The 13 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

Childish Gambino is scheduled to perform on Saturday, December 15, at Gila River Arena in Glendale.
Childish Gambino is scheduled to perform on Saturday, December 15, at Gila River Arena in Glendale.
RCA Records
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Christmas is coming early for fans of big-name great concerts in the Valley. This weekend features a stellar array of bands and artists scheduled to perform at live music venues around town, including Childish Gambino, Tom Morello, Ministry, Steven Van Zandt, JMSN, John Prine, and Tengger Cavalry.

The Advanced Placement tour, which features such acts as The Regrettes and Micky James, will also swing through the Valley, Jared & the Mill will be putting on their annual Holiday Extravaganza, and OK Go will present an interactive concert that’s in sync with more than a dozen of their over-the-top music videos.

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

OK Go bring the magic of their music videos to Mesa on Friday.EXPAND
OK Go bring the magic of their music videos to Mesa on Friday.
Courtesy of Mesa Arts Center

Friday, December 14
Mesa Arts Center

Honestly, I can't name a single OK Go song, and I've seen every one of the group's "viral" videos that they seem to put out on a yearly basis. You gotta hand it to them: They were the first act to figure out the power of YouTube and exploit it. Damian Kulash and crew have been making quality power-pop since 1998, and while that's admirable, there's no doubt that the band's audience tripled (and then some) after their first video in 2007. So, go to Mesa Arts Center on December 14, listen to some power pop, witness an interactive show that's choreographed to their various music videos, and have a really great time enjoying the spectacle of their show. Jaime-Paul Falcon

Fletcher and Wyatt Shears of The Garden.
Fletcher and Wyatt Shears of The Garden.
Epitaph Records

The Garden
Friday, December 14
Crescent Ballroom

Twin brothers Fletcher and Wyatt Shears, who make up the two-piece Orange County-based band the Garden, deliver a delicately balanced attack while properly embracing the constraint set by being just bass, drums, and vocals, and they do it with an aplomb that belies their tender age. Shears and Shears are definitely skilled on their instruments (Wyatt plays bass and sings, and Fletcher plays drums and makes faces) and truly play some of the best genre-bending music out there right now. If you had to define The Garden, you might call them post-post-punk or New Post-Punk, but even then, it's not really accurate.

The Garden has distinct qualities of punk, New Wave, no wave, (a dash of) glam, and fair amount of teen angst, even though the Shears boys aren’t teenagers anymore and refer to their sound as "Vada." Raised in a musically forward-thinking home (Dad Steve Shears drums for So-Cal punk heroes Shattered Faith and roadies for X), the twins seem to be extremely comfortable following any musical whim, although their talent and keen eye for fashion, irony, and sarcasm have shaped their musical output in a way that even the most jaded music reviewer would be reluctant to call their music "whimsical." Call it "Vada," we suppose, whatever the hell that means. Tom Reardon

Tengger Cavalry
Tengger Cavalry
Adrenaline PR

Tengger Cavalry
Friday, December 14
Club Red in Mesa

If you’ve never had an introduction to black folk metal, then this is the show to check out. Presented by longtime Valley metal promoter 13th Floor Entertainment, the headliner is the unique Tengger Cavalry, which blends tradition with modern metal: Mongolian horse-head fiddle and the nomadic music of Central Asia with heavy rock and overtone throat singing. Check them out live this weekend when they perform a solo show at Club Red in Mesa. Start time is 7 p.m. and tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Lauren Wise

The legendary John Prine.EXPAND
The legendary John Prine.
Danny Clinch

John Prine
Friday, December 14
Celebrity Theatre

Since 1971, John Prine's been blending, or, rather, muddling the lines between country and folk music. Sure, there might be a stylistic plane on which they might both exist, but no one has done it with more eloquence and chutzpah than Prine. A native of Illinois, the singer/songwriter's giddy-up to the limelight included stints in the armed forces and as a carrier for the U.S. Postal Service before finding some quick fame alongside former writing partner Steve Goodman in Chicago's folk revival scene, thanks to the latter's introduction to Kris Kristofferson.

