Suffering from a little cabin fever after spending all of your free time indoors lately? Can’t say we blame you, considering the average temperature outdoors is around 108 degrees these days.
It might do you a bit of good to get out of the house, however, and we’ve got several reasons for you to do so. And before you ask, none of 'em have anything at all to do with stalking the streets looking for Pokémon.
Here are our picks for the eight best concerts happening in Phoenix this week. If you’re looking for even more live music options, be sure to check out our extensive online concert calendar.
Jill Scott — Monday, July 25 – Mesa Arts Center
Jill Scott confirmed her status as one of R&B’s leading ladies when her 2011 album, The Light of the Sun, went to No. 1 on the Billboard 200, powered by her hit duet with Anthony Hamilton, “So In Love.” It was a long climb to the top for the Philadelphia native and co-author of the Roots’ “You Got Me,” although it’s Erykah Badu’s voice you hear on the group's 1999 hit. However, the next year’s debut, Who Is Jill Scott? — produced by another Philly legend, DJ Jazzy Jeff himself — answered that question resoundingly: a confident, funny singer, gifted both verbally and vocally, who seamlessly incorporated her background as a spoken-word poet even as her music flowed freely between jazz, classic soul, hip-hop, funk, and gospel. Also an actress who has appeared in everything from Broadway plays, Tyler Perry movies and the lead role in HBO’s The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Scott jumped from Warner Bros. to Atlantic for last year’s Woman, but fans didn’t seem to mind the switch — or the four-year layoff — when it became her second No. 1 album in a row. CHRIS GRAY
Modest Mouse – Monday, July 25 – Comerica Theatre
The guys in Modest Mouse have followed their own stubbornly idiosyncratic path since 1992, when singer Isaac Brock put the band together in Issaquah, Washington. Unlike other groups from the Pacific Northwest, Modest Mouse have always seemed unaffected by grunge, garage rock, and other regional trends. Instead, Brock and his ever-evolving lineups — which in the past have included the Smiths’ Johnny Marr and the Helio Sequence’s Benjamin Weikel — have never settled long in one sonic space. On their latest album, Strangers to Ourselves, the band sweeps back and forth from pointedly quirky, Talking Heads–style New-Wave funk (“The Ground Walks, With Time in a Box”) to celestial dream-pop (“Of Course We Know”) and hip-hop-flavored psychedelia (“Shit in Your Cut”). Perhaps Brock is just being, ahem, modest when he claims, “Pack up again/Head to the next place, where we’ll make the same mistakes.” New York-based Brand New, who just released the single “I Am A Nightmare,” co-headlines. FALLING JAMES
Crowbar & Carcass – Monday, July 25 – Club Red
While these British metal legends lay dormant from their 1995 breakup to their 2008 reunion, hundreds of bands took inspiration from their influential work. Goregrind wannabes slavishly mimicked the blood-and-guts mayhem of Carcass’ early work on albums such as their 1988 debut, Reek of Putrefaction. Pretenders to the melodic death-metal throne cribbed intricate riffs from the guitar harmonies on the band’s 1993 landmark album, Heartwork. In 2013, their reunion finally culminated in a new Carcass album, Surgical Steel. The record reinforced the group’s legacy as purveyors of a unique brand of metal. Songs such as “Thrasher’s Abattoir” and “Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System” melded the spectacular guitar harmonies of Heartwork with some of the band’s goriest lyrics since the early days. It was as if the previous 18 years of mediocre pretenders had never happened. JASON ROCHE
Twenty One Pilots – Tuesday, July 26 – Talking Stick Resort Arena
Twenty One Pilots have officially become a force in the music industry with their fourth studio album, Blurryface. It debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in March of this year, moving nearly 150,000 copies in the U.S. in its first week. As the band grows in the wake of their newfound success, vocalist Tyler Joseph and percussionist Josh Dun hope to preserve their intimate and energetic routine through a combination of authenticity and vulnerability, both of which the artists have in excess.
