Are you looking for something to do this week that doesn’t involve wrapping, unwrapping, or returning gifts? A crop of concerts will be happening at music venues around the Valley during the seven days from Monday, December 23, to Sunday, December 30 (save for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, of course).
Most of the shows will be performances by locals, including such famed homegrown artists and acts as Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, Dom Flemons, Injury Reserve, and Authority Zero. There will also be a tribute to Radiohead’s iconic album The Bends and gigs by such varied bands as Scorpion vs. Tarantula, Moonlight Magic, and House of Stairs.
And if you’re still in the mood to keep celebrating Christmas after the big day, Mannheim Steamroller is bringing their annual holiday tour to town.
Details about each of these shows can be found below. And for even more live music happening around the Valley, hit up Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar.
Moonlight MagicMonday, December 23
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 infectious blend of exotica, lounge, and surf-y sounds are breezy and hypnotic. The band consist 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, they 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 Crescent Ballroom on Monday night, which starts at 7 p.m. and is completely free. Amy Young
Mannheim Steamroller ChristmasThursday, December 26
Mesa Arts Center
Like the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Mannheim Steamroller are best known for concert spectacles in which classical music and standards are rockified for the holiday season. Originally concocted as an alias for record producer/composer Chip Davis, the band are now a 24-member group supplemented by a full live orchestra. They’re wrapping up this year’s holiday tour and will roll into the Mesa Arts Center’s Ikeda Theater on December 26. You’ll hear an array of holiday hits from the Christmas album, first released by Davis in 1984, which will be accentuated by multimedia effects. Think of it as a way to keep the Christmas festivities going a little longer. Their performances at Mesa Arts Center start at 3 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $36 to $81. Eric W. Saeger
A Tribute to Radiohead's The Bends
Thursday, December 26
The Rebel Lounge
Radiohead’s paradigm-shifting 1995 album The Bends officially turns 25 next year (feel old yet?), and some folks are getting a head start on the celebration. An ensemble of Valley singer-songwriters and musicians – including Brian Chartrand, Matthew Thornton, Sturgis Waters, Nick Sterling, Garrison Jones, and Roy Cameron – will perform songs from the album during an evening-long tribute. Local jazz/pop/soul band House of Stairs open the night with a guest set. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the show starts at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Benjamin Leatherman
Dom FlemonsThursday, December 26
MIM Music Theater
Although he's in Brooklyn and started old-timey string band Carolina Chocolate Drops with fellow musician Rhiannon Giddens in North Carolina, Dom Flemons grew up in Phoenix, where he learned the basics of folk music and collected records. He left Carolina Chocolate Drops in 2013 to pursue a solo career. The Grammy-winning multi-instrumentalist (who plays the banjo, guitar, harmonica, fife, bones, bass drum, snare drum, and quills) hasn’t looked back. Flemons has released several albums that encompass a variety of early American styles and genres, ranging from early jazz and blues to country and folk, all of which he incorporates seamlessly. In recent years, he’s been featured on David Holt's State of Music on PBS, and his most recent album, 2018’s Black Cowboys, was released was issued in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African-American History and Culture. Flemons comes home this week for a show at the MIM Music Theater on at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday night. Tickets are $33.50 to $38.50. Jason P. Woodbury and Benjamin Leatherman
Injury ReserveFriday, December 27
The Van Buren
What a year it’s been.
The boys said it themselves on their debut LP earlier this year, but the fact deserves infinite restatement: 2019 was the year of Injury Reserve. After signing with Loma Vista Recordings last year, the Arizona rap trio arrived on the global stage with a stunning forty minute statement, proving their collected work up to this point is only an introduction. After a busy year of touring, the group return home for a year-end celebration on Friday at The Van Buren.
