Looking for a memorable concert to check out this week after the sun goes down? Consider any of the following eight options on our list of the best shows taking place over the next several nights, which include such acts and artists as Junior Brown, The Garden, Simian Mobile Disco, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
As always, if you're looking for even more live music happening in and around the Valley, be sure to hit up our comprehensive Phoenix concert calendar for more options.
The Good Life – Monday, June 6 – Crescent Ballroom
It was always a bit of a surprise that frontman Tim Kasher's "other band," Cursive, took off and became a critics' darling while The Good Life languished in relative obscurity. Both are great, but when The Good Life bloomed out of the then-burgeoning Omaha scene around 2000 (becoming part of the hype that swirled around Kasher, Denver Dalley, Mike and A.J. Mogis, and Conor Oberst), it couldn't have filled the bill for a post-emo indie-rock band any better.
It's been more than 15 years since the group's debut, Novena on a Nocturn, was released, and Kasher's tastes have clearly changed over time. The Good Life’s latest, Everybody’s Coming Down, is a departure if you slept through the entire decade and a half since the band started, but a pretty natural evolution otherwise. This is a rock record made by a rock band that happens to know what heartbreak is all about. Kasher just isn't wearing it on his sleeve as much as he used to. OAKLAND L. CHILDERS
Junior Brown – Monday, June 6 – Musical Instrument Museum
Teetering between corny and classic, Junior Brown bangs out a set of Americana-tinged fare that features his acclaimed double-necked plucking and baritone crooning. Bottling the essence of Tex-Mex, Western swing, and even surf music (an instrumental jog through the Johnny Rivers classic "Secret Agent Man"), Junior swerves through a varied repertoire, including ditties of red-blooded despair and road-weary humor. On tunes such as "Broke Down South of Dallas," "Party Lights," "My Wife Thinks You're Dead" and "I Hung it Up," he regales us with the perils of drinkin' all night and stayin' out late with another gal, then catching hell from your frying-pan-wielding old lady or seeing the "party lights" flashing behind you on the early-morning drive back to San Antone. A new crop of fans have discovered his body of work in recent years after the singer was tapped to perform the theme song for the Breaking Bad prequel series, Better Call Saul. And if old-school twang with a hint of borderland carnival sounds like your bottle of cerveza, then you'll appreciate the old-school mishmash of Junior Brown. NICK HUTCHINSON
The Garden – Tuesday, June 7 – Valley Bar
Twin brothers Fletcher and Wyatt Shears, who comprise the two-piece Orange County based-band The Garden, deliver a delicately balanced attack while properly embracing the constraint set by being just bass, drums, and vocals, and they do it with an aplomb that belies their tender age. Shears and Shears are definitely skilled on their instruments (Wyatt plays bass and sings and Fletcher plays drums and makes faces) and truly play some of the best genre-bending music out there right now. If you had to define The Garden, you might call them post-post punk or New Post-Punk, but even then, it's not really accurate.
