So, no one in their right minds would want to come to Phoenix in the summertime, huh? Try telling that to all the touring artists, singer-songwriters, and bands that are due in town this week. Over the next several nights, folks like R&B stars Khalid and Jamila Woods, rapper Machine Gun Kelly, heartland rocker John Hiatt, and country singer Carson McHone all have concerts happening in the Valley.
Others set to perform this week include ‘90s radio favorites Hootie and the Blowfish and indie acts like Unwed Sailor, Geographer, and Froth.
Details about each of their shows can be found below in our list of the best concerts happening in the Valley this week. And for even more live music, check out Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar.
Monday, June 17
Almost every full-time musician can tell of a serendipitous series of events that led him or her down the path of becoming a professional. Maybe Mom and Dad had some old records that sparked an interest, or tuba spots in the school band were all taken up, so they had to play drums instead. Michael Deni of Geographer was walking along one day and just happened to find a synthesizer out in the street. Seriously, he found a functioning synthesizer. Then, he learned to play it.
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The gods might as well have had him trip over it, then look at it curiously with a giant question mark floating over his head. The synthesizer inspired Innocent Ghosts, Geographer’s debut album, which is packed with moody synth, catchy hooks, and eerie vocals. Since then, the band have released two more full-length studio albums and several EPs, including the recently released seven-song EP New Jersey. Geographer is currently touring in support of the album and visit Crescent Ballroom on Monday night. Manatee Commune will open. The show is at 8 p.m. and tickets are $13 in advance, $15 at the door. Christina Caldwell
Monday, June 17
With cosmic jazz, silky soul, and finely curated hip-hop beats, Jamila Woods weaves richly detailed R&B worlds that provoke and awe in equal measure. Politically incisive and exquisitely arranged, the Chicagoan’s music looks to the past to usher our present into a more woke future. Take for instance her recent masterstroke, LEGACY! LEGACY!, whose track names are taken from legendary artists of color like Sun Ra, Basquiat, Betty Davis, and Muddy Waters. The voices and influence of these giants haunt every corner of the record, from its smoky atmospheres to its enraged reflections on inequality. By meditating on history without leaning on it, Woods’ art betrays an understanding that the answers to emerging social obstacles hinge on combining the knowledge of the past with the ambition of the present. She'll be at Valley Bay on Monday night with duendita and TRUVONNE for an 8 p.m. show. Tickets are $15. Jonathan Patrick
Machine Gun Kelly
Tuesday, June 18
The Van Buren
Born Colson Baker, Machine Gun Kelly (a.k.a. MGK) rose to fame after the release of his 2012 single “Wild Boy” featuring Waka Flocka Flame. The song was an anthem for the badly behaved and was the first introduction to Kelly's badass personal branding. Despite being most often labeled a rapper, Kelly's made a living off of his rock star lifestyle. When it comes to his musical accolades, putting him solely in the box of hip-hop is a gross underestimation of his talent.
Hotel Diablo, Machine Gun Kelly’s fourth studio album, is set to be released by the end of June. A mashup of alternative rock and rap, Hotel Diablo is a slight departure from his roots in hip-hop. Announced by MGK himself on Instagram, this new project is about showing his fans that, even though he’s still the skinny kid with the tattoos and the bleached hair, artistically, he’s very different. He’s still mad as hell, but with this album, he’s embracing that angst and expressing it on his terms, telling fans that Hotel Diablo will be “just as honest” as his second project, the highly regarded General Admission. His show at The Van Buren on Tuesday is at 8 p.m. Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the door. Alma Schofield
Wednesday, June 19
Club Red in Mesa
Once a member of the formidable Raider Klan with SpaceGhostPurrp, Denzel Curry, Chris Travis, and more, Xavier Wulf is at once a child of the gritty Memphis, Tennessee, rap scene and a pioneer of the current SoundCloud-assisted rap underground. His dark, anime-assisted visuals and Three Six-inspired flow and voice on songs like “Check It Out” mean he fits in perfectly with scene favorites like $uicideboy$ and fellow Seshollowaterboys member Bones. When this Wulf howls at Club Red alongside Beau Young Prince, Reco Havoc, and Marty Grimes, it’ll be hard to sleep on him anymore. The show is at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 to $25. Douglas Markowitz
Wednesday, June 19
Marquee Theatre in Tempe
Don't worry if the name John Hiatt doesn't immediately ring a bell for you. You've no doubt heard the man's tunes, especially the ubiquitous "Have a Little Faith in Me," which has been belted by everyone from Mandy Moore to Jon Bon Jovi. Hiatt's something of a songwriter's songwriter, penning tunes that have been performed by Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Keith Urban, Chaka Khan, Three Dog Night, and more.
