The 30 Best Concerts in Phoenix in April 2017

The 1975 is scheduled to perform on Saturday, April 22, at Mesa Amphitheatre.
The 1975 is scheduled to perform on Saturday, April 22, at Mesa Amphitheatre. Courtesy of Chuff Media
You really oughta get out and see a concert in April. Really. We happen to be in a couple of sweet spots during this time of year where the temperatures are warm, but not tortuously so, and the concert calendar is filled with gigs by great bands.

Thanks to the fact that Phoenix is on the way to one of the biggest music festivals of the year (read: Coachella), we’ve got a variety of tastemaking artists and acts passing through the Valley over the next several weeks.

We’ve also got a few blockbuster festivals of our own happening in the Valley, like the latest edition of EDM extravaganza Phoenix Lights (which is bigger than ever) and KUPD’s Brufest (which features several legendary punk and metal bands).

Both of these high-profile events are included in our rundown of the best concerts to see in Phoenix during April. Don’t take our word for it, however, and check out the list yourself.

click to enlarge Singer-songwriter Brent Cowles. - COURTESY OF DINE ALONE RECORDS
Singer-songwriter Brent Cowles.
Courtesy of Dine Alone Records

Brent Cowles – Saturday, April 1 – The Rebel Lounge
Last year was big for Brent Cowles. The singer-songwriter and former frontman of Denver’s You Me & Apollo signed to the Greater Than Collective label. He has a new EP in the works. And he traveled across the globe to Uganda as part of the Seattle Awake Music Exchange. It hasn’t always been so positive for Cowles, however. In 2014, You Me & Apollo broke up, and he felt lost for months, unsure if he would ever play music again. “It was one of the hardest things I went through,” he says. “I didn’t even know if I wanted to play music. It was like, ‘Holy shit, maybe I’m supposed to do other stuff.’” Before You Me & Apollo was a band, Cowles performed as a solo artist using that name. He eventually connected with other musicians and formed the group, playing a hybrid of roots rock and blues. Yet just months after releasing their second LP, Sweet Honey, and embarking on a national tour, You Me & Apollo suddenly decided to call it quits. At the time of that announcement, the party line was that it just wasn’t working anymore, a sentiment that Cowles corroborates. “We’re on good terms; nobody is mad at each other,” he says. “It didn’t make sense to keep going the way we were going for everybody. Everybody has their reasons, and I know I had mine.” After three months of exploring, Cowles returned to music and his solo-artist roots, realizing he would be doing himself “a disservice not to play music,” and is now just weeks from sharing his craft with people a continent and ocean away. ISA JONES

Zeke – Sunday, April 2 – Yucca Tap Room
Blind Marky Felchtone grew up in the Ozarks, where Grandpa owned a still and raised a field of corn. But for Felchtone, a rowdy guitar slinger who now calls Seattle home, backwoods Arkansas summons other golden memories: the Benton County Speedway, Schmidt value packs and a small house on cinder blocks where a greasy hillbilly named Zeke specialized in homemade ball stub acid. Ah, the simple life. With an equally simple formula for white-trash punk rock, Zeke the band continues in its eleventh year of distilling grime, muck and sweat into a highly potent, batch of biker-approved embalming fluid. Scaled down to a power trio (with drummer Donny Paycheck and bassist Diamond Jeff Matz rounding out its full-throttle sound), Zeke remains custom-built for speed. Able to clock fifteen songs in under thirty minutes, the outfit pays deafening tribute to sex, drugs and intake manifolds with equal measure — conjuring the gear-headed rumble of Gang Green, Motrhead and Alabama Thunder Pussy. And speaking of thunderous bands featuring profance references to lady parts, southern metal/psychobilly act Nashville Pussy is opening up for Zeke on its current tour. JOHN LA BRIOLA

click to enlarge Why? front man Yoni Wolf. - COURTESY OF TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS PR
Why? front man Yoni Wolf.
Courtesy of Tell All Your Friends PR
Why? – Sunday, April 2 – Crescent Ballroom
“A new love blooms on the long notes of old horns,” Yoni Wolf nasally sings at the end of “George Washington,” one of the many stellar cuts off of the latest album from Why?. That new love he’s singing about could be about the band itself. After going through a bit of a slump on their last few albums, Wolf started to sound tired on his own songs. The band’s last effort, the crowd-sourced Golden Tickets EP (where Wolf wrote songs about his most hardcore fans), sounded like the musical equivalent of a shoulder-shrug. “Fuck it, here’s some new stuff, whatever,” the EP seemed to say with every single note. Moh Lhean, their new record, isn’t just a return to form: It’s the sound of a band falling back in love with itself. Wolf sounds rejuvenated as a singer, lyricist, and composer. Reconnecting to the textured, post-rock sounds the band first tapped into on Eskimo Snow, Why? has crafted a record that packs more sonic invention and musical change-ups in its 10 tracks than most bands can put together in an entire career. It’s an album that’s so intricate and complex it’ll be a thrill to see how they pull it off live. ASHLEY NAFTULE

