The Seven Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week

Looking for a great concert to check out this week? We've got a few suggestions for your consideration – seven of 'em, in fact, and every one of 'em is happening at music venues across the Metro Phoenix area over the next few nights. And all are worthy of both your time and money.  (For even more live music options, check out our extensively updated online concert calendar.)

Steve Vai – Monday, December 12 – Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Few people on this planet know their way around a guitar like Steve Vai. Put simply, he’s a six-string deity who’s recorded with Frank Zappa, Whitesnake, David Lee Roth, Joe Satriani and even Mary J. Blige. And according to Vai, many of these names helped mold him into the guitar god he is today. "From Joe Satriani I was two feet from genius," he says. "Same with Frank Zappa, he also taught me to be very present and always in the moment. He'd get an idea and execute. From David Lee Roth I learned to take my focus from the neck of the guitar to the audience." It's Vai's solo career, however, where he's been able to write musical compositions that allow him to noodle around the guitar like no one else. He's coming to the Valley this week to perform his most famous record, Passion and Warfare, from front to back during a gig at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts. Consider it a clinic on how to masterfully handle an ax. DAVID ROLLAND

Metalachi – Monday, December 12 – Rhythm Room
What would happen to a young Mexican American musician, who decades ago, was brought up with traditional Mariachi music, but in his teens discovered bands like Black Sabbath and the mutliverse of hard rock and heavy metal? This is where the concept for Metalachi was born, in the in the 1990s. Struggling with opposing musical genres, the band gave birth to an innovative new sound: the fusion of traditional Mexican Mariachi folk music, and the loud, wild, sleezy and decadent vibes of heavy metal. Metalachi had been blowing minds and bursting ear drums, all with a high level of musicianship, showmanship, creativity, and tongue in cheek humor. With heavy roots in Mexican culture, the band spends most of its time on the road, breaking down musical and cultural barriers one performance at a time, including its high-profile appearance on America’s Got Talent in 2015 where the band brought down the house with its rendition of the Twisted sister's classic, “We're Not Gonna Take It.” ALEX DISTEFANO

Alt AZ 93.3’s Ugly Holiday Sweater Party – Monday, December 12 – Mesa Amphitheatre
Many of the concertgoers that will flock to Mesa Amphitheatre during this annual event put on by radio station Alt AZ 93.3 are certain to be clad in ugly sweaters of some sort, considering it’s the theme and all. You might even catch any of the musicians onstage sporting some while onstage performing, including this year’s crop of acts, which includes Kings of Leon, The Head and the Heart and Band of Horses. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN

SIMS – Tuesday, December 13 – Valley Bar
Since its formation in 2011, the members of hip-hop collective Doomtree have each released their own material. For instance, the latest solo album by Minnesota-based rapper SIMS, More Than Ever, is a collection of intoxicating tracks that he wrote to recapture the excitement he felt as a 13-year-old when searching for the music featured in the skateboarding videos he watched. Working with a number of collaborators, including fellow Doomtree members Lazerbeak and Paper Tiger, SIMS constructed an eclectic album filled with entrancing synths, unrelenting drum and bass, and lyrics that reflect the artist’s search for authenticity and eloquence. There is nary a sample to be heard, which is a point of creative pride for the rapper. “I get older, and things get less exciting and dangerous,” SIMS states. “I was trying to recapture what it was like for me [at that age].” Hip-hop allows the person behind the microphone to brag about strengths and work out insecurities, and can also serve as a platform for issues of race and injustice. SIMS understands the awkwardness that can come with being a rapper, but he does not let it get in the way of expressing himself as honestly as he can. JASON KEIL

Rumer Willis – Wednesday, December 14 – Musical Instrument Museum
Look, if your only reason for buying a ticket to see Rumer Willis perform at the MIM is to catch a glimpse of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore’s kid up close, we can’t fault you. That’s probably true for a lot of people. But you may walk away with more than you bargained for, since you probably don’t know that Willis began studying opera at a music conservatory at the age of 12, has continued her classical music training ever since, and The New York Times has praised her singing, calling her a natural at delivering emotional material. She’s already impressed you once by winning Dancing With the Stars, and now Willis will attempt to do so again when she brings her Over the Love Tour to the Musical Instrument Museum. CAROLINE NORTH

Brian Setzer Orchestra – Thursday, December 15 – Celebrity Theatre
Ex–Stray Cat Brian Setzer has found life after rockabilly by stepping forward into the past with a dazzling big band that rips up the roots of swing, jazz and early rock & roll. A warmly kitschy vibe pervades the Setzer crew’s annual Christmas really-big-show, which sees the nattily dressed guitarist-singer leading a brass-heavy ensemble in a compendium of classics from decades past, plus some Stray Cats stuff and a sprinkling of Christmas standards tricked out in appropriately swingin’ settings. This is a visually spectaclar extravaganza, done up all purdy and nice on a stage strewn with Christmas trees, giant wrapped gifts, a golden arch framing vintage video clips (hot rods, sock hops, dancing Santas), and a glimmering jukebox center stage. JOHN PAYNE

Stitches – Thursday, December 15 – Pub Rock
The rise of Stitches, the Miami rapper who attracted millions of page views and huge national attention for his hit "Brick in Yo Face," provides a blueprint for modern-day hip-hop myth-making. Almost overnight, Phillip Katsabanis went from being a suburban kid known as "Lil Phill" to a bona fide gangsta rapper. Though there's scant evidence to prove his claims of being a cocaine kingpin since he hit puberty, he created a viral reality that fed on the Magic City's reputation for drugs and violence that began with Scarface's Tony Montana and continued through Rick Ross. While some of his claims are true, others seem inflated. Moreover, he recently lost some street credibility when claims surfaced that he wears fake jewelry and stages faux events like pretending to give away $10,000 to a lucky fan. Katsabanis brushes off the critics. "I don't give a damn what haters say about me," he seethes. "I know and my real fans know I am real." FRANCISCO ALVARADO & ALLIE CONTI
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