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The 11 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week

Slayer is scheduled to perform on Thursday, May 2, at Ak-Chin Pavillion.
Slayer is scheduled to perform on Thursday, May 2, at Ak-Chin Pavillion. Courtesy of Herfitz PR
Slayer fans of the Valley, get ready for one final visit from your heavy metal heroes. The legendary band, which have been shredding for going on four decades, are in the midst of their farewell world tour, which rolls into Ak-Chin Pavillion on Thursday.

It tops a busy week of concerts in the Valley, which will also include gigs by Robin Trower, La Dispute, Omar Apollo, Passion Pit, Yngwie Malmsteen, Powerman 5000, and Jake Shimabukuro.

Details about each of these gigs 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 town, check out Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar.

click to enlarge Michael Angelakos of Passion Pit. - COURTESY OF SACKS & CO.
Michael Angelakos of Passion Pit.
Courtesy of Sacks & Co.

Passion Pit

Tuesday, April 30
Marquee Theatre In Tempe

When Passion Pit’s Manners came out in May 2009, it was a divisive album. It was indie pop cranked up to 11 with infectious hooks and jangly melodies of synth and electronic beats that one either ate up gleefully or found obnoxiously optimistic. A decade has passed, and Manners serves as a time capsule to indie pop in a time where the social media landscape was changing with the decline of Myspace. Passion Pit’s 10th-anniversary tour for Manners comes to Marquee Theatre for what should be a night of carefree dancing. The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35 to $67.50. Julian Hernandez

click to enlarge Omar Apollo will play a sold-out show this week at Crescent Ballroom. - AIDEN CULLEN
Omar Apollo will play a sold-out show this week at Crescent Ballroom.
Aiden Cullen

Omar Apollo

Tuesday, April 30
Crescent Ballroom

Omar Apollo has always loved attention, and people have always hated him for it. Before he was a rising singer-songwriter based out of Los Angeles, he would post dance videos online “just because I thought it was tight,” he says. “A lot of people I looked up to were doing it at the time, so I was pretty into dancing for a while — I still am. People always had shit to say about it, and I was always like, ‘Whatever, dude.’”

At 21 years old, Apollo (real name Omar Velasco) has been receiving plenty of positive attention for his psych-folk and R&B songs. As a self-recorded musician, he uses his laptop to add electronic flourishes to otherwise sparse songs, such as the flute-like sound on “Friends,” which is actually his voice manipulated with delay and distortion. His penchant for messing around on the computer inevitably leads critics and journalists to describe him as “psychedelic,” but he says that’s a matter of opinion.

“I just think it sounds cool, but people are like, ‘Oh, this is psych,’” he says. “Making music is about taste. You listen to certain artists because you like their taste in the melodies they pick, their drum tones, their guitar tones. That’s just my taste — I just fuck with that shit. People rock you because of your taste, and it ain’t more than that.” He dropped his sophomore EP, Friends, on April 10 and is currently touring the U.S. in support of the effort. The gig starts at 8 p.m. and is sold out (although tickets can be found on the secondary market). Howard Hardee

click to enlarge The members of La Dispute. - COURTESY OF EPITAPH RECORDS
The members of La Dispute.
Courtesy of Epitaph Records

La Dispute

Tuesday, April 30.
The Nile Theater in Mesa

Formed in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 2004, La Dispute came out weird right out of the gate. The band’s lead singer, Jordan Dreyer, wasn’t a self-identified musician at the time: He was a writer of poetry and prose, not lyrics. But that literary background, coupled with Dreyer’s spoken delivery (recalling at times the chilling, soft-spoken monologues Brian McMahan would mumble through on Slint’s Spiderland), gave the band a unique identity. Whereas so many emo bands sound on record like torn-out hearts, violently gushing melodies and mash-note lyrics all over the place, there’s a cool reserve to La Dispute’s music — they often sound like they’re on the verge of erupting. Which makes it all the more satisfying when they do.

