Things to Do

The 10 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week

Quinn XCII is scheduled to perform on Tuesday, April 9, at Comerica Theatre.
Quinn XCII is scheduled to perform on Tuesday, April 9, at Comerica Theatre. Shervin Lainez
It’s going to be a busy week for concerts in the Valley. Big-name artists and acts like Quinn XCII, Ben Rector, Turnover, Sofi Tukker, and Kero Kero Bonito are all scheduled to perform at local venues both big and small over the next few nights.

Elsewhere this week, one-man band Lincoln Durham, the industrial noise freaks of Combichrist, instrumental fusion act Toubab Krewe, and indie rock/dream pop ensemble Turnover also have gigs going on.

Plus, this year’s Country Thunder festival makes its return to Florence, for those cowpokes interested in some boot-scootin’ action.

Details about each of these shows and events can be found below in our list of the best concerts happening in the Valley this weekend. And for even more live music happening around town, hit up Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar.

Singer-songwriter Ben Rector. - CAMERON POWELL
Singer-songwriter Ben Rector.
Cameron Powell
Ben Rector
Monday, April 8
The Van Buren

When Ben Rector was nothing but a college freshman, he unknowingly was laying the groundwork for a career path that traditionally eschews the necessity of diplomas and degrees. In that first year at the University of Arkansas, Rector won the top prize in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest for a song called “Conversation” off his debut EP. His first two albums were released before graduation amid local fanfare and general uncertainty on Rector’s part.

In an interview with Arkansas’ alumni association, the singer-songwriter from Oklahoma says he never expected his music career to take off as quickly as it did. And yet by the start of this decade, Rector was transitioning into a star. His third album, Into the Morning, set off a string of hits after its 2011 release, including tracks like “Brand New,” which was notably featured on everything from Hawaii Five-O to The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Rector’s soothing brand of emotional folk-pop has garnered him an ever-growing fan base over the years, and it’s likely he’ll find even more in Phoenix. Nicholas Bostick

click to enlarge Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour is coming to Mesa. - COURTESY OF MESA ARTS CENTER
Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour is coming to Mesa.
Courtesy of Mesa Arts Center
Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour
Tuesday, April 9
Mesa Arts Center

Born in Santiago, Chile, tenor saxophone player Melissa Aldana became the first female and South American to win the Thelonious Monk Competition for jazz musicians. Now, you can hear her perform with the Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour at Mesa Arts Center. The tour stops at the MAC’s Ikeda Theatre on Tuesday, April 9, at 7:30 p.m. It’s all about celebrating the joy of jazz, and the festival’s 60th anniversary, according to artistic director Tim Jackson. Expect jazz classics, plus music created by the performers, who play trumpet, saxophone, piano, bass, and drums. Naturally, jazz vocals are also in the mix. Tickets start at $36. Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Take a bite of Combichrist's industrial noise this week at Club Red. - TOBIAS SUTTER PHOTOGRAPHY
Take a bite of Combichrist's industrial noise this week at Club Red.
Tobias Sutter Photography
Tuesday, April 9
Club Red in Mesa

As founder of the iconic futurepop act Icon of Coil, Norwegian sound terrorist Andy LaPlegua showed an early penchant for the darker, harder sounds of the industrial music fringe. However, it was with his current outfit, Combichrist, that he fully realized his caustic musical dreams.

Unapologetically eardrum-splitting, brutal, and even vulgar, the group represents the apotheosis of aggrotech, a subgenre that sounds exactly like its name. At the core of Combichrist songs are danceable beats that lock into a robotic, usually high-BPM groove. It's what keeps the common thread among songs that, above all that, gleefully push both sonic and content boundaries. For a clue, just check out the title of the band's most recent albums, including 2014's Throat Full of Glass and 2016's This Is Where Death Begins. Catch them at Club Red on April 9. Silver Snakes and Amnestic will open. Arielle Castillo

