Our concert picks this week have a little something for everyone.
If you want a party, for instance, the annual Coors Light Birds Nest series at the Waste Management Phoenix Open starts on Wednesday night. If you prefer smaller, more intimate gigs, post-punk/darkwave band Rosegarden Funeral Party are paying a visit to The Lunchbox.
The other shows that make up our list of the best concerts happening in the Valley from Monday, January 27, to Sunday, February 2, fall somewhere between these two extremes. It includes performances by rap star YBN Cordae, metal legends Queensryche, jazz/funk/hip-hop duo Black Violin, experimental vocalist Tanya Tagaq, and ska kings The Toasters.
Details about each of these shows (and others) can be found below. And for even more live music happening around the Valley, hit up Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar.
YBN CordaeMonday, January 27
Pub Rock Live in Scottsdale
A member of the YBN (Young Boss N*ggaz) collective, Cordae Dunston, a native of Raleigh, North Carolina, has been pitched as a missing link between the dusty old school of rap and its colorful, youthful present. He’s had a quick rise since he began pursuing music in earnest last year, freestyling over songs like Eminem’s “My Name Is” and Kendrick Lamar’s “DUCKWORTH.,” responding to J. Cole’s “1985” on “Old N*ggaz,” touring with Juice Wrld, and performing as part of YBN in Europe and at Rolling Loud in Miami. His show on Monday night at Pub Rock Live in Scottsdale starts at 7 p.m., and 24kgoldn will open. The show is sold out, but tickets are available on the secondary market. Douglas Markowitz
QueensrycheTuesday, January 28
Marquee Theatre in Tempe
Formed in Seattle in 1982, Queensrÿche had a slow start with their debut album, The Warning, which, in retrospect, failed to capture the imaginations of the fans or the band. With 1986’s follow-up effort, Rage for Order, they began introducing progressive elements, then nascent studio techniques to achieve a distinct sound that immediately set them apart from other metal bands. With the release and subsequent touring for Operation: Mindcrime and Empire in ’88 and ’90, respectively, Queensrÿche became a household name with numerous Grammys and over 20 million albums sold. In 2012, the band parted ways with singer Geoff Tate in a bitter debacle before tapping Todd La Torre, formerly of Crimson Glory, as their new frontman.
Queensryche are scheduled to play the Marquee Theatre in Tempe on Tuesday night with support from John 5, Eve to Adam, Circle of Terra, and Demiaura. The show is at 6:30 p.m., and tickets are $30 to $50. Abel Folgar
Miranda LambertWednesday, January 29
Coors Light Birds Nest at Waste Management Phoenix Open in Scottsdale
Miranda Lambert has struck a delicate balance: She’s made country music palatable once again to the sanctimonious scads of big-city types, infusing the genre with a newfound sense of authenticity missing since the days of her outlaw forefathers. At the same time, she’s managed to write earnest, heartfelt everyman ballads like “The House That Built Me,” as well as gritty angst-filled anthems of empowerment like “Gunpowder and Lead” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” that resonate with rank-and-file fans of modern country, affording her truckloads of crossover appeal and street cred — not to mention a serious leg up on her contemporaries. Lambert will kick off the annual concert series at the Coors Light Birds Nest, the official after-party of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, on January 29. Cody Johnson opens.
Doors open at 3:30 p.m. and Lambert goes on at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $75 for general admission and $285 for VIP. Dave Herrera
Cover the Crescent: The Big Lebowski
Wednesday, January 29
With songs by everyone from Santana and Nina Simone to Bob Dylan and The Eagles, The Big Lebowski is as much about great music as it is White Russians. Now, as part of its regular Cover the Crescent series, Crescent Ballroom is celebrating the film’s sonic legacy with an all-star covers concert.
A slew of Valley bands and artists will spend an evening unpacking the film’s rich soundtrack, with covers by Dr. Delicious, Council Bluffs, Young Mothers, Treasure MammaL, and Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra, among many others. And if that weren’t enough, proceeds from the show benefit The Trunk Space and local music education. You best abide, dudes and dudettes. The 21-and-over show is set for 8 p.m. on Wednesday night. Tickets are $7 in advance and $10 the day of the show. Chris Coplan
John MayallThursday, January 30
MIM Music Theater
Considered one of the godfathers of British Blues – a distinction he shares with late Alexis Korner – vocalist and multi-instrumentalist John Mayall gave a jump-start to that particular idiom well before it took hold with the masses in the latter part of the '60s through bands like Fleetwood Mac, Ten Years After, Savoy Brown, Taste, and others of that ilk. Given that he’s 86 and shows no signs of slowing down, he deserves to be ranked alongside the old masters he emulated originally. Indeed, when he was awarded the prestigious Order of the British Empire honors in 2005, it served to confirm Mayall's influence and importance among his peers.
Equally important, Mayall gave many musicians initial exposure and the first hint of public prominence. It's a legacy for which we should all be grateful. You can pay your respects on at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at the MIM Music Theater. Tickets are $44.50 to $54.50. Lee Zimmerman
G-EazyThursday, January 30
Coors Light Birds Nest at Waste Management Phoenix Open in Scottsdale
Hard-partying rapper G-Eazy can’t remember when or where hip-hop mogul Puff Daddy gave him the best advice of his career, but he remembers the sage wisdom. “The best music is always the most vulnerable, because it’s the most real, the most human, the most raw,” G-Eazy told the UK’s Standard publication in 2018. The Bay Area-born artist put that advice to practice on his most recent release, 2017’s The Beautiful & Damned, coupling his low-key flows with introspective storytelling about the risks of addiction and the sacrifices that come with fame.
