The 10 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week

Toni Braxton is scheduled to perform on Thursday, February 21, at Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino in Chandler.
Toni Braxton is scheduled to perform on Thursday, February 21, at Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino in Chandler.
Courtesy of We Care Alot PR
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Eager to see a concert this week (and have the time and disposable income to do so)? The good news is you’ve got a wealth of options to choose from – 10 of ‘em, to be precise. As we always do every Monday, we’ve searched our extensive live music listings and picked out a mix of notable shows in metro Phoenix this week that are worthy of attending.

This week, our selections include performers and bands from a variety of genres, ranging from R&B and hip-hop to alternative, indie rock, and country. There are also plenty of famous names involved, including Toni Braxton, Rosanne Cash, Cypress Hill, and The Smoking Popes.

Details about each of their shows — and several other other notable gigs this week in the Valley — can be found below. And for even more live music happening on the local level, hit up Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar.

Awakebutstillinbed and Sundressed
Monday, February 18
Valley Bar

When Shannon Taylor of Awakebutstillinbed screams the opening lyrics of "life," the second song on their 2018 album what people call low self-esteem is really just seeing yourself the way that other people see you, her voice cracks, desperate to convey the helplessness in the situation. San Jose, California-based Awakebutstillinbed and Phoenix pop-punk band Sundressed set off a two-week tour in Fresno, California, and stop in Phoenix for a night at Valley Bar. Julian Hernandez

Influential indie rock band The Smoking Popes.
Influential indie rock band The Smoking Popes.
Courtesy of Atomic Music Group.

The Smoking Popes
Monday, February 18
The Rebel Lounge

The brothers Caterer had no way of knowing the far-reaching effect they would have on the music world when they formed The Smoking Popes in 1991. How could they? At the time the youngest of the three, guitarist Eli, was only 16 years old. Fast-forward nearly three decades, and the seminal pop-punk band's work is cited by many of today's giants of the field as an influence.

Alkaline Trio's Matt Skiba has said it was one of the reasons he started a band in the first place; Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz has compared the group favorably to fellow Chicago act Naked Raygun. In this writer's opinion, however, Smoking Popes blows all of the aforementioned bands out of the water. Daniel Hill

Country queen Rosanne Cash.EXPAND
Country queen Rosanne Cash.
Michael Lavine

Rosanne Cash
Tuesday, February 19
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Even the briefest essay about Rosanne Cash requires a list of her reckonable accomplishments: the 11 number one singles, the Grammy award, and always, always her royal musical lineage. But if being Johnny Cash's daughter got her foot in Music City's door, and while all those hits kept her on Columbia Records' roster for many years, it was her wider contribution to country music – the urbane, deeply personal poetry that transcends the twangy he-done-me-wrong songs that typify Nashville – with which she's made her mark.

Which isn't to say we don't love Cash's 21 Top 40 country hits. "Seven Year Ache" is the smartest musical memory to linger from pop radio's lamentable early '80s romance with country music, and her version of John Hiatt's "Runaway Train" was a high point in both their careers. But it's fair to say that, ever since 1979's Right or Wrong, she's made gloomily sophisticated music fashionable in a way that Laura Nyro never could; helped reshape what country music sounds like; and has upheld the singer-songwriter tradition in a world overrun with Shanias and Faiths and Carries. For that, and for all the hits, and the gorgeous ruminations wedged between them, we're deeply grateful. Robrt L. Pela

Big Bite
Tuesday, February 19
The Trunk Space

Seattle-based Big Bite released their self-titled debut album last year and unleashed a wave of distortion. There's always a guitar bending somewhere in the background on their debut album, and there's very little break from it all. It's not quite punk and it's not quite shoegaze, but in the basement of The Trunk Space, it'll sure be loud. Tucson shoegazers Hikikomori will join locals Duerio and The Delphies. If you want a night of guitar pedals getting worked, then this is the show for you. Julian Hernandez

B-Real of Cypress Hill.
B-Real of Cypress Hill.
Miles Chrisinger

West Coast High 2019 feat. Cypress Hill and Hollywood Undead
Wednesday, February 20
The Van Buren

Are you insane in the membrane? Or are you just an American tragedy? Either way, we're pretty sure you're a fan of chooming on that lound, so what better way to enjoy a weeknight than spending it at a conspicuously themed concert extravaganza? West Coast High 2019 is taking control at The Van Buren on Wednesday night. Cypress Hill, everyone's favorite '90s hip-hop mainstays, weed enthusiasts, and Simpsons guest stars, are heading up the affair, and they're putting some more bud in your bowl by bringing along rap-rockers Hollywood Undead. We assure you, folks, this show isn't mid, nor is it reggie; In fact, this evening will see the fans cheefin' on that O.G. Cali Kush (metaphorically, of course). Douglas Markowitz

Toni Braxton
Thursday, February 21
Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino in Chandler

Toni Braxton live in concert in 2019 is something of a dichotomy. On one hand, there’s the world-class, multiplatinum recording superstar she identifies as; on the other, there's a scattered, ridiculously candid reality television star. There is a catalog of classic ‘90s R&B hits stricken with heartbreak coupled with a seasoned entertainer who can’t help but laugh her way through them. Then there’s that voice. And those songs.

