. Heck, the demonic droids of Captured! By Robots have already proven they can rock harder than any human.

The grindcore act, which features audio automatons GTRBOT666 and DRMBOT0110, creates efficiently terrorizing and viciously unrelenting thrash rock featuring the torturous screams of their human slave/creator JBOT (a.k.a. musician Jay Vance) singing about mankind’s folly. Witness the robot revolution unfold on Tuesday night at the Yucca Tap when C!BR invades the local rock dive. The takeover begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance, $14 at the door. Benjamin Leatherman

The members of Greta Van Fleet.EXPAND
The members of Greta Van Fleet.
Tyler Macey

Greta Van Fleet
Tuesday, September 25, and Wednesday, September 26
Marquee Theatre

“There’s a band in Detroit called Greta Van Fleet: they are Led Zeppelin I. Beautiful little singer, I hate him!” Robert Plant said that. Yes, the Robert Plant from the Led Zeppelin. It’s true, the four-piece has gotten lots of comparisons to Zep for their hard-rocking sound and singer Josh Kiszka’s hippie fashion vibe. What Plant doesn’t understand (probably because he’s an old fart) is that Greta Van Fleet is a “post-millennial” band, as NME called them, and us young people are totally chill with mixing up, sampling, and homaging everything we love and making something new out of it. And let’s not pretend Led Zeppelin didn’t just turn the volume up on the old American blues records they listened to back in the '60s. Keep on rockin’ in the free world, Greta Van Fleet. Douglas Markowitz

Don't worry, here's Bobby.EXPAND
Don't worry, here's Bobby.
Ingrid Hertfelder

Bobby McFerrin & Gimme5
Tuesday, September 25, and Wednesday, September 26
Musical Instrument Museum

One-hit wonders, by definition, have a lyrical or instrumental gimmick, and one that won't carry the artist any further than, well, one hit. Was it really possible for Hot Butter to top the electronic weirdness of its 1969 Moog-based hit, "Popcorn"? Or, in more recent times, would anyone want to hear any more trancey gibberish out of Crazy Frog (a so-called recording artist who originated from a British mobile phone ringtone)?

In 1988, Bobby McFerrin gave us "Don't Worry, Be Happy," an ironic paean to the benighted optimism of the Reagan years. In it McFerrin urged listeners to forget stress, his syncopated vocals underscored by percussion created entirely with his mouth, as well as an unforgettable (and slightly annoying) whistle. As with many artists who hit it big almost by mistake, the song didn't do justice to McFerrin's oeuvre. He was, and remains, renowned in jazzier circles for vocal virtuosity that puts most hip-hop beatboxers to shame. The vocal chords are his instrument, explored to full capacity with every inhalation, click of the tongue, or falsetto elision. Over the past three decades, he has collaborated with the likes of Yo-Yo Ma, Herbie Hancock, and Chick Corea, and has collected 10 Grammys (including a Song of the Year nod in 1989 for ... you know). Arielle Castillo

Wednesday, September 26
Club Red in Mesa

ohGr is a project involving Mark Walk and Ogre (aka Kevin Ogilvie), the legendary frontman from influential and pioneering electronic band Skinny Puppy. During the '80s and '90s, Skinny Puppy created one of the templates many industrial artists followed. But, perhaps more significantly for the current era, the musical DNA of Skinny Puppy's experiments in sound collage and moody atmospheres can be heard in the more adventurous electronic music artists of today.

With ohGr, Ogre is able to make an organically visceral music with strong narrative lyrics delivered in the way only a veteran of one of the darkest and most visually arresting bands of the last thirty years can. Currently on tour in support of its latest album, Tricks, ohGr continues to explore the psycho-social perils of the world around us today in creatively poignant ways. Tom Murphy

Lincoln Durham is a one-man musical dynamo.
Lincoln Durham is a one-man musical dynamo.
J. Trevino

Lincoln Durham
Wednesday, September 26
Pub Rock Live in Scottsdale

"Anything goes" should have been the catchphrase for one of the most unpredictable one-man bands around, Lincoln Durham. He might throw in occasional odes to girls named Clementine and shed a little ever-loving light, but it definitely isn't in an old-fashioned gospel kind of way. He prefers a more tortured brand of roots rock.