G-Eazy’s not all about cautionary tales, though. He’s still plenty interested in good times, which might make him the perfect artist to perform at the party-hardy Coors Light Birds Nest next door to this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open. He’s scheduled to perform on Thursday night. Hip-hop icon Warren G, R&B star Kossisko, and singer-songwriter Kelley James will open. Doors open at 3:30 p.m., and G-Eazy will perform at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $75 for general admission and $285 for VIP. Mikel Galicia
Rosegarden Funeral PartyThursday, January 30
Post-punk/darkwave band Rosegarden Funeral Party are on the rise, so you’ll want to catch them whenever they swing through town. The five-member ensemble sounds like they were pulled out of the ‘80s, but with every release they put out, and with every show played, they become bigger than the era itself. They’re currently touring behind Martyr, their most recent release, and are scheduled to perform at The Lunchbox on Thursday. They’ll share the bill with Funerelles and Lorelei K. The show is at 7:30 p.m., and admission is $10. Jacob Vaughn
Black ViolinFriday, January 31
Chandler Center for the Arts
Male, classically trained string specialists (you know, guys on violins) are hard to find these days. But the innovative duo Black Violin have managed to flourish in their unique roles as genre-bending bards, even in a region not known for its commitment to orchestral endeavors.
Kev Marcus and Wil B — of the violin and viola, respectively — got their start doing hip-hop covers, but after winning at the Apollo in Harlem, in front of a notoriously demanding crowd, they knew they were developing a winning formula. Their mix of hip-hop and classical caught the ear of Alicia Keys, who invited them to play alongside her at the Billboard Awards. Marcus and B also have collaborated with Wu-Tang and Linkin Park, all while touring about 200 cities a year, including stops in the Valley. Their latest happens this weekend when Black Violin play Chandler Center for the Arts at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, January 31. Tickets are $36 to $56. Liz Tracy
CaspianFriday, January 31
The Rebel Lounge
Isis, Red Sparowes, and Pelican helped to establish and make popular the synthesis of post-rock with metal. Caspian from Beverly, Massachusetts, straddle the divide well with soaring guitars grounded by deep and driving rhythms. The band's songs are a scintillating evocation of a time and place and an emotional journey in themselves.
Touring in support of just-released fifth studio album, On Circles, Caspian give their conventionally beautiful, though certainly not conventionally crafted, music a visceral edge. Their tour comes to The Rebel Lounge on Friday night. The Velvet Teen and Celebration Guns open the show, which starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $16 in advance, $18 at the door. Tom Murphy
The ToastersFriday, January 31
Pub Rock Live in Scottsdale
The Toasters have been playing tight, groove-laden ska riddims since 1981, helping to shape a sound that endures today. That said, they’re trapped between the late-1970s 2-Tone second-wave ska revival and today's more popular third-wave ska bands like Sublime with Rome, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and Reel Big Fish.
The Toasters, says founder Robert "Bucket" Hingley, are "the missing link between the two waves." True. When Hingley immigrated in 1979, America had not yet been fully introduced to ska, though the scene across the pond was buzzing with bands like The Specials, Madness, The English Beat, and The Selector. Working off the 2-Tone blueprint, yet adding edgier guitars and a sometimes more aggressive horn section, The Toasters pioneered an original ska style right for the American palate. Almost 40 years later, it still tastes great.
But don’t take our word for it. Instead, swing by Pub Rock Live on Friday to see The Toasters headline a night of ska at the Scottsdale venue that kicks off at 7:30 p.m. and will feature sets by Mustard Plug, Half Past Two, and 2Tone Lizard Kings. Tickets are $15. Glenn BurnSilver
Dead of Winterfest 2020Friday, January 31
Club Red in Mesa
The annual Dead of Winterfest at Club Red in Mesa will be filled to the brim with local acts from across the spectrum of metal. We’re talking hardcore, death metal, hard rock, punk, technical metal, melodic metal, sludge metal — it’s all here, like a decadent buffet of metal for your soul. This year’s lineup will feature performances in both of Club Red’s theaters by more than two dozen bands, including Leshen, Charon Incentive, Pedestal of Infamy, Dead Inception, He Who Binds Himself, Exiled, Adavant, Black Phantom, Scattered Guts, Stone Claw, No Paradise, DeadSpawn, and Six Million Dead. The festival starts at 6 p.m. and tickets are $15 to $25. Lauren Wise
Ron PopeSaturday, February 1
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Georgia-born, Nashville-based Ron Pope is undergoing something of a metamorphosis. Known for the first portion of his prolific career as a more introspective singer-songwriter type, Pope has parlayed nontraditional distribution success into broadening his sound and thumbing his nose at the industry, for better or worse. Better, because it's allowed him to explore everything from country-rock to bluesy horn arrangements, all found on Pope's latest album, 2018’s Work, his 13th in 10 years. His latest tour brings him to The Van Buren on Saturday night. Singer-songwriter Caroline Spence opens the evening, which starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 to $75. Pete Vonder Haar
Tanya TagaqSunday, February 2
MIM Music Theater
Canadian artist, vocalist, and performer Tanya Tagaq’s music will make you uncomfortable. She fuses punk and electronica sounds that create lyrics about her traditional roots and modern culture. Tagaq is Inuk herself, and as a teenager, she spent some time in one of Canada’s genocidal residential schools. She highlights that dark part of her childhood and Canada’s history in her songs and her political album Animism won the Polaris Prize for best album in 2014. Her follow-up, Retribution, includes her cover of Nirvana’s “Rape Me,” which focuses on the violation of women, land, territory, and children. Her performance at the MIM Music Theater at 7 p.m. on Sunday is part of the venue's Global Masters Series, which highlights the deep connection between people and music. Tickets are $54.50 to $69.50. Sara Edwards