It’s definitely going to be a contender, though, considering the sheer number of big concerts happening from now until May 31.
A huge crop of legendary artists and bands have shows scheduled in the Valley over the next four weeks, including Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, “Weird Al” Yankovich, MGMT, Khalid, Justin Timberlake,Franz Ferdinand, James Taylor, Phantogram, Of Montreal, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and Melvins.
Add in this year’s FORM Arcosanti just north of the Valley, pool party season kicking into high gear, and a variety of even more choice gigs and you get a month that’s packed with activity.
Details about each of these shows can be found in our rundown of the best concerts in the Valley this month. And for even more music events happening around town, check out Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar.
Wednesday, May 2
Talking Stick Resort Arena
Whether he’s bringing sexy back or has his dick in a box — two unrelated events — Justin Timberlake is easy to love. The pop icon built his current success on the foundation of his early career, during which he acted on shows like The All-New Mickey Mouse Club and served as one-fifth of the ’90s boy-band phenomenon NSYNC.
Timberlake’s new tour is in support of his new release, Man of the Woods. It’s yet another effort that has proved that his fans love him. It debuted at No. 1, falling into that top spot just like his last three full-lengths did. On this newbie, the cover features a less flashy J.T. The singer sports a beard and dark suit against a stark and snowy background. But don’t worry; he hasn’t gone full emo. There are plenty of jumpy pop-meets-R&B tunes — like the opening track, “Filthy,” and “Wave,” to name a couple.
Timberlake is getting
Wednesday, May 2
Musical Instrument Museum
Is any band in America more revered or respected than East Los Angeles roots vatos Los Lobos? The core members of this American musical treasure — David Hidalgo, Cesar Rosas, Steve Berlin, Louis Perez and Conrad Lozano — have produced 19 albums and played everywhere from an Angeleno quinceañera to Farm Aid to the White House.
Their sound spans virtually all aspects of American music, from blues, zydeco, soul, and kick-you-in-the-head rock and roll to various Latino styles, including cumbia, norteño, and Tex-Mex. Critics turn handstands whenever they drop an album, and their fans follow them like Deadheads.
It's ironic that one of the most important acts of the late 20th century is best known for its cover of "La Bamba." Their first truly significant album, 1984's T Bone Burnett-produced Will The Wolf Survive
The Lawrence Arms
Thursday, May 3
The Lawrence Arms started in 1999 when former members of the Broadways, Brendan Kelly and Chris McCaughan, decided to do a more melodic punk band focused on often startlingly detailed and personal but emotionally vibrant music that didn't wax into the melodramatic mode of
The band's earliest releases came out on respected indie label Asian Man Records, but it was 2002's Apathy and Exhaustion that propelled the group into a higher echelon of the public consciousness. Famously kicked off the Warped Tour in 2004 for making remarks critical of the festival from the stage, the Lawrence Arms continue to make poignant, melodic punk records informed by a sharp sense of humor even to this day. Tom Murphy
Friday, May 4
California-based Rogue Wave seemed poised to strike it big in the early to mid-aughts. Alongside bands like The Shins, Fruit Bats and Tapes n' Tapes, they made catchy, melodic indie rock that was infectious enough to fill midsize clubs and populate the soundtracks of iPod commercials and dramatic television shows such as The O.C. Alas, like many of the bands from that time, the group never reached the commercial heights gained by some of its contemporaries. However, despite label changes, personnel shuffles and serious health scares, the band has persevered.
With seven albums under the belt, Rogue Wave have never really stopped making music in the decade-plus since their heyday. This spring, they're touring behind the 10th anniversary of its most beloved album, Asleep At Heaven's Gate. On May at Crescent Ballroom, Rogue Wave will perform the album in its entirety and likely include other favorites from the past and present. Come for the nostalgia and catch up on what the band has been up to in the interim, as well. Jeff Strowe
Saturday, May 5
Billie Joe Armstrong knows how to put the blitzkrieg in “Blitzkrieg Bop.” The Green Day frontman and pop-punk icon debuted his new band, The Longshot, with a sudden burst of releases and a tour announcement.
