Things to Do

Best Phoenix Concerts This Weekend: Apocalyptica, PUP, Ron Pope

Apocalyptica is scheduled to perform on Friday, April 15, at The Van Buren.
Odyssey Music
Apocalyptica is scheduled to perform on Friday, April 15, at The Van Buren.
This weekend in the Valley, you can watch Apocalyptica play heavy metal hits on cellos, attend a free outdoor show by post-hardcore band Escape the Fate, or get an early start to your 4/20 festivities at Buds-A-Palooza.

Other options for metro Phoenix concertgoers from Friday, April 15, to Sunday, April 17, include singer-songwriter Beth Hart paying tribute to Led Zeppelin, as well as gigs by prog-rock legend Alan Parsons, black metal band Behemoth, and indie rocker Ron Pope.

Details about each of these shows and events can be found below. And for even more live music happening around the Valley, visit Phoenix New Timesonline concert listings.

Rittz at Aura

Rittz, an unforgettable performer who is set to perform at Tempe nightclub Aura, 411 South Mill Avenue, on Friday, April 15, is named after the Nabisco cracker, a self-deprecating jab at himself for being a white rapper and also his outstanding long, curly Ritz-colored hair and beard. Rittz first broke into the national hip-hop scene with help from Tech N9ne's independent music label Strange Music back in 2013, when he dropped his debut album, The Life and Times of Jonny Valiant, and the song “Switch Lanes." With catchy beats and a rapid style, he garnered critical attention starting in 2014 with some of his most popular songs yet, such as “In My Zone" and “Bounce,” on his album Next to Nothing. He’s released six more full-length albums since then, as well as his 2021 EP S.O.S. Tickets for his gig at Aura, which starts at 8 p.m., are $25. Fellow rappers Grieves and Trizz provide support. Morgan Bia
click to enlarge Reggae rock band Passafire will co-headline Buds-A-Palooza. - MINT TALENT GROUP
Reggae rock band Passafire will co-headline Buds-A-Palooza.
Mint Talent Group

Buds-A-Palooza at Fifth and Garfield streets

While it isn't actually happening on 4/20, Buds-A-Palooza is a celebration of that weed-tastic date. This block party is just taking advantage of the opportunity to throw down on a weekend night — Friday, April 15. Bud's Glass Joint is a local head shop and the host of this event — along with presenting sponsors Trulieve + Harvest — that takes over Fifth Street, just south of Roosevelt Street, in downtown Phoenix. The soiree starts right at, come on — you know what we're gonna say — 4:20 p.m. The four city blocks Buds-A-Palooza spans will be loaded, so to speak, with plenty to do. Inhale deeply and prepare to eat, drink, and be entertained. When it comes to the latter, the live band lineup mixes national acts Passafire and Tomorrows Bad Seeds with locals, including The Nutter Tut Band, Snailmate, The Phoenix Funkeros, and the man who is probably Phoenix's weediest performer, HotRock SupaJoint. Tickets are $20 to $25. Amy Young

Apocalyptica at The Van Buren

The deep, cavernous sounds of the cello are perfect for heavy metal. They can be dark and brooding. They provide a nice, long bass sound that's a perfect backup to songs about sadness and destruction. They can also give a band that extra foundation underneath the sounds of guitars and drums to create more energy in a song. The cello can be found in the discography of almost all the great rock and metal acts. Metallica, System of a Down, Arcade Fire, Nirvana — they all have at least one song that uses the massive string instrument. The trend is so popular that cello metal has become a subgenre.

The undisputed pioneers of the genre are Apocalyptica, the Finnish orchestral rock group of classical musicians with a special love for metal who turned something they did for fun 29 years ago into a trend. Their success has earned them chart-topping songs and albums, and they've been able to perform and collaborate with some of the biggest rockers and metalheads. Apocalyptica’s latest tour comes to the Van Buren, 401 West Van Buren Street, on Friday, April 15. Doors are at 6:30 p.m. and Lacuna Coil opens. Tickets are $36 to $60. Danny Gallagher
click to enlarge Adam “Nergal” Darski of Behemoth. - FACTOR METAL/CC BY 2.0/FLICKR
Adam “Nergal” Darski of Behemoth.
Factor Metal/CC BY 2.0/Flickr

Behemoth at Marquee Theatre

Behemoth Hailing from Poland, Behemoth formed in 1991 and earned a local following as a traditional black metal band, with early themes of Nordic Paganism and the occult and is led by vocalist and guitarist Adam “Nergal” Darski. Merging the mysticism and image of black metal with the force, precision and brutality of death metal, the band kept true to its lyrical content which explored ancient anti-Christian themes, as well as other Satanic philosophies.

They’ve put out 11 records over three decades, including such key releases as Satanica (1999), Thelma6 (2000), and The Apostasy (2007). The band almost dissolved when Nergal was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010, but after a long recovery, they’re still performing and the music hasn’t gotten any less evil in sound. Behemoth is currently touring alongside Swedish melodic death metal band Arch Enemy and U.K. grind legends Napalm Death and are scheduled to perform on Saturday, April 16, at Marquee Theatre, 730 North Mill Avenue in Tempe. Doors are at 5:30 p.m. and Unto Others opens. Tickets are $34 to $64. Alex Distefano
click to enlarge The legendary Alan Parsons. - DANNY ZELISKO PRESENTS
The legendary Alan Parsons.
Danny Zelisko Presents

