Things to Do

The 11 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week

Hot Flash Heat Wave is scheduled to perform on Wednesday, March 20, at The Rebel Lounge.
Hot Flash Heat Wave is scheduled to perform on Wednesday, March 20, at The Rebel Lounge. Ryan Molnar

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Beats, Rhymes, & Phife
Wednesday, March 20
Rips Bar

The late Phife Dawg was larger than life. While the esteemed rapper may have only measured 5'3", he performed like he was 10 feet tall. As a member of landmark hip-hop act A Tribe Called Quest, the “Five-Foot Assassin” spat plenty of fire on the mike, rapping with pure confidence while calling out lesser rappers, encouraging listeners to be themselves, and slaying it with his lyrical flows. Phife is widely considered to be a hip-hop legend whose work is still celebrated to this day by fellow hip-hop artists EPMD and the Black Eyed Peas.

Local DJs M2, Tricky T, and Fact135 will also raise a toast to the late rapper on Wednesday, March 20, during Beats, Rhymes, & Phife. The event, which occurs two days shy of the third anniversary of Phife’s passing, will feature the three DJs spinning songs by A Tribe Called Quest and tracks from other hip-hop acts in the Native Tongues collective. Check the rhyme starting at 9 p.m. Admission is free. Benjamin Leatherman

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Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Shane Doyle
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Tuesday, March 19, and Wednesday, March 20
Musical Instrument Museum

By the time Paul Simon featured Ladysmith Black Mambazo on his 1986 album Graceland, the a capella group, led by founder Joseph Shabalala, had been together for more than two decades and had established itself as the most successful singing group in South Africa.

The band was already rather prolific before teaming up with Simon, and in the 30 years since Graceland, Ladysmith has released a slew of recordings. Sixteen of those have been nominated for Grammys, including a 2016 nomination for Best World Music Album for Music From Inala. The album, which was recorded live around the United Kingdom and Moscow over the course of two years, gives insight into just how powerful and uplifting Ladysmith Black Mambazo can be in a live setting. Jon Solomon

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The musicians of Moon Hooch.
Jon Tresko
Moon Hooch
Wednesday, March 20
Last Exit Live

Moon Hooch, a three-piece band that fuses electronic music and jazz with two saxophones and a drum set, got their start busking on subway platforms in New York City around 2010. Over the past few years, the act has changed from street to stage and toured through bars and clubs around the U.S., all while incorporating more electronic elements into its acoustic foundations.

“We have an acoustic infrastructure, but we’re playing electronic music,” says drummer James Muschler. “I think it has totally opened up the sonic spectrum. What we’re capable of doing with electronics is astronomical. With acoustic instruments, obviously, you could say it is also astronomical. The things you can do in a live-performance situation where you have massive speakers and all that, you can really do a lot if you know how to manipulate the sound.”

It's a sound that's resonated with music fans. Moon Hooch's self-titled debut in 2013 and its 2014 follow-up, This is Cave Music, made the top 10 on Billboard's Jazz Albums chart. They've put out four more albums since then, including two EPs and a live album. Complacent they are not. Riley Cowing

Pato Banton and the New Generation
Thursday, March 21
Last Exit Live

Grammy-nominated English reggae artist Pato Banton has spent more than three decades spreading positivity through his music. Via pop collaborations with UB40 like "Baby Come Back," a dub-inflected strain of work with producer Mad Professor, and recordings with Sting, his free-spirited flow carries a variety of messages for politicians, cocaine dealers, and society on the whole. Banton's popular cover of Peter Tosh's "Legalize It" shows his welcoming attitude regarding sinsemilla, but he's very outspoken about harder substances in "Don't Sniff Coke." Be it with one of his ensembles, including his current crew the New Generation, or as a solo toaster, Banton has honed his ability to uplift an audience and then some. Reed Fischer

Nik Bärtsch (second from left) and the members of his band Ronin.
Martin Möll/ECM Records
Nik Bärtsch's Ronin
Thursday, March 21
Apache Junction Performing Arts Center

When Swiss pianist Nik Bärtsch formed his Zen-funk group Ronin in 2001, his vision was to create the maximum effect by minimal means. Many of his pieces — “Moduls,” as he calls them — adhere to his idea of ritual groove music that is created around minimalist repetitive patterns built upon grooves.

Through hundreds of regular Monday night gigs over many years at Exil, the club Bärtsch co-founded in his home town of Zürich, Ronin has developed into an extraordinarily tight ensemble, which seems necessary for the demanding nature of some of Bärtsch’s compositions. Some of those pieces performed during those Monday night sessions are included on Awase, Bärtsch’s latest effort on ECM Records; the album also features drummer Kaspar Rast, bassist Thomy Jordi and bass clarinetist and alto saxophonist Sha (born Stefan Haslebacher). "Awase" is a term from aikido that means “moving together,” matching energies — something with which Bärtsch, who has long trained in martial arts, is quite familiar.

This week, Bärtsch bring his group Ronin to the Apache Junction Performing Arts Center for a four-hour performance from 6 to 10 p.m. Admission is $10. Jon Solomon

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Kevin and Jeff Saurer of Hippie Sabotage.
Courtesy of Paradigm Talent Agency
Hippie Sabotage
Thursday, March 21
The Van Buren

Hippie Sabotage is an EDM duo that comprises Saurer brothers Kevin and Jeff. They first earned attention after their remix of Tove Lo's "Habits (Stay High)" racked up a half-billion hits on YouTube and have paved their own way ever since. Projecting a confident aggression similar to that of the Gaslamp Killer, their sound is a mix of hip-hop flourishes and chill grooves that gets crowds moving.

The Saurers' performances seem as interactive as you can get. Kevin spends time roaming among the crowds and both of the brothers appear to be having a lot of fun, recognizing that part of their success so far is based on their connection with people beyond the music. Apparently, the two had spent a year living out of their car not so long ago, so no matter what you thought of their set, it's impossible to criticize people enjoying the moment and bringing others along with them. Tom Murphy
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Phoenix New Times Music Writers