12 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend
KONGOS are scheduled to perform on Friday, October 28, at Crescent Ballroom.
Watchu doing this weekend? There’s most definitely no shortage of things to do, whether it's hanging out at the Arizona State Fair, checking out Ignite Phoenix’s first-ever music edition, or attending Comedy on Fire's final show at the Firehouse Gallery.
And lest we not forget, it also just happens to be Halloween weekend, which means tons of costume parties, masquerades, and themed concerts (like Power 98.3/101.9’s Hip-Hop Halloween shindig at Rawhide) happening around the Valley.
There are plenty of other concerts of a non-Halloween variety happening, of course, such as Dia de Los KONGOS fest at the Crescent, Flight of the Conchords making up a previously rescheduled date, and She Wants Revenge celebrating the 10th anniversary of their debut album at Livewire in Scottsdale. (For even more options, hit up our online concert calendar.)
In short, this weekend’s slate of live music is all treats and no tricks.
Bret McKenzie (left) and Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords.
Flight of the Conchords – Friday, October 28 – Comerica Theatre
They came, they saw, they Conchord — kind of. After gaining a cult following thanks to their Emmy-nominated HBO series of the same name, the expertly coiffed comedy folk duo Flight of the Conchords (Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie) laid a little low, enjoying the kind of success that still spawns an array of GIFs and Tumblr posts. Now, everyone’s favorite New Zealanders have returned to the stage with the Flight of the Conchords Sing Flight of the Conchords tour. Fans can expect to hear favorites “The Most Beautiful Girl (in the Room),” “Carol Brown,” and “Business Time,” along with new material, including a song about being gym sex buddies, “Fuck You On The Ceiling,” and the twosome’s signature clever banter. JANESSA HILLIARD
KONGOS perform at FestivALTAZ in April.
Día De Los KONGOS – Friday, October 28 – Crescent Ballroom
KONGOS wanted to do a mighty concert in Phoenix this Halloween and approached local promoters Stateside Presents with a date in mind. It just so happened the date the band had in mind fell on Crescent Ballroom’s annual Día De Los Crescent celebration, and boom — so was born Día De Los KONGOS. This year’s KONGOS-themed festivities will feature five other local bands swapping sets on an indoor and outdoor stage. The platinum rockers have invited fellow Phoenicians the Joy Formidable, the Technicolors, Bear Ghost, Nanami Ozone, and Treasurefruit to join them, and after the music is over, KONGOS will perform a DJ set inside the ballroom. Spooky, indeed. DAVID ACCOMAZZO
She Wants Revenge – Friday, October 28 – Livewire
She Wants Revenge released its self-titled debut (which the band is celebrating its 10th anniversary of in its current tour) in January 2006 but Halloween would've been a better time to drop music that dark. With lascivious lyrics about damaged relationships ("These Things") and moonlit sadomasochism ("Monologue"), Justin Warfield sings in a brittle monotone that could freeze Interpol's Paul Banks out of the running for best Ian Curtis impersonation. While Warfield's gloomy guitar riffs add echoey atmosphere ("Red Flags and Long Nights"), Adam 12 pulls his ominous bass lines and Depeche Mode-style synth throb straight out of an '80s time capsule ("Out of Control"). These guys clearly aren't trying to hide their influences — you'll hear some Sisters of Mercy in the evil grooves of "Sister" even before you notice the title — but tracks like the vicious, deliriously danceable "Tear You Apart" actually make Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" sound tender in comparison. If this doesn't make the goths smile, nothing will. TOM MURPHY
Singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw.