click to enlarge Danny Dempsey (left), Austin Getz (center), and Casey Getz of Turnover. - COURTESY OF APA AGENCY
Danny Dempsey (left), Austin Getz (center), and Casey Getz of Turnover.
Courtesy of APA Agency
Tuesday, April 9
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Steeped in the background and history of emo music, the Virginia group Turnover have taken the lyrical qualities of the genre alongside bright guitars and upbeat melodies. On their 2017 album, Good Nature, vocalist Austin Getz’s voice floats over echoed and punchy guitar. On “What Got in the Way,” a traditional emo heartbreak ballad becomes a bright and sunny day as Getz slips in a familiar pop sound. Joining Turnover is the Baltimore hardcore group Turnstile. Julian Hernandez

click to enlarge Quinn XCII has faced his emotional demons. - SHERVIN LAINEZ
Quinn XCII has faced his emotional demons.
Shervin Lainez
Quinn XCII
Tuesday, April 9
Comerica Theatre

Ever since he dropped his 2015 debut, Change of Scenery, fans have been telling Quinn XCII that his music has helped them get through their lowest moments. “As more of [the messages] came in, it was as if the door was knocking on my brain and saying, ‘Why am I not speaking on my own struggles?’ Everyone’s telling me it helped them so much. The fans really gave me courage to [speak up more] as well,” he says.

Quinn (real name Mikael Temrowski) evolved quickly from being a dorm-room producer to a bona fide indie pop star. He's built his career on affectionate, catchy, and youthful songs. His latest album, From Michigan With Love, is the furthest he's waded into adulthood.

"With the exception of maybe two or three songs, the whole project theme is mental health," he explains. "The title is kind of me saying, ‘Here’s 12 songs of me talking about stuff that I went through back home growing up in Michigan, and how all of it has kind of not stopped following me — even with moving to L.A. and having a little bit of success in my career.’" Writing an album that he felt adequately addressed the importance of emotional and mental health tested him as a songwriter.

“The last year and a half spent working on this record, there were a lot of ups and downs with it," he says. "I got in my head a little bit about what I wanted to talk about, and I wanted to maintain momentum from the first record." Ben Wiese

Toubab Krewe

Wednesday, April 10
Last Exit Live

Toubab Krewe are neo-griot-funk from Southern freak zone Asheville, North Carolina. Their name admits they're tourists ("Toubab" = white dude) and their sound can be described as "Jampire Weekend."

Blending Mali soul and Afrobeat with bluesy desert surf-twang, Caribbean scratch, and zydeco bounce, Toubab Krewe surround it all with occasional floating ambiance. And sometimes they do it all in one song, like "NTB." On others, like "Fire," they play a dubby-lover's rock. Their hometown-recorded Live at the Orange Peel (2009) is a fan favorite; for street cred, they recorded "Moose," a fervent spoken-word ode to Hendrix, with the Last Poets' Umar Ben Hassan. They've dominated Bonnaroo (of course) and many other festivals.

Does it all seem a bit like Caucasian exoticism? Here's my reason for enjoying the band: They remind me of when '80s Australian punks would try different rhythms and genres while bashing out raw party music. There aren't any songs quite like that in TK's set, but the band's willingness to rip it up with tasty new sounds reminds us that innovation should always keep you physically, as well as culturally, moving. Chris Estey

click to enlarge Lincoln Durham is a one-man musical dynamo. - J. TREVINO
Lincoln Durham is a one-man musical dynamo.
J. Trevino
Lincoln Durham
Wednesday, April 10
The Rebel Lounge

"Anything goes" should have been the catchphrase for Lincoln Durham, one of the most unpredictable one-man bands around. He might throw in occasional odes to girls named Clementine and shed a little ever-loving light, but it definitely isn't in an old-fashioned gospel kind of way. He prefers a more tortured brand of roots rock.

Sure, Durham bangs a bass drum like all the other one-man bands, but he does it while grinding out stomp-rock blues on everything from a tattered-up Gibson to a homemade cigar-box guitar with some empty suitcases, beat-up mandolins, and blown-out harmonicas thrown in.

