25 Must-See Phoenix Concerts in April
Lana Del Rey - Tuesday, April 15 - Comerica Theatre
Don't hate Lana Del Rey because she's beautiful. The American singer formerly known as Lizzy Grant may seem to have it all -- she has drop-dead good looks, appeared on Saturday Night Live, is a heartthrob for indie boys everywhere, and released a lavishly lush breakthrough major-label album, Born to Die -- but it's as if the fates want to punish her for all of her recent fortune.
The album's title reveals that there's a lot more going on with Del Rey than simple, escapist mainstream pop, and a river of sadness runs inexorably through tragic-romantic tunes like "Video Games" and "Blue Jeans." The Lake Placid, New York, native exudes plenty of natural star power, but haters like Juliette Lewis (of all people) have dissed Del Rey for not commanding the stage with enough authority in her live appearances. We suspect they'll be eating their words, and eating from her hands, long before her career is over. -- Falling James
Foster the People - Tuesday, April 15 - Marquee Theatre
More than just a band whose vinyl is sold en masse at Urban Outfitters, Foster the People should have stayed on the collective radar for having released one of the best pop records of the past 10 years. Torches, the L.A.-based band's 2011 release, did ride high on the commercial success of "Pumped Up Kicks," a song title that still causes people to either whistle that earworm of a hook or cringe in remembrance of its overplaying, but the record rode on so much more than just that single.
Torches, the singles it generated included, proved to be a nuanced work and a massive vehicle for Mark Foster's hooks. His past as a jingle writer shows in spades as virtually every song on the record has a hummable element to it, built around layered pop structures. As a whole, it was critically acclaimed, landing Grammy nominations and legendary endorsements like Elton John. -- KC Libman
Neutral Milk Hotel - Tuesday, April 15 - Crescent Ballroom
Though they existed more than 20 years apart, the Modern Lovers share a similar career trajectory with Neutral Milk Hotel, which visits Crescent for two sold-out shows (a portion of the proceeds will benefit the charity Children of the Blue Sky). NMH's tour set lists contain selections from the band's legendary 1998 album, In an Aeroplane Over the Sea. Much like the Modern Lovers' 1976 self-titled debut album, Aeroplane was met with neither acclaim nor large sales. Neutral Milk Hotel's hectic 1998 touring schedule to promote the album, a lo-fi psychedelic take on the story of Anne Frank, took its toll on the band's leader, Jeff Mangum, and it went on indefinite hiatus.
In the ensuing two decades, Mangum would show up infrequently to play with other musicians, including Elf Power (which is joining NMH on its reunion tour). Aeroplane's popularity (the 2008 reissue was the top-selling vinyl album that year) grew as musicians cited it as an influence. The Decemberists, with their unique cover art and dream-like tales of butchers and crane wives, are an obvious example. Franz Ferdinand's Bob Hardy once said, "When I first started driving, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea was the only cassette I had in my Ford Fiesta for two years. It is amazing. Friendships can be gauged on the mutual love of Neutral Milk Hotel." -- Jason Keil
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