By David A. Bowers
A new beginning.
There is a certain catharsis about the ending of a year. There isn’t the lingering sense of sadness from legends who have passed like we experienced at the end of 2016, but this year has been worse. It has been riddled with catastrophic events across the country from Charlottesville to Las Vegas with tragedies in New York City and Sutherland Springs, Texas.
Music, however, provides an escape from all your worries and cares, even if it’s just for a couple hours.
Thankfully, there is something for everybody this New Year’s Eve.
EDM is taking over Rawhide Western Town and Event Center in Chandler over the New Year’s weekend.
“Decadence” hosts two days of music, with two stages boasting 33 acts, like legendary trance DJ Armin Van Buuren, French house pioneers Justice, Zedd, the electro/dubstep trio Black Tiger Sex Machine, who performs in tiger helmets, and the cake master himself, Steve Aoki.
Decadence, Rawhide Western Town and Event Center, 5700 W. North Loop Road, Chandler, decadencearizona.com, 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. Saturday, December 30, and Sunday, December 31, $189-$2,500.
If the softer, smoother sounds of adult contemporary music is more your speed, we have that for you as well. The American songwriter and pianist has collaborated with some of the biggest names in pop and country music including Martina McBride, Lady Antebellum, Johnny Mathis, Donny Osmond and Olivia Newton-John.
The adult contemporary juggernaut has earned a plethora of honors, including two Grammy nominations.
Brickman is no stranger when it comes to Christmas albums and concerts after hitting it big with The Gift in late 1997. He has gone on to produce 10 Christmas-themed albums including such titles as The Magic of Christmas, All Is Calm: Peaceful Christmas Hymns and On a Winter’s Night: The Songs and Spirit of Christmas.
Jim Brickman, Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 E. Mayo Boulevard, Phoenix, 480.478.6000, mim.org, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, December 30, and 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sunday, December 31, $45-$250.
The multi-show weekend slots aren’t reserved for just million-selling acts. Prescott-based Spafford, who plays the Crescent Ballroom on December 30 and December 31, is big on talent and renowned for being one of the best rock/jam bands on the scene.
Spafford effortlessly melds rock, funk, jazz, ska, reggae and improvisational music to create an experience like no other. With two studio albums and four live collections under its belt, the band has played a ton of music festivals, including Euphoria, Mad Tea Party Jam, Electric Forest and Head for the Hills, sharing the stage with Rusted Root, Gov’t Mule, The String Cheese Incident and My Morning Jacket.
Spafford, The Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. Second Avenue, Phoenix, 602.716.2222, crescentphx.com, 8 p.m. Saturday, December 30, and 8 p.m. Sunday, December 31, $20-$199 (December 30), $30-$35 (December 31).
311 w/Original Wailers and Phunk Junkeez
The Marquee Theatre in Tempe is lightin’ it up on New Year’s Eve with a pair of local funk and reggae bands opening up for two legendary funk and reggae outfits.
The Valley’s The Black Bottom Lighters—otherwise known as BBL to their fervent fans—have released four albums and were voted Best Local Band in 2015.
Local music pioneers Phunk Junkeez are stalwarts of the Phoenix music scene and one of the few remaining acts intact after 25 years. The Junkeez have released eight studio albums and are best known for their songs “I Am a Junkee” and “Me n Yer Girl.”
The Original Wailers are a bit of an anomaly. Although band founders Junior Marvin and Al Anderson played with Bob Marley and the Wailers, they were not original members of the band. The duo replaced Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer in 1974, the true Original Wailers who created the group with Marley in 1963. Anderson and Marvin formed the Original Wailers in 2008 as a reggae/jam band with dueling guitars and melodic rhythms. Marvin left in 2011 prior to the release of the band’s critically acclaimed EP Miracle, which earned a Grammy nomination for Best Reggae Album.
Closing out the show is the pride of Omaha, Nebraska—funk-rockers 311.
The venerable band has been rocking for nearly 30 years together with its first studio album Music being released in 1993. It wasn’t until 1995 that the band achieved mainstream recognition with its self-titled album. Singles “Don’t Stay Home,” “Down” and “All Mixed Up” lit up the Modern Rock charts with “Down” reaching the vaunted No. 1 position.
311 recently released its 12th studio album (15th overall) titled Mosaic that mixes the vibe of a Caribbean island with hard-driving guitar riffs and Grateful Dead-esque jamming.
311 w/The Original Wailers, Phunk Junkeez and Black Bottom Lighters, The Marquee Theatre, 730 N. Mill Avenue, Tempe, 480.829.0607, luckymanonline.com, 7 p.m. Sunday, December 31, $63-$98.
Other notable shows:
Cold Shott and the Hurricane Horns, The Rhythm Room, 1019 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, 602.265.4842, rhythmroom.com, 9 p.m. Sunday, December 31, $15.
Jim Breuer, Tempe Improv, 930 E. University Drive, Tempe, 480.921.9877, tempeimprov.com, various times, Thursday, December 29, to Sunday, December 31, $35-$68.17 (New Year’s Eve).
Joel McHale, Stand Up Live, 50 W. Jefferson Street, Phoenix, 480.719.6100, phoenix.standuplive.com, various times, Thursday, December 29, to Sunday, December 31, $40-$68 (New Year’s Eve).
Mac Sabbath and The Dwarves w/Broloaf, Club Red Theatres, 1306 W. University Drive, Mesa, 480.200.7529, clubredrocks.com, 7 p.m. Sunday, December 31, $25.
For other fun events, visit our events page.