Joining them are some of the Valley’s best rising acts, including electronic duo Separate Ways, shoegaze quintet Dovi, experimental indie rock band Gasol, and rappers Tony Velour and Lil QWERTY. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $22 to $25. Gerrit Feenstra
Roger Clyne and The PeacemakersFriday, December 27, and Saturday, December 28
Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale
Say what you will about Roger Clyne's talents (which are substantial), when it comes to instigating a party, the native Arizonan is quite skilled. The stories surrounding the raucous Refreshments shows he was a part of back during the Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy days have been trumped by the kind of off-the-hook wingdings he hosts as the frontman for the Peacemakers. The tequila-soaked "Circus Mexicus" beach blast held in Puerto Peñasco draw thousands of Peaceheads every year. Suffice it to say, RCPM's two pre-New Year's Eve shows at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale will likely be just as lively. Clyne and company will perform a high-energy set featuring “Mekong,” “Nada,” “Banditos,” and the theme to King of the Hill, which he wrote and performed in the '90s during the heyday of The Refreshments. Both shows start at 8 p.m. and tickets are $45 for each. Benjamin Leatherman
Scorpion vs. TarantulaSaturday, December 28
You could sum up a Scorpion vs. Tarantula show like this: Band walk into a bar, band destroy bar with blistering show of punk rock-and-roll led by a throaty, wrecking ball of a woman named L. Hotshot. If you used that summary every single time, you wouldn’t be wrong. While Hotshot rips through the crowd, mic in hand, fists pumping and singing her glorious guts out, the band – Jay Bennett on guitar, Tana Satana on bass, and Michael “Cappy” Renfroe on drums – are busy providing a ferocious backdrop that keeps the crowd in full fever mode until the last note is rung. Catch them getting loud and going hard at Chopper John’s on Saturday night. The gig gets going at 9 p.m. and New Guinea Pigs and EatCrow. There’s no cover. Amy Young
Authority ZeroSaturday, December 28
Marquee Theatre in Tempe
Mesa's favorite punks, Authority Zero, have come a long way over the course of the last quarter-century. Since forming in 1994, the band have gone from intimate (often free) local shows to playing Warped Tour and, eventually, touring the world and releasing a few hit albums. Authority Zero are now a household name in the local scene and an Arizona trademark like Jimmy Eat World. On Saturday night, they’ll wrap up their year-long 25th-anniversary celebration with a gig at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe. Local rock and punk bands Madd Dog Tannen, ZeeCeeKeely, Skull Drug, and Black Mountain Moonshine will open the 7 p.m. show. Tickets are $25- to $40. Melissa Fossum
Carvin JonesSunday, December 29
The Rhythm Room
If you're a Valley resident who hasn't heard of guitarist Carvin Jones, it's likely that you've been doing a little carvin' of your own, holed up in some cavernous hermitage. Since 1989, Carvin has been sauntering his way across the universe with Phoenix as his launchpad, and his six-string the chauffeur.
Though he plays the blues, the Texas native has little to be blue about, having logged 6,000-plus performances, including opening for the likes of B.B. King and Santana. A mainstay on the international festival circuit, Carvin's Hendrix-esque stage charisma coupled with his SRV-flavored chops have garnered him success on the majority of earth's inhabitable continents. He’s gotten kudos from Guitar Magazine and even Eric Clapton. On Sunday night, he’ll perform at The Rhythm Room starting at 6 p.m. Admission is $10. Rob Kroehler
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House of StairsSunday, December 29
Phoenix’s jazzy House of Stairs cite Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher — known for a mathematical style of design — as an influence. But they aren’t trying to emulate Escher’s visual aesthetic through asymmetrical haircuts or black-and-white outfits. Instead, they use his calculated style as an inspiration for their songs (and their name).
That approach helps House of Stairs deliver a unique twist on soulful jazz. By playing with the vocals and strategically layering them, they inject their music with a futuristic vibe. It’s hard not to be immediately sold when you hear Holly Pyle’s powerful voice. It has so much age and wisdom in it, you might guess she was bred in a jazz lab. Their show at Valley Bar on Sunday night is a chance to enjoy them in an intimate setting. Mesquite and J-Calvin will open the show, which starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $7. Amy Young