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The 11 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week (And New Year's Eve)

The Iron Maidens are scheduled to perform on Monday, December 31, at BLK Live in Scottsdale.
The Iron Maidens are scheduled to perform on Monday, December 31, at BLK Live in Scottsdale. Alex Solca
This week starts in 2018, ends in 2019, and features plenty of parties and concerts happening in between. Most will be happening on Monday night in honor of New Year’s Eve – including gigs by 2 Chainz, The Iron Maidens, Minibosses, and Spafford – but there’s more to this week’s concert calendar than that.

Notable shows will take place during the first few days of 2019, such as performances from The Hot Sardines, Mondo Generator, and Leo Kottke.

Details about each of the aforementioned events can be found in our following list of the best shows happening in the Valley this week. And for even more live music happening around the Valley, hit up Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar.

click to enlarge Rap superstar 2 Chainz. - DEF JAM RECORDS
Rap superstar 2 Chainz.
Def Jam Records
2 Chainz
Monday, December 31
The Pressroom

2 Chainz possesses the gift of gab in its highest form. The smooth-talking superstar rapper has made a career off witty wordplay, hilarious metaphors, and catchy punchline raps that often make him the star of the track no matter the competition, whether it's Lil Wayne, Drake, or Kanye West he's sharing a beat with. He’s also a marketing genius. In support of his most recent LP, 2017’s Pretty Girls Like Trap Music, the Georgia native turned an Atlanta home into a pink pop-up installation that involved an art gallery, a church service, and even HIV testing for the community. 2 Chainz’s success is all the more impressive when you realize he didn’t really see mainstream success until his early 30s. He’s one hell of a rapper, and he's getting attention for all the right reasons. Mikel Galicia

click to enlarge Sean Watson - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Sean Watson
Benjamin Leatherman
New Year's Eve 2019 Block Party
Monday, December 31
Crescent Ballroom

It goes without saying that there’s an excess of big parties and celebrations happening on New Year’s Eve. One of the biggest in the Valley happens each year at the Crescent Ballroom when the downtown Phoenix venue and the surrounding area transforms into a massive fiesta. Such will be the case on Monday night when the Crescent hosts its New Year’s Eve 2019 Block Party. The streets on either side of the venue will be shut down and will each host different stages, art cars from Walter Productions, multiple bars, heated tents, and more. Second Avenue will have a “classic ’70s get-down” with the members of the Hi-Dreams DJ Collective and local soul/funk band Calumet while Third Avenue will see Sean Watson and the DJs of Drip Drop Records dropping beats. Meanwhile, Crescent’s main room will boast a Studio 54-style “drag disco dance party” emceed by the always entertaining Pandora DeStrage. Benjamin Leatherman

click to enlarge Nintendo cover band Minibosses. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Nintendo cover band Minibosses.
Benjamin Leatherman
Nerdy New Year
Monday, December 31
The Grid in Mesa

Throw your Power Gloves in the air like you just don’t care, because the fine folks at The Grid: Games and Growlers in Mesa are putting on an 8-bit bacchanal for New Year’s. At The Grid’s Nerdy New Year, titans of video game music and nerd culture will rock the crowd and show 2018 the door.

Instrumental heroes Minibosses will shred epic Nintendo game music covers that are as big as the Times Square New Year’s ball. Local synthwave act Bit Mortis will also be there to help usher us into 2019 with a performance as well as a DJ session. The festivities kick off at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 for this 21-and-over show. Ashley Naftule

click to enlarge The Darts - JIM LOUVAU
The Darts
Jim Louvau
Flannel Ball
Monday, December 31
Roosevelt Growhouse

Think the craze for flannel and beards is played out? Think again, baby. Here in Phoenix, we don’t even pick up on fashion trends until they’re at least five years old in New York — just to make sure they’ve aged well — and with all those mountains and forests up north near Flagstaff, why would we just let go of dressing like lumberjacks all of a sudden?

Can you relate? If so, we have the perfect New Year’s Eve party for you. The Flannel Ball is taking over Roosevelt Row from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Monday, December 31. Centered around the Roosevelt Growhouse, the party will feature games, art, food trucks, live music, and a craft beer garden. Don your sharpest tartan shirt and don’t get too wasted before the all-important New Year’s toast. Bands scheduled to perform include The Darts, Dadadoh and the P.O.C., Snailmate, and Hot House Orchids. Tickets are $20 now and $25 on the night of the ball. Douglas Markowitz

Marshmello - BIZ3
Decadence Arizona 2018
Monday, December 31
Rawhide Event Center in Chandler

Much like its first night, there will be wall-to-wall music during Decadence Arizona’s second day with plenty of big-name EDM artists and DJs in the mix. Marshmello will serve as the headliner while sets by such superstars as NGHTMRE, Drezo, Eric Prydz, Ghastly, Green Velvet, 4B, Moon Boots, and many more will take place throughout the evening. NBA superstar Shaquille O'Neal will perform as his alter ego, DJ Diesel. Gates open at 3 p.m. General admission is $129 and VIP tickets start at $189. Benjamin Leatherman