click to enlarge Grant Widmer and Ted Joyner of Generationals. - COURTESY OF POLYVINYL RECORDS
Grant Widmer and Ted Joyner of Generationals.
Courtesy of Polyvinyl Records
Generationals – Monday, April 3 – Valley Bar
Finding success with two different bands puts you in some pretty rarefied company. But just like Dave Grohl, Eric Clapton, and everyone in Joy Division not named Ian Curtis, Louisiana singer-guitarists Grant Widmer and Ted Joyner — the core of upstart indie-pop outfit Generationals — have managed to pull off the feat. In 2005, the pair's old band, The Eames Era, scored a ubiquitous hit with the Strokes-meets-10,000 Maniacs single "Could Be Anything," which was featured on the first Grey's Anatomy soundtrack, alongside the likes of The Postal Service and Rilo Kiley. After The Eames Era called it quits in 2008, Widmer and Joyner quickly regrouped as Generationals and shifted their sonics a bit, drawing inspiration from '50s sock-hop rock, mid-'60s British Invasion jangle, California surf-pop, and the simple-and-crisp rhythms of early Cure. Con Law, the pair's impressive debut, arrived in 2009, and Generationals have followed up with a trio of even-better albums over the last few years. Melodically rich, the album's rootsy, reverb-y guitar grooves rub against effusive vocal harmonies. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERG

Social Distortion – Monday, April 3, and Tuesday, April 4 – Marquee Theatre
Aging well is remarkably difficult in the world of punk rock. (Can you imagine Sid Vicious in his 50s?) But Mike Ness of Social Distortion still has it going on. Ness continues to win the hearts of pompadour-sporting gals because he is a textbook example of the sensitive bad boy. He's broken hearts and gone to jail (face tattoos!), all the while celebrating and staring down his demons. He's a roughneck, but tender, too, able to croon with equal parts romance and danger. He's the symbol that sums Social Distortion as a whole. Over the course of a 39-year career, Social D has released seven albums, each one straddling common themes: nostalgia, the flirtatious relationship between rock and country, struggles with women and the law. The balance of bruised love songs and the band's rebellious ethos keeps attracting new fans to Social D's latest double-header shows in Tempe. The band's longevity is a benchmark for blue-collar punk 'n' roll acts like Lucero and The Gaslight Anthem. "We just got really lucky in that we've been able to [play music for a living] and it still is relevant," says guitarist Jonny "2 Bags" Wickersham. "I don't know what else I would be doing if I wasn't playing music." MELISSA FOSSUM

click to enlarge The masked men of Old 97's. - COURTESY OF ATO RECORDS
The masked men of Old 97's.
Courtesy of ATO Records
Old 97's – Wednesday, April 5 – Livewire
It’s hard to say what pioneers like Hank Williams would think of today’s country-music landscape. The hits that get played on country stations are basically just pop songs sung with a country affectation. Meanwhile, bands like Old 97’s are forced to lug around the awkward “alt-country” moniker, despite sounding a lot more like something Williams and his kind would recognize. Whatever you call it, Old 97’s main man Rhett Miller does a great job of throwing his angst and longing into his records and live shows like so much beer and vomit on a honky-tonk floor. The band’s latest, Most Messed Up, finds Miller and company at their most raw and honest — country brains with rock guts. Try finding something like that on the next Country Music Awards show. OAKLAND L. CHILDERS

click to enlarge Sasami Ashworth (left), Tabor Allen (center), and Clementime Creevy of Cherry Glazerr. - DARIA KOBAYASHI RITCH
Sasami Ashworth (left), Tabor Allen (center), and Clementime Creevy of Cherry Glazerr.
Daria Kobayashi Ritch
Cherry Glazerr – Wednesday, April 5 – Valley Bar
Not a lot of people can lay claim to being the frontwoman for their own band while also playing one on TV before they’re old enough to legally drink, but Clementine Creevy can. Creevy is the frontwoman for Cherry Glazerr; she also played the frontwoman for Glitterish, the fake rock band on Transparent. Creevy started writing songs, released a tape on Burger Records, and formed a band before she left high school. As the lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist for the group, her sensibilities are all over Cherry Glazerr’s work. Their music is spiky, punchy, and full of hooks. Their lyrics run the gamut from being goofy and food-obsessed (like their ode to grilled cheese sandwiches on their last album) to being thoughtful explorations of gender solidarity (the thunderous “Told You I’d Be With The Guys,” the lead-off track on their new album). Now signed to Secretly Canadian, Cherry Glazerr has recently dropped Apocalipstick, a stellar rock album that’s going to be hard for any other band in 2017 to top. It still features Creevy’s soft, girlish voice, but now backs it up with fuzzy riffs, stomping drums, and a fiercer attitude. They’ve traded in their Go-Go’s albums for Black Sabbath. And while their songs still pack their share of jokes and junk food love, they’ve also got bite. Cherry Glazerr has become a poppy garage rock band that’s not afraid to give you tinnitus. ASHLEY NAFTULE

