Things to Do

The 8 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

Spafford is scheduled to perform on Sunday, December 30, and Monday, December 31, at The Van Buren.
Spafford is scheduled to perform on Sunday, December 30, and Monday, December 31, at The Van Buren. Courtesy of Big Hassle
What’s on tap for the final weekend of the year? There are several blowouts bidding farewell to 2018, as you’d expect, as well as a slew of high-profile shows by notable local acts.

Valley faves Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers and Spafford are putting on their annual end-of-the-year blowouts, both of which will likely attract big crowds. Meanwhile, Lydia will celebrate the 10th anniversary of their 2008 album Illuminate, rap legend Too $hort will be in town, and EDM fans will flock to Rawhide for the first night of this year’s Decadence Arizona festival.

Details about each of these shows and music events 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 town, hit up Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar.

Rap legend Too $hort. - TICKETMASTER
Rap legend Too $hort.
Ticketmaster
Too $hort
Friday, December 28
Monarch Theatre


To paraphrase the artist: His name is Short, his game is long, he freaks these hoes, and sings these songs. Too $hort is Oakland’s poet laureate of pimp talk. Too $hort’s been dropping albums since 1985.

Rap careers tend to age quickly, with most artists getting out of the game by the time they hit 30. That’s not the case with $hort, who has endured and prospered while so many of his peers have either died or retired. Call him West Coast rap’s Energizer Bunny, ready to spit his filthy “cock tales” raps.

After decades of hustling, Too $hort announced that this year’s The Pimp Tape (his 20th album overall!) will be his last record. So he’s hitting the road to regale fans with stories about his XXX exploits. If you love dirty rap, you owe it to yourself to hear the $hort Dog bark one more time. Just be sure to leave the kiddies at home. Ashley Naftule

Lydia is in the mood to celebrate. - COREY DAVIS
Lydia is in the mood to celebrate.
Corey Davis
Lydia
Friday, December 28, and Saturday, December 29
Crescent Ballroom


Don’t ask Leighton Antelman to explain how his dream-pop outfit, Lydia, composes songs. Like Lydia’s music, which is full of hazy edges and misty melodies, Antelman’s answer provides a vague guide to the band’s musical aspiration.

“There’s a lot of different randomness. I’m not really sure,” he says inconclusively. “We all have our own mini studios in our houses, and we all write our first ideas — the melodies or harmonies — separately. Once we have these, we get together and try and mash together a couple ideas and go with one of whatever and see what happens. I think that’s a lot where it comes from.”

Whatever the process, the outcome works for the Gilbert-based band. The sound is both dreamy and poppy, yet it has an alt-edge to it. There are unexpected harmonies and lush passages, moments of longing and angst. Vocals float in the ether above the music, creating a roller coaster of emotions.

This weekend, Lydia celebrates the 10th anniversary of their 2008 album Illuminate with a two-night stint at Crescent Ballroom. They’ll perform the 12-track album in its entirety each night along with songs from their most recent effort, Liquor, which came out earlier this year. Glenn BurnSilver

The X-Files wouldn't be the same without its classic theme. - COURTESY OF FOX
The X-Files wouldn't be the same without its classic theme.
Courtesy of Fox
Blockbuster Scores: Music from TV and Film
Friday, December 28, to Sunday, December 30
Phoenix Symphony Hal
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What makes a great television show even better? A memorable theme song definitely helps, especially one that you’ll be humming long after you’ve finished binge-watching. Ditto for blockbuster films featuring a spectacular score that’s rife with memorable motifs. Such is the case with the themes for iconic TV programs like The X-Files, The Simpsons, and Game of Thrones or such films as Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, and Ghostbusters.

This weekend, you can hum along with these themes when the Phoenix Symphony presents Blockbuster Scores: Music from TV and Film. Led by conductor Stuart Chafetz, the musicians of the PSO will perform legendary themes from a variety of popular television shows and flicks, including House of Cards, Downton Abbey, Wonder Woman, and Lost.

Performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, December 28, and Saturday, December 29, and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, December 30, at Phoenix Symphony Hall, 75 North Second Street. Tickets are $30 to $108. Benjamin Leatherman

Jim Brickman
Saturday, December 29, to Monday, December 31
Musical Instrument Museum


If you’re looking for a more low-key, intimate New Year’s Eve experience, head north of the bustle of central Scottsdale to the Musical Instrument Museum for a performance by pianist Jim Brickman. Unless you follow adult contemporary music, that name probably isn’t ringing any bells, although you’ve probably heard his music more than once. You might have heard one of his collaborations with Lady Antebellum or Olivia Newton-John, or heard one of his Grammy-nominated songs on Pandora, or in television commercials or shows like CBS Sports, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and Jimmy Kimmel Live! He’s played at notable venues like the Grand Ole Opry, Carnegie Hall, Disney World, and the White House. Oh yeah, and did we mention that his sensible and balanced style of contemporary music has made him the most charted Adult Contemporary artist in history? MIM will host nightly performances during New Year’s Eve weekend, each starting at 7 p.m. Amanda Savage
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Phoenix New Times Music Writers