Sure, Durham bangs a bass drum like all the other one-man bands, but he does it while grinding out stomp-rock blues on everything from a tattered-up Gibson to a homemade cigar-box guitar with some empty suitcases, beat-up mandolins, and blown-out harmonicas thrown in.

Durham is the first to admit he's more than slightly obsessed with Tom Waits. Everything Waits does confuses, frightens, intrigues and enlightens him, he says. Add to that a little Son House, Fred McDowell, and of course, rooting around in attics for $50 one-stringed abominations (the cheaper the better), and the Durham sound was born. Sonya Harvey

The members of metal band Exmortus.
The members of metal band Exmortus.
Courtesy of Prosthetic Records

Wednesday, September 26
Club Red in Mesa

A love of hard rock and heavy metal has been a common bond for Conan and Mario Moreno since the cousins dressed up as KISS' Gene Simmons and Ace Frehley for Halloween as kids in the late '90s. Now in their 20s, Conan and Mario are the frontman/guitarist and drummer, respectively, for thrash metal upstart Exmortus. The band's sound is a blistering blend of European-influenced, neo-classical thrash metal. Conan's magnificent guitar solo centerpieces tie songs together and evoke memories of '80s shred guitar greats like Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai.

Altogether, Exmortus' sound is a major leap from the KISS-worshiping days of the Whittier cousins' youth. Exmortus's heavy sound, however, is rooted in family. "We were barely teenagers when we started the band," Mario says. "At that age, it's hard enough to find band members period, let alone band members whose parents were okay with their 16-year-old sons going out to play backyard parties in East L.A." The group's current lineup includes new members David Rivera on second guitar and Jovanni Perez on bass. While these latest additions aren't blood relatives, the four guys went to high school together and at one point all lived within blocks of each other. Jason Roche

Songwriters Showcase
Wednesday, September 26
Pho Cao in Scottsdale

Local singer-songwriter Shannon Crane lives to entertain — and for the past 30-plus years, she’s done just that. The multi-talented musician and vocalist has performed for most of her life, gracing stages both across the country and around the Valley. These days, she fronts local ensemble Shan Jam Crane and the Wild Banchees and hosts the biweekly Songwriters Showcase every second and fourth Wednesday of the month at Pho Cao, 7436 East McDowell Road in Scottsdale.

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This week’s edition of the showcase is a special one for Crane, who will celebrate her 60th birthday during the event, which takes place on Wednesday, September 26. In addition to a headlining set by Crane and company, the night will feature sets by such locals as folk rock group Buzz Babins and As Is Band, inspirational singer Katy Litwiller, and goth rock act Melodie Za and Eternal. Performances start at 7 p.m. and there’s no cover. Benjamin Leatherman

Members of electronica act The Glitch Mob.EXPAND
Members of electronica act The Glitch Mob.
Magnum PR

The Glitch Mob
Thursday, September 27
The Van Buren

Clubbers, beware! Something wicked this way comes — an alien hybrid built out of the DNA of hip-hop, electro, jungle and glitch, fused together via DSP wizardry and masterful laptop skills. With bowel-rupturing sub-bass, teeth-rattling beats and mind-bending cuts, edits and processing, it's the aural equivalent of an industrial-strength cleanser: caustic and abrasive, but sure to leave you feeling fresh if you survive the scrubbing. This beast has been identified as the spawn of the Glitch Mob, a group of four seriously deranged beat scientists with a taste for the bizarre and a predilection for blowing up dance floors wherever they go. If you sight these miscreants — say, Thursday, September 27, at The Van Buren – don’t attempt to apprehend them. Instead, simply signal the authorities and remove yourself to a safe distance. Close contact can be dangerous, as it has been known to trigger irresistible rhythmic movements and may be habit-forming. Should you allow your body to jack to their funky, fucked-up, future sound, you may not be able to stop. Cory Casciato

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