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The 12 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

Magic Sword is scheduled to perform on Saturday, December 8, at Club Red in Mesa.
Magic Sword is scheduled to perform on Saturday, December 8, at Club Red in Mesa. Otto Kitsinger

click to enlarge Magic Sword is scheduled to perform on Saturday, December 8, at Club Red in Mesa. - OTTO KITSINGER
Magic Sword is scheduled to perform on Saturday, December 8, at Club Red in Mesa.
Otto Kitsinger
This weekend’s slate of concerts is nothing if not epic. It includes a golden-voiced clown singing the hits, a gig by one of the raunchiest rappers around, your second chance to catch the Smashing Pumpkins this year, and your final chance ever to see Minus the Bear do their thing. And that’s just on Friday.

The rest of the weekend is equally packed with awesome concerts, like performances by costumed electronic/synth-rock act Magic Sword, this year’s edition of Alice Cooper’s annual Christmas Pudding showcase, and shows featuring rappers Lil Ugly Mane and 6lack. Local punk legends Authority Zero will also celebrate the release of their newest album.

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

Puddles Pity Party
Friday, December 7
Mesa Arts Center

Not all clowns are scary. Puddles Pity Party is a singer and self-described "sad clown with the golden voice" (real name Mike Geier, frontman of the Atlanta band Kingsized), who dresses like a Pierrot-style clown complete with white face paint, ruffled collar, and furry balls. He's 6-foot-8, carries a lantern and suitcase onstage, and hardly speaks, except when he's crooning his baritone, cabaret-style covers of ballads, pop, and rock songs. His Live at Joe's Pub album features versions of Lorde's "Royals," Sia's "Chandelier," Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," and The Bee Gees' "I Started a Joke." He also sings mashups of Celine Dion with Metallica and The Who with Johnny Cash. And he's performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the Tenacious D-curated Festival Supreme, as well as a few concerts here in the Valley in recent years. Puddles' shows are often interactive, so don't run away. This clown is more cuddly than creepy. Siran Babayan

CupcakKe: As bawdy as she wants to be. - TICKETFLY
CupcakKe: As bawdy as she wants to be.
Friday, December 7
Pub Rock Live

CupcakKe’s known by many names, including Queen Elizabitch and Marilyn Monhoe. Her Twitter feed is full of selfies in skimpy outfits and fluorescent hair, captioned with the foulest, proudest, bawdiest tweets. A sample: “I got to sit by the window with my legs open cause with these thick thighs my pussy like Jordin Sparks it gets no air.” Now, you might think her persona makes CupcakKe little more than a novelty rapper, right? Wrong. She can rap anybody in the hip-hop game festival under the table and equals 2 Live Crew in their prime when it comes to debauchery. Look out. Douglas Markowitz

Smashing Pumpkins is back in town for another show. - OLIVIA BEE
Smashing Pumpkins is back in town for another show.
Olivia Bee
Smashing Pumpkins
Friday, December 7
Mesa Amphitheatre

For Smashing Pumpkins fans, the future's so shiny and bright they gotta wear shades. Billy Corgan, James Iha, Jimmy Chamberlain, and the rest of Smashing Pumpkins' reunion tour ensemble have announced that they'll be bringing their Shiny and Oh So Bright Tour back to the Valley in December.

Despite getting off to a rocky start thanks to some he-said/she-said drama between Corgan and founding Pumpkins bassist D'arcy Wretzky, the Pumpkins’ tour has turned out to be a victory lap. It kicked off in Glendale this past summer with a show that was surprisingly engaging and full of energy, overcoming some of its weirder idiosyncrasies. What could have just been a desperate cash grab revealed itself to be a stirring reminder about why the Pumpkins matter in the first place.

