The first week of June is going to be filled with memorable concerts. Legendary artists like The Specials and Kid Congo Powers have gigs scheduled at Valley music venues, as do hip-hop artist Dessa, Japanese metal act Church of Misery, Americana group Mike and the Moonpies, and country folk chanteuse Patty Griffin.
Other highlights of this week’s concert offerings include shows by Esham, Full of Hell, Moonlight Magic, and the Joey DeFrancesco Trio.
Details about each of these shows can be found below in our list of the best concerts happening in the Valley this week. And for even more live music happening around town, hit up Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar.
Full of HellMonday, June 3
Club Red in Mesa
If a picture’s worth a thousand words, the cover to Full of Hell’s 2017 album Trumpeting Ecstasy is worth 11 songs of ear-shredding brutality. Depicting a nun whose face has been replaced by flames, it’s an invitation and a warning to listeners, telling them, "This is what Full of Hell sounds like." An album full of guttural voices, heart-attack drum beats, and guitars that sound like they’re trying to claw their way out of hell, Trumpeting Ecstasy is the kind of record that would make a nun spontaneously combust if you played it outside her convent window.
One of the things that sets Full of Hell apart from their grindcore and death-metal peers is their enthusiasm for collaboration: They’ve recorded records with Japanese noise legend Merzbow and The Body. Trumpeting Ecstasy shares that spirit of collaboration: Members of Converge and Isis offer production and guest vocal duties (along with Nicole Dollanganger). Dollanganger’s sweet, plaintive voice offers a rare moment of beauty before the band gets back to what they do best: turning nuns into firecrackers. Catch them at Club Red in Mesa on Monday night. Start time is 6 p.m. Tickets are $15. Ashley Naftule
The SpecialsMonday, June 3
The Van Buren
Any old band can do a reunion tour. But when Terry Hall, Lynval Golding, and Horace Panter — three original members of legendary U.K. second-wave ska band The Specials — decided to get back together, they wanted more. Heading back into the studio in 2018, they decided to take a stand against playing the greatest hits.
Although the trio hadn’t released an album together since 1980, they still have much to say about the state of England, race, their personal lives, and more, and they wanted to say it with flair and originality. And it seems that people wanted to hear what they had to say: The resulting album, Encore, went straight to No. 1 on the U.K. album charts, something the band had never accomplished before.
Thirty-five years after their original bow, this new, yet old version of The Specials is surfing on a new wave of recognition. They may not have all their former members with them, but they’ve sold out 40 out of 72 shows on their current tour, which comes to The Van Buren on June 3 — and they’re not just playing the hits. Mark C. Horn
DessaMonday, June 3
Musical Instrument Museum
Dessa was once known as one Margret Wander, a philosophy major and technical writer from Minneapolis. But after joining the campus slam poetry team, Wander evolved into the hip-hop artist known as Dessa, and quickly gained the attention of her hometown's music collective known as Doomtree. She recorded and performed with the legendary hip-hop ensemble for years before going it alone in 2005 to focus on her solo career. Since then, Dessa has released a half-dozen albums of inventive hip-hop, including using unusual instrumentation (sampled strings and clarinets) to set the beats while singing rather than shouting. Her most recent effort is Chime, which dropped in 2018. Dessa visits the Valley this week for a performance at the Musical Instrument Museum on Monday evening beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets for the show are $28.50 to $38.50. Darryl Smyers
Mike and the MoonpiesTuesday, June 4
The Rebel Lounge
Mike and the Moonpies have been a staple of the Texas country music scene for more than a decade. Their lineup has changed numerous times, and now they have a solid cast of six guys who play the music of the heartland and have numerous albums under their belt. They've opened for the likes of Eleven Hundred Springs and Hayes Carll – and if these guys are good enough for them, they're good enough for you. Mike and the Moonpies are scheduled to perform on Tuesday night at Rebel Lounge. Locals D.L. Marble and Jim Bachmann and the Day Drinkers will open the show, which begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door. H. Drew Blackburn
Church of MiseryTuesday, June 4
Club Red in Mesa
The Japanese knack for musical mimicry is evident in the works of Church of Misery, which sound so much like the best hard rock album from 1975 (or 1985, or 1995) that listeners can be excused for checking their calendars while it's playing. The band's been around in one configuration or another for more than two decades now, and experience most definitely counts.
Throughout Church of Misery’s lengthy discography, lead singer Yoshiaki Negishi growls and roars and spits like a shaggy-maned hellhound against riff slabs tossed out by guitarist Yasuto Muraki. Meanwhile, the rhythms created by bassist Tatsu Mikami and drummer Junichi Yamamura crash and smash together with a merry lack of concern for life, limb, or litigation.
Sure, these elements have been around since long before Geezer Butler needed hair dye, but the material doesn't give off the slightest whiff of moldy nostalgia. Rather, they erupt with a mad enthusiasm that will have inveterate metalheads at Club Red in Mesa lining up for a chance to worship at Church's altar when they perform on Tuesday. The concert is at 7 p.m. and Mondo Generator, Toke, and Old Fashioned Assassin open. Tickets are $18 in advance, $20 at the door. Michael Roberts
Joey DeFrancesco TrioWednesday, June 5
Musical Instrument Museum
Jazz organists are a unique breed, able to switch from serious to funky quite literally at the push of a button. Joey DeFrancesco has been performing since he was a child, following in the footsteps of his jazz-playing father and grandfather.