The Garden has distinct qualities of punk, New Wave, no wave, (a dash of) glam, and fair amount of teen angst, even though the Shears boys aren’t teenagers anymore and refer to their sound as "Vada." Raised in a musically forward-thinking home (Dad Steve Shears drums for So-Cal punk heroes Shattered Faith and roadies for X), the twins seem to be extremely comfortable following any musical whim, although their talent and keen eye for fashion, irony, and sarcasm have shaped their musical output in a way that even the most jaded music reviewer would be reluctant to call their music "whimsical." Call it "Vada," we suppose, whatever the hell that means. TOM REARDON
Preservation Hall Jazz Band – Tuesday, June 7 – Musical Instrument Museum
There's a decrepit old building on St. Peter Street in New Orleans, located in the heart of the French Quarter, with little in the way of amenities; drinks aren't even served there. Regardless, tourists line up hours before showtime because they know that Preservation Hall is one of the few pillars of old-school New Orleans-style jazz left in the city, if not the world. The style is bouncy and upbeat, borrowing from Caribbean rhythms, and the jazz band usually includes traditional Mardi Gras songs and old standards in its sets. The rotating cast of players ranges in age from 29 to 88, and the current lineup includes Ben Jaffe, son of tuba player Allan Jaffe, who opened the hall in 1961 and played until his death in 1987. The touring-band roster is equally amorphous, but with decades of experience and a huge pool of talent and tradition to draw from — even in post-Katrina New Orleans — the group is not likely to disappoint. KURT BRIGHTON
Michael McDonald – Tuesday, June 7 – Celebrity Theatre
Blue-eyed soul veteran Michael McDonald sure likes to hang out with the rich and famous. The St. Louis native got his start playing keyboards and singing backing vocals for Steely Dan, including on their classic 1977 album, Aja. When Doobie Brothers singer Tom Johnston got sick, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees called McDonald to replace him. They liked his bellowing baritone so much, he became a permanent member of the group. In 2003, McDonald founded record label Ramp Records with the Big Lebowski himself, actor Jeff Bridges. Over the years, McDonald has also written songs or played music with Bonnie Raitt, Kenny Loggins, Carly Simon, and many others. But in a 2014 interview, McDonald said he isn't starstruck in the slightest by his big-name collaborators and finds a lot of joy in working with other big shots. DAVID ROLLAND
Los Van Van – Wednesday, June 8 – Livewire
It's not that often that a group credited with creating an entire musical genre comes to town, but Cuba's Los Van Van holds that distinction. Formed in the late '60s, Juan Formell and his troupe of conservatory-educated musicians injected the sounds of rock, funk, soul, and disco they heard on U.S. radio waves into traditional Cuban son and salsa, much the same way their Caribbean neighbors in Jamaica created ska and reggae. In the process, Los Van Van named not only themselves — the name translates as "the go-go," after the fast-paced funk subspecies — but also songo, now one of the most prevalent and influential styles in the entire Latin-music diaspora. Instantly popular on their native island and in Latin America and Europe, Los Van Van began making waves stateside in the '90s and won the 1999 Best Salsa Performance Grammy for their album Llega Van Van. Touring behind this year's aptly named Estrellas de Cuba ("Stars of Cuba"), Formell and his "Rolling Stones of Salsa" are still going strong. CHRIS GRAY
Simian Mobile Disco – Wednesday, June 8 – Crescent Ballroom
Simian Mobile Disco have been at the cutting edge of dance music since they rose to prominence as part of the proto-EDM wave of electro that hit American shores in 2007. The Justice vs. Simian track "We Are Your Friends" is one of the most definitive tracks of that whole era. Since then, members James Ford and Jas Shaw have carved a niche for themselves by moving against trends in dance music. The duo utilize analog equipment when performing their tech-house beats live. That is to say, they're actually playing instruments. That's why they're an act that so readily appeals across the spectrum to hipsters, ravers, and music nerds alike. JEMAYEL KHAWAJA
Winds of Plague – Wednesday, June 8 – Club Red
Only last year, Winds of Plague were being discussed in the past tense, with heavy-metal website MetalSucks even running a tongue-in-cheek "where are they now" on its members. Yet while the recently returned Upland sextet is much changed — half its six members are newbies, with only burly frontman Johnny Plague an original — its sonic manifesto remains muscular, macho, strep-throated deathcore distinguished by the symphonic contributions (and onstage glam) of keyboardist Alana Potocnik.
With new music still in the works, 2013's pre-resurrection Resistance remains WoP's lingering last words. It's a gathering of grandiose twin-guitar harmonizing, hardcore-esque vocals and machine-gun kick drums more workmanlike than wonderful. But as deathcore evolves into ever-more nuanced sub-strains, there's something refreshing about this straightforward, time-honored approach, which in a 2016 context begins to have some (probably inadvertent) novelty and nostalgia value. PAUL ROGERS
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