The 10 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week

Kelsey Lu is scheduled to perform on Thursday, January 31, during FORM Labs Phoenix at the Phoenix Art Museum.EXPAND
Kelsey Lu is scheduled to perform on Thursday, January 31, during FORM Labs Phoenix at the Phoenix Art Museum.
Vincent Haycock
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Up for seeing a show this week? If so, we’ve got a few suggestions to offer – 10 of 'em, in fact, all of which are worthy of your time and a modest amount of disposable income. It features such acts and artists as Hippo Campus, Blackberry Smoke, Herb Alpert and Lani Hall, Lizz Wright, Kaveh Rastegar, and post-hardcore legends Thursday.

This week’s concert offerings also include Jake Owen kicking off this year’s Coors Light Birds Nest at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and the staging of FORM Labs Phoenix at PAM.

Details about each of these shows 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.

Herb Alpert and his wife, Lani Hall.
Herb Alpert and his wife, Lani Hall.
Dewey Nicks

Herb Alpert and Lani Hall
Monday, January 28
Highlands Church

Two living legends, Herb Alpert and Lani Hall, will treat an audience to their unmatched talents and unforgettable music during one of the many concerts making up this year’s Arizona Musicfest. Alpert, of course, is the renowned trumpet player who spent the better part of the 1960s with the highly influential Tijuana Brass, creating such notable songs as “The Lonely Bull” and “Spanish Flea” while racking up six Grammy awards and more than a dozen gold records. He earned even more fame and acclaim in such genres as jazz, Latin, R&B, and funk after going solo in the ‘70s, including penning the 1979 hit “Rise” and collaborating with Janet Jackson and Lisa Keith on 1986’s “Diamonds.”

Hall, his wife of more than four decades, rose to stardom as the lead vocalist for Sergio Menes’ project Brasil ’66, sung the title track to the James Bond flick Never Say Never Again, and recorded a string of successful Latin pop records in the mid-1980s. Brittany Ackerman

Elvin Bishop (center) and the members of the Big Fun Trio.EXPAND
Elvin Bishop (center) and the members of the Big Fun Trio.
Courtesy of the MIM

Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio
Monday, January 28
Musical Instrument Museum

Elvin Bishop hasn't always been about the blues, but he's always been around the blues. The renowned musician loved the blues early enough, in fact, that he went to college in the Chicago area just so he could be around them. "After a couple years, school got squeezed out by the blues," he says.

In the 1960s, Bishop was one of the founding members of the Paul Butterfield Blues band. He said he was lucky to be working with those great musicians because it set a high bar for the quality of music for the rest of his career. Bishop continues to be well-known in the blues world for his song "Blues Train."

While he has spent most of his career focusing on the blues, Bishop is best-known for the 1976 pop song "Fooled Around and Fell in Love." That song made No. 3 on the U.S. Billboard Top 100 charts. This week, Bishop brings his current project, the Big Fun Trio, to the MIM for a Monday night performance. The show starts at 7 p.m. and admission is $53.50-$73.50. Stan Bindell

It's your last chance to see post-hardcore legends Thursday.
It's your last chance to see post-hardcore legends Thursday.
Victory Records

Monday, January 28, and Tuesday, January 29
Crescent Ballroom

Thursday ignited the screamo scene of the early 2000s. But after taking an indefinite hiatus in 2011, they announced only two years later that they had disbanded. In 2016, however, Thursday decided to rekindle their post-hardcore legacy by playing the inaugural Sound on Sound Fest in Austin and booking a 24-city tour through the U.S. in 2017.

The band, known for singles such as "Understanding in a Car Crash" and "War All the Time," haven't released new material since 2011. And they’ve got absolutely zero intention to do so, probably because they’re only going to be performing through the spring before calling it quits again, this time for good. In October, Thursday’s members announced they were planning one final tour consisting of gigs where they’ll perform their two most influential albums, 2001’s Full Collapse and War All the Time, in their entirety on back-to-back nights. In short, if you’ve never seen Thursday live, this is basically your last chance. Diamond Victoria

Kaveh Rastegar
Tuesday, January 29
Valley Bar

What could be better than touring the world alternately with a trendsetting jazz group (Kneebody) and an Italian pop star (Luciano Ligabue)? For bassist Kaveh Rastegar, what's better is to keep doing the former while spending more time in Los Angeles at the forefront of all things musically interesting and happening. Some of his other projects over the years include writing for Bruno Mars, Cee Lo Green, Meshell Ndegeocello and De La Soul, and performing with both Sia (as musical director) and John Legend. At Valley Bar this week, Rastegar will perform some of his solo efforts, as well as arrangements of his favorite songs. Yes, you should go. Gary Fukushima

The members of Hippo Campus.
The members of Hippo Campus.
Sarah Hess

Hippo Campus
Tuesday, January 29
The Van Buren

When each member of the band shows up to practice with their own new song, it can be tough to perfect them. On the 2018 album Bambi, Hippo Campus’ experiments of layering more electronic sounds onto their indie pop sensibilities and risk-taking songwriting process shows on narrative tracks such as “Doubt” and “Honestly.” While making music is their main occupation, Hippo Campus also hopes to help dismantle sexism and toxic masculinity through their self-critical lyrics and by using their platform. Julian Hernandez

Blackberry Smoke: Don't call them Southern rock.EXPAND
Blackberry Smoke: Don't call them Southern rock.
David McClister

Blackberry Smoke
Wednesday, January 30
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Just because you hail from the South and play rock music doesn’t mean your band’s the next Lynyrd Skynyrd or the new Allman Brothers. But that won’t stop people from labeling you as such. That’s been happening to Georgia country rock band Blackberry Smoke since they started. Lead singer Charlie Starr wouldn’t mind if people quit doing that, but he gets that it helps people form a connection. “Of course, we are influenced and inspired by a lot of greats, but we’re just out here doing our own thing,” Starr says.