Singer-songwriter Gaby Moreno. - JOSE LEON
Singer-songwriter Gaby Moreno.
Jose Leon
Gaby Moreno – Thursday, April 6 – Musical Instrument Museum
Gaby Moreno is that rare songwriter from Guatemala who’s crossed over into mainstream success in the United States. She sings in English and Spanish, and her music is an ebullient blend of R&B, jazz, blues and folk. Her songs are flexible enough to work as straightforward singer-songwriter pop and also to be twisted into rootsy Americana, as in “Illusion,” the delicate, fanciful title track off her latest album, which she’s performed on A Prairie Home Companion as a rustic ballad alongside bluegrass mandolinist Chris Thile. “All I have are these daydreams until he comes back to me,” Moreno coos reverentially, even as she drops playful references to Gandhi and Jean-Luc Godard. “Life’s a despairing illusion,” she confides, her voice trailing off sweetly into the night sky. FALLING JAMES

click to enlarge The members of Bring Me the Horizon. - COURTESY OF EPITAPH RECORDS
The members of Bring Me the Horizon.
Courtesy of Epitaph Records
Bring Me the Horizon – Friday, April 7 – Comerica Theatre
Bring Me the Horizon share more than just a hometown with Def Leppard. Like Leps in the 1980s, the Sheffield, England, quintet have morphed from midlevel heavy metal contender to arena-intended, major-label, mainstream juggernaut. To milk the comparison still further, BMTH’s 2015 fifth album, That’s the Spirit, is Leppard’s Pyromania two decades on, with both records releasing their makers from any prior metal obligations and, with massive injections of studio-savvy gloss, into much more open-to-adventure “rock band” status. That’s the Spirit is metalcore meets Fall Out Boy, with anthemic melody and electro-flecked variety pushing brute power into the wings and the songs themselves into the spotlight. Florida’s returned Underoath were a high watermark of the screamo subgenre and, with their genre-defining call-and-response clean/screamed vocals and classic lineup both intact, feel more like “special guests” than mere “support.” PAUL ROGERS

Tsuyama Atsushi of Acid Mother Temple. - FRANCISCO MONTES
Tsuyama Atsushi of Acid Mother Temple.
Francisco Montes
Acid Mothers Temple – Friday, April 7 – Valley Bar
Acid Mothers Temple continue waving their freak flag pretty high on their most recent crop of albums, the curiously named Astrorgasm from the Inner Space, Benzaitenm and last year's Wake to a New Dawn of Another Astro Era. The Japanese psychedelic rockers have always been led by guitarist Kawabata Makoto through a seemingly endless series of side projects and permutations, from their mid-1990s beginning, when they were influenced by the spacey, minimalist collages of Krautrock, to their more recent opuses, which sound like a dozen Jimi Hendrix albums crushed by a trash compactor. Makoto's unfurling melodies and streaking contrails of guitar are amped up further by his bandmates' surges of synthesizer and trippy noises of unknown origin, culminating in a crescendo of head-spinning, psychedelic madness. FALLING JAMES

click to enlarge Attendees of last year's Phoenix Lights festival at Hance Park. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Attendees of last year's Phoenix Lights festival at Hance Park.
Benjamin Leatherman
Phoenix Lights 2017 – Saturday, April 8, and Sunday April 9 – Hance Park
Carbon-based life forms of the Valley, be warned: the phenomenon known as the Phoenix Lights will once again invade our city in early April, bringing with it an otherworldly aura and an array of colorful beings into our midst. But before you start stocking up on ammunition or looking into alien abduction insurance, it bears mentioning that we aren't necessarily referring to the unidentified triangular-shaped array of lights that appeared over Arizona exactly 20 years ago, but rather the local electronic dance music festival it inspired, Phoenix Lights. As with its two previous editions, the outdoor EDM event will bring thousands of dance music fanatics to downtown Phoenix when it returns for a close encounter of the third kind. And, by the way, it’s gotten a major upgrade and expansion, as it will featre three stages and more than 50 dance music artists, producers, and DJs. The 2017 lineup includes Above & Beyond, Alesso, Tiesto, 21 Savage, Griz, STS9, Vince Staples, Zeds Dead, ZHU, Bro Safari, Cashmere Cat, Illenium, Justin Martin, Keys N Krates, Lane 8, Oliver Heldens, Pete Tong, and dozens more. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN

click to enlarge A Perfect Circle is finally releasing its new album later this year. No, really. - COURTESY OF SPEAKEASY PR
A Perfect Circle is finally releasing its new album later this year. No, really.
Courtesy of Speakeasy PR
A Perfect Circle – Monday, April 10 – Comerica Theatre
Though each of Maynard James Keenan's various projects is informed by hard rock, they're most notable for how they subvert the formula. A former art school student, Keenan has demonstrated particular interest in music's visual and performance aspects, as he's been a trailblazer with everything from Tool's distinctive videos to the iconoclastic variety shows of his recent project, Puscifer. A Perfect Circle is a stepping stone in that evolution, exploring an epic theatrical vibe that — despite moments of sonic intensity — relies more on subtlety and texture. Keenan formed APC in 1999 with longtime friend (and Tool guitar tech) Billy Howerdel during a Tool hiatus. His dramatic vocal style was a fine fit for Howerdel's dark, atmospheric rock tunes, which balance soaring melody against chunky rhythmic throb. While the guitars possess steely metal bite, they tease as much as they deliver, beckoning you further into the music's winding environs. After two original albums and a covers disc, APC went on hiatus in the summer of 2004, with Keenan working on Tool's 10,000 Days while Howerdel inaugurated a new project, Ashes Divide. After reforming and returning to the road in 2010, they began slowly putting together new material, which reportedly will be featured on APC’s long-awaited fourth studio album due out later this year. CHRIS PARKER

Hip-hop icon and noted vinyl fiend DJ Shadow. - DERICK DAILY
Hip-hop icon and noted vinyl fiend DJ Shadow.
Derick Daily
DJ Shadow – Tuesday, April 11 – Marquee Theatre
Long hailed as one of the untouchable patriarchs in the storied past of hip-hop royalty, producer, DJ, and vinyl archivist DJ Shadow has been responsible for some of the most innovative music that the genre has seen over the course of his nearly 30-year career. These days, he’s currently in the midst of touring the United States behind his most recent release, last year’s The Mountain Will Fall, which was lauded by a number of critics. Shadow's place in hip-hop is as unique as it is important: While he is a staunch proponent of new sounds and artistic innovation, he is often cited as one of hip-hop's champions of "the way it was," creating much of his music from samples coming from his notoriously extensive record collection. NIC HERNANDEZ

click to enlarge The members of The Head and the Heart. - JAMES MINCHIN
The members of The Head and the Heart.
James Minchin
The Head and the Heart – Wednesday, April 12 – Marquee Theatre
As Josiah Johnson of Seattle's folk-rock sextet the Head and the Heart describes it, the band has evolved from bright and sunny to darker and deeper. "The first record was very optimistic, 'Follow your heart,' and the second was 'Even if you follow your heart, there are going to be some rough spots," says Johnson, who formed the band out of a songwriting partnership with Virginia native Jonathan Russell. At first, it was open mic performances, and one by one, Johnson and Russell collected bandmates and built a following around Seattle, fans drawn by the instinctive three-part harmonies and captivating, inspirational songwriting. "There was this period of time when we first started, and that carried over to when we recorded the first album when we weren't particularly great, but there as a magic vibe, a purity to the first record, which I really love," Johnson says. The self-released, self-titled album made the band a local favorite in music-hungry Seattle and caught the attention of indie institution Sub Pop, which re-released the record in 2011 and sold nearly 300,000 copies. The heavy touring that followed helped shape the band in different ways, leading to the world-weariness that underscores their follow-up album, 2013’s Let's Be Still. They’ve brightened up a bit, as evidenced by the poppy feel of their most recent LP, last year’s Signs of Light. ERIC SWEDLUND

click to enlarge The boys of Glass Animals. - NEIL KRUG
The boys of Glass Animals.
Neil Krug
Glass Animals – Thursday, April 13 – Comerica Theatre
The success of Glass Animals’ 2014 debut album, Zaba, is, in the words of fellow British rocker Nigel Tufnel, a mystery that's "best to leave … unsolved." Through a curious blend of tribal percussion, casually psychedelic lyrics and a transverse connection to both modern rock and electronica, Glass Animals achieves an impressive sonic iconography. Its style is unique and recognizable, and with last year’s How To Be a Human Being, the band proved not to be a fluke. Rather than falling in line with the pop-washed and exhaustive appropriation of genres, Glass Animals combines a few unusual sublunary musical influences to create a sound that is primal and different. Beats ranging from glacial to urgent in tempo bait fluid synths and bewitching vocals. The result is an atmosphere of revelry, one that is trippy, green and playfully sordid. Indeed, How To Be a Human Being maintained Glass Animals’ propensity for percussive rampage and cerebral passage, but more important, it sounds like a lot of fun. Organic, playful and vulnerable, the album helped prove Glass Animals' staying power. STEPHANIE GREY
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