Prine's work has always been noted for its humor and subtle observations of the human condition. Born in 1946, Prine is first and foremost a performing artist, starting in the early '70s following a string of early, critically acclaimed albums on Atlantic and Asylum records. His compositions have been covered by legends like David Allan Coe, Bonnie Raitt, and Susan Tedeschi. A musician's musician, Prine's never been a household name outside of genre circles, but he's revered by musicians and connoisseurs alike. His narrative approach to storytelling through music is equal to fiction writing in his assuming of the subject's persona and a heartfelt rendition of that subject's story. His work often expertly deals with current events and social commentary under the guise of love and life and the gloomier moments of his personal mythology. Abel Folgar

DJ Tristan/Iseult.
DJ Tristan/Iseult.
Benjamin Leatherman

The Witching Hour
Friday, December 14
Crescent Ballroom

The theme of Tristan/Iseult’s newest dance party, The Witching Hour, might be a bit spooky, but its origin is hardly shrouded in mystery. According to a Facebook post by the local DJ (who also puts on events like LILITH and HÄXAN), his newest night was born after the proprietors of Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue, approached him about creating a new weekly goth affair every Friday night at the venue. “Given that the event doesn't start until 11 p.m. ... the name The Witching Hour came to mind,” Tristan/Iseult wrote. “And that led me down a path of revisiting 1970s horror and occult films, which will be the projected backdrop for the night.”

And while The Witching Hour features a murky and moody theme not unlike his other nights, the DJ says its soundtrack will differ from its sister events. “Musically, I've tended to curate events that explore more brooding and lower tempos, which I think LILITH and HÄXAN thoroughly cover. So, for The Witching Hour, I'll be bringing the tempo up for most of the night — while keeping the gloom — and exploring both contemporary and retro artists that fit the mood.” As such, expect to hear mixes of darkwave, witch house, industrial, and goth tunes being spun by Tristan/Iseult on Friday evenings starting at 11 p.m. Admission to the 21-and-over event is free. Benjamin Leatherman

Christian Berishaj, better known as JMSN.EXPAND
Christian Berishaj, better known as JMSN.
Sebastian Maldonado

Saturday, December 15
Crescent Ballroom

When Christian Berishaj writes music, he disconnects. The iPhone is turned off, the email and texts and phone calls reach an electronic dead end, and the Los Angeles-via-Detroit artist seeks out space. Berishaj has no time for bullshit, and he will tell you so. Having undergone a series of musical iterations — first as multi-instrumentalist Love Arcade, which signed to Columbia Records, then later under the moniker Christian TV, which signed with Universal Motown — he struck out on his own and formed his own independent record label, White Room Records.

With that independence, Berishaj built his own wheelhouse. As JMSN, Berishaj has been labeled as R&B, featuring atmospheric, aerated vocals and layers of hall reverb that draw immediate comparisons to the likes of The Weeknd and How to Dress Well. Music critics and fans alike simply labeled the first JMSN record, Priscilla, as "dark," created in a drugged-out vein that could be just at home in a truck stop strip club's champagne room as a low-lit bedroom. K.C. Libman

Childish Gambino
Saturday, December 15
Gila River Arena in Glendale

When comedian, actor, singer, songwriter, DJ, producer, and director Donald Glover signed to Glassnote Records in 2011, few fans, music writers, critics, or bloggers could have imagined the impact the young celebrity’s rapper alter ego would have after only three studio albums, three EPs and a dozen singles. Easily the most influential, his single "This Is America" debuted in May 2018 at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 after Glover performed the song on Saturday Night Live while simultaneously unleashing the single and the remarkable Hiro Murai-directed music video, which quickly went viral. In the four months since the single dropped, the video has already garnered a staggering 400 million views on YouTube and more than 220 million plays on Spotify. He’s scheduled to perform at the Gila River Arena in Glendale on December 15, which is a makeup date for a show that was originally scheduled for September. All tickets will be honored. Daniel Rodrigue

The Regrettes.EXPAND
The Regrettes.
Alan McCarthy

Advanced Placement Tour feat. The Regrettes
Saturday, December 15
The Rebel Lounge

If you take one message away from listening to Los Angeles rockers The Regrettes, it should be this: Don’t fuck with The Regrettes — they clearly do not have time for your bullshit. The band’s garage punk is hardly straightforward. A lot of its fuel comes from the spirits of ’50s and ’60s doo-wop and the riot grrrl sounds of the 1990s. Through their sonic mix, what they’ve been delivering in the last few years as a band are songs that encourage finding and utilizing your personal power.