Durham is the first to admit he's more than slightly obsessed with Tom Waits. Everything Waits does confuses, frightens, intrigues and enlightens him, he says. Add to that a little Son House, Fred McDowell, and of course, rooting around in attics for $50 one-stringed abominations (the cheaper the better), and the Durham sound was born. Sonya Harvey

click to enlarge Kero Kero Bonito bring their sick beats to the Nile. - TRACEY NG
Kero Kero Bonito bring their sick beats to the Nile.
Tracey Ng
Kero Kero Bonito
Wednesday, April 10
The Nile Theater in Mesa

It’s hard to believe that only five years ago, Kero Kero Bonito had yet to bless the world with their vibrant pop wonderland. In summer 2014, the Intro Bonito mixtape shook the blogosphere as Sarah Midori Perry rapped about wanting to be Tomb Raider and not needing to submit to any notion of identity beyond her own. Slaying one existential demon after another over top N64-style breakbeats from the production team of Gus Lobban (PC Music’s Kane West) and Jamie Bulled, Perry laid the groundwork for a future pop utopia where over-the-top color palettes and biting social commentary can throw a collaborative dance party.

Fast-forward a few years, and KKB make their proper LP debut with Bonito Generation, wherein Perry dons a graduation robe and ruminates about the challenges of the post-academia real world. Songs like “Graduation” and “Try Me” touch on the inherent hypocrisy of the educational system and capitalism, while singles like “Break” and “Trampoline” highlight the importance of self-care and optimism.

After years of touring, Kero Kero Bonito returned abruptly with “Only Acting,” a song and video that introduced a surprising new chapter for the band. Gone are the break-dance rhythms and cutesy animal noise samples. In their place are live drums and blaring, distorted guitars. The song decomposes into a harsh noise meta meltdown, extending the “Is it real?” metaphor all the further. “Only Acting” sets a great thesis statement for their second LP, Time ’n’ Place. Where Bonito Generation focused on new challenges and a wide-eyed look forward, Time ’n’ Place looks in the rearview at a suburban backdrop, where memories and childhood lessons take on more weighted meaning and truth in light of adult realities. Gerrit Feenstra

click to enlarge Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern of Sofi Tukker. - SHERVIN LAINEZ
Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern of Sofi Tukker.
Shervin Lainez
Sofi Tukker
Thursday, April 11
The Van Buren

Last year, Sofi Tukker's insidiously catchy single "Best Friend" became a major hit after being featured in a commercial for the iPhone X, including hitting No. 1 on Billboard's dance charts. The duo behind the song — Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern — often blur the lines between live and recorded sounds during performances. They sing live and play bass and guitar onstage, but the rest of the sounds are programmed, and some sections of their sets are reserved for choreographed dance routines.

"At first, we tried to do everything," Hawley-Weld says, "trying to trigger every beat and play every part. But we realized that's not really the point. There's a performance art and interactive element that also really matters to us: It's bringing the music to life, trying to embody the music through movement, and really focusing on connecting with the people who showed up." In other words, they care more about shared experiences than wowing with their motor-function skills. Howard Hardee

click to enlarge Brett Eldredge will help kick off the first day of Country Thunder 2019. - COURTESY OF ATLANTIC RECORDS
Brett Eldredge will help kick off the first day of Country Thunder 2019.
Courtesy of Atlantic Records
Country Thunder 2019
Thursday, April 11, to Sunday, April 14
Canyon Moon Ranch in Florence

The big names of contemporary and throwback country music are once again rounding up at Canyon Moon Ranch in Florence for the annual Country Thunder music festival. Over 100,000 country and western fans are expected to the festival grounds from Thursday, April 11, to Sunday, April 14, for performances by a slew of 10-gallon headliners and plenty of down-home fun. In addition to country stars taking the main stage, Country Thunder 2019 also offers retail vendors, partner activities, on-site bars, a food court, and additional entertainers and a side stage featuring local country bands.

Day one of this year’s edition of Country Thunder kicks off its boot-scootin’ lineup on Thursday with performances by Trace Adkins, Brett Eldredge, The Cole Trains, Williams and Ree, Ryan and the Renegades, A Boy Named Sioux, Harry Luge, and others. Lauren Cusimano
KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Phoenix New Times Music Writers