Gila River Arena
You probably don't have tickets to this show, but if we're making a list of the 10 best upcoming concerts, we can't not mention Elton John's last show ever — his words — in the Phoenix area. The Farewell, Yellow Brick Road Tour is the legendary rock star's swan song, a last run for a musician with innumerable hits, from "Honky Cat" and "Benny and the Jets" to "Rocket Man" and "Candle in the Wind." When you've been in the game as long as John, you're bound to have a catalog with something for everyone. Douglas Markowitz
The Van Buren
On Vince's 2018 record FM!, every track is a gritty tale of an endless summer. Over haunting production by Kenny Beats, he raps about the wild and reckless attitude that summer brings and how quickly it can pop off. If you feel like you’ve seen him perform a lot in Phoenix recently, you’re right: He played a set at the Goldrush Music Festival last year in September and returned in December with Childish Gambino. This time, however, he's the star. He'll play a headlining gig at The Van Buren supported by fellow L.A. rapper Buddy. Julian Hernandez
Pedro the Lion
Did you know that Pedro the Lion lead singer David Bazan is a Phoenix native? The indie rocker lived in the Valley for the first 13 years of his life, and as he elucidates in a recent interview with Phoenix New Times, he's got a lot of conflicted feelings about the place. He's put some of that into the latest Pedro record, Phoenix, the first in a series of five albums that marks the end of a lengthy hiatus for the project. Pedro will stage a homecoming show at Crescent Ballroom in February, bringing Tomberlin along for the ride. DM
The Van Buren
When Chicago rapper Noname dropped her mixtape Telefone in 2016, the response to her stream-of-consciousness raps was immediate. Many were first exposed to her in 2013 as a feature on the track "Lost" off Chance the Rapper's acclaimed mixtape Acid Rap. Last year, her debut album Room 25 displayed her changing world for all to see. The quick-witted, rapid-fire verses from Telefone remain, but Room 25 adds more introspection laced atop jazzy percussion and soulful strings. She's also touring and releasing music without the backing of a label, remaining an independent artist. JH
After being released from prison in April of 2018, Meek Mill didn't just start advocating for prison reform: He also returned to the studio and released his highly anticipated album Championships. The record is a true return to form for the rapper, with both the album and “Going Bad” featuring Drake topping the charts. While special guests for his upcoming tour have not been announced, his show at Comerica Theatre in February is guaranteed to be Mill at his most triumphant. When the low horns in the intro of street anthem “Uptown Vibes” begin to play over the sound system, the spot is sure to blow up. JH
The Rebel Lounge
M3F and Innings not your style? We've got a gig happening the same weekend that's just a bit more, well, brutal. Last year saw the return of noise rock band Daughters. Hailing from Providence, Rhode Island (home to fellow guitar destroyers Lightning Bolt), the band's first record in eight years, You Won't Get What You Want, has become a surprise hit in the underground, especially after The Needle Drop's Anthony Fantano gave it only the fifth perfect 10 of his reviewing career. For context, the other four were given to Kendrick Lamar, Swans, Death Grips, and Kids See Ghosts — pretty intense company. These noisemakers will be sure to melt your face off when they take over The Rebel Lounge on March 1.
Is YG one of the most underrated rappers in the game? On the one hand, he's got the hits, from breakout single "My N*gga" to last year's dope posse cut "Big Bank." On the other, his full-length projects are just as fire: Still Brazy, featuring bona-fide neo-g-funk bops like "Twist My Fingaz" and "Why You Always Hating?," is a solid record. And of course, we definitely know how he feels about the president. So the question remains: Why is he not spoken of in the same breath as fellow new-school SoCal heavyweights like Kendrick and Tyler, the Creator? Maybe it doesn't matter. Get yourself down to Mesa Amphitheatre in March to see a true GOAT in action. DM
When Low’s debut album, I Could Live In Hope, came out in 1994, you couldn’t find a more out-of-place release against the backdrop of loud alternative rock hitting the mainstream. Low’s debut album was a study in mood with slow melodies that felt like they could float through the desert landscape. I Could Live In Hope was an album of landscapes that made the listener aware of the space they were occupying while waiting for each strum of the guitar.
Low’s 2018 album Double Negative doesn't contain the sparse desert of sounds of their early albums that defined the "slowcore" genre. It's still atmospheric, but where a sparse strike snare drum and strum of the guitar would have gone is now synths that distort and build and collapse now occupy the spaces where snare strikes and guitar strums would have gone. What does that mean for Low when they perform? Will they create a set with a mix of their oldest compositions and their newest album? You'll have to head out to Valley Bar on March 11 to find out. JH
The Van Buren
You might consider this an unconventional pick, but Nils Frahm is not a conventional musician, even if he's a classically trained pianist. His record Spaces, compiled from live recordings made in 2012 and '13, is a dynamic, at times thrilling record that uses spacey synths to supplement the German composer's frighteningly fast piano runs. Frahm has slowed things down on recent releases such as Solo and All Melody, but no matter the speed at which he plays, you're sure to find it fascinating. DM
Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra
When your group consists of 16 members, it can be hard to book a show when everyone is available. So when Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra announces a date, you know the hunger to get on stage is there. PAO has been channeling boundless positivity into performances in Phoenix since 2010 through their blasts of horns, rhythmic percussion in every snap on the conga and the mesmerizing rasp of the beads in the shekere.
PAO’s afrobeat music, a blend of jazz and funk with West African sounds pioneered by Fela Kuti, isn’t just about getting the body moving. PAO spreads messages of strength and unity. Be prepared to sweat when they take over Crescent Ballroom in April.