The Iron Maidens
Monday, December 31
BLK Live in Scottsdale

All-female tribute bands are a dime a dozen these days, but the Iron Maidens have been the best at making a successful career out it. Like their male predecessors, the Maidens have toured the world and become a global phenomenon. Led by vocalist "Bruce Chickinson," this is the rare tribute act that is worth going out of your way to check out live, which you can do at the band's New Year's Eve show at BLK Live in Scottsdale. The Jack and Sectas will open. Jason Roche

click to enlarge The members of Spafford. - TICKETMASTER
The members of Spafford.
Monday, December 31
The Van Buren

Local jam-rock act Spafford have become staples of the festival circuit, complete with a community of “Spaff-nerds,” a moniker coined by die-hards who keep coming back for the group’s improvisational, electro-funk style. “It’s been a steady grind,” says keyboardist Red Johnson. “We’ve been chipping away at a common goal for many years. It’s an exciting thing, but I can’t really say it has been a huge surprise. It’s something that we all have worked really hard for, and watching it come to fruition right before our eyes is a huge deal.” Bassist Jordan Fairless adds, “At this point, we’re still in awe of how far we’ve come.” The quartet is saying goodbye to 2018 with a New Year's Eve get-down at The Van Buren. General admission is $22 to $27. Jason Keil
click to enlarge Symphony Hall in downtown Phoenix. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Symphony Hall in downtown Phoenix.
Lynn Trimble
Phoenix Symphony's New Year's Eve Celebration
Monday, December 31
Symphony Hall

New Year’s Eve is filled with a variety of traditional activities, including ball drops, midnight countdowns, and donning all those peculiar-looking hats. Appropriately enough, the Phoenix Symphony has its own set of traditions for the last night of the year. Led by conductor Stuart Chafetz, the PSO performs a variety of Broadway favorites and Strauss waltzes before capping things off with a rendition of “Auld Lang Syne.” This year, they’ll feature the works of Rodgers and Hammerstein, as well as a mix of swing and big band hits. Vocalists Kathy Voytko and John Cudia will provide accompaniment. The celebration starts at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $25-$125. Benjamin Leatherman

The Hot Sardines
Tuesday, January 1
Musical Instrument Museum

While the swinging selections of ragtime and jazz that the Hot Sardines perform may tend to be more than 100 years old, their audience is definitely not. "We see people from 18 to 80 in our shows … this music really does cross demographic lines,” says singer Elizabeth Bougerol. “That's one of the reasons, I think, these songs have endured so long.”

Bougerol first met pianist Evan "Bibs" Palazzo in 2007. There was an immediate musical connection and over the next few years, the Hot Sardines came together with a strong focus on early jazz. Their chosen genre isn't the most popular in America, but it's the one the Sardines most enjoy. “In the U.S., it's a little bit on the fringe. It's not popular music in this day and age; it's not in the pop spectrum. Our approach to this music, first and foremost, is that when this music was first being played, it was pop music. It was what everyone was listening to,” she says. “It's easy to re-historicize things, but really, this is just pop music. At its origins, jazz is pop music. A hundred years from now, someone might think of Deborah Harry and Justin Bieber as being from the same era,” she tells us, “but actually there was lots and lots of time between them. A lot of differences, too.” Olivia Flores Alvarez

Mondo Generator
Wednesday, January 2
The Rebel Lounge

Mondo Generator started life as a Kyuss song, and the Nick Oliveri-penned tune offers a decent blueprint for the band it would later become: The Oliveri-fronted incarnation of Mondo tends more toward shouted, almost hardcore-style vocals, but otherwise you're going to get pretty much what you expect from a Kyuss-spawned Queens of the Stone Age side project. (Other QOTSA members including Josh Homme, Dave Grohl, and Mark Lanegan have also clocked time in Mondo.) In other words, Queens-style heaviness all around, only less subtle, a little dumber and a lot of fun. Cory Casciato

click to enlarge The eclectic and influential Leo Kottke. - ON TOUR PR
The eclectic and influential Leo Kottke.
On Tour PR
Leo Kottke
Thursday, January 3
Musical Instrument Museum

Leo Kottke is weird in the best possible way. And his career has been, too. No one's ever accused Kottke of being a pop star. But somehow, he's managed to parlay his awesome aptitude on the acoustic guitar, a knack for instrumental intricacy that's undeniably complex yet somehow warm and inviting, and occasional vocals that amusingly and defiantly stick to the low road into a half-century-long career. His debut long-player, 6- and 12-String Guitar, arrived in 1969, and he released a steady stream of material for decades while quietly influencing generations of pickers, as the dozens of online videos showing amateur players trying to master his licks demonstrate.

Over the years, Kottke, who lives in Minnesota, has become a hero to famous musicians, too, including Phish's Mike Gordon, with whom he's recorded two albums, 2002's Clone and 2005's Sixty Six Steps. But Kottke, who's in his early seventies, remains hilariously unaffected by the esteem in which he's held. He seems satisfied to occupy his own particular reality, which is different enough from the one the rest of us occupy to render his commentary both insightful and delightfully bizarre. Michael Roberts
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Phoenix New Times Music Writers