After dropping a three-track EP last month, Armstrong and company released a surprise full-length record called Love is for Losers on April 20. That same day, the band announced a string of small-club tour dates, including a show at Valley Bar on Saturday, May 5.
Teaming up with guitarist Kevin Preston, drummer David S. Field, and Green Day touring guitarist Jeff Matika on bass, The Longshot is going on tour to promote the debut album. With 11 tracks clocking in at 32 minutes, it's jammed with radio-ready rock 'n' roll.
Sonically, it’s got more in common with the polished sounds Armstrong and his Green Day bandmates embraced on American Idiot than the group's scrappier early work. Ashley Naftule
Desert Daze Caravan II
Saturday, May 5
The Van Buren
Shimmery psych-pop singer-songwriter Ariel Pink delivered his 12th album last year, named after and dedicated to Bobby Jameson — an L.A. musician thought dead for 35 years until
That includes his upcoming gig headlining Desert Daze Caravan II at The Van Buren on May 5. He won’t be the only must-see act on the lineup, however, as DIIV, Nanami Ozone, Acid Mothers Temple, and Yoo Doo Right are also scheduled to perform. Diamond Victoria
Sunday, May 6
Out of all the Elephant 6 bands, who would have thought that Of Montreal would have been the one group to go the distance? Emerging from the same Athens, Georgia,
Since the breakthrough of 2007’s Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer
For the group’s 15th album, 2018’s White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood, dance music is Barnes’ muse and the engine that powers its six songs. Taking inspiration from the extended dance mixes pop stars dropped in the ’80s, Barnes shows off the
“Weird Al” Yankovic
Tuesday, May 8
Mesa Arts Center
Anyone who has seen “Weird Al” Yankovic (and yes, the quotation marks are part of the official billing) in concert knows what to expect: A string of his insanely catchy parody songs (i.e. “Eat It” “Like a Surgeon” “Smells Like Nirvana,” “Amish Paradise,” “Gump,” “Tacky”), a huge video screen, crazy light show, and costume changes. Lots of costume changes.
But for his current tour, the accordion-wielding pride of Lynwood, California, is trying something completely different: a stripped-down, no-frills production in smaller venues with a show that is made up almost entirely of his original comedy or “in the style of” non-parody songs and deep cuts.
Not surprisingly, those tunes tended to get overlooked, and he’s amassed a quantity of them over his career. Songs like “Velvet Elvis,” “Stuck in a Closet with Vanna White,” “Dare to Be Stupid,” “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota,” “My Baby’s in Love with Eddie Vedder,” and “Don’t Download This Song.”
“If they’re coming just to see the hits … they should stay home!” Yankovic says. “I’ve made no secret of what this tour is. It’s still a comedy show and it’s still enjoyable. It’s not the regular show. But there will still be that one person who yells out ‘Eat It!’” Bob Ruggiero
The Afghan Whigs
Tuesday, May 8
The Van Buren
Thom Yorke sang about feeling like a creep, but Greg Dulli has made a career out of singing about being a creep. The frontman for alt-rock veterans The Afghan Whigs, Dulli has carved out a place for himself as American rock’s resident scoundrel. He’s the closest thing the U.S. has to a Jarvis Cocker: Both singers pride themselves on being self-aware, louche playboys.
On albums like Gentlemen and Black Love, the Motown-loving Dulli steeped his “rock and corrupted soul” songs in toxic masculinity like bags of tea. He was hoisting toasts to the douchebags long before Kanye got around to it. Dulli’s voice has only gotten stronger and more resonant with age — the cockiness of youth replaced by the salty leer of an old timer who’s seen it all.
