Plenty to do this weekend. Check out our concert picks below, and browse our comprehensive concert calendar for many more options.
You know what usually happens when you mix hip-hop and Seinfeld, you get Chris Rock. But when downtown Phoenix based hip-hop apparel shop Coolin Out does it they wound up with Freshtivus, the best hip-hop show of the holiday season, and possibly the entire year. Legendary alt hip-hop icons Brand Nubian and Kool Keith will be heading up a lineup that features Freestyle Fellowship, Ras Kass, Artifacts, A.G. Zoolay, and way more at the new Club Red. This show marks the third month in a row that Phoenix has been able to offer up a quality hip-hop show featuring national level acts with both commercial and critical appeal, which for Phoenix, a city so often accused of being devoid of culture, is damn near a revelation.
Lord Jamar, Sadat X, and Grand Puba of Brand Nubian were instrumental in the growth of militant hip-hop and were some of the first to use hip-hop to speak on greater social issues and black empowerment. Kool Keith, the self proclaimed creator of horrorcore and pornocore, is an all-around pioneer in the industry, blazing an odd trail for rappers like Tyler The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, D12, Tech N9ne, and many others. On the local side of the show, Phoenix hip-hop heavyweights The Insects and Realistic among others will be representing the Valley. Besides making it easy for every Phoenix hip-hop head to make holiday plans this, show is also going to pay homage to all four pillars of hip-hop. Some of the best M.C.'s on earth will be getting down with a collection of Phoenix's best DJ's, there will be a three-on-three b-boy battle, and live graffiti art by the incomparable Dumperfoo and other Valley based artists. JEFF MOSES
Formed in 2010 following the dissolution of electro-dance band The Analog Society, The Echo Bombs aimed for a more lo-fi approach, á la Best Coast. Now, it's switching gears again with its first full-length, King of Uncool. It's more primal and eerie as fuck, if the single "Creeper" is any indication. Sludgy garage rock riffs typify characters with "blue skin, hands of a dragon" and "like the taste of teens." "We were going for minimalistic and energetic like Pixies," singer Eddie Horn says. "Sex Bob-ombs [from the Scott Pilgrim movie] was one of our big inspirations as well, even though it's just a movie band." Rubber Brother Records will release the album, mixed at Audioconfusion (responsible for some recent Andrew Jackson Jihad and Playboy Manbaby releases) by Jalipaz Nelson, whom the band credits as taking a big role in its production. TROY FARAH
Your kid drops out of high school to start an Internet-driven music career, rapping about video games, hard drugs, sadness, and Arizona Iced Tea. As a parent, you may raise an eyebrow. Lucky for Yung Lean, he doesn't have any parents. That's obviously not true, but the 18-year-old Swedish stream-of-conscious MC likes to keep his cards close to his chest. He and his producer friends Yung Sherman and Yung Gud bring their talents together as the Sadboys. They got the Internet going nuts with 2013's Lavender EP and Unknown Death mixtape.
This year's full-length Unknown Memory benefits from more money and better production, but it still has the same dreamy style. Depending who you ask, Sadboys are either the future of music and fashion, or everything that's wrong with the world. KAT BEIN
Few people can flip through their rock 'n' roll rolodex and put together a show quite as well as Valley legend Alice Cooper. After all, Cooper is the king of shock rock, and he paved the way for a legion of acts trying to get a rise out of mothers around the world.
This year Alice has recruited hard rock acts Thousand Foot Krutch, POD, Night Ranger for his 14th annual Christmas Pudding concert at Comerica Theatre, which benefits his Solid Rock Foundation. Legendary sideman and Valley resident Nils Lofgren, blues wunderkind Jonny Lang, musician-comedian Gary Mule Deer, and Alice's own daughter Calico Cooper are also scheduled to perform. Coop knows that when school's out the kids need something to do to keep them out of trouble, and this year he might be have served his tastiest pudding to date. JIM LOUVAU
Vocalist and guitarist Leighton Antelman's musical career started in junior high when he and some friends from Gilbert's Greenfield Junior High got together and formed a band called Rolo 15. That group went through some changes, and ultimately it was Antelman and guitarist Steve McGraw who stayed together to create music, eventually going on to form the indie rock band Lydia with drummer Loren Briton and bassist Dustin Forsgren. The band's driving, melodic songs are heavily layered -- at times minimal, at times monumental -- and helped Lydia gain a loyal following. The group has spread those tunes around through extensive touring and appearances at large-scale events like the Warped Tour and the Bamboozle Festival. Though persevering personnel changes for year, the band went on a pronounced break in 2010, announcing it was calling it quits and that Antelman and McGraw had run their course of working together. That the hiatus didn't last long, as Antelman and crew reunited in 2011, and there have been a couple of new releases and active touring since. AMY YOUNG
Did you know that three members of Gospel Claws moonlight in Samuel L Cool J? It makes sense when you listen to the band's single, "I Move Around," which the filmmakers behind Earth to Echo included on the soundtrack to the film, sort of an update E.T. The song hugs soul influences and distills their essence into a hipster Sam Cooke. The band is headlining Crescent and will be joined by Dry River Yacht Club and Roar. DAVID ACCOMAZZO
Though the name Art Alexakis may be unfamiliar to some, there was a time when multiple songs written by him and his band Everclear were simultaneously in heavy rotation on radio stations nationwide. Though his personal narrative tends to be eclipsed by years of drug abuse, he managed to get sober as an adult and pen some of the more memorable tunes of the 1990s era of post-grunge pop. Alexakis will likely speak about such experiences, as well as his troubled childhood, fatherless upbringing, and stormy adolescence during "an evening of songs and stories" on December 14 at the MIM's Music Theater. BRANDON FERGUSON