The 11 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week | Phoenix New Times


The 11 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week

Got any big plans this week? You probably should, considering there are few (if any) reasons to stay home. The weather's certainly nicer, your television is choked with wall-to-wall election coverage, and there's a grip of great concerts and nightlife events happening over the next several nights. Naturally, most of...
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Got any big plans this week? You probably should, considering there are few (if any) reasons to stay home. The weather's certainly nicer, your television is choked with wall-to-wall election coverage, and there's a grip of great concerts and nightlife events happening over the next several nights.

Naturally, most of the major venues throughout Phoenix have full slates booked for every evening this week, including hosting the following 11 shows we’re certain are worth checking out. (As always, there are plenty of other live music options available via our extensively updated online concert calendar.)

Atmosphere – Monday, September 26 – Marquee Theatre
Slug has something to say. In fact, Slug has a lot to say. Ask one half of the Minnesota-based Atmosphere to expound on a question, and ready yourself for an unfurling that only a rapper who’s been at this for three decades can deliver — the man indulges in words, unfolding ideas like an origami deconstruction. Slug is a rare breed that lets you see the individual moves that make up the bigger structure. To any hip-hop head, seasoned or otherwise, Atmosphere has been a household name, blending a familiar sense of consciousness with a musical identity that’s all its own, acting as the foundation for the revered Rhymesayers record label. Whether you came across Atmosphere on a mixtape or through a soundtrack, it’s likely that Slug’s rhymes about social issues, women, or drugs had some impact on your psyche, often delivered in a searingly blunt, clever fashion that’s become his calling card. Atmosphere is bringing Brother Ali, Plain Atlas, and Dem Old Bill with them when they stop through Tempe. K.C. LIBMAN

Combichrist – Monday, September 26 – Pub Rock
Industrial music fans who like the noisy and chaotic infused with both blistering guitars and dance beats are probably familiar with Andy LaPlegua’s baby, Combichrist. Named after a character in an old zine he did in the ’90s, this aggrotech project has been going since 2003. Its sound is a fierce mix of electronic dance music, twisty and hearty metal riffs, edgy noise, and a hardcore punk-rock spirit. Eight albums in, and a whole bunch of touring behind him, LaPlegua’s not at all ready to slow down. This month, the band is embarking on two parallel tours. As an opening act, they’ll be performing on the Return to Roots tour, which finds Brazilian heavy metal band Sepultura’s founders, Max and Igor Cavalera playing their 1996 release, Roots. On days off, Combichrist has booked a slew of solo shows, including a stop at Scottsdale’s Pub Rock Live this week. And LaPlegua pretty jazzed about sharing the stage with the Cavalera brothers. “I was really influenced by Sepultura in the late ’80s and early 1990s, so it’s pretty great to be playing with the founding members,” he says. Though Sepultura draws a pretty metal-dedicated crowd, LaPlegua isn’t worried that Combichrist might not go over. “We have so much energy,” he says. “I think we cross over well.” AMY YOUNG

Donovan – Monday, September 26 – Musical Instrument Museum
Of all the artists who came to prominence during the time of Flower Power, perhaps no one evoked the era, spirit, and outlook more than Donovan. The Scottish troubadour began his musical journey as an earnest folkie in the Woody Guthrie mode (even writing “This Machine Kills” on his acoustic guitar, a nod to his hero’s “This Machine Kills Fascists”), and hanging out with Bob Dylan and Joan Baez while placing “Catch the Wind” and a cover of the antiwar “The Universal Soldier” on the charts. But by the mid-'60s, he had turned in his workingman’s cap and denim shirts for flowing robes, beads, and a hairstyle that got shaggier and curlier. And as his music turned to more mystical and psychedelic themes, Donovan racked up hits like “Sunshine Superman,” “Mellow Yellow,” “Wear Your Love Like Heaven,” “There is a Mountain,” and “Jennifer Juniper.” He also dipped into heavier fare like “Season of the Witch,” “Hurdy Gurdy Man," and the poem-song “Atlantis.” As this year marks the 50th anniversary of the release of his Sunshine Superman record, the 70-year-old Donovan has embarked on a nationwide tour that includes Monday’s stop at the Musical Instrument Museum. BOB RUGGIERO

Saint Motel – Monday, September 26 – Crescent Ballroom
Saint Motel is among the bands that have recently taken the sting out of the designation "pop music." By virtue of making high-quality music and occasionally embodying the stereotypical metrosexual modern dude, the band has won fans beyond the tween base. This is pop music for anyone who related to High Fidelity — "I don't wanna listen to old sad bastard music, Barry" — and is planning to dance to the point of being completely un-shaggable on Monday at the Crescent Ballroom. Refreshingly unafraid to heckle its own image, the band's single "My Type" embodies the inherent blithe tone of Saint Motel: "You're just my type/You got a pulse and you are breathing." Saint Motel is epigrammatic, but lyrically, there's enough sweetness and ambiguity to allow listeners a personal interpretation. Musically, energetic horns and happy key melodies bridge for an overall good-time-band sound.Although the group has been together since 2012, Saint Motel is just now releasing its debut major-label album, Saintmotelevision, which will be out mid-October. STEPHANIE GREY

