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The 7 Best Concerts in Metro Phoenix This Week

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
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
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

click to enlarge Underground rapper Brother Ali. - COLLEEN EVERSMAN
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. - RAYSQUARED
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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Phoenix New Times Music Writers