The Seven Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week

Courtesy of SRO Artists
Niyaz is scheduled to perform on Monday, March 13, at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix.
It’s been a helluva month for live music in the Valley thus far. Two of the biggest festivals of the year are in the books, including the phenomenal Viva PHX this past weekend (check out our full recap of the night and everything that happened).

All that said, there are still plenty of great concerts left in the month of March. For proof, look no further than this week’s slate of shows, which will include gigs by jam band legends Umphrey’s McGee, weirdo rocker Bob Log III, Ukranian folk quartet DakhaBrakha, and Iranian-born ensemble Niyaz.

As always, you can also hit up our extensive online music listings for even more shows happening around the Valley. In the meantime, here are our picks for the best concerts in Phoenix this week.

Enter Shikari – Monday, March 13 – Nile Theater
If there is anything you can say about Enter Shikari, it's that the band is a challenge just by its very nature. There's no genre, no label, no box that they fit comfortably in. Ultimately, they are that obnoxious zigzag Tetris piece that brings the whole game down. Lots of attempts have been made to compartmentalize the group with terms like electronicore — whatever the hell that means — but none really fits them very well. If you were forced at gunpoint to draw a comparison to another group, it would probably be to Chumbawamba. If all you know of that act is "Tubthumping," then you've missed out on some of the greatest political and anarchist music ever produced. Enter Shikari picks up that same torch and adds shades of Trent Reznor, dubstep and Eminem to the mix. JEF ROUNER

click to enlarge Loga Ramin Torkian (left) and Azam Ali of Niyaz. - COURTESY OF SRO ARTISTS
Loga Ramin Torkian (left) and Azam Ali of Niyaz.
Courtesy of SRO Artists
Niyaz – Monday, March 13 – Musical Instrument Museum
Outside the scope of rock and pop, "supergroups" are less heralded. Besides the acclaimed Masters of Persian Music, Arabic folk mergers remain sparse. Niyaz (NEE-az) easily slips into that category, drawing from a thousand years of Iranian and Indian influence and rebooting it with digital charges. Comprising former Vas vocalist Azam Ali and Axiom of Choice founder Loga Ramin Torkian, the goal was to traverse a narrow bridge between classical cool and futuristic foray without compromising the integrity of either. And they’ve accomplished this mission on all five of the albums in the group’s discography, as Ali's brilliant Urdu/Farsi poetry is laid bare with warm bass lines and reinvented dholak and tabla loops. Drawing from a catalogue of ancient scribes, Ali carefully crafts melodies from the works of Rumi, Sauda, Shad Azimabadi, and others. Torkian then punctuates them with lightweight rabab, saz and guitar viol lines, resulting in stunning and emotive music that transcends boundaries. DEREK BERES

click to enlarge The musicians of DakhaBrakha. - RIOT ARTISTS
The musicians of DakhaBrakha.
Riot Artists
DakhaBrakha – Tuesday, March 14 – Musical Instrument Museum
Hailing from Ukraine, Kiev's DakhaBrakha offers a high level of musical and visual stimulation, turning a world-based palette of regional folk music into hypnotic, trance-inducing mystic revelations. The percussion-heavy quartet formed in 2004 at the Kyiv Center of Contemporary Art (DAKH) through avant-garde theater director Vladyslav Troitskiy, leading to ornate costumes featuring tall hats, long braids, and bangles extending to the colorfully patterned drums and instruments. Intoxicating, yes, but it's the music — the triple harmonies and cross-cut vocals of Iryna Kovalenko (djembe, bass drums, accordion, percussion, bugay, zgaleyka, piano), Olena Tsibulska (bass drums, percussion, garmoshka) and Nina Garenetska (cello, bass drum), bolstered by Marko Halanevych's impassioned singing with darbuka, tabla, didjeridoo, accordion, and trombone accompaniment — that truly captivates. DakhaBrakha means "give/take" in the old Ukrainian language, which also provides the act's lyrical base. A fitting name, as the music starts on a platform of traditional Ukrainian melodies before incorporating African, Asian, Eastern European and Middle Eastern aspects into the mix. Add creative usage of effects pedals, and the resulting juxtaposition of styles and textures proves that what was once old can thrive as something new, fresh, and moving. GLENN BURNSILVER