The Atlanta-born band formed in 2000 and hasn’t changed their original lineup of Starr, Richard Turner (bass, vocals), Paul Jackson (guitar, vocals), Brit Turner (drums), and Brandon Still (keyboards). Starr cites good communication as the key factor in sticking it out through thick and thin. “We have drama like any other band does, but we work through it and get past it and keep moving forward.”

Blackberry Smoke issued the band’s sixth studio album, Find A Light, last spring on their own label, 3 Legged Records. And to say it’s been received well is an understatement. It ranked near the top of several Billboard charts, including country, rock, and indie. Blackberry Smoke are currently touring in support of the album and will visit the Valley at the end of January for a show at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe. Chris Shiflett opens. Amy Young

Wednesday, January 30
The Van Buren

Scott Begin and some of his friends at the University of Rhode Island grew up in the early '90s during the heyday of the original incarnation of Sublime. These college buddies were such big fans, in fact, that they formed a Sublime tribute band and named it Badfish, in honor of one of the legendary ska-punk band's more popular tunes.

Never did Begin and his bandmates, who play The Van Buren this week, expect their little side project to become a full-fledged career.

“Five years after Sublime had its big run, they were still very much relevant and present in our world as far as that younger college group,” Begin said. “They were the type of band that everyone liked, no matter who you were hanging out or socializing with. They had this presence about them, so we tried to put something together to fill a void there since they were obviously no longer performing live.”

Therein lies the appeal of Badfish. Of course, had the band simply been some nostalgia act, their appeal likely would have worn off long ago. Instead, quality tunes and a true affinity for Sublime are what keep Badfish going nearly two decades into its run. Clint Hale

Producer and singer Josiah Wise, better known as serpentwithfeet.EXPAND
Producer and singer Josiah Wise, better known as serpentwithfeet.
Elijah Steen

FORM Labs Phoenix
Thursday, January 31
Phoenix Art Museum

The folks behind FORM are gearing up for the 2019 edition of their festival in Arcosanti, and they're starting here in Phoenix. The festival organizers have announced the latest session of FORM Labs will happen on Thursday, January 31, from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Phoenix Art Museum. Described as an "immersive evening of art, music, conversation, and more," the event will also offer an exclusive preview of this year's festival at Arcosanti in April, according to FORM co-founder Zach Tetreault.

Kelsey Lu and serpentwithfeet will headline the event. cellist and art school dropout, Kelsey Lu's sole EP, Church, came out in 2016. The record is a mix of slow, stunning instrumentation and Lu's soulful vocals and lyrics that sound like a mix between Olivier Messaien and Aaliyah. Meanwhile, serpentwithfeet, a.k.a. producer and singer Josiah Wise, already has two records under his belt: The blisters EP, also from 2016, and last year's debut album, soil. Both releases draw on Wise's classical vocal training and songwriting influenced by gospel, queer culture, and the occult.

Both have toured recently with some heavy hitters in the underground. Lu has been a guest at several performances of Oneohtrix Point Never's "MYRIAD" show, while serpentwithfeet hit the road in 2017 with Grizzly Bear. Local favorites Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra will also play a set at FORM Labs, and artwork from the Fortoul Brothers, Jorge Ignacio Torres, and Mau Patarroyo will also be on display. Douglas Markowitz

Country superstar Jake Owen.EXPAND
Country superstar Jake Owen.
Leavitt Wells

Jake Owen
Thursday, January 31
Coors Light Birds Nest at Waste Management Phoenix Open

Country may be the only form of modern music left with a consistent sense of humor, and Jake Owen definitely taps into that. The Nashville-by-way-of-Florida singer-guitarist slips a twangy "yee haw" in when he can (see the song by the same name), but he also uses his accentuated southern voice to sing about heartbreak and distrust. Made for the spotlight, Owen's perfect smile and chiseled jaw put him up there with the Kenny Chesneys and Brad Paisleys of the genre – both of whom he's toured with. Fresh off his stint as a mentor on the USA Network reality show Real Country alongside Travis Tritt and Shania Twain, Owen will perform at Coors Light Birds Nest during this year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open. Bree Davies

Lizz Wright
Thursday, January 31
Musical Instrument Museum

Singer-songwriter Lizz Wright, whose 2010 album, Fellowship, earned rave reviews and topped the Billboard jazz charts, is a Southern woman who still feels bound to the gospel sounds she grew up with. She feels the inspiration that comes with being raised on the Lord's music, but Wright doesn't see a conflict between the secular songs she performs and the sacred sounds she was raised on. She's also not tethering herself to the conventions that come with working in the jazz arena. "I describe myself as a singer-songwriter informed by gospel and jazz and my country roots of living," Wright says. "I see what I do as being very similar to the work of painters and sculptors. I borrow pieces of life and language. Everything is a composition. I think there's more of layering and a hybrid of styles than there is straight down the line music that is genre-specific. I hope it can be experienced as art." Jason Keil

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