Braxton’s still treating audiences to such hit tracks as 2000’s “He Wasn’t Man Enough” and “How Many Ways,” a one-two punch that kicks off performances on her current tour. She’ll also perform “Just Be a Man About It,” probably while finger-waving her way through one of her (oh so many) signature, melismatic vocal runs. Calling it idiosyncratic might be an understatement; still, her ubiquitous vocal zig-zagging is a spectacle unto itself. It’s hard to imagine any veteran artist without a lightning-in-a-bottle mega-hit embedded in its audience’s DNA. Braxton’s 1996 track, “Un-Break My Heart,” happens to be an impassioned thunderstorm and will also be on her set list when she comes to Wild Horse Pass in Chandler this month. John Amar

Lords of Acid
Thursday, February 21
Club Red in Mesa

Mix licentious fun with some dense, pulsating electronica and comical lyrics and it becomes one hell of a party. But not just anyone can keep such a party from devolving into some half-ass gathering of the Hot Topic-attired. This is where we usher in freaky-deaky acid-housers Lords of Acid. A group that garnered a cult following with its 1991 rave debut, the classic techno-raunch album Lust, LOA usually appeals to the platform-shoed, black-clad, liberal-minded set yet still offers an opportunity for the rest of us — even those of us who enjoy color — to dance, grind, and mosh.

Lords of Acid fans have aged. The band hasn't toured in about eight years, and it's anybody's guess whether the new generation will sex it up the same way. Praga Khan will be the only original member. And Lacey Conner, known mostly as the bitch/badass from Rock of Love, will step in as the female vocalist. So it's also up in the air whether the current lineup will be able to please old-school fans. Erica K. Landau

Renowned Grateful Dead cover band Dark Star Orchestra.EXPAND
Renowned Grateful Dead cover band Dark Star Orchestra.
Courtesy of Ticketmaster

Dark Star Orchestra
Thursday, February 21
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

It ought to come as no surprise that certain outfits are embracing the cover band concept and reaping rewards as a result. Consequently, there's a veritable cottage industry that flourishes via tributes to the Beatles (natch), Pink Floyd, the Eagles, Led Zeppelin, and a host of others. In many cases, the original band is defunct, and now they, the tribute band, can re-create every note and serve as the next best thing. Still, one has to credit Grateful Dead tribute band Dark Star Orchestra with earning more than a hint of actual legitimacy.

Keyboard player Rob Barraco performed with the Dead bassist Phil Lesh in his band Phil Lesh and Friends and also toured with the reunited band that went by the abbreviated name the Dead in 2002 and 2003. Likewise, guitarist Jeff Mattson has also played with Lesh, as well as onetime Grateful Dead vocalist Donna Jean Godchaux. Singer Lisa Mackey claims to having seen more than 200 Grateful Dead shows since 1973, while bassist Kevin Rosen says he's seen 93. Drummers Rob Koritz and Dino English swear their devotion as well. Even so, the most essential factoid that contributes to their cred may well be the number of shows DSO has performed as a unit. Consider the fact that in their full 30 years of activity, up until the point that Jerry Garcia shed his mortal coil, the Dead accumulated 2,318 concerts, a total that Dark Star eclipsed long ago, and in only about half the time. Lee Zimmerman

Igor and the Red Elvises are the kind of collusion with Russians we can get behind.
Igor and the Red Elvises are the kind of collusion with Russians we can get behind.
Julie Delisle

Igor and the Red Elvises
Thursday, February 21
The Rhythm Room

The next time you find yourself scouring for questions for a ’90s-themed TV trivia night, we’ve got one question you can slip into the mix. See if anyone can tell you the name of the rock band that fuses multiple styles, and that made an appearance on one of the decade’s most popular shows, Melrose Place. They’ll get the point if they answer Igor and the Red Elvises.

That was in 1998; the band formed just a few years prior to that, when two Russians living in California — Igor Yuzov and Oleg Bernov — met at a peace march. They added more members to their musical crew, and started creating their zesty blend of surf rock that incorporates rockabilly, funk, disco, and folk. Their songs are pretty spirited, no matter which style is more at the fore.

Songs like “Twist Like Uma Thurman” from their 2008 release Drinking with Jesus, embody the spirit of ’50s party rock. “We Got the Groove” from 2000’s Shake Your Pelvis is a tune that brings the vibe of ’70s acts like Con Funk Shun to mind. More than two decades and their party train is still rolling, and it's about to make another stop in Phoenix. Be ready to shake it; they make it way too hard to shoegaze. Amy Young

The members of hard rock/alternative band Nothing More.
The members of hard rock/alternative band Nothing More.
Courtesy of Ticketmaster

Nothing More
Thursday, February 21
The Van Buren

A lot of bands struggle before hitting it big. Quite common are tales of playing in empty bars for beer money, of cutting a demo and attempting to get it in the hands of someone (anyone!) with the clout to make something happen. Many bands don’t make it. Others struggle for several years before finally catching their big break. Nothing More did so for nearly a decade.

Nothing More unofficially began in the late '90s when Jonny Hawkins and Mark Vollelunga bonded over a shared love of music at church camp. The hard rock band, which visits The Van Buren this week, officially formed in 2003 and bassist Daniel Oliver joined the following year. Nothing More caught a big break when its crowd-funded, self-titled record got picked up by Eleven Seven Music, which re-released the album in 2014. It peaked at No. 33 on the Billboard Top 200, and the band’s follow-up – 2017’s The Stories We Tell Ourselves – debuted to critical and commercial acclaim. Not only did the album chart inside the Billboard Top 15, it was nominated for three Grammy Awards.

“To get to the point of getting nominated for a Grammy, that was really rewarding,” Oliver said. “We just kept on pushing and going through the tough times. It was scary, for sure. Even now, it’s hard, being away from loved ones and family. It would certainly be easier for them if we were home, if we had a 9-5 job. But we are prophets of encouragement and positivity, and we believe in what we’re doing.” Clint Hale

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