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The 10 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week

Ariana Grande is scheduled to perform on Tuesday, May 14, at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
Ariana Grande is scheduled to perform on Tuesday, May 14, at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Courtesy of Ariana Grande
Up for seeing a show this week? If so, we’ve got a few suggestions to offer – 10 of 'em, in fact, all of which are worthy of your time and money. And there are plenty of big names involved, including Ariana Grande, Santigold, Wild Belle, The Strumbellas, and Skinny Lister.

This week’s concert offerings also include gigs by doom metal act OM, indie pop act The Japanese House, Latin roots ensemble Combo Chimbita, and punk legends The Exploited. Local hip-hop shop Trill will also stage a two-night celebration in honor of its move to a newer, bigger spot.

Details about each of these concerts and music events can be found in the following list. And for even more live music happening around town, hit up Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar.

click to enlarge Indie band The Strumbellas. - COURTESY OF SIX SHOOTER RECORDS
Indie band The Strumbellas.
Courtesy of Six Shooter Records

The Strumbellas

Monday, May 13
Crescent Ballroom

The Strumbellas bridge the gap between scrappy folk and catchy pop. Thanks to frontman Simon Ward's soaring vocal delivery that's at times syrupy sweet and other times raspy and raw, the Canadian sextet's brand of catchy pastoral pop delivers emotionally charged singalong songs sure to make audiences toe-tap, air guitar, and table-drum along. The Strumbellas released a fourth studio album, Rattlesnake, in late March. They’ll be at Crescent Ballroom on Monday night. The show starts at 8 p.m. and The Moth and The Flame will open. Tickets are $20 to $40. Diamond Rodrigue

click to enlarge British folk band Skinny Lister. - DAVID EDWARDS
British folk band Skinny Lister.
David Edwards

Skinny Lister

Monday, May 13
The Rebel Lounge

At first glance, the name Skinny Lister may evoke the image of an underweight nerd who's been taunted by his classmates. In reality, though, it's one of those clever band names that leaves a somewhat amorphous impression.

In truth, the Lister family were actually innovators in the field of anesthetics, but according to singer/ukulele player Lorna Thomas, their Skinny Lister was a boy that guitarist Dan Hepinstall went to school with. "We have no idea if he is still skinny, but we will hopefully get a chance to reunite with him one day in the future," Thomas muses. "Hopefully he doesn't mind us nicking his nickname!"

If by some chance he happened to hear Forge and Flagon, the debut album from his namesake combo, he'd probably be flattered. A stirring combination of edge, angst, and insurgent attitude, all instilled with a genuine folk flourish, the album provides an ideal snapshot for the band, as do follow-ups like 2014's Down on Deptford Broadway and 2016's The Devil, The Heart, and the Fight, as well as their recently released effort The Story Is…, which dropped in March. Catch them on Monday night at The Rebel Lounge. Doors open at 8 p.m. and tickets are $16 to $18. Lee Zimmerman

click to enlarge Elliot and Natalie Bergman of Wild Belle. - COURTESY OF PARADIGM TALENT AGENCY
Elliot and Natalie Bergman of Wild Belle.
Courtesy of Paradigm Talent Agency

Wild Belle

Tuesday, May 14
Valley Bar

Putting "Wild" as the first word in your band's name sounds like a gag from Portlandia, but Wild Belle avoid making themselves a cliche in any other way. Their psychedelic pop settles into funk and almost reggae grooves, staying far away from the straight rhythms of indie rock or the lithium-fueled bouncing of indie pop. Wild Belle's music slides through your inner ear, bending and oscillating around you in unexpected turns. Their Valley Bar performance on Tuesday starts at 8 p.m. Terri Terri will open. Tickets are $15. Matt Wood

click to enlarge Santigold is touring to celebrate her debut LP's 10th birthday. - CRAIG WETHERBY
Santigold is touring to celebrate her debut LP's 10th birthday.
Craig Wetherby


Tuesday, May 14
The Van Buren

Not all album tours are created equal. Some artists choose to tour a particular milestone of career success in their discography. Others tour longtime fan favorites in hopes of creating a new experience in the narrower focus. But this month, as Santi White, better known as Santigold, embarks on the 10 Years Gold Tour, she’s celebrating much more than success or fandom alone. She’s celebrating an indie rock movement that started with her debut LP, Santogold, and hasn’t let up since.

