We’re days into 2020, and the Valley’s concert scene is getting into gear.
The next seven nights will feature gigs by big-name performers (rapper Jon Bellion and bedroom indie-pop artist Rex Orange County), unique acts (weirdo rock duo The King Khan & BBQ Show), and living legends (blues kings Guitar Shorty and Walter Trout).
Other notable music events happening from Monday, January 6, to Sunday, January 12, include the popular Full Moon Festival, the latest edition of the Phoenix Rock Lottery, and a David Bowie tribute party.
Details about each of these shows are below. For even more live music happenings around the Valley, hit up Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar.
Southwest Gospel Festival 2020Monday, January 6, to Wednesday, January 8
Mesa Arts Center
They’ll be feeling some serious Tennessee vibes over at Mesa Arts Center as the Southwest Gospel Festival takes to the Ikeda Theater stage for three days. The Booth Brothers, Legacy Five, and Tribute Quartet will bring the music when the festival launches at 6 p.m. on Monday, January 6, and they’ll be joined by motivational speaker Dennis Swanberg.
If you’re not used to hearing gospel, the evening will give you a chance to dip in. If this genre is your thing, you have three days to take it all in. Other artists scheduled to perform at the festival include Phil Cross and Poet Voices, Keepers of the Faith, Legacy Five, The Roberts, Triumphant, The Hoppers, and Liberty Quartet on Tuesday, January 7; and Greater Vision, Legacy Five, The Hoppers, and Liberty Quartet on Wednesday, January 8. Single tickets start at $13. Full event tickets start at $27. Lynn Trimble
David Bowie Nite: A Starman DiscoWednesday, January 8
It’s been four years since David Bowie shuffled off the mortal coil and departed the surly bonds of Earth. And the stars have looked very different ever since. In honor of the legendary musician, actor, and cultural icon, who died in 2016, local DJs Xam Renn and A Claire Slattery will present David Bowie Nite: A Starman Disco at Crescent Ballroom on Wednesday, January 8, which would’ve been his 73rd birthday.
Renn and Slattery will “mourn and pay homage to our beloved Starman” with an evening of Bowie’s best-loved tunes, music videos, and cinematic appearances in Crescent’s main room. Bowie-inspired costumes are encouraged if you feel like dressing up. Put on your red shoes and dance the blues starting at 8 p.m. Admission is $5. Benjamin Leatherman
Rex Orange CountyThursday, January 9
The Van Buren
Rex Orange County's bedroom indie pop didn't seem bound for success at first, but the 21-year-old English artist has ascended through the ranks to become a viral sensation over the past four years. His upcoming show at The Van Buren is in support of last year’s Pony, but fans will certainly still be clamoring for older material such as "Sunflower," "Loving Is Easy," and "Best Friend." The show, which starts at 8 p.m., is currently sold out, but tickets are available on the secondary market. James Biagiotti
The King Khan & BBQ ShowThursday, January 9
It’s hard to object to the torrid three-minute Canadian Euro-trash punkabilly songs that Mark Sultan and guitarist King Khan lay down. Khan has been living in Germany since 1999 and was the driving force in King Khan and The Shrines, who put a punk twist on soul music and created a stir on the European underground scene. The duo formed in 2005, and their gut-level rock draws comparisons to everyone from Black Flag to The Black Keys. Albums like 2009’s Invisible Girl and 2015’s Bad News Boys have surprisingly smart songs that catch the earth-quaking rumble of Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, the earliest U.K. punks, and the 13th Floor Elevators. The result is torrid, raw, powerful garage band stuff that plays well from Hamburg to Houston. They’re scheduled to perform on Thursday night at Valley Bar. Vic Ruggiero opens the 8 p.m. show. Tickets are $22. William Michael Smith
Guitar ShortyFriday, January 10
The Rhythm Room
He played with some of the best when he was just 17: Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Otis Rush, B.B. King, and T-Bone Walker. Guitar Shorty (born David Kearney) credits the flamboyant Guitar Slim with inspiring him to incorporate somersaults and flips into his lively stage show. Settling in Seattle, Shorty married Jimi Hendrix's half-sister, Marsha. Hendrix would go AWOL from his military base in '61 and '62 to see Shorty's shows and told him that he started setting his guitar on fire because he couldn't do backflips. Shorty finally made a successful return in '91 with My Way or the Highway, for which he won a Blues Music Award that revitalized his career. He performs at The Rhythm Room starting at 8 p.m. on Friday. Tickets are $14. Chris Parker
