Top 5 Metro Phoenix Concerts This Weekend

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Hear that? It's the clock counting down the hours until your weekend begins and it's nearing the magic moment known as quitting time. To help the time pass more quickly, you might consider what it is you'll actually be doing during the next couple days and nights of work-free bliss.

Luckily, if you're in the mood to get in a live show or two, there are more than a few options to choose from over the next 72 hours (eyeball our extensive online concert calendar for proof of such). And then there are our choices for the must-see shows this weekend.

Viva PHX - Friday, March 7 - Downtown Phoenix

Austin has South by Southwest, San Francisco has Outside Lands, Manchester, Tennessee has Bonnaroo, and locally, now there's Viva Phoenix.

Viva Phoenix: A Downtown Music Festival is the Valley's latest all-encompassing music festival. Last December, there was the disjointed True Music Festival, and the McDowell Mountain Music Festival has been around for years, but Viva PHX offers a refreshing approach. Instead of a one-stage event with a seemingly haphazard smattering of acts, Viva PHX features 75 artists -- half of them local -- cramming into 15 genre-specific venues all within walking distance of each other on a single night in downtown Phoenix.

"The struggle is to figure out who to go check out. That will be a lot of people's biggest problem," jokes Charlie Levy, creator of Viva PHX and Crescent Ballroom and Stateside Presents owner. "But 90 percent of the venues are within one block of each other. You can see one type of music at one venue, then walk one block and see another type of music. You can listen to three songs, then go hear another band. It makes it easy because everything is so close. What's not to love about that?"

Diversity is the key to Viva PHX. With 75 bands, virtually every genre and sub-genre is covered, from alternative country to folk, Latin jazz to funk, stoner rock to garage, indie pop to psychedelic, hip-hop to rap, electronica to dance and, well, you get the idea. -- Glenn BurnSilver

Click here to read more coverage of Viva PHX

Nicole Atkins - Saturday, March 8 - MIM Musical Theatre

Dream pop was never any dreamier than on Nicole Atkins' 2007 debut album, Neptune City, an ambivalent Valentine to her fading Neptune, N.J., hometown. Her voice soared grandly over the ruined seascape like a reincarnated Cass Elliot's, and she neatly positioned herself to be the next great modern '60s-pop diva à la Rachael Nagy or Amy Winehouse. But Atkins tossed that style aside and went in a harder, more spacey direction on her second LP, 2011's Mondo Amore, working with the brilliant guitar soothsayer Irina Yalkowsky and wrapping her vocals inside even more sublime settings.

Atkins describes her new album, Slow Phaser, as a "dark, desert disco rock album." She's like a funky-but-chic Chrissie Hynde lying on a Giorgio Moroder bed of electronics on "Girl You Look Amazing," but her singing retains its trademark allure on noirish passages such as "Who Killed the Moonlight." Among her latest revelations: "In the gutter, you discover all the things you miss" and "The only dress I wear is my shadow on the wall." -- Falling James

Pete Tong - Saturday, March 8 - Monarch Theatre

If you know a thing or three about electronic dance music, no doubt you've heard of Pete Tong or listened to the highly influential DJ's popular BBC Radio 1 program, Essential Mix. At the very least, you've raged to some of the formerly neophyte EDM artists, producers, and beatsmiths whom he's helped fling into stardom over the past two decades via the internationally known show and other programs such as Essential Selection, The Big Beat, and his new iHeartRadio dance channel, Evolution.

Tong's credentials as a tastemaker are as lengthy and impressive as his talents as a selector, as he's been dropping esteemed mix albums (more than 40 by our count) for two decades and has been spinning everything from acid house and old school junglism to Balearic beats since the early '80s. The 53-year-old British expat, who famously inspired the rhyming phrase "It's all gone Pete Tong," recently relocated to L.A. and has been gigging at a slew stateside clubs as of late. His travels will bring him to Monarch Theatre, 122 East Washington Street, for a special edition of RB Deep on Saturday, March 8. Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission is $20. -- Benjamin Leatherman

Gary Numan - Saturday, March 8 - Marquee Theatre

The title of Gary Numan's excellent new record, Splinter: Songs from a Broken Mind, tells you all need to know about where the former New Wave hitmaker has been recently. "I was on medication for about two and a half years, maybe three," Numan says of his significant battle with depression. "In that time, I didn't write anything -- not a single song, as far as I can remember. It was only when I came off the tablets that my old drive came back. The old me came back, I suppose." Indeed, the "old me" is back on the hauntingly personal Splinter, a record as dark, spooky, and brilliant as anything in Numan's solo catalog, which dates back to 1979's The Pleasure Principle and the smash single "Cars." Fans of vintage Numan, still possessing one of the more distinctive voices in rock, will be happy to hear he mixes up his shows quite a bit. "I choose songs that are still relevant from the older catalog [and] that work well beside the newer ones, to try and keep the entire set powerful and aggressive." -- Tom Reardon

Dum Dum Girls - Sunday, March 9 - Crescent Ballroom

Dee Dee Penny, founder and frontwoman of Dum Dum Girls, is known for her shy disposition. She's probably also tired of hearing about it in the press, but only one second into our phone call, it's obvious how reserved, quiet, and thoughtful she is. The way she speaks is absolutely charming, and it translates well into the shoegaze-y dream-pop band she leads.

Dum Dum Girls' recently released record, Too True, is a slight departure from the band's other two LPs and four EPs, with its darker vibe (think Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Jesus and Mary Chain) and dance-y rhythms.

"An artist like [Madonna] or David Bowie or Primal Scream have shifted what they do drastically from record to record," Penny tells me, citing Madonna's pop influence on her from a young age. "I think, on this record, I was keen to do something more upbeat, danceable, [and with a] pop aesthetic, in as much as that makes sense in the Dum Dum Girls world."

Too True marks the fifth release the Girls employed the talent of producer Richard Gottehrer, noted for his work with Blondie and The Go-Go's and his role in writing "I Want Candy" as a member of The Strangeloves. Penny's working relationship with Gottehrer started when he tweaked her bedroom recordings and oversaw post-production on what later would become the band's debut, I Will Be.

-- Troy Farah

Read our full story on Dum Dum Girls

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