A seasoned musician by his teens, having already shared the stage with saxophonist Hank Mobley and drummer "Philly" Joe Jones, DeFrancesco was truly honored when, at 17, Miles Davis asked him to join his touring band. He later recorded with Davis on Amandla. Record label obligations cut short his time with Davis, something he now regrets, but DeFrancesco – who learned to play trumpet following his stint with Davis – has forged a solid career that has seen him play and record with genre heavyweights.
DeFrancesco’s current tour, which visits the Musical Instrument Museum on Wednesday, celebrates the 30th anniversary of his debut album (1989’s All of Me) and the release of his latest effort, In the Key of the Universe. Tickets for his show at the MIM, which starts at 7 p.m., are $38.50 to $43.50. Glenn BurnSilver
EshamWednesday, June 5
Club Red in Mesa
Since releasing his first album in 1986 at the age of 13, Esham’s personalized style of acid rap has influenced rappers like Tech N9ne and Insane Clown Posse, leaving a major mark in the subgenre of horrorcore.
More than 30 years later, Esham Smith is still making music and expanding his community of those looking to share in the “wicked shit,” including those in the audience at Last Exit Live on Wednesday. “The ‘wicked shit’ is a particular type of music that we do, the acid rap,” Smith says. “It’s a genre that dives into dark imagery and really mental subjects. A lot of kids choose to express themselves through this musical art form instead of violently at times, and this music originated in Detroit, Michigan.”
Decades later, the "wicked shit" is carried on by horrorcore artists around the world. “Everybody keeps it going, and we are all inspired by each other,” Smith says. “Whether it’s ICP hosting the Gathering of the Juggalos or taking the culture even further in other ways, I think we all learn from each other.” Esham will be in the Valley this week for a Wednesday night show at Club Red in Mesa, which starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 and Kuklinkski the Clown and DJ Metronome share the bill. Lauren Archuletta
Patty GriffinWednesday, June 5
Musical Instrument Museum
Of all the major contemporary country folk chanteuses, Patty Griffin is second only to Emmylou Harris in having negotiated the star machinery of Nashville, crossed over to rock and coffeehouse audiences, and adhered to a personal and spiritual vision. Her songs as covered by the Dixie Chicks ("Top of the World," "Let Him Fly") and Martina McBride ("Goodbye"), among other mainstream singers, may be her best-known lyrics, but if you haven't heard her rich, rising alto sing them, you don't really know them at all. Her music is faith-based but never fundamentalist, in touch with higher powers, deeper mysteries, and an unwavering commitment to craft. Her show at the MIM on Wednesday starts at 7:30 p.m. John Smith will also perform. Tickets are $48.50 to $73.50. Roy Kasten
Moonlight MagicWednesday, June 5
This ensemble of seasoned local musicians are a great band to get woozy to. Or maybe, they’re the ones causing those woozy sways with breezy original tunes. Their sounds keep you moving; their infectious blend of exotica, lounge, and surf-y sounds are breezy and hypnotic. The band consists of Ruth Wilson on bass, Eddy Detroit on drums and percussion, Andrew Jemsek on organ and accordion, and Jamie Paul Lamb on guitar. Each has a lengthy resume of musical projects.
With a collective wardrobe any respectable lounge lizard would envy, the band don't stick to playing in traditional venues. They’ll cram into the packed downtown tiki bar Bikini Lounge to play right in the middle of the party crowd. Another awesome way to catch them is atop the Clarendon Hotel, performing at the venue’s rooftop bar with the wind carrying their sounds into the infinite view. Or you could swing by their gig at Valley Bar on Wednesday night, which starts at 9 p.m. and is completely free. Amy Young
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Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey BirdsThursday, June 6
No matter who you are, it’s a pretty sure bet guitarist Kid Congo Powers has cooler friends than you do. After all, Powers (real name Brian Tristan) got his start in 1979 playing guitar with legendary punk-blues firebrands the Gun Club, then jumped ship in 1980 to spend a few years with psychobilly pioneers The Cramps. After returning to the Gun Club from 1983 to 1987, he took leave again to work with the mighty Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. After popping up on a few Mark Eitzel albums, Powers is busy these days with his own band for a change.
Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds are a four-piece whose music recalls the voodoo-animated roots rock of his best-known work while fusing his sensibilities with garage rock, vintage R&B, and a dash of feedback-driven psychedelia. While Powers has been playing his own hellbent variety of roots rock for going on 40 years, his latest album with the Pink Monkey Birds, La Araña Es La Vida, sounds as though he doesn’t have to worry a bit about keeping up with the times.
This week, Kid Congo and company will be at Valley Bar along with their current tourmates Slim Cessna’s Auto Club. The show is at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15. Mark Deming