The 10 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week

Taylor Swift is scheduled to perform on Tuesday, May 8, at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
Taylor Swift is scheduled to perform on Tuesday, May 8, at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. Courtesy of Big Machine Label Group
Up for seeing a great concert this week? You're in luck, as there are plenty to choose from this week, including one of the biggest shows of the year.

Pop megastar Taylor Swift will kick off her Reputation world tour at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale on Tuesday night. And it’s a highly anticipated show that’s expected to pack the venue with 50,000-plus people.

If you want to be one of 'em, we’ve included all the details about T-Swizzle’s show in the following list of the biggest and best concerts happening in Phoenix this week.

If TayTay’s not your thing, however, there are plenty of other options, including gigs by “Weird Al” Yankovic, The Afghan Whigs, Sunny Sweeney, Hot Snakes, and Meshell Ndegeocello.

Details about each of these shows can be found below. And for even more music events happening around town this week, check out Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar.

click to enlarge Steve Tannen and Deb Talan of The Weepies. - COURTESY OF THE WEEPIES
Steve Tannen and Deb Talan of The Weepies.
Courtesy of The Weepies
The Weepies
Tuesday, May 8
Crescent Ballroom

It's a good bet you've heard the catchy tunes of The Weepies before, even if you weren't aware of it. In the past 17 years, the indie outfit's folksy song structures, stark instrumentation, and poppy hooks have earned soundtrack spots in television shows, feature films, and even a commercial for Barack Obama's first run for the White House in 2008.

The mass exposure that The Weepies have enjoyed makes total sense: both Steve Tannen and Deb Talan, the married couple behind the act, offer easily digestible vocals that are understated yet emotive. Straightforward chord structures characterize tunes like "World Spins Madly On" and "Be My Thrill," and the pair has shown a consistent knack for producing condensed and accessible modern folk ballads.

Currently, Tannen and Talan are touring in celebration of the 10th anniversary of Hideaway, their 2008 album that charted fairly high on the Billboard charts and is considered to be their most successful release to date. The tour swings through Crescent Ballroom this week and will feature The Weepies performing all 14 songs from Hideaway, as well as hits both past and present. A.H. Goldstein

click to enlarge Escape the Fate perform in 2013. - ALEXA STICKLER/CC BY-ND 2.0/VIA FLICKR
Escape the Fate perform in 2013.
Escape the Fate
Tuesday, May 8
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 accoutrements, 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

click to enlarge “Weird Al” Yankovic invades Mesa in May. - COURTESY OF MESA ARTS CENTER
“Weird Al” Yankovic invades Mesa in May.
Courtesy of Mesa Arts Center
"Weird Al” Yankovic
Tuesday, May 8
Mesa Arts Center

Anyone who has seen “Weird Al” Yankovic (and yes, the quotation marks are part of the official billing) in concert knows what to expect: A string of his insanely catchy parody songs (i.e. “Eat It” “Like a Surgeon” “Smells Like Nirvana,” “Amish Paradise,” “Gump,” “Tacky”), a huge video screen, crazy light show, and costume changes. Lots of costume changes.

But for his current tour, the accordion-wielding pride of Lynwood, California, is trying something completely different: a stripped-down, no-frills production in smaller venues with a show that is made up almost entirely of his original comedy or “in the style of” non-parody songs and deep cuts.

Not surprisingly, those tunes tended to get overlooked, and he’s amassed a quantity of them over his career. Songs like “Velvet Elvis,” “Stuck in a Closet With Vanna White,” “Dare to Be Stupid,” “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota,” “My Baby’s in Love with Eddie Vedder,” and “Don’t Download This Song.”

“If they’re coming just to see the hits … they should stay home!” Yankovic says. “I’ve made no secret of what this tour is. It’s still a comedy show and it’s still enjoyable. It’s not the regular show. But there will still be that one person who yells out ‘Eat It!’” Bob Ruggiero

click to enlarge Alt-rock veterans The Afghan Whigs. - CHRIS CUFFARO
Alt-rock veterans The Afghan Whigs.
Chris Cuffaro
The Afghan Whigs
Tuesday, May 8
The Van Buren

Thom Yorke sang about feeling like a creep, but Greg Dulli has made a career out of singing about being a creep. The frontman for alt-rock veterans The Afghan Whigs, Dulli has carved out a place for himself as American rock’s resident scoundrel. He’s the closest thing the U.S. has to a Jarvis Cocker: Both singers pride themselves on being self-aware, louche playboys.

On albums like Gentlemen and Black Love, the Motown-loving Dulli steeped his “rock and corrupted soul” songs in toxic masculinity like bags of tea. He was hoisting toasts to the douchebags long before Kanye got around to it. Dulli’s voice has only gotten stronger and more resonant with age — the cockiness of youth replaced by the salty leer of an old timer who’s seen it all.

While 2014’s Do to the Beast and this year’s In Spades pale in comparison to classic Whigs joints like Gentlemen, they still stand on their own as worthy additions to the Whigs catalog. And besides, it’s a bit of unfair comparison: a lot of bands’ best work can’t measure up to Gentlemen, so who would expect the band that made the record to top it? Ashley Naftule

Eliza Rickman brings fairy-tale style and nontraditional instruments to Trunk Space. - NEW TIMES FILE PHOTO
Eliza Rickman brings fairy-tale style and nontraditional instruments to Trunk Space.
New Times file photo

Eliza Rickman
Tuesday, May 8
Trunk Space

Eliza Rickman has the sort of quirky verve that’s perfect for a spot like the Trunk Space. She plays such nontraditional instruments — ranging from a toy piano and noisemakers to handbells and a glockenspiel — and wears flowing vintage gowns while performing. She also has the sort of voice that can make even a love song sound melancholy. Rickman puts on an effortless show, the kind of performance that comes from years of playing night after night to new crowds in unfamiliar cities.

She isn't an easy artist to describe. The imagery that the term "singer-songwriter" conjures isn't her. "I'm not the dude with the acoustic guitar," she says. Live, there's a brooding quality to her music that recalls the great alternative artists of the ’80s and ’90s, but that's not her either. She's not a new Kate Bush or a new Tori Amos.

Rickman says that a friend once referred to her music as "post-Prince Charming," and she's cool with that assessment. "It's like the Disney princess who has maybe been screwed over more than once or twice," she says. She looks like Snow White or at least a 1940s actress playing her in a silver-screen fairy tale. She sounds a bit like the fairy-tale character, too, as her songs are filled with tales of quirk and whimsy. Liz Ohanesian
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.
Ashley Naftule
Ali Reyan
William Michael Smith