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Phoenix’s Best Weekend Concerts: White Reaper, Sam Opoku, Inner Wave

White Reaper is scheduled to perform on Saturday, February 18, at Crescent Ballroom.
White Reaper is scheduled to perform on Saturday, February 18, at Crescent Ballroom. Elektra Records
Are you fully recovered from the madness of the Super Bowl? Still got some money and mojo left? If you answered yes to both questions, consider checking out one of the notable concerts around town this weekend, including gigs by Ghanaian-American singer-songwriter Sam Opoku, rock bands Inner Wave and White Reaper, or electronic dance music star Markus Schulz (a former Valley resident who cut his teeth at local nightclubs).

Read on for more details or click over to Phoenix New Timesconcert calendar for more live music happening from Friday, February 17, to Sunday, February 19.

Sam Opoku

Friday, February 17
Valley Bar, 130 North Central Avenue
Sam Opoku's voice is nimble and acrobatic. A Ghanaian-American artist, Opoku's dual background can be heard in his music. It’s just as informed by American pop music as it is by the melodicism of Ghanian “hiplife,” a hip-hop update on the classic “high life” sound that mixed African metre and a two-finger guitar plucking style with western jazz melodies. Opuku has cited Change the Rapper and Lupe Fiasco as influences, and you can hear the uplifting positivity of the former and the latter’s moodiness in songs like "Nirvana" and "Wish." Opuku grew up with music, teaching himself to play piano as a child and cutting his performing teeth at church services, musicals, and talent shows. Now working with producers who’ve worked with heavy-hitters like Beyonce and The Weeknd, Opuku maintains a humble attitude in his lyrics as his music has supersized in ambition and quality. His songs sound like a million dollars but he sings like he hasn’t forgotten what it’s like to not have a single one in your pocket. 7:30 p.m., $13 via Ashley Naftule
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Markus Schulz returns to the Valley this weekend.
Stark Profiles PR

Markus Schulz

Friday, February 17
Sunbar, 24 West Fifth Street, Tempe
Markus Schulz’s gig at Tempe nightclub Sunbar will see the electronic dance music superstar come full circle in a sense. Back before he performed for huge crowds, sold millions of records, or became one of the highest-paid DJs in the world, Schulz (a former Valley resident) cut his teeth playing open-to-close sets at spots like now-defunct club The Works. As Schulz recently told New Times, it was an influential experience in his early career. “I played from the moment the doors opened until the moment the last person left. For me, [this weekend’s gig at Sunbar] is a throwback to those sets I did at The Works where I’d set the mood, built it up to a frenzy, and then go down a rabbit hole [of sound],” Schulz says. And it helps unify crowds, he adds. “Patience is always key in nights like this. And you wait until you feel this unity in the audience, and then, bam, you go for it, the metaphoric pop of the champagne. That's when you've got everyone unified and the whole room vibing together.” 9 p.m., $21 via Benjamin Leatherman

Inner Wave

Friday, February 17
The Van Buren, 401 West Van Buren Street
Space-y and mellow, Inner Wave’s "One in a Million" hits like the time dilation from a magic mushroom. The song feels so expansive that you could lose yourself in it for hours. The first song on their 2021 album Apoptis, it’s a herald of things to come. Apoptis is Inner Wave at their full powers: a record that mixes together soul music, psych rock, and electronica into a heady brew. Named after a process that destroys cells, Apoptis is a record to disintegrate to — just crank up the volume and let yourself crumble into its thick bass lines, chiming guitar lines, and neon synths. Inner Wave are a quintet based in Los Angeles. Grounded from their regular regiment of live shows and touring during the pandemic, the band used their time at home to rehearse and hone their talents further. The fivesome are tighter now than they’ve ever been, laying down one intergalactic jam after another on Apoptis. It’s a perfect record for blasting off at home to trip the light fantastic or to go out dancing in a dark bar with friends. 8 p.m., $25 via Ashley Naftule

Valentines Super Love Jam

Friday, February 16
Footprint Center, 201 East Jefferson Street
Okay, you kind of screwed up. You totally forgot to pick up a gift or card for your S.O. on V-Day, despite hearts and flowers being available on practically every street corner. And now it’s time for damage control. Besides working on your apology, consider picking up tickets to the annual Valentines Super Love Jam, which swings through the Valley this weekend. If your better half is into old-school R&B, funk, and hip-hop, they’ll definitely dig the lineup of such legends as Keith Sweat, Ginuwine, Blackstreet, Color Me Badd, Tierra, and Rose Royce. And if you’re lucky, y’all will have a great time and you won’t have to sleep on the couch any longer. 7:30 p.m., $45-$85 via Benjamin Leatherman

White Reaper

Saturday, February 18
Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue
It takes real chutzpah to anoint yourself The World's Best American Band, which is exactly what Louisville garage rock band White Reaper did in 2017 when they used that bold statement as the name of their sophomore album. Listen to “Judy French,” the triumphant lead single off that album, and it isn’t hard to accept that maybe the Reaper boys are the best American rockers after all. A pure synthesis of decades of classic rock radio hits and power-pop, “Judy Reaper” rolls up Cheap Trick, Redd Kross, The Cars, and Big Star into an Everlasting Gobstopper of sweet riffage and getting-high-in-the-basement vibes. But to paraphrase the great Daffy Duck: it’s a great trick, but can they only do it once? This year’s Asking for a Ride adds some new tricks to White Reaper’s repertoire (like the Cali punk energy of "Asking for a Ride" and the Van Halen-esque shredding on "Fog Machine") and brings the hooks in a big way. If they’re not America’s best band, Asking for a Ride is their application for the job. 8 p.m., $25 via Ashley Naftule
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.

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