“Since the beginning, when Tyler and I decided that we were going to play music just the two of us … Maybe it’s a small element, but there’s an element of insecurity,” Dun says. “There’s only two of us onstage, and normal bands tend to have more members. Especially as a drummer who’s downstage in front of everybody, I feel a pressure to be even more energetic, to put on even more of a show,” he adds. “I feel a little bit more exposed, and I know Tyler feels that way, too.” Both Dun and Joseph recognize their exposed state onstage and embrace it, lifting it up as flame for their emotional fire during live performances. Within that setting, they hope to connect with fans on a deeper level. MATTHEW KEEVER
Boz Scaggs – Tuesday, July 26 – Mesa Arts Center
Throughout his lengthy recording career — now clocking in at five decades — Boz Scaggs has been a tireless sonic alchemist whose output is the epitome of musical amalgamation. While best known for the blue-eyed soul and dance grooves of the monstrously successful 1976 Silk Degrees record, a casual listen to his discography also shows dips in the waters of blues, R&B, jazz, crooning, Latin, and rock styles. On his last effort, 2013's Memphis, Scaggs tapped the essence of that city with a record largely of old soul covers.
They were laid down in the city's famed Royal Recording Studios, where producer Willie Mitchell and singer Al Green did their seminal work. Scaggs continues his elegant musical meanderings, tracking mostly farther Southwest this time, in A Fool to Care, released earlier this year. The dozen songs feature covers written by Al Green, Curtis Mayfield, Huey P. Smith, members of the Band, and bluesman Jack Walroth. This one was put together at Nashville's Blackbird Studio in just four days. The material — from a funky, greasy "Rich Woman" and the torchy "Love Don't Love Nobody" to the Latin-infused "Tango on 16th Street" to the '50s balladry of the title track — covers a lot of ground, just like Scaggs himself. BOB RUGGIERO
Fitz and the Tantrums – Wednesday, July 27 – Marquee Theatre
Led by founder and frontman Michael Fitzpatrick, rock and soul stalwarts Fitz and the Tantrums burst onto the national scene in 2011 with their breakout hit, "MoneyGrabber," from their debut album, Pickin' Up the Pieces. Featuring a throwback, soulful sound build around keyboards, sax, and the exuberant vocals of Fitzpatrick and co-lead vocalist Noelle Scaggs, the band became unlikely fixtures on radio, continuing to pump out hits with their 2013 sophomore album, More Than Just a Dream, which featured the tracks "Out of My League" and "The Walker."
The third album, a self-titled LP that dropped last month on Elektra Records, features 11 new tracks, including the super-poppy lead single, "HandClap," which picks up where more modern-sounding tracks like "The Walker" left off, giving the Tantrums' R&B rhythms and soulful vocals a glossy pop sheen. The track was producted by Ricky Reed of electro-pop group Wallpaper; most of the rest of the new album features production work by Jesse Shatkin (Sia, Kelly Clarkson, Foster the People). Their upcoming Valley gig at the Marquee will also feature Arizona native and burgeoning indie pop superstar Zella Day. ANDY HERMANN
New Edition – Wednesday, July 27 – Celebrity Theatre
No self-respecting compilation of '80s and '90s R&B and New Jack Swing is anywhere near complete without the individual and collective contributions of the six men who have made New Edition such a force in urban music for the past 30 years. If you don't have one handy, that's a shame, but it should include tunes by original lead singer Bobby Brown ("My Prerogative"); his replacement Johnny Gill ("Just Got Paid"); Ralph Tresvant ("Sensitivity"); and Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, and Ronnie DeVoe, who as Bell Biv DeVoe nearly topped them all with 1993's "Poison." Filling it out is easy — just include all their group hits, from early teen-pop singles "Candy Girl" and "Mr. Telephone Man" to the more sophisticated jams of their two reunion albums, 1996's Home Again ("Hit Me Off") and 2004 sequel One Love ("Been So Long"). Serve with 30 years' worth of style, and you should be good to go. CHRIS GRAY
C.W. Stoneking – Thursday, July 28 – The Rebel Lounge
Cliché though it might be, nevertheless, it must be said that when old-time delta blues man C.W. Stoneking sings, you can hear the crackles on the ancient vinyl 78 you’re spinning. The only thing is, C.W. Stoneking didn’t make this recording, King Hokum (Level Two Music), 80 years ago. Why, this music is brand spanking new. In fact, turns out C.W. hails from the delta region of northwest Australia, where the mannish boy honed and polished, then roughed up his singular brew of 1920s whorehouse piano stylings, plank-plank hillbilly acoustic guitar ,and sandpapery vocal delivery. It’s almost shocking to hear this guy pull off this hybrid of revered American roots musics with such authenticity; you could even say it’s some real scholarly stuff, except that’d make it sound stiff and cold. Nope — while C.W.’s artful approach is not the “real deal,” it’s way far from any jive-ass white-boy blues corn, and in its sly-toned, humorous way is quite respectful of its sources, but not too respectful. JOHN PAYNE
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