Look, we’re not going to pretend that this past week was anything but an enormous shit-show. Nor are we going to pretend that the next four years are going to be a cakewalk by any means.
Frankly, all we can do is urge you to be calm, take a few deep breaths, try to soldier on, and maybe just deal with things on a day-to-day basis. We’ll all get through this somehow, yo.
It might also help to get your mind off things for a couple of hours or so, if for no other reason than to clear your head, gain some perspective, or maybe just think about something besides who’ll be running the country a few months from now. If you think a concert might just be that sort of distraction you need, consider hitting up our live music listings for something that suits your fancy or checking out any of our picks for the best shows to see this weekend.
Then again, considering some of the political leanings of the following artists and acts, we're guessing that they might have a thing or two to say about the new POTUS.
Chance the Rapper – Friday, November 11 – Mesa Amphitheatre Chance the Rapper’s 2016 release, Coloring Book, might not be the cutting, intense political statement many of his contemporaries opted to release these past few years, but it is a brilliantly produced smooth slice of gospel-laced hip-hop that promotes CtR’s infectious positive mental attitude. It’s really no surprise the Chicago-based rapper is feeling #blessed right now. With the laundry list of hip-hop’s hottest that worked on his record — Kanye, Lil Wayne, Young Thug, Lil Yachty, Kaytranada, T-Pain, Ty Dolla $ign, and Anderson .Paak, to name just a few — the 23-year-old seemed poised to succeed no matter what. Make no mistake, though. Chance the Rapper’s chops aren’t solely built on the shoulders of others. After all, he did co-write a handful of tracks on Life of Pablo while working on his own critically acclaimed album. Unfortunately, though, if you didn't already snag tickets or are up for hitting the secondary market, you'll have to sit this one out because the Valley stop on the tour is sold out. HEATHER HOCH
Okilly Dokilly – Friday, November 11 – Crescent Ballroom In case you missed it, the Ned Flanders-inspired act Okilly Dokilly went viral last year by releasing on Bandcamp four demos based in the genre of Nedal, their name for hardcore Simpsons-themed metal. The Phoenix-based quintet started off as a joke, but the group took off like Bart Simpson on a skateboard. Show writer Al Jean even tweeted with his approval. “We were in quite a tizzy,” says frontman Head Ned. “We're still very honored and glad that so many neighborinos enjoyed what we were doing. Last year, we hit the stage quite a bit to develop our live show and then spent a lot of time getting ready for the studio.” Not ones to trim their mustaches, pray to Jesus, and call it a day, Okilly Dokilly are releasing their first full-length album, Howdilly Doodilly. The record, which the band claims consists of 75 percent of direct quotes from Homer Simpson’s optimistic green sweater-clad Christian nemesis, was recorded at Mesa's Audioconfusion in May. Howdilly Doodilly will be independently released this Friday, November 11, with an album release show at Crescent Ballroom. “We put the pedal to the Nedal, but made sure to have fun with it,” says Head Ned, “We recorded in costume and drank white wine spritzers in the studio, to really capture the meaning of Nedal.” JASON KEIL
Bobby Brown – Friday, November 11 – Celebrity Theatre Though often overshadowed by his high-profile marriage to late pop music icon Whitney Houston and his own substance-abuse issues, Bobby Brown’s storied, nearly four-decade career as a singer and entertainer is nothing to sneeze at. First as a member of the critically acclaimed ’80s sensation New Edition, then as a solo artist, Brown helped ignite the New Jack Swing sound, especially with his 1988 crossover smash, Don’t Be Cruel, which included the hit “My Prerogative” and made him one of the best-selling artists of the era. In 2012, the Grammy winner released The Masterpiece, his first album in 15 years. JACQUELINE MICHAEL WHATLEY
Mesa Music Festival – Friday, November 11, to Sunday, November 13 – Downtown Mesa One thing we’ve always dug about Mesa is the fact that if you look past its sleepy reputation, the East Valley suburb is actually quite lively. No joke. It’s home to several top-tier venues, for instance, and is typically teeming with live music and DJs almost every weekend. Things are going to be even busier this weekend when the Mesa Music Festival returns for its second year. As with its inaugural edition last fall, the three-day event includes performances by more than 100 emerging bands and burgeoning musicians from across Arizona and around the U.S. performing on stages set up at businesses throughout downtown Mesa. (Check out the full schedule here.) Meanwhile, there will be separate “music symposium” offering knowledge about the ins and outs of the music biz that will feature such speakers as Linkin Park vocalist (and former Valley resident) Chester Bennington, Megadeth bassist Dave Ellefson, and others. There’s also a VIP party that same evening that will offer a DJ session by Richard Patrick of Filter and the festival’s headlining act, alt-rock/post-grunge band Fuel, will perform on Saturday night. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
PWR BTTM — Saturday, November 12 — The Rebel Lounge Aesthetically glam, sonically grungy and socially radical, PWR BTTM pushes the boundaries of what it means to be a punk in 2016. Carrying on the tradition of duos that thrash just as hard as full rock bands, drummer Liv Bruce and guitarist Ben Hopkins share vocal duties to create a whirlwind of emotion wrapped in noise and sometimes a little sarcasm. Self-professed genderqueers, Bruce and Hopkins write songs that tackle and challenge traditional ideas around relationships, personal pronouns and social norms. The East Coasters were recently picked up by indie mainstay label Polyvinyl, exposing their wild style to an even wider audience. The future is here and queer, and PWR BTTM’s candy-coated politics are leading the charge. BREE DAVIES