Santigold made her solo debut to the world with “Creator”, a ferocious dance track that sounds infinitely more at home in the present day than it did in early 2008. Here, White threw hip-hop, dub, electronica, and indie pop into a blender and made a track that would inspire years of head-scratching emulation. While her peers leaned comfortably into '80s dance influences, here was an artist going beyond the trend and into entirely new territory.

Beginning to end, Santogold is a stylistic tour de force that somehow feels continuous despite White and her team throwing so much into the pot. There are Pixies and Blondie moments alongside futuristic dance music that felt entirely new, independent of any nod or tribute. “I’ve been lucky all through my entire career to find these people to work with who are just versed as I am to walk from Siouxsie to Bone Thugs,” White says, “any style of music we can jump around to ... to just play off this wide array of sounds so fluidly.” Santigold will be at The Van Buren on Wednesday evening. The show is at 8 p.m. Tickets are $36 to $40. Gerrit Feenstra

click to enlarge Latin roots ensemble Combo Chimbita. - COURTESY OF ANTI- RECORDS
Latin roots ensemble Combo Chimbita.
Courtesy of ANTI- Records

Combo Chimbita

Tuesday, May 14
The Rebel Lounge

“Frio Severo” is a song you could, and should, lose your head to. It’s a carnival of eclectic sounds and rhythms that exemplifies why people often call music hypnotic. Its power is tripled when Carolina Oliveros starts singing. Part of Combo Chimbita’s magic is their ability to pull you inside the song. As that aforementioned track continues, you go where it leads. It’s a parade you hope won’t end too soon. This New York band’s sound comes from a fusion of African, Latin American, and Caribbean styles. The band refer to their music as “tropical futurism,” and that’s accurate. Diverse rhythms and funky beats are the heartbeat for the sometimes-breezy, other times psychedelic and experimental melodies that sweep through their tunes. Catch them at The Rebel Lounge on Tuesday. Vox Urbana and Djentrification will open. Showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets are $11 in advance, $13 at the door. Amy Young

Ariana Grande

Tuesday, May 14
Talking Stick Resort Arena

In the last two years, Ariana Grande has seen more shit hit the fan than any pop star of her generation. In September 2018, her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller died of an overdose, causing angry fans to blame their breakup for his death. Another relationship, this one with comedian and Saturday Night Live cast member Pete Davidson, ended last year. The two announced their engagement just days after their relationship became public knowledge, and the slightly odd habits they picked up, including getting ill-conceived tattoos and dressing up like Harry Potter characters, consumed the public interest.

And lest we forget that on May 22, 2017, a concert Grande gave in Manchester, England, ended with a bomb exploding in the arena, killing 23 people and wounding 139. It was a traumatizing experience, perhaps most of all for the singer, who immediately suspended the rest of her tour.

Nevertheless, Grande continues to put in work. She recorded the song "No Tears Left to Cry" in response to the bombing and released her latest album, Sweetener, last year. The record went to No. 1 on the Billboard 200, and now, Grande will tour behind it. The Sweetener World Tour comes to Talking Stick Resort Arena in downtown Phoenix on Tuesday night. The show, which starts at 8 p.m., is currently sold out, but tickets can be purchased on the secondary market. Douglas Markowitz

click to enlarge Stoner rock/doom metal act OM. - LYNDXE ZAKOPAL
Stoner rock/doom metal act OM.
Lyndxe Zakopal


Wednesday, May 15
Nile Theater in Mesa

Metal band OM first formed when Al Cisneros and Chris Hakius got together a handful of years after their old band Sleep parted ways in the late '90s. The idea was to create a project that used rhythms to convey meaning in a fashion akin to Tibetan devotional music or Gregorian chants. From 2003 until the departure of Hakius in the beginning of 2008, the duo created an impressive body of contemplative, even meditative, heavy music that some have referred to as "transcendental metal."

