The 25 Best Concerts in Phoenix in June 2016

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Koo Koo Kanga Roo – Saturday, June 11 – The Rebel Lounge

Koo Koo Kanga Roo are two guys name Neil and Bryan (first names only, please), who together are the epitome of the "love-'em-or-hate-'em" kind of music act. Hailing from Minneapolis, Neil and Brian first began fusing their twisted hip-hop and dance music with kindergarten memories about four years ago. Since then, they've done major tours with the likes of Reel Big Fish and have garnered an audience that ranges in age from 4 to 24.

With these guys, it's just iPods and costumes as they lead crowds in sing-a-longs concerning the best sounding letters in the alphabet and the joys of eating sandwiches without the crusts. Kind of like a really demented and even more nerdy version of They Might Be Giants, Koo Koo Kanga Roo want everything to be as dance-minded and light-hearted as possible. DARRYL SMYERS

Del the Funky Homosapien – Saturday, June 11 – Pub Rock

When Del the Funky Homosapien burst onto the scene in 1991 with his debut album, I Wish My Brother George Was Here, he was considered a weird, eclectic MC. Since he was Ice Cube's cousin, however, hip-hop heads gave him the benefit of the doubt. Long before Lupe Fiasco and Pharrell Williams even thought to embrace the Thrasher nation, Del catered to the skater crowd. Shortly after issuing George, he formed the Hieroglyphics crew, which introduced Souls of Mischief and Casual to the hip-hop world. The MC amassed a loyal following, releasing several underground albums through his own Hiero imprint, in addition to embarking on several successful collaborations with the likes of Dan the Automator (Deltron 3030) and the Gorillaz. QUIBIAN SALAZAR-MORENO

Los Lonely Boys – Sunday, June 12 – Chandler Center for the Arts

Many fans thought Los Lonely Boys were a lucky band right out of the gate, and they were right. Henry, JoJo and Ringo, the Garza brothers from San Angelo, grew up playing music with their father and had a massive hit their first time out of the gate with "Heaven," a soulful ballad crystallizing their "Texican rock and roll" sound that cracked the Billboard Top 20 in 2004. It charted even higher in more specialized formats.

Although the Garzas never quite reached such lofty chart heights on their subsequent releases, their power-trio structure recalled past greats like Cream, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and of course Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, so they quickly won a loyal following among guitar geeks with a taste for Texas blues, a sizable fan base they retain to this day (especially in the Southwest). At the same time, playing up their Latin roots placed them as natural heirs to the Santana/Los Lobos tradition, a style that truly blossomed on 2011 album Rockpango! CHRIS GRAY

Joe Jackson – Thursday, June 16 – Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

After classical training as a multi-instrumentalist at the Royal Academy of Music, Joe Jackson dove into punk and new wave with the release of Look Sharp! in 1979. He would forever be labeled as "angry" — which was all the rage at the time, along with those white shoes — but his career has spanned more musical genres than Pink Martini can shake a marimba stick at. In 2015, he released Fast Forward, his first album of original songs in seven years. It's a collection of 16 tracks recorded in four cities: New York, New Orleans, Berlin, and Amsterdam, recalling his suave Night and Day era. It's marvelous, theatrical, and stirring. For his current tour, he's his "own opening act" solo at the piano, followed by a full band set digging into a career's worth of songs. LIBBY MOLYNEAUX

Body Count – Friday, June 17 – Marquee Theatre

Crank up the volume, load up the shotty, and make damn sure your bandanna is the right color, because Ice-T and Body Count are back, and they still shoot to kill. More than 20 years after the West Coast crossover thrash band scared the shit out of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas with "Cop Killer," Body Count hit the streets once again this year, undiminished by advancing age, changing trends, or the group's tragic mortality rate. Now they're ready to jump another generation of kids into the joys of violently heavy rock-and-roll madness.