Cymbals Eat Guitars – Tuesday, September 27 – The Rebel Lounge
"Cymbals eat out guitars" is how Lou Reed once described the Velvet Underground's sound. While imagining a Zildjian going down on a Les Paul is only erotic in some Rule 34 sense, dropping the "out" to make Cymbals Eat Guitars evokes the musical equivalent to the "Why was six afraid of seven?" joke. It's abstract, mathematical violence, sorta fitting for the Staten Island indie rock group, as it has its crashing tantrums comparable to Cursive or At the Drive-In. The minced vocals and themes of "not quite grammatically correct" obscure references (see tracks like "Another Tunguska" or "Like Blood Does") only add to the hazy sea. But what really ties Cymbals together are the precarious moments of beauty, influences derived from the likes of Spiritualized and Titus Andronicus. The tangle of mood swings will keep you on your toes and maybe even leave you breathless at moments. TROY FARAH

Matt the Electrician – Tuesday, September 27 – Rhythm Room
Matt the Electrician (Matthew Sower to his family and friends) is one of a handful of brainy, somewhat quiet Central Texas singer-songwriters who write with considerable plainfolks wit, down-to-earth blue-collar common sense and smart-folks ideas. What emerges are songs like "Change the Subject" and "One Right Thing," delivered somewhere between Paul Simon's New Yorky folk-pop and Waits's back-alley sandpaper growl. There's just the right mix of vulnerability and strength, ennui and hope to make women want to take him home and mother him. The Electrician makes it earthy and ethereal, and that's a hard trick to pull off. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH

Flume – Tuesday, September 27 – Comerica Theatre
Since he first became a household name in the Australian dance scene upon the release of his debut album in 2012, Flume has emerged as the rare electronic producer who can boast both critical and commercial success. Other artists have noticed as well, as Flume has remixed songs by such stars as Sam Smith, Lorde, and Disclosure. But his versatile sound extends further, which is how he recruited the likes of AlunaGeorge, Vince Staples, Little Dragon, and Beck to appear on his sophomore effort, Skin, which was released in May. If his standout Coachella performance is a sign of things to come, then Flume has a chance to emerge as the next dance producer to make the leap to pop superstar. DANIEL KOHN

Rocky Votolato – Wednesday, September 28 – The Rebel Lounge
Singer-songwriters are a dime a dozen these days. It's like they're being churned out on a never-ending assembly line, manufactured with the same blueprint: rough-hewn voice, tattered button-up shirt, handsome face, guitar. Rocky Votolato is like the original of those copies of copies, and he has the lyrical integrity and experience to back up such claims. From his work in the late '90s with his band Waxwing to his continuing decade-plus long career as a solo artist, the Pacific Northwesterner (by way of Texas) has been enchanting both sexes with honest songs of love and heartache, his scratchy voice and down-to-earth stage presence. BREE DAVIES

Dropkick Murphys – Thursday, September 29 – Marquee Theatre
Like many other seminal punk bands, Celtic-punk icons Dropkick Murphys haven’t grown older in a soft, quiet manner. Similar to Social Distortion, Rancid, and fellow stout-flavored screamers Flogging Molly, the Al Barr- and Ken Casey-led group has stayed grizzled, menacing, and rather ferocious over the years. Few active bands identify with not only their home region but the working-class ethos the way the pro-labor, politically active group has for so long now. For Boston sports fans, supporting Dropkick Murphys is as automatic as supporting the Sox or the Celtics. Similar to how many New York-based artists repped their hometown after the 9/11 attacks, the Murphys' music and charitable relief efforts were vital to thousands of Bostonians troubled by the marathon bombings of 2013. As much as any other band hitting the roads these days, the Murphys take the beating heart of its hometown to every gig, no matter where it is. KELLY DEARMORE

Chrome Sparks – Thursday, September 29 – Valley Bar
If it were possible to genetically engineer the quintessential electronic artist for the Tumblr era, Chrome Sparks would likely be the result. Before settling on the Chrome Sparks moniker, the Pittsburgh-bred and Brooklyn-based musician Jeremy Malvin served several stints as drummer for a number of bands, including internet synthpop darling Stepdad. Choosing to take his background in classical percussion in a more danceable direction, Malvin traded in an education in drumming for a career in DJ'ing. Since the switch, Malvin has enjoyed tremendous success as a solo act. Signed to Future Classic — the Australian label home to Flume, Chet Faker, and Cashmere Cat — Chrome Sparks has attracted attention for not only, well, producing future classics but also successfully juggling several moods and sounds. His viral hit, "Marijuana" — which sampled Idris Muhammad's disco classic "Could Heaven Ever Be Like This" long before Jamie xx did on last year's "Loud Places" — is Chrome Sparks' most popular song for good reason. A lean, three-minute eruption of puff-puff-pass bliss, "Marijuana" is as equally effective as a bass-synth-driven sleep aid as it is a club-floor filler. ZACH SCHLEIN

August Burns Red – Thursday, September 29 – Nile Theater
The creation myth of August Burns Red is charmingly pastoral. The founding members, then high school buddies, got together on drummer Matt Greiner's family farmland in exurban Lancaster, Pennsylvania. But the sound they came up with was the opposite of mellow — in fact, maybe all that open space encouraged the response. From the beginning, the group, now a five-piece, went unabashedly after a high-octane metalcore sound influenced by early-'00s subgenre pioneers like Hopesfall. Like many other groups of that scene that began in that time, the band was also powered by a healthy dose of Christian faith. The combination of the two approaches has made the group especially popular with a growing segment of American youth. ARIELLE CASTILLO
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