Alan Parsons Live Project at Celebrity Theatre

Alan Parsons became a household name around the world via the succession of gold and platinum albums that began with Tales of Mystery and Imagination in 1976, which were credited to The Alan Parsons Project. Although his partnership with co-founder Eric Woolfson ended in the ’90s, it did allow for us to finally enjoy the music the duo made in concert, starting with a 1995 European tour. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you ... The Alan Parsons Live Project. “I do wish we’d done it sooner; the circumstances weren’t right,” Parsons told Phoenix New Times in 2018. “Eric wasn’t interested in touring, and it was only [when] we parted company after making the Freudiana album [a rock opera about Sigmund Freud] and all the legal wrangles that ensued after that, that we decided to put another band together to support another album that year called Try Anything Once [Parsons’ first solo album].” The project brings its prog-rock masterpieces to Celebrity Theater, 440 North 32nd Street, on Saturday, April 16. Start time is 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $35 to $125. Serene Dominic
click to enlarge You won't break the bank paying for Escape the Fate's concert on Saturday. - BETTER NOISE MUSIC
You won't break the bank paying for Escape the Fate's concert on Saturday.
Better Noise Music

Escape the Fate at Tempe Marketplace

The funny thing about the music of Escape the Fate is that it's basically pure pop that's been gussied up with hard rock and emo trappings. Songs like "Issues" and "Gorgeous Nightmare" could easily be hits for Lady Gaga, Billie Eilish, or any other pop star. Although loud and punctuated with screams and various other metal accouterments, the songs of Escape the Fate are catchy, almost danceable little ditties. That being said, Escape the Fate should be lauded for not succumbing to the standard emo agenda. These are just four fairly normal dudes who write catchy songs and then decide to play them as loudly as possible. And this weekend, Escape the Fate will be playing their tunes at Tempe Marketplace, 2000 East Rio Salado Parkway, during a free outdoor concert on Saturday, April 16. Local band Doll Skin and Hazen will open the 7 p.m. concert, which will take place on the marketplace’s District Stage. Darryl Smyers
click to enlarge Singer-songwriter Ron Pope gets deeply personal on his latest album. - BLAIR CLARK
Singer-songwriter Ron Pope gets deeply personal on his latest album.
Blair Clark

Ron Pope at Musical Instrument Museum

Singer-songwriter Ron Pope has been compared to the likes of Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen. The fiercely independent, brutally candid indie rocker has racked up quite a few accolades over the past decade and a half, drumming up a dedicated fanbase along the way. The birth of his daughter in 2018 and a near-death experience the following year led to some of Pope's most sincere, heartfelt songs to date, which made their way onto his most recent album, 2020’s Bone Structure. The Georgia-born, Nashville-based rocker is scheduled to perform at the Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 East Mayo Boulevard, at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 16. Tickets are $35.50 to $46.50. Matthew Keever
click to enlarge The punkers of PUP. - VANESSA HEINS
The punkers of PUP.
Vanessa Heins

PUP at The Van Buren

Toronto punk band PUP aren’t named for a small dog. The group’s moniker is an acronym for “Pathetic Use of Potential,” which is how singer/frontman Stefan Babcock’s grandmother described his career choice when the band formed in 2010. Born out of the same thriving scene that produced Fucked Up and Metz, PUP cut their teeth opening for other bands and taking midday slots on the now-defunct Warped Tour. The band’s 2019 album, Morbid Stuff, was a breakthrough in many ways. Considered to be a major step up from the band’s previous work, but it’s most notable for the lyrical deep dive Babcock takes into the darkest recesses of his despondency.

And their new release, The Unraveling of PUPTheBand, mines similarly gloomy territory, albeit with a wink. It's a concept album of sorts, wherein PUP satirically grapples with self-loathing and their possible implosion as a band across 12 hooky songs laden with self-deprecation, neurosis, and meta-humor. You’ll hear more than a few cuts from the album when they come to The Van Buren, 401 West Van Buren Street, on Saturday, April 16. Sheer Mag and Pinkshift open the 8 p.m. show. Tickets are $25 in advance, $28 at the door. James Biagiotti
click to enlarge Singer-songrwiter Beth Hart. - GREG WATERMANN
Singer-songrwiter Beth Hart.
Greg Watermann

Beth Hart at Orpheum Theatre

Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Beth Hart, who's toured the world with Jeff Beck and Buddy Guy, takes her yen for blues and rock icons a step further in February when she released A Tribute to Led Zeppelin. The 12-song cover album features Hart making like Robert Plant and lending her vocals to such classics as Kashmir," "Stairway to Heaven," and "The Rain Song." Hart’s touring behind the project with a backing band and is scheduled to perform at 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 16, at the Orpheum Theatre, 203 West Adams Street. Tickets are $42 to $52. Benjamin Leatherman

Paul Gurvitz and the Acoustic Army at The Rhythm Room

You may or may not have heard Paul Gurvitz, despite the fact he’s had a storied career in rock music. Along with his brother, Adrian Gurvitz, the guitarist and singer played with Ginger Baker in The Baker Gurvitz Army and later with Moody Blues' timekeeper and poetry slammer in The Graham Edge Band. Y'see, back in the excessive '70s when even drummers put out solo albums, they needed frontmen to ensure you wouldn't get a whole album of "Toad," and that required hiring U.K. journeymen like Paul Gurvitz, who had U.K. chart success in Gun and The Knack, which didn't record "Banana Man" or "My Sharona." His current band, Paul Gurvitz and the Acoustic Army, plays the Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School Road, on Sunday, April 17. Simon PC Frost and Nina Curri share the bill. Doors are at 6 p.m. and tickets are $10. Serene Dominic