That's the plan, anyway. While Body Count shifted a lot of units back in the early '90s, the current pop landscape is practically unrecognizable from the world in which the band debuted. After all, the government ain't exactly trying to censor Drake. Is there a place for Body Count in a 21st-century metal pantheon ruled by the likes of Mastodon? Are there any cultural sacred cows left for the group to mow down with gunfire? Typically self-assured, rapper-turned-rock-star-turned-actor Ice-T didn't bother considering such questions when the opportunity to resurrect Body Count arrived after eight years of silence. In Ice's world, if it feels good, you do it. Simple. NATHAN SMITH

John Carpenter – Sunday, June 19 – Mesa Arts Center

Famed director John Carpenter has made some of the most memorable films of the last 40 years, and one of the things that made them memorable was the music: Carpenter has been the composer for his entire catalog — and beyond. And now he's bringing his music into a different kind of theater for a world tour, John Carpenter: Live Retrospective, that will land in the Valley this summer for a show at the Mesa Arts Center.

The visionary director of such classics as Halloween, The Fog, Big Trouble In Little China, The Thing, They Live, and Escape From New York will take the stage to play his masterful synth-driven themes from those films, along with new original numbers featured on his hit non-soundtrack album Lost Themes and its sequel, Lost Themes II. The latter project is a collaboration between Carpenter, his son Cody, and godson Daniel Davies (son of The Kinks' Dave Davies), and while the former is made up of original recordings collected over the years, Lost Themes II was recorded last year in one session. For many film fans, experiencing the director's musical works outside of the big screen — much less live and in-person — is a dream/nightmare come true. KEITH GARCIA

Sunflower Bean – Sunday, June 19 – Valley Bar

One listen to Sunflower Bean's EP Show Me Your Seven Secrets and you can hear the blatant nods to Black Sabbath, Rolling Stones, and The Velvet Underground. You certainly can’t argue with the musical tastes of Saint Laurent model Cumming, Nick Livlen, and Jacob Farber. “We’ve been music fans our whole lives,” Cumming states, “All of our parents showed us where rock music started out, and that influenced our lives a lot. I think what’s interesting is that all of these bands were as relevant to us as children as they were to our parents. One of the reasons we do what we do is we want to keep rock and roll alive.”

They formed the moody psychedelic rock band two years ago when they were teenagers in an attempt to save the music world from electronic dance music. This stems from a trip to a rainy EDM festival they experienced when they first started out. Cumming acknowledges her poor psychologist skills, but recalls her impressions of the festival’s audience. “People go these festivals to take drugs and get away from reality,” she says, “[EDM] is more about escapism than experience, and that’s okay to have that experience. It doesn’t really work for us. It will be interesting if future generations will find it touching later on. … There’s an improvisational element to playing instruments; even the possibility of musicians making mistakes is really interesting. It’s just a different thing.” JASON KEIL

Fishbone – Thursday, June 23 – The Rebel Lounge

With seemingly every alternative rock band of note reunited to dolefully tour the classics, Los Angeles band Fishbone remains a vital exception to the "play the hits" rule. For 33 years, the group has experimented and evolved, incorporating influences including ska, punk, hardcore, psychedelic rock, soul, funk, reggae, and jazz into a varied and uncompromisingly diverse discography. The band hasn't released solely flawless records, but it's never failed to issue interesting ones.

"That's part of the legacy of the band," bassist and founding member John Norwood Fisher explains. "The minute we stagnate and become a band that just goes over where we've been ... maybe that's okay at some point, but I'm just not there yet. I'm trying to figure out: What haven't we done? What can keep the vibe fresh?" Fishbone's latest, 2014's Intrinsically Intertwined EP, opens with "Unstuck," a song that ranks among the group's best. Under soulful vocals by Angelo "Dr. Madd Vibe" Moore, the band churns a progressive, knotty reggae groove with touches of jazz fusion, funky time changes, and double-bass drum work. Moore sings of the "phone that rings within," employing beautifully anachronistic gospel idiom. "Unstuck" represents the best of Fishbone; more than three decades in, they're still exploring new sounds. JASON P. WOODBURY

George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic – Friday, June 24 – Marquee Theatre