Grails drummer and primary Holy Sons songwriter, Emil Amos, was tapped to play drums in the new lineup that also includes Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe of Lichens (and formerly of experimental rock band 90 Day Men). As a trio, OM have  released a pair of albums, 2009's God Is Good and the group's most recent effort, 2012's Advaitic Songs. On Wednesday night, they’ll invade Nile Theater in Mesa. The show starts at 7 p.m. and Wovenhand will open. Tickets are $20. Tom Murphy

click to enlarge Amber Bain of The Japanese House. - COURTESY OF ODYSSEY BOOKING
Amber Bain of The Japanese House.
Courtesy of Odyssey Booking

The Japanese House

Wednesday, May 15
Crescent Ballroom

You had to go up to Arcosanti last weekend if you wanted to see Japanese Breakfast, but luckily there’s another female-fronted indie project with “Japanese” in the title performing right here in the Valley this week. 21-year-old Englishwoman Amber Bain chose the name The Japanese House after staying in a cottage in Cornwall furnished to look like a Tokyo tea house. There, she posed as a boy named “Danny” and developed a crush on the girl next door, a childhood experience that heavily colors her dreamy music. Art School Girlfriend will open the show on Wednesday, May 15. The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18 to $20. Douglas Markowitz

click to enlarge DJ Akshen will be in the mix during Trill's grand opening of its new home. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
DJ Akshen will be in the mix during Trill's grand opening of its new home.
Benjamin Leatherman

Trill’s Grand Opening

Wednesday, May 15, and Thursday, May 16
Trill and Rips Bar

In case you haven’t heard the news, local hip-hop shop Trill has found some fresh digs. Earlier this month, owners of the two-year-old emporium (which features anything and everything associated with hip-hop culture) packed up their shirts, snapbacks, and spray paints and moved several blocks west to Trill’s new home at 1817 East Indian School Road. And they’ll be celebrating the occasion with a two-night grand opening affair boasting a mix of DJs, turntablists, and street artists.

Things get going on Wednesday night at the shop, when the legendary DJ Shortkut of the Invisibl Skratch Piklz and The Beat Junkies will be in the mix along with Cwitch of Battlestar Massive. Local turntablists Akshen and LES735 from the Fader Manners DJ collective, which will be celebrating its fifth anniversary at the event, will also perform. The event runs from 5 to 9 p.m. Admission is free. Later that night, an after-party will take place at Rips, 3045 North 16th Street, and will include sets from Shortkut and Cwitch, as well as locals like DJ M2, DJ Fact135, and Tricky T. The party goes from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. and there’s no cover.

The second night of Trill’s grand opening happens on Thursday, May 16, and will feature an appearance by renowned illustrator and street artist Justin Bua (whose work has been featured on MTV, a few EA Sports video games, and the music video for the Slum Village/Dwele track “Tainted”). Meanwhile, locals like Fact135, Akshen, and Felix Fresh will be cutting and scratching on the wheels of steel. The event takes place from 7 to 9 p.m. and admission is also free. Benjamin Leatherman

The Exploited

Thursday, May 16
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Believe it or not, The Exploited are celebrating 40 years of cutting a crusty swath of anarchist destruction across the globe. Rest easy, though – with such ditties as "Fuck the System," "Fuck the U.S.A." and "You're a Fucking Bastard" to their credit, one can pretty safely assume the corrosive Scottish punks aren't gonna get inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame anytime soon (still ain't as bad as the G.G. Allin "Suck My Ass It Smells" approach, but whatever).

Now 61 years old, unapologetically obnoxious singer Wattie Buchan is the sole member of the original lineup still fighting the good fight (drummer Dru Stix got sent up the river in 1982 for armed robbery, while founding axman "Big John" Duncan bailed in 1983, resurfacing briefly in 1993 as Nirvana's second guitarist on the In Utero Tour). Yeah, The Exploited have enjoyed plenty of personnel changes over the last four decades, but as long as Buchan's around to get in your face and spit his fervent anti-establishment venom (mall-core it ain't), it doesn't really matter who's backing his two-minute rant-anthems with an unrelenting, three-chord crunch.

Their Marquee Theatre show on Thursday kicks off at 5:15 p.m. Total Chaos, Dead 77, Krovak, The Venomous Pinks, Corkys Leather Jacket, and Rontgen will open. Tickets are $22 to $32. Michael Alan Goldberg
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Phoenix New Times Music Writers