Cold ShowersFriday, January 10
The Rebel Lounge
Yes, the spirit of Joy Division lives on in L.A.'s Cold Showers, but in every best way possible. Their songs are minimal, ferocious, focused, and crackling with power. Jon Weinberg's vocals drift past like smoke in fog. This band are a machine with a million parts moving at once and one you could listen to for hours on end. Cold Showers are scheduled to visit Rebel Lounge on Friday night. Fearing and other special guests open the evening beginning at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance, $13 at the door. Chris Ziegler
Walter TroutFriday, January 10, and Saturday, January 11
The Rhythm Room
Though the term "guitar hero" means less in mainstream music than it did, say, 25 years ago, that doesn't mean the world doesn't have or need them anymore. Clapton and (Jeff) Beck are still active, but who's going to carry on when they join Stevie Ray Vaughan and Rory Gallagher in six-string heaven? Fellows like Walter Trout, that's who. The New Jersey-born guitarist isn't merely some technique-obsessed Captain Speedfingers — he knows blues, having played behind icon John Lee Hooker and as a member of Canned Heat and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. In his songs, Trout adds personalized tweaks and twists to his solos — he's not living in someone else's past. See Trout (no fish jokes, please) "fiddle" his frets on Friday and Saturday at The Rhythm Room during his two-night stint. Each show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $25. Mark Keresman
Phoenix Rock Lottery 2020Saturday, January 11
This weekend, 25 local musicians come together at Crescent Ballroom to offer an embarrassment of musical riches. Started by Stephen “Psyko Steve” Chilton in 2014, the Phoenix Rock Lottery shakes up the local scene for a good cause. All proceeds go to Rosie's House, a nonprofit that provides music education to underprivileged youth from low-income backgrounds. The format offers music fans a wildly unpredictable experience. Artists from different genres and bands are randomly grouped together into five new bands and have until the end of that day to write and rehearse three new songs (and a cover) to perform that night in front of a live audience. This year’s edition includes such names as Brian Chartrand, Brea Burns, Tatiana Crespo, Tyler Matock, Ark Calkins, and many more. The show is at 8:30 p.m. and admission is $10. Ashley Naftule
Full Moon Festival: Wolf MoonSaturday, January 11
When promoters of the Full Moon Festival launched the event back in 2016, they had no idea how big it would become. At the time, it was simply a private house party thrown by local artist/musician Jonathan Luther and his then-roommate to celebrate the fact they’d found a place to live. “Our planned celebration actually landed on a full moon,” Luther told Phoenix New Times in 2018. “So, we decided to make it a full moon party.” They invited 50 people to the shindig; more than 200 people showed up. And then things only got bigger from there.
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This weekend, the festival will celebrate its fourth anniversary with a big blowout on Saturday night. The event is timed to January’s Wolf Moon and will feature an enormous mix of DJs, bands, visual artists, and other creative endeavors. The DJ lineup will include sets by Blossom, Sean Watson, Lance Fairchild, Tryb, Medicine Mike, TXNY, Vayn, T3, Alex Avila, Macefacekilla, GTJ, and dozens more. Local bands like The Runner Up, The Hourglass Cats, Kuru, No Refills, Joseph Bills, and Lil Seltrah will also perform. Doors open at 8:35 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance, $30 at the door. Benjamin Leatherman
Jon BellionSunday, January 12
Jon Bellion cites Kanye West as an influence. He even went as far as dropping out of college to take on music as a career. Just like Yeezus himself, it seems like his determination paid off. Bellion wrote the hook to the Eminem and Rihanna single "The Monster," and ever since then, he's been garnering more and more attention. As a pop artist, Bellion has let the rap influence change up the usual pop artist plan of action by releasing a slew of mixtapes before a proper release. His 2014 tape, The Definition, opens on probably the most recognizable thing Kanye West has ever said (well, on an actual song), "Wait 'till I get my money right," and is filled to the brim with grandiose pop ballads. Bellion’s most recent release is 2018’s Glory Sound Prep, which peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard charts. He’s scheduled to perform on Sunday at the Crescent at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. H. Drew Blackburn