There are those who believe there's nothing left to say about funkmaster-general George Clinton and his rhythmic traveling freak show. Balderdash! How about the fact that black Republican congressman J.C. Watts once revealed in a televised interview with Chris Rock that he has no idea who Clinton is? Or how about the time Clinton joined forces with porn star Shayla LeVeaux on a song called "Spanka-Vision," on an album called Deep Porn, a collection of rap and dance tracks featuring vocals from the adult-film industry's top moaners and groaners? Betcha didn't know that! See, there's always something about George Clinton worth discussing. And even if you do run out of things to say, you can always point out that the world wouldn't be as funky as it is without him. CRAIG D. LINDSEY

Pity Sex – Saturday, June 25 – The Rebel Lounge

The joys of Michigan’s Pity Sex are in the details; the quartet’s ostensibly easy-to-tag emo/indie template is in fact strewn with shards of self-examining shoegaze and down-tempo punk. Debut album Feast of Love, released in 2013, kicks off like melancholy, melodic early Weezer (“Wind Up”), but the record’s guitar tones soon get Smashing Pumpkins–gritty and Brennan Greaves’ lurking vocals become downright maudlin (“Sedated”). Pity Sex’s all-trumping curve ball is when second singing guitarist Britty Drake chimes in, her glacial timbre transforming the band from bedroom introspection to outdoorsy, borderline folksy escapism (“Hollow Body”). And when Greaves and Drake trade off, as on the relatively boisterous “Drown Me Out,” Pity Sex truly becomes its own animal — curled-up and comfy, but with massive, serrated teeth. PAUL ROGERS

Cage the Elephant 
 Sunday, June 26  Gila River Arena

Eight years ago, Cage the Elephant’s “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” became the song of the summer. Ridiculously, almost annoyingly catchy in its raw, twangy affectation, it turned up everywhere from the insanely hyped video game Borderlands to an episode of Jersey Shore. With so much instant success off of a debut, rising bands often lose too much steam to overcome the sophomore slump. But here we are, nearly a decade later, and the Kentucky-based band is on its fourth studio album, last year's Tell Me I’m Pretty. Produced by The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, whose flair for the vintage and obscure has imprinted itself on such albums as Ray Lamontagne’s Supernova and Lana Del Rey’s Ultraviolence, the album’s unexpected pairing makes for a captivating (and less annoyingly catchy) listen. ARTEMIS THOMAS-HANSARD

King Khan and the Shrines – Thursday, June 28 – Crescent Ballroom

It's hard to tell who King Khan is channeling when he gets on stage. James Brown comes to mind first, as does Screamin' Jay Hawkins. He sings about the important things: Mainly sex, food and rock 'n' roll. Also, the man has style and is known to perform in a satin cape, gold glitter blouse, and feathered headdress. Yes, he wears a blouse and he doesn't give a fuck.

It seems like King Khan and his eight-piece Shrines have been perpetually on the road, and are still fueled by the psych-soul voodoo that is their music, and possibly something otherworldly, too. First and foremost, they're a dance party band, and they tend to get the crowd all lathered up with their songs, which boasts distorted notes matching Khan's psycho-howl with ease, or antics, which include Khan putting his cape up to his face and striking various band members with his voodoo hand. Somewhere, Screamin' Jay was no doubt watching on and grinning. AUDRA SCHROEDER

Squirrel Nut Zippers – Thursday, June 30 – Marquee Theatre

Perhaps the best way to describe the Squirrel Nut Zippers is to clear up what they aren't. They didn’t belong to the late '90s neo-swing movement that consisted of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, or other like-styled rockers-turned-zoot-suit-rioters. Nor did they fall into the Vegas show band, cocktail nation, No Depression, or jazz camps. Instead, what the Zippers embodied both back then and still today is a savory, southernized gumbo of all those elements minus any overt nostalgia, homage, or camp.

As for the band members themselves, a line from one of their early songs could double as their performing impetus over the decades: "If it's good enough for granddad, then it's good enough for me." Apparently, it was also good enough for their fanbase way back when, who helped made the Zippers' "Hell" – a rumba-and-calypso tour of Satan's domain – 1997's most unlikely radio hit. BOB RUGGIERO

Editor's note: This blog was updated since its original publication with additional show details.
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