It’s as clear in older songs like “Seashore” from 2016 as it is in recent offerings like “A Living Human Girl.” The former kicks off with this: “You’re talking to me like a child / Hey, I’ve got some news, I’m not a little girl / I won’t give you a little twirl.” The latter, from Feel Your Feelings Fool!, is another take-me-or-leave-me anthem, which launches with more realisms: “I’ve got pimples on my face and grease in my hair / Prickly legs, go ahead and stare / An ass full of stretch marks and little boobs / And a nice full belly that’s filled with food.” Catch ’em live as they rock their you-do-you message, driven by a fed-up angst, when the Advanced Placement Tour (which also features Welles and Micky James) rolls through The Rebel Lounge in mid-December. Amy Young

Jared & the Mill’s Holiday Extravaganza
Saturday, December 15
The Van Buren

One of the hallmarks of every single holiday season is the act of gathering with your nearest for some celebration and plenty of cheer. The members of Jared & the Mill plan to offer both when they get together with their friends, fans, and fellow musicians from the Valley scene this weekend during their annual Holiday Extravaganza. The all-ages event on Saturday night at The Van Buren will offer sets by JATM, as well as Playboy Manbaby, Sundressed, Bodie, Mouse Powell, The Anodynes, Baseline, Whstle, and Jam. Doors are at 6 p.m. Tickets are $17 in advance and $20 at the door (the jolly spirit, however, is free). Benjamin Leatherman

Punk stalwarts T.S.O.L.EXPAND
Punk stalwarts T.S.O.L.
John Gilhooley

Saturday, December 15
BLK Live

T.S.O.L. are one of the longest-running grandaddies of the SoCal punk scene, forming in 1978 as a straight-ahead hardcore band, then morphing into gothic post-punk, and then Guns N' Roses-style sleaze (they were friends with the GN'R tribe) before returning to the tried-and-true punk formula by the '90s and '00s. Now a punk-legacy group, T.S.O.L. brings out the old-schoolers and their kids, while attracting everyone else worth their first-press 45 Grave records in the neighboring counties. Such is likely to be the case when they play BLK Live in Scottsdale on Saturday night. Craig Hlavaty

Al Jourgensen of Ministry.EXPAND
Al Jourgensen of Ministry.
Phil Parmet

Sunday, December 16
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

For many fans of heavy music, it just doesn’t get better than Ministry. The guitars, samples, and heavy percussion — along with the screamy, sneering vocal delivery of a guy who may be the first cousin of Satan himself — have made Ministry one of the greatest underground musical exports from Chicago.

For this fan, January 31, 1990, was the true game changer. That’s when Ministry played the Americana Ballroom in Phoenix and totally destroyed the place. Chain-link fence was set up in front of 75 percent of the stage, and Al Jourgensen was the ringleader of evil for the night. That’ll likely be the case again on Sunday, December 16, when Ministry performs at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe.

A lot has happened with Jourgensen and company over the last three decades, even if there haven’t been many remarkable records. But the good Ministry stuff is good enough to transcend many of the less-than-memorable records that have happened in the meantime. And really, 1996’s Filth Pig had some really fun moments. Hell, if you like Ministry, you probably like all of their records, even if recent releases mostly have been box sets and “best of” compilations. Tom Reardon

Tom Morello
Sunday, December 16
Crescent Ballroom

Don’t we all remember the joys of facing off against Tom Morello as a boss in Guitar Hero III? Even if you’d never even heard of the guy, his angular, atonal guitar playing was immediately distinctive, and dueting on Rage Against the Machine’s “Bulls on Parade” was truly memorable.

Morello may be most famous for his work in that fiercely political rap-rock band that dominated the ‘90s with classic albums such as Evil Empire, but he’s got other stuff too. His other projects include rock group Audioslave with the late Chris Cornell and his solo political folk moniker The Nightwatchman. He’s also played with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and most recently formed a rap-rock supergroup called Prophets of Rage with members of RATM, Cypress Hill, and Public Enemy. He’s currently touring behind his solo album The Atlas Underground, which features collabs with GZA, Vic Mensa, Big Boi, Killer Mike, and more. Douglas Markowitz

Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul
Sunday, December 16
The Van Buren

While Bruce Springsteen will be busy wrapping up his run of intimate, sold-out shows at New York City's Walter Kerr theater this weekend, his longtime guitarist, Steven Van Zandt, will be busy doing some performing of his own, albeit on the other side of the continent. He’s currently touring with Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul, his long-running rock band. Formed in 1982 after Van Zandt was reportedly approached by a promoter to perform solo, the Disciples of Soul have served as his side gig when not backing up Springsteen as part of the legendary E Street Band. They’ve toured the world over the last 35 years, released nine albums, and even popped up on television and in films (you can catch them backing up Kurt Russell’s version of Santa Claus in the newly released Netflix movie, The Christmas Chronicles). This weekend, they visit The Van Buren and offer y’all the chance to see some E-Street star power up close. Jeff Strowe

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