Concerts in Phoenix December 17-20: Travis Scott, H.E.R., Brother Ali | Phoenix New Times

The 7 Best Concerts in Metro Phoenix This Week

Big shows are happening this week, even in the midst of the holiday hullabaloo.
Travis Scott is scheduled to perform on Tuesday, December 18, at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
Travis Scott is scheduled to perform on Tuesday, December 18, at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mathew Tucciarone
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We’re getting closer to Christmas, which means the holiday hullabaloo is going to increase exponentially. There are gifts to buy, halls to deck, parties to attend, and myriad other things to do as the big day approaches.

Concurrently, the concert scene in the Valley is (quite understandably) going to be dialing it down a bit over the next couple of weeks as everyone focuses more on the yuletide happenings.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any notable shows happening around the metro Phoenix area. Far from it. This week, for instance, will feature performances by such major names as Travis Scott, H.E.R., Brother Ali, Jay Som, and Justus Proffit at local venues.

Details about each of these gigs can be found below in our list of the best shows happening in the Valley this weekend. And for even more live music happening around the Valley, hit up Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar.

Gabriella "Gabi" Wilson, better known as R&B artist H.E.R.
Timothy Saccenti
Monday, December 17
Celebrity Theatre

California-born singer H.E.R. taps into '90s R&B by using references from Aaliyah, R. Kelly, and Lauren Hill in her music. Then she effortlessly flips these samples, creating relatable music for her younger audience. Born Gabriella Wilson, H.E.R. began her career at 10 years old, when she sang her ass off to a cover of Alicia Keys' "If I Ain't Got You" on the Today show. Although she played a role in the music industry by being featured on BET and working behind the scenes in songwriting and background vocals, she disappeared from public view for years — until she reappeared as H.E.R. In 2016, she released a self-titled EP, reflecting on all of her lost love stories while wearing sunglasses to disguise her face and posting shady photos on Instagram.

You don’t need to look into H.E.R.’s eyes to see her into soul. Her love language isn’t expressed through a shimmer in her eyes but through ballads from her heart. With its nostalgic samples, her music sounds familiar yet also thoroughly modern. This is how to keep a generation alive while still relaying its messages to a younger audience. Instead of falling into the music industry trap of attempting to reinvent the wheel and create new subgenres, H.E.R. renewed a sound that stands on the foundation of classic R&B. Cristina Jerome

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Underground rapper Brother Ali.
Colleen Eversman
Brother Ali
Tuesday, December 18
Crescent Ballroom

Brother Ali commands the stage like a political figure, only one who's less concerned with appearance and more concerned with the impact of his speech. In the nihilistic rap world of uncountable monies, untraceable guns, and impregnable bitches, Ali has remained a lyricist with purpose, whether it's political, social, or personal.

Ali has a remarkable presence that is composed and venerable yet friendly and approachable. He's humble but still utterly confident and self-assured, which reflects in his powerfully uplifting lyrics. His delivery is almost like a pastor's sermon: fiery, impassioned and with a soulful voice that hangs on his most important words, but amazingly, he rarely sounds preachy or condescending. His passion for hip-hop is palpable: "The music is still alive," he says, "because it's making us alive."

And that's really what Brother Ali seems to want – to enliven people, to make them question themselves, but still allow them to love themselves, to perpetually push into spaces of uncertainty and gray area, because that's where life really occurs. Noah Hubbell

Holly Pyle of House of Stairs.
House of Stairs
Tuesday, December 18
The Lost Leaf

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 are a band that thoughtfully create 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
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Travis Scott performing at Rolling Loud 2018.
Amadeus McCaskill / Miami New Times
Travis Scott
Tuesday, December 18
Talking Stick Resort Arena

“If you build it, they will come.” So goes the famous quote from Field of Dreams. For Travis Scott, possibly the third most high-profile rapper in the country behind Drake and Kanye, the statement should read, “If you rebuild it,” because he’s spent the last year trying to revive, in his own unique way, the beloved Houston amusement park AstroWorld. Hailing himself from Space City, Scott has talked extensively about the joy given to him by the park, which was built by Texan legend Judge Roy Hofheinz, sold to Six Flags, and closed unceremoniously in 2005. He channeled those feelings into his latest album, ASTROWORLD, in which he applies his hedonistic, cloud rap style to this beloved setting, and into a festival in Houston. The album has earned rave reviews and the single “Sicko Mode” has peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. That’s not all: Scott is planning on taking ASTROWORLD on the road. He’ll be here this month at Talking Stick Resort Arena for what will be an out-of-this-world spectacular. Sheck Wes, Trippie Redd, and more provide support. Douglas Markowitz

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Steve "Stevie D" Davis rocking out on his prize bass at a U.S. Bombs show in 2018.
Cat Ashbee
Love Bomb: A Benefit for Steven Davis
Wednesday, December 19
Crescent Ballroom

People occasionally still band together for a good cause, and Wednesday, December 19, at Crescent Ballroom will be no different. Longtime Phoenix musician and artist Steve “Stevie D” Davis was recently diagnosed with stage four liver cancer. This is, as you probably can tell, not good, and as friends are often wont to do, some of Davis’ decided to do something about to help.

Multiple bands including Davis’ current band, U.S. Bombs, will perform across an evening that will also include a silent auction, and a portion of all food proceeds will be donated to allaying the costs of Davis’ considerable health-care challenges. In addition to the Bombs, The Freeze, Glass Heroes, The Faded Pictures, French Girls, and several other area bands will perform in honor of their friend. The show begins at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10. Tom Reardon

Local live music institution the Rhythm Room.
Benjamin Leatherman
Christmas Punk Rock Art Show
Wednesday, December 19
The Rhythm Room

Valley punk bands like The Spider Hole, Brian Cooper's Ghost, Squeezie Jibbz, and Songs Lacking Talent will perform at this hellacious holiday hootenanny at the Rhythm Room on Wednesday night. Meanwhile, a collection of such local artists as Ethan Scott, Nancy De La Torre, Jim Wood, Anita Orbrecht, Becky Cavitt, Sherri Poppins, Jerome Mann, and others will be displaying and selling their latest works. Rock on. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the music starts at 8 p.m. Admission is $5. Benjamin Leatherman
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