Concerts in Phoenix December 21-23: Jason Mraz, Manhattan Transfer, Fallout.Shelter | Phoenix New Times

The 10 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

There's live music and nightlife aplenty this weekend.
The Nuke Brothers are scheduled to perform on Saturday, December 22, at The Rogue Bar in Scottsdale.
The Nuke Brothers are scheduled to perform on Saturday, December 22, at The Rogue Bar in Scottsdale. Andy Hartmark
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It might be the weekend before Christmas but there’s plenty of live music and nightlife to be had. Performances by Jason Mraz, Manhattan Transfer, and Escape the Fate will be happening, as will gigs by Drumline Live and local Latin folklorico ensemble Las Chollas Peligrosas.

It being the holidays, there are also a ton of parties happening, including those featuring local DJs and bands. The annual Mary XX Mas dance event and Yule Ball will take place this weekend, not to mention post-apocalyptic party Fallout.Shelter and maybe event an ugly sweater party or two.

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

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Jason Mraz (and his hat) will be in town this weekend.
Justin Bettman
Jason Mraz and Toca Rivera
Friday, December 21
Mesa Arts Center

Renowned singer/songwriter/heartthrob Jason Mraz will be in the Valley just a few days shy of Christmas. Joined by longtime percussionist Toca Rivera for an acoustic-centric set at Mesa Arts Center, the pair will have the opener Gregory Page with them. Mraz, a multi-Grammy winner, might be best known for his tune "I'm Yours" in 2009, but he's released a number of records since then. His latest, Know, came out this year. He might never be cool with the hipster crowd who can't stand his gentle voice and acoustic-driven songs, but he's still enough of a draw with the pop and folk crowds. Eric Grubbs

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Drumline Live marches into Chandler Center for the Arts on Friday.
Courtesy of Chandler Center for the Arts
Drumline Live Holiday Spectacular
Friday, December 21
Chandler Center for the Arts

The phenomenon of drumline mania visits the Valley this weekend, just in time for the holidays. The musicians and artists of Drumline Live – a thumping, bumping tour de force featuring a roster of the South’s finest college-age percussionists, many of whom are students at historically black colleges and universities – bring their holiday spectacular showcase to Chandler Center for the Arts on Friday night.

A full marching band featuring performers from the likes of Florida A&M, Tennessee State, South Carolina State, Morris Brown College, and the University of Georgia will belt out a variety of holiday classics ranging from Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” to “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” while accompanied by vocalists, steppers, and dancers. It's definitely a show-stopping and attention-grabbing performance. Julia Ramey

Escape the Fate
Friday, December 21
Club Red in Mesa

The funny thing about the music of Escape the Fate is that it's basically pure pop that's been gussied up with hard rock and emo trappings. Songs like "Issues" and "Gorgeous Nightmare" could easily be hits for Lady Gaga — or even Britney Spears, for that matter. Although loud and punctuated with screams and various other metal accouterments, the songs of Escape the Fate are catchy, almost danceable little ditties that most soccer moms would not have trouble humming while transporting their kiddos to the next match.

That being said, Escape the Fate should be lauded for not succumbing to the standard emo agenda. These are just four fairly normal young men who write catchy songs and then decide to play them as loudly as possible. For the most part, it works wonderfully, as Craig Mabbitt leads the band with a manner that belies the typical "fuck everything" mantra that is so common in emo circles. Darryl Smyers

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Attendees of last year's Mary X Mas party.
Benjamin Leatherman
Mary XX Mas
Friday, December 21
Location TBA

Like many of y’all, local rave promoter Matt Dunn is planning a big get-together this weekend for some of nearest and dearest. Thing is, his affair will be a bit more rowdier and more cacophonous than your cheery gift exchange or ugly sweater soiree. That’s because Dunn’s shindig happens to be the annual Mary XX Mas, one of the Valley’s more notorious dance parties

This year’s version is particularly notable, considering its the 20th edition of the event. Back in 1999, Dunn put on the inaugural Mary XX Mas out in the desert along with hundreds of people. A lot may have changed with the rave scene over the past two decades but Mary XX Mas has stuck around. The 20th edition of the party, fittingly dubbed Mary XX Mas, will take place on Friday, December 21, and – true to form – it will be happening at a secret location.

This year’s lineup will be headlined by DJ Inertia and will feature sets from a variety of local DJs throughout the evening in far into the wee hours of the morning. As always, there will be festive decorations and a snowball fight. Better dress warmly. The event starts at 9 p.m. Admission is $15. Visit on the night of the event for location info and more. Benjamin Leatherman

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The members of Manhattan Transfer.
John Abbott Photography
The Manhattan Transfer
Friday, December 21, and Saturday, December 22
Musical Instrument Museum