Cirque D’Kink – Saturday, November 12 – Club Red Spectacle is the absolute lifeblood of any circus, as evidenced by all the astounding feats and eye-popping stunts taking place. Just ask any sort of ringmaster. It’s true of any circus-like extravaganza, even the more exotic or alluring ones that boast the word “cirque” in their name. Case in point, this weekend’s Cirque D’Kink at Club Red in Mesa, will include a multitude of sensational stunts, fantastic antics, and pulse-pounding excitement, albeit of the sexy variety. The 18-and-over circus-themed fetish event will feature a kinky cavalcade of performances, exhibitions, and sideshow-like thrills, such as pole-dancing clowns, exotic aerial antics, strongwomen, rubber-clad burlesques, human pin cushions, and even, um, genital balloon artistry. And while this risque action unfolds, dark and heavy sounds will be spun by DJ Sinaptik, DJ Babyl0n, DJ Aaron, Fuschia and Hurley from local goth band Bella Lune, and the DJ duo of Apollynona and Angel Toxin (a.k.a. Pneumatic Fist). BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Bear Ghost – Saturday, November 12 – Last Exit Live Without a doubt, Bear Ghost puts on one of the most enjoyable and energetic shows of any local band to be found these days. With their savvy mix of indie rock, nerdcore, and prog rock, there is never a dull moment to be found at their shows. They released their full-length album debut, Blasterpiece, earlier this year, and it still holds up as one of the most exciting albums of 2016. Before that album ever saw the light of day, though, Bear Ghost was turning audiences on with their early EP and their electrifying live set. In addition to their untraditional originals, be prepared for some amazing covers they slip into their set: You could get something from a Disney movie, something from Queen, or a whole lot of both. Recent shows have proven again and again that the band has a flawless live set, and one of the best places to catch them is Last Exit Live, where they seem to throw down their best-sounding shows, for sure. It only takes one Bear Ghost show there to get you hooked for life. At least, that’s what happened to me. MITCHELL HILLMAN
Lindsey Stirling – Saturday, November 12 – Comerica Theatre It’s that time of year when everyone goes home for the holidays, and that includes the larger-than-life musicians who hail from the Valley. And while they’re home, why not put a concert together? Part Riverdance, part steampunk, part Paganini, part Skrillex — there’s no one really quite like Lindsey Stirling, the Gilbert native whose first exposure to the masses came on America’s Got Talent in 2010 when Piers Morgan told her “she wasn’t good enough” to win the show. But unlike the rest of her AGT peers, Stirling actually has built a career for herself, and though her stage show is more like a Las Vegas act than a traditional concert, she’s still carved out a niche for herself with her mostly instrumental music, which mixes her dexterous violin playing with electronic dance-inspired beats. Stirling, now 30, just released her third studio album, Brave Enough, in August, and she shows no signs of slowing down. And at least she gets to have a nice Thanksgiving with her family. DAVID ACCOMAZZO
Lauryn Hill – Sunday, November 13, at Comerica Theatre When it comes to the legends of the hip-hop world, Ms. Lauryn Hill should be near the top of any list. From her work in the Fugees to her classic ’98 solo release The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Hill has shown her strength as a lyricist and the power of her voice. Then, she opted out of the spotlight for an extended hiatus due to the insane pressures of fame, the corporate B.S. of the music industry, and to raise her six kids. It almost seems like she came back on the scene at a time when we could all use an outspoken talent and visionary such as herself. Of course, now that she’s back, there’s been a fair amount of ribbing regarding her proclivity to being late for performances, but, you know what? You’ve probably waited 20 years to see her live, so another couple of hours really shouldn’t be that big of a deal to see the woman who’s so inspirational, she even made Nicki Minaj bow down. So, bow down. HEATHER HOCH
Lupe Fiasco – Sunday, November 13 – Livewire Lupe Fiasco has always represented himself as an impressive hip-hop talent, but also as a conscientious man who cares as much about good causes as he does about good music. Known for weaving social commentary into his passionate, free-flowing verse, Fiasco tackles injustice, misogyny and even fiscal responsibility, sparking debates both ethical and aesthetic. Recently, the rapper said that his upcoming album, Roy, will be his last, but it remains to be seen whether his loyal audience or his commitment to political expression will allow him to stop making music. GABRIEL DERBY
Marc Cohn – Sunday, November 13 – Musical Instrument Museum Don't refer to Marc Cohn as a one-hit wonder. Although his song "Walking in Memphis" may have immortalized him for radio listeners everywhere and won him a Grammy in the process, it also established him as an artist of a certain standing, the kind that can be counted on to create great albums that play together as a whole. Indeed, with a career that spans well over 20 years, Cohn's achievements go well beyond the bounds of a single hit and fleeting fame and fortune. Still, it's been several years since Cohn's last album, and his is not a life that's necessarily been easy. He was orphaned at an early age but overcame his hardship by teaching himself to play piano and guitar. All seemed to be going well until he was shot and nearly killed in a carjacking attempt after a concert in Denver, Colorado, in 2005, a traumatic incident that forced him to reassess his place in the world, both as an artist and individual. These days, however, he's back doing what he does best: entertaining audiences with intimate songs and stories and plying his craft with the subtlety and sensitivity that's become his stock and trade. LEE ZIMMERMAN
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