La Dispute have practically achieved elder statesmen status in the “post-emo” scene, a subgenre that counts groups like Baltimore’s Pianos Become The Teeth and L.A.’s Touche Amore as members. Post-emo’s approach to emo and screamo is akin to how post-rock treated alternative rock — as Silly-Putty to sculpt into weirder, more abstract shapes. Listening to La Dispute, you get echoes of the grandeur and intensity of At the Drive-In, the pent-up fury of Refused, and the ambient delicacy of Thursday’s quieter moments. But Adam Vass (bass), Corey Stroffolino (rhythm guitar), Brad Vander Lugt (drums), and Chad Morgan-Sterenberg (lead guitar) also mix in jazz, country, and prog elements into their sound, creating a sonic backdrop for Dreyer’s words that remains unpredictable from song to song, album to album.

Following on the heels of the 10th anniversary of their classic debutm Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair, the band put out their fourth album this year. Panorama is a beautiful and mysterious record, one that slowly unfurls itself over the course of its 10 tracks. La Dispute is currently touring in support of the album and will perform at the Nile in Mesa on Tuesday. Doors are at 7 p.m. and tickets are $22.50-$25. Ashley Naftule

click to enlarge Singer-songwriter Sawyer Fredericks, one of the youngest-ever winners of The Voice. - LISSY LARICCHIA
Singer-songwriter Sawyer Fredericks, one of the youngest-ever winners of The Voice.
Lissy Laricchia

Sawyer Fredericks

Wednesday, May 1
Valley Bar

Sawyer Fredericks should be a familiar name to longtime viewers of The Voice, owing to the fact that the teenage singer-songwriter became the youngest-ever winner of the reality singing competition back in 2015. Coached by Pharrell (with whom he shares a penchant for adorable hats), the then-teenage Fredericks bested more than a dozen other competitors thanks to his golden singing voice, rampant popularity, and glowing performances of such tracks as "Take Me to the River" by Al Green, "A Thousand Years" by Christina Perri, and John Lennon’s "Imagine."

While Fredericks reportedly racked up a number of sales records on iTunes for the songs he sung on The Voice, the two albums he released on Republic Records, a 2015 self-titled EP and 2016’s A Good Storm, produced modest sales and resulted in Fredericks leaving the label. A third album, 2018’s Hide Your Ghost, did well on Billboard’s indie charts. This week, Fredericks comes to Valley Bar with his current backing band. WolfChild opens. Benjamin Leatherman

click to enlarge Swedish guitar monster Yngwie Malmsteen. - MALMSTEEN MANAGEMENT
Swedish guitar monster Yngwie Malmsteen.
Malmsteen Management

Yngwie Malmsteen

Wednesday, May 1
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Eddie Van Halen may have put the art of shredding on the map with 1978’s “Eruption,” but Yngwie Malmsteen spent the entire 1980s taking the blueprint, adding influences from 18th- and 19th-century classical music, and blowing the concept up into a grandiose display of guitar histrionics. The Swedish musician initially broke through as a teenage prodigy with early-’80s L.A. metal band Alcatrazz. Malmsteen’s guitar-hero status emerged with his Rising Force project in the years that followed. His neoclassical shred-guitar compositions took center stage and influenced a wave of musicians welding metallic loudness to over-the-top technicality, which continues to this day with modern acts such as L.A.’s Exmortus. Malmsteen has at times become shorthand in metal circles for guitar excess, but when it’s as shamelessly bombastic as this, it’s all good. Jason Roche

Powerman 5000

Wednesday, May 1
Club Red in Mesa

Powerman 5000 continue to be an outlet for Michael Cummings, known best as Spider One. The lineup he had for the group’s breakthrough, Tonight the Stars Revolt!, has long since left, but he keeps the name going. Backed by musicians who joined the band in the past handful of years, Powerman 5000 put out their most recent album, New Wave, in 2017. It's sci-fi allegory for the metal and hard rock crowd. It's not meant to be high concept, but it's not meant to be stupid, either. Powerman 5000 are scheduled to perform on Wednesday night at Club Red in Mesa. Crowning Thieves, Riot/Gear, All Your Lies, and Freedom 48 will open. Start time is 6 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance, $23 at the door. Eric Grubbs
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Phoenix New Times Music Writers