Long story short: If you're a Pumpkins fan and you didn't catch their show at Gila River, you owe it to yourself to snatch up tickets to their upcoming show in Mesa before they sell out. Ashley Naftule

click to enlarge Say farewell to Minus the Bear - CHONA KASINGER
Say farewell to Minus the Bear
Chona Kasinger
Minus the Bear (Farewell Tour)
Friday, December 7
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Back in July, Minus the Bear announced they were ending their time together as a band. Instead of playing a handful of final shows near their hometown of Seattle, the band decided to do one more extensive tour across the country and then call it quits. “There hasn’t been a single year [that] we haven’t done a fall tour,” keyboardist Alex Rose says from his home in West London during a short break from the road. “It just felt right to give people a chance to say goodbye.”

As they are in the middle of this tour, which concludes in mid-December with a sold-out, three-night stand in Seattle, the band has felt the love from newer fans and long-timers. “It’s incredible,” Rose says. “It’s heavy and it’s joyful.”

To prepare for these shows, the band dived deep into their back catalog to sculpt the longest set list they’ve ever played as a band. But these shows will only be in North America. And it can be tough to deal with fan expectation where there is always a wish for at least one more show. “We’re definitely not able to please everyone with this,” Rose says. “So we have to draw the line at some point.”

Minus the Bear was founded by vocalist/guitarist Jake Snider, guitarist Dave Knudson and bassist Cory Murchy, while Rose joined in 2006. Their final drummer, Joshua Sparks, joined in 2017. The band’s most popular albums, Menos El Oso and Planet of Ice, arrived early in their career. Their final album, VOIDS, came out in 2017, while their final EP, Fair Enough, came out earlier this year. Eric Grubbs

click to enlarge Singer-songwriter Emma Ruth Rundle. - KRISTIN COFER
Singer-songwriter Emma Ruth Rundle.
Kristin Cofer
Emma Ruth Rundle
Friday, December 7
Valley Bar

Emma Ruth Rundle’s solo music may be inspired by folk, but that hasn’t stopped her from touring the country with bands like black-metal act Deafheaven or post-rock group This Will Destroy You. Folk and metal have rarely traveled side by side, but putting music into stylistic silos is rightfully falling out of fashion. Rundle is part of a new movement of artists like Chelsea Wolfe, Helen Money, and the band Miserable, who are proving that folk can be as dark and intense as metal, and that the imagined divide between acoustic music and heavy, noisier styles need no longer exist.

Rundle, who has lived in Los Angeles much of her life, says she has been influenced by many styles of music. “I think my listening tastes have been pretty out there and varied,” she says. “There’s a sense in the community I’m in that some of what I’m doing doesn’t sound as heavy as the [musical] world I’m in.”

That assessment, she believes, reflects an inadequate understanding of her work. “There are so many places that music comes from,” Rundle notes. “I didn’t grow up in a time when it was just radio. There was the internet when I was a kid, so you could really hear anything.” And in the digital era, there’s no reason that music aficionados should be schooled in only one sound or musicians limited to one genre or set of influences. Tom Murphy

Alice Cooper’s Christmas Pudding
Saturday, December 8
Celebrity Theatre

When it comes to tradition during the holiday season, Phoenix isn't known for snowmen, hot cocoa, or sledding. But one thing that can always be counted upon is the tradition of Christmas Pudding — Alice Cooper's Christmas Pudding, to be exact. And it's a tasty recipe.

After nearly five decades and 30 records, Cooper has perfected his craft of putting on shows and making music. Now in his mid-60s, he's reaping the career rewards and has gone from rock 'n' roll's official villain to a charitable hero in the Valley of the Sun. In November 1995, Cooper and his wife, Sheryl, a professional dancer, began the foundation Solid Rock to raise money for music and arts programs. But then the duo proposed a teen center to provide an outlet where teens could learn and equip themselves for their future.

The variety show Christmas Pudding kicked off in 2001 as a way for them to raise enough money to open up the center, dubbed "The Rock," where teenagers could be taught dance, music, and art in a safe place. Some of the biggest names in music flock to the desert to be a part of the show, which raises around $100,000 each year. This year's lineup includes appearances and performances by Hollywood Vampires, Eric Bloom and Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult, Sebastian Bach, Beasto Blanco, and comedian Larry the Cable Guy. Lauren Wise
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Phoenix New Times Music Writers