Vocal quartet The Manhattan Transfer has the distinction of receiving the most Grammy Award nominations for any one album. The group’s 1985 release Vocalese earned a record-breaking 12 nominations. It wasn’t a surprise for Transfer fans; in 1981, the group had already become the first ever to win Grammy Awards in both the jazz and pop category with two separate tunes from its Mecca for Moderns release. Awards continued to pour in over the years, with more Grammys and nods from a slew of music critics as the quartet has circled the globe for sold-out concerts. Known for their innovative interpretation of tunes from the great American songbook, The Manhattan Transfer have carved out a singular reputation. Local fans of the ensemble have two chances to catch the group during their two-night stint at the Musical Instrument Museum this weekend. Olivia Flores Alvarez
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DJs Self.Destrukt (left) and Betty Blackheart (right).
Andy Hartmark
Saturday, December 22
The Rogue Bar in Scottsdale

As it turns out, Bible-thumpers aren’t the only ones fetishizing Armageddon. The folks behind the annual Wasteland Weekend and similar post-apocalyptic-themed celebrations, for instance, have turned “end of the world” schtick into a cottage industry. And then there’s the Fallout.Shelter dance parties put on by local DJ power couple Self.Destrukt and Betty Blackheart, which features a nuclear doomsday aesthetic and offers a soundtrack of industrial, techno, darkwave, and EBM.

The latest Fallout.Shelter takes place on Saturday, December 22, at The Rogue Bar in Scottsdale, and will include sets by Self.Destrukt, Blackheart, local “experimental grinder art” group Xylogrind, and L.A.-based costumed DJ duo the Nuke Brothers. Have a blast starting at 9 p.m. Cover is $5. Benjamin Leatherman

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The lineup of Las Chollas Peligrosas.
Sam Gomez
Las Chollas Peligrosas
Saturday, December 22
Valley Bar

"Whether you like it or not, we’re going to express ourselves.” That’s how Maria Hanneken, one of the members of Las Chollas Peligrosas, refers to her group. It’s an all-female band making traditional Mexican music, a field where women musicians are often overlooked.

Andria Bunnell, Anameke Quinn, Rachel Villa, and Tatiana Crespo make up the rest of the band, which formed when Bunnell began talking about starting up a duo that would play traditional Mexican music. A friend told her that it would be a good idea to perform for the Coronado Porch Concerts series, and after performing, they became enamored with each other’s music. “Immediately, we just knew that it was something special and really unique,” Bunnell says. “It went from being one show to being a thing.” A year and a half later, they cover a wide range of music, but focus on Latin and mariachi-inspired sounds.

Being from the desert influenced both the name of their band and their work. Literally, their name alludes to the desert flora chollas, a type of cactus. On another level, they are inspired by the imagery of the cactus, which survives in harsh conditions. “We like to try and highlight, raise the level of awareness for a lot of important issues. Some of them are a bit prickly,” Quinn says. Angelica Cabral

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Wizards and muggles alike will gather at The Van Buren this weekend.
Blake Bernard
Yule Ball
Saturday, December 22
The Van Buren

Those who can distinguish between wizards and Muggles, this is the holiday party for you. The Yule Ball re-creates the event from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in which Potter and his magical pals got gussied up to dance and toss back Butterbeer. That signature drink is on this evening’s special menu, along with others like Polyjuice Potion and Unforgiveable Curse shots.

Waiting for a chance to slip into your magical robes? Good — because it’s a costume party, with a contest for those who really want to do it up. While you’re feeling competitive, show off your Harry Potter knowledge, as the fun includes rounds of trivia. Order of the Phoenix performs live music and a special guest DJ will keep the Great Hall rocking. This Hogwarts-inspired happening starts at 7 p.m. on Saturday night at The Van Buren. Tickets are $15 in advance. Amy Young

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This stage has seen plenty of performers over the past two years.
Courtesy of The Listening Room
The Most Offensive Christmas Concert Ever
Saturday, December 22
The Listening Room

If you’re bored by the usual Christmas specials on TV and their hackneyed messages of “peace and love,” head out to The Listening Room for a dose of yuletide disaster. The Most Offensive Christmas Concert Ever returns for a second year of merry mayhem, presenting songs from South Park, comedian Bo Burnham, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and more, all hosted by Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo. Laugh it up at 7 p.m. and don’t forget, it’s BYOB. Tickets start at $15 presale and $20 at the door. Douglas Markowitz

Sunset Voodoo
Aaron Rivers
Ugly Sweater Party
Friday, December 21
Shady Park in Tempe

An ugly Christmas sweater can be a thing of beauty. Just ask any of the increasing number of people who have donned the charmingly atrocious knitted creations adorned with felt, jingling bells, or tinsel during the holidays for the kitsch or irony value.

Ugly Christmas sweaters have grown from a niche interest into a multimillion-dollar industry since the beginning of this decade. What once was something bequeathed to you by a well-meaning elderly relative before being stashed in the attic has become a staple of the season. And they now are worn proudly by millions.

And as the popularity of ugly Christmas sweaters has grown, so have theme parties inspired by the trend. That's true here in the Valley, where a variety of sweater-related shindigs take place every holiday season. This weekend, the folks over at Shady Park will get into the spirit of the season with their ugly sweater affair, which will feature performances by such local bands and musicians as Something Like Seduction, Sunset Voodoo, Scattered Melodies, and Bob Rabbit. The 21-and-over event starts at 7:30 p.m. and admission is $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Benjamin Leatherman
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