The Cadillac Three – Wednesday, March 15 – Marquee Theatre
Rising country band The Cadillac Three is best known for bringing an element of redneck Southern rock to mainstream country. Authentically unapologetic, the trio isn’t into acts: What you see is what you get, and the ripped jeans, long hair, and thick drawls are real. The Cadillac Three, comprised of Jaren Johnston on lead guitar/vocals, Kelby Ray on lap steel, and Neil Mason on percussion, are all Nashville natives, first meeting in high school. They went on to play with a variety of bands, coming together a decade ago. They first toured under the name the Cadillac Black before switching to The Cadillac Three and forging their characteristic sound about five years ago. “The history shows on stage,” says Kelby Ray. “We have chemistry. No tracks, just us having a fun time. It’s the real deal. No faking it.” Johnston’s combination of attitude-filled gritty vocals and all-out shredding leads the trio. The lap steel of Ray, playing through a bass amp, fills in the low side, while sneaking in attention-grabbing riffs that compliment Johnston. Mason rounds out the sound with a commanding presence on drums. AMBER ERICKSON GABBEY

click to enlarge Xenia Rubinos - ANTI- RECORDS
Xenia Rubinos
ANTI- Records

Xenia Rubinos – Wednesday, March 15 – Valley Bar
Xenia Rubinos speaks with mesmeric confidence, dances like La Lupe, has the swagger of Erykah Badu, and sings like an indie Mariah Carey. Her music has indisputable undercurrents of soul and R&B, flecked with punk-rock guitar riffs and hip-hop verbiage. She discusses her newest album, Black Terry Cat, with unrestrained pride and excitement while maintaining a level of self-awareness that’s not often found in the music business. She doesn’t want to add to the “noise,” as she calls it, so while she talks swiftly about the creation of her second album, she also maintains the ability to shrug her shoulders and admit to not having all the answers. “I learned a lot about problem-solving under pressure,” she says. “On stage during performances, things are gonna go wrong — it’s inevitable. I had to learn that it’s a living, breathing thing, and it’s not about not having problems; it’s just about how you deal with them in the moment. I used to freak out a lot when things would go wrong: I had a keyboard that broke down on me several times throughout tour, and I used to kinda panic when that would happen. That’s not to say that I never panic anymore; I just have a new view of what it means when things go wrong.” MARIAH TAYLOR

Bob Log III: the man, the myth, the microphone. - COURTESY PHOTO
Bob Log III: the man, the myth, the microphone.
Courtesy photo
Bob Log III – Thursday, March 16 – Valley Bar
There's mysterious, and then there's mysterious as defined by Tom Waits, a songwriter who's maintained an air of impenetrable mystique. In an interview with website Radical Wacko, Waits expressed a fondness for Tucson's Bob Log III. "It's just the loudest, strangest stuff you've ever heard," Waits said of the motorcycle-and-jumpsuit clad man of mystery. "You don't understand one word he's saying. I like people who glue macaroni on to a piece of cardboard and paint it gold. That's what I aspire to basically." Macaroni or not, Log's maintained a regard for himself, naming his 2009 full-length, My Shit Is Perfect. And you know, it is: With 13 tracks of slide guitar, clattering drums, and nonsensical titles like "Shake a Little, Wiggle It and Jiggle It Too," "Bucktooth Potato," and "Goddam Sounds Good," the record is crude and beatific. Log hits Valley Bar this week, along with all his classy stage moves. "Boob Scotch," anyone? JASON P. WOODBURY

Umphrey's McGee – Thursday, March 16 – Marquee Theathre
Add the goofy name to a tag like "jam band," and you've got a band that's stigmatized right out of the gate. True, Umphrey's McGee might not be for everyone. In terms of bands that traffic in long-form compositions — and Umphrey's McGee (playing with Galactic and the Wailers at Red Rocks) is certainly one — there are prog bands and there are jam bands, the former being characterized by linear compositions with rigid structures, the latter for its loose, well, jamming. Umphrey's McGee splits the difference between those categories nicely, though some of the albums in its extensive discography probably err more on the prog side, cramming changes by the bucketful into every song for a hyperactive sound not unlike that of Frank Zappa (if a little less insistently weird). Pretentious? Perhaps — but not sloppy. Live, the band tends to expand sections to allow for plenty of solos, but its musicianship is just as accomplished on stage as it is in the studio. JEF OTTE