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The 10 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week

Magic Giant is scheduled to perform on Wednesday, January 23, at Crescent Ballroom.
Magic Giant is scheduled to perform on Wednesday, January 23, at Crescent Ballroom. Razor & Tie Publicity
Got any big plans this week? If not, consider checking out one of the many concerts taking place at music venues around the Valley. And believe us, there are plenty of notable shows happening, including those making up the following list.

Big-name artists and acts such as Magic Giant, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Wild Moccasins, and The Pink Spiders are all scheduled to perform around town in the nights ahead, as are legends like JJ Grey, Branford Marsalis, Tommy Castro, and Corb Lund.

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

click to enlarge JJ Grey in concert. - COURTESY OF ALL EYES MEDIA
JJ Grey in concert.
Courtesy of All Eyes Media
JJ Grey and Mofro
Tuesday, January 22
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

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

Tuesday, January 22
Club Red in Mesa

At its best, metal music is always ridiculous. To describe Ensiferum as ridiculous would be like describing Michael Scott in the seventh season of The Office as "kind of annoying." Their name means "sword-bearer" in Latin, they play symphonic speed-metal, wear kilts, pose with swords in their publicity shots, sing about mythic heroes, and generally do other things that would not be out of place at a Renaissance festival. This is music for history geeks, mythology buffs, and guys with weird, gnarly chin beards. "Ridiculous" barely scratches the paunchy, black-shirted, and sweat-panted surface.

I shudder to imagine anyone taking this too seriously, but you know, I love the idea of Ensiferum, and I love that they make music for the people they make it for, because that's the other qualifier for the best metal music possible: It's made for outcasts, people who don't care about the norm, and who will happily strap on a kilt, toss up devil horns, and get down to symphonic metal played at galloping speed while imagining themselves roaring into battle to defeat a mythic enemy, or at least work up the courage to tell Mom they are "moving out, for real!" Jason P. Woodbury

click to enlarge Canadian-born country singer Corb Lund. - DENISE DEBELIUS
Canadian-born country singer Corb Lund.
Denise Debelius
Corb Lund
Tuesday, January 22
Yucca Tap Room in Tempe

It only takes one listen to any Corb Lund album to know the guy is witty and whip-smart. The salty Albertan, who studied jazz in Edmonton before joining metal band the Smalls, also has a good sense of history and a strong respect for the land and people who work it, whether ranchers, farmers, or roughnecks on a drilling rig.

Lund is a bona fide populist country-rock star in Canada, rolling across the prairies like a cash-gathering machine, playing to sold-out auditoriums and concert halls. He brings a highly educated Western wildness and cowhand contrariness to his literate brand of mile-a-minute country music. Backed by a band nourished equally in jazz schools and honky-tonks, Lund delivers brain-teasing neo-cowboy hipster rhymes that show he knows as much about Kerouac and Dylan as he does about Larry Mahan and Ian Tyson. Lund has one of the most interesting pushing-the-boundaries bands in the alt-country genre. William Michael Smith

The Pink Spiders
Tuesday, January 22
The Rebel Lounge

The Pink Spiders are some cocky dudes. The act's bio was once littered with superfluous and self-aggrandizing words such as "iconoclastic" and "Machiavellian," and the trio themselves, which hail from Nashville, had a larger-than-life bravado about them that makes the hand-clapping, cutesy pop punk they play seem more important than it actually is. Deep down in their pink bellies, however, the Spiders are just regular dudes whose debut album, Teenage Graffiti, was produced by erstwhile Cars frontman Ric Ocasek. Since those early days, the outfit have released a few other albums, including 2008’s Sweat It Out and last year’s Mutations. They’re scheduled to perform on Tuesday night at The Rebel Lounge. The show starts at 8 p.m. and Fourbanger and Just Another Day will open. Tuyet Nguyen

click to enlarge Houston-based Wild Moccasins found a way to Look Together - ARTURO OLMOS
Houston-based Wild Moccasins found a way to Look Together
Arturo Olmos
Wild Moccasins
Wednesday January 23
Valley Bar

Sometimes, a band can go away and never return even if they release something new. It's been four years since we heard a new album from Houston's Wild Moccasins. On their latest release, Look Together, the four-piece turns things up a notch by mixing synthpop and dream pop into their indie pop sound. They don't waste time in reminding us why those four years felt so long.

Opening with one of the already released singles "Boyish Wave," the band keeps things synth-infused while the spacey guitar dances atop the track. Zahira Gutierrez sings above it all like she's echoing notes from the vacuum of space. They follow with the groove-heavy sounds of "Temporary Vase," where Nicholas Cody's bass and Avery Davis' drums make a Latin-infused sound. Complete with Gutierrez' haunting vocals and Cody Swan's guitar noodling, the result is a deep and slower paced jam.

The catchy sounds of another released track, "Longtime Listener," pick the pace back up. Swan's guitar here is where the magic lies, offering up a pedal soaked sound. The vocals remind you of shoegaze bands that were never as catchy, while the bridge offers more depth than the band has shown in the past. This continues on "Missing You (the Most)" where the band return to their New Wave past, though with more synthwave tones. Easily their strongest release to date, Look Together offers up plenty of danceable tracks that should make anyone a fan. David Garrick
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Phoenix New Times Music Writers