The lineup of artists who have (literally) sung his praises is a testament to his catholic delivery: Hiatt writes songs that transcend genre boundaries and party lines. His late-'70s and early-'80s discography shows off the same New Wave flirtations that earned Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello their hits, but like those two, he's a roots man at heart. Hiatt's songs are boldly populist, and his grasp on soul, R&B, folk, and country grooves has earned him a rep as one of the best songwriters in the biz, while his solid live performances sell him as a fine performer, too. See for yourself on Wednesday night at the Marquee starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are $45-$73. Jason P. Woodbury
Hootie and the Blowfish
Wednesday, June 19
Talk about a blast from the past. Darius Rucker’s career must be one of the most interesting in all of modern music. There’s still a sizable chunk of the population that sees the former Michael Stipe impersonator as the country music phenom he became in the early 2000s, as opposed to his two-decade stint as the frontman of one of the cornerstone bands of the '90s, Hootie and the Blowfish. Rucker’s smooth baritone was the most defining feature of a group best described as a syrupy concentrate somewhere between Ben Folds and Dave Matthews, and he’s honed that instrument throughout Blowfish’s extended hiatus. They announced their long-speculated reunion last December to coincide with the 25th anniversary of their breakout album, Cracked Rear View, as well as their sixth studio album, scheduled to come out this summer.
On the flip side, opening act Barenaked Ladies is perhaps better served not leaning on the band’s mass success in the ’90s. The Ladies’ latest offerings off 2017’s Fake Nudes offer up the same witty mundanity that only bands from Canada can. This isn’t a show for purists, anyway. But if you want to nod along happily to cathartic pop rock at Ak-Chin Pavilion on Wednesday night, this is the one for you. Start time is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $29.50 to $139.50. Nicholas Bostick
Thursday, June 20
Gila River Arena in Glendale
“Young Dumb & Broke” was the song that introduced Khalid to the world, but he’s assuredly no longer broke because of it. The R&B singer was a military brat whose family moved around the country before settling in El Paso, Texas, where he began his music career. Since the release of his album American Teen in 2017, he’s been on an upward trajectory thanks to collabs with Alessia Cara and Logic, Kendrick Lamar, Billie Eilish, and Shawn Mendes, to name a few. He’s currently touring behind his 2019 album, Free Spirit. Clairo, another quickly rising star (and depending on who you ask, an industry plant), will open. Their concert at Gila River Arena in Glendale is at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $35.20 to $65.20. Douglas Markowitz
Thursday, June 20
For all practical purposes, Johnathan Ford is Unwed Sailor. Throughout the post-rock band's 13-year career, Ford has played with an amazing number of sidemen, including folks like Christian Wargo (Fleet Foxes) and Sufjan Stevens. And despite the ever-changing group dynamic and lineup, Ford has stuck fairly close to the ambient/progressive model he originally came up with on 1999's Firecracker. Local dream rock/slowcore band Aspen Sound will open the gig, which is at 8 p.m. Tickets are $8. Darryl Smyers
Thursday, June 20
The Rebel Lounge
If you were listening to albums of Ray Wylie Hubbard, Shinyribs, or Mike and the Moonpies in recent years, it’s certain you’ve heard her voice of Americana artist Carson McHone. Maybe you caught her opening for Gary Clark Jr. on tour. Such high-profile windows only give a glimpse into the greatness McHone holds. With a delicate but not fragile voice, the fiddle-playing McHone can disarm any unsuspecting listener within moments of playing just about any track from her most recent album, 2018’s Carousel. There are many fantastic women plying their craft in the indie country scene right now, and McHone is as promising as they come. See for yourself during her show at The Rebel Lounge on Thursday. DL Marble and Brea Burns open the show, which kicks off at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Kelly Dearmore
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Thursday, June 20
In 2011, Froth was more of a concept, a joke, even – nothing either Joo-Joo Ashworth (vocals, guitar) and Jeff Fribourg (omnichord) took seriously. After all, half of the group didn't even know how to play an instrument. Fribourg designed the cover art for a fake record – a blank one that would spin for 20 minutes without making a sound – before he even learned to play the omnichord, an impulsive eBay purchase that had been sitting in his room for months. Jeremy Katz was added on bass after picking one up for the first time only a month earlier. Cameron Allen joined in on drums after a steady career with L.A. favorites Wyatt Blair and Keepers of the Sun. "He was a real musician, while we were fake ones," jokes Ashworth.
With this new dose of "real" musicianship, Froth finally materialized as a "real" band. Tomas Dolas, one of the founders of L.A. indie label Lolipop Records, pledged support to the amateur group. Lolipop Records wasn't alone, though. After Froth's self-released EP, Gas Money, sold out in late 2012, Burger Records hopped on the Froth bandwagon to release their first full-length, Patterns, in 2013. Don't get the wrong idea, though. Froth still don't take themselves too seriously. When asked what inspires their music, Ashworth quickly responds, "girls." He's mostly joking, but that's not uncommon for the guys in Froth. Their show at Valley Bar on Thursday is at 8 p.m. Versing and James World will open. Tickets are $15/$18. Atemis Thomas-Hansard