While 2014’s Do to the Beast and this year’s In Spades pale in comparison to classic Whigs joints like Gentlemen, they still stand on their own as worthy additions to the Whigs catalog. And besides, it’s a bit of unfair comparison: a lot of bands’ best work can’t measure up to Gentlemen, so who would expect the band that made the record to top it? Ashley Naftule
Tuesday, May 8
Assemble your squads, Arizona. Taylor Swift is coming to town. The singer-songwriter will kick
T-Swizz is as popular as ever these days. Her new album, Reputation, sold around 700,000 copies in the U.S. on its day of release last November, putting it on track to be Swift's fifth No. 1 album on Billboard's charts. It's an impressive feat, considering the controversy that's dogged the singer over the last year — from her feud with Kanye West blowing up in her face to the public's mixed reactions to Swift's single “Look What You Made Me Do."
But even with strong album sales, it looks like Taylor Swift still has both feet firmly planted in the pop firmament. And local fans will get a chance to bask in her full Swiftian glory this month. Ashley Naftule
Thursday, May 10
Making things obvious has just never been Hot Snakes' style. "Hi-Lites," from 2004's Audit in Progress, provides a great example of this MO in action. The song begins with a shivering, impetuous guitar line that sounds like it's desperate to break out of a confined space and go skyward. When those nimble, uneasy notes finally escape, they tear off wildly, and the rest of Hot Snakes' instruments jump in and follow this path.
Don't, however, expect Rick Froberg to try to translate the special quality of this frenetic yet weirdly subtle song into words. "I wouldn't bother," he says, “I wouldn't know how to describe it. I mean, that's the thing about playing music: You're not much with words — [otherwise] you'd be an author or something."
He sells himself short with that perspective. "Hi-Lites" reads like an abbreviated William Carlos Williams poem dedicated to city-based shut-ins who are sick of the overwhelming, garish vibes of metropolitan life. "High treble! Hi-lites!" Froberg shrieks, sounding, in a very good way, like he's a few thousand tools short of a hardware store. Reyan Ali
Friday, May 11
Rawhide Event Center
At 20 years old, not a lot of folks are thriving in their careers. But R&B singer-songwriter Khalid certainly is. In fact, the Texas native started his at age 17 and has collaborated with Logic and Calvin Harris, among others.
That's something to be proud of. His singles, "Location" and "Young Dumb & Broke,” both off of his 2017 album American Teen, have gotten a combined 649 million views on YouTube and earned him the spots on the Billboard Hot 100. That sure beats trying to figure out the whole paying for college thing. Diamond Victoria
[image-31] Franz Ferdinand
Friday, May 11
The Van Buren
While the veteran Glaswegian post-pop rock act Franz Ferdinand did their bit to reaffirm the glories of British guitar music, their output in recent times has shown an inclination to move beyond all that – and then to come back to it.
Their brand of post-punk
Since then, Franz Ferdinand has put out three studio albums, spent a year or so performing with Sparks as a supergroup called FFS, and
Friday, May 11
If The Jetsons were
TV Girl’s music sounds so playful and disorienting because of their deft sampling skills. Disembodied voices from yesteryear bob in and out of the mix, creating an anything-goes atmosphere that recalls classic sample-heavy albums like Paul’s Boutique and 3 Feet High and Rising.
On the band’s latest album, Who Really Cares, TV Girl
FORM Arcosanti 2018
Friday, May 11, to Sunday, May 13
Arcosanti in Mayer
Curated by Los Angeles band Hundred Waters, FORM Arcosanti is renowned (and sometimes poked fun at) for its experience-centered, immersive approach. Attendance is so limited they call it a "micro-festival." Participants camp — or
This year's no exception. The 2018 lineup features Chance the Rapper, Courtney Barnett, Amen Dunes, Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra, and Blood Orange.
Arts and cultural programming will include talks, workshops, outdoor activities, and art installations. Participating organizations at this year's festival will include the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Phoenix Art Museum, Palabra, and The Whole Story. More programming details will be announced in the coming weeks.
Tickets to this year's festival range from $350 for a single non-camping pass to $2,499 for a two-person patron bundle that's all-inclusive. Complete details are available via Eventbrite. Becky Bartkowski