Courtesy of RCA Records
Gavin DeGraw – Friday, October 28 – Arizona State Fair
Gavin DeGraw entered every teenage girl's living room in 2003 when he sang the theme song of The WB's One Tree Hill, "I Don't Want To Be." But he's so much more than that. As a singer-songwriter, DeGraw has the ability to produce a mega radio hit, and then strip it down to an acoustic version for a more romantic touch, something he did with albums Chariot and Chariot Stripped. And while he typically sings about love, heartache and the like, he also takes on different topics. "Medicate the Kids," for instance, takes on the irony of teaching children to say no to drugs and then turning around and prescribing them medication. But if you get the chance to see him HOB, unpredictability will certainly be the norm: he tends to change up the arrangements of his hits, oftentimes with the accompaniment of a piano or guitar. PAIGE SKINNER
Prayers – Friday, October 28 – Crescent Ballroom
Propagating the cholo-goth aesthetic, electro-rock duo Prayers offers up as strong and unique of a visual statement as their loud and powerful sociopolitical tunes. On Young Gods, an album that features Travis Barker, Prayers explored concepts to promote Latinx pride while also serving up some intensely personal and real lyrics. Of course, it’s hard to talk about the San Diego band and not mention their black-and-white, heavily stylized music videos, which have featured an actual brawl between members of the Sherman 27 gang for “Young Gods” and the empowering imagery of indigenous Mexican dancers juxtaposed against the backdrop of their modern home city found on their latest single release, “Mexica.” Really, there isn’t much about what Prayers makes that isn’t in-your-face and strong; they produce music that sounds like if Depeche Mode was pissed off all the time instead of morose — but hey, you’d be pissed too if your identity was constantly under attack by a country built on the labor of immigrants and conversely founded on such deep-set institutionalized racism that it has crescendoed into a giant orange garbage monster who half the country thinks is fit to run for president. HEATHER HOCH
The members of Portugal. The Man.
Portugal. The Man – Saturday, October 29 – Livewire
Portugal. The Man hails from Alaska and now plants roots in Portland, Oregon. The band quickly gained recognition with their unique sound, which blends groovy elements of rock, pop, and soul. Frontman John Gourley sings with a delicate, high pitch, which compliments his funky guitar riffs. Moments of distorted surf guitar surprise, yet the band always returns to the wave of tight percussion, harmonizing vocals, and danceable bass lines. Many songs, like “Evil Friends,” are upbeat, yet constantly shifting. There are moments of rhythmic clapping inciting an internal “hallelujah” and catchy choruses with hip-shaking melodies. Other songs like “Plastic Soldiers” shift from the high-energy choir into dissociative, emotional waves of synthesizer. Gourley’s lyrics are gently antagonizing to the establishment. In “So American” he sings, “They said / Every one of you will never try to lend a hand / When the policemen don’t understand.” Many songs use a dark, dry sarcasm disguised behind cheerful melodies to point out the disconnect people have from the reality of world conditions. These ideas are reinforced in “Waves” with lyrics like “No one cares about the waves / No one will remember cause nothing lasts forever / And everybody’s looking for somebody to use.” KAYLA CLANCY
Sebastien Grainger (left) and Jesse F. Keeler of Death From Above 1979.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club & Death from Above 1979 – Saturday, October 29 – Marquee Theatre
Rock 'n' roll might be dead, but you wouldn’t know it from the bill for this concert, which is fully loaded with three hard-rocking combos. Each of these bands draws from rock’s past, but none of them is truly retro as they find new excitement in that seemingly outdated genre. San Francisco’s Black Rebel Motorcycle Club can lay down thunderously rumbling waves of glam-rock riffs, but they also light up such tracks as “Teenage Disease” and “Warning Sign” with hints of psychedelia and grunge. Canadians Death From Above 1979 infuse their tangled riffage with rampant punk-rock energy to stir up a sound that’s surprisingly full for a bass-drums duo. LA's Deap Vally are also a duo, combining Lindsey Troy’s baleful lyrics (“I am not ashamed of my rage”) with towering chords. FALLING JAMES
Punk Rock Halloween Bash – Saturday, October 29 – Yucca Tap Room
When it really comes down to it, Halloween boils down to one thing: adopting the identity of someone else, if only for an evening or two. Several Valley punk bands will do just this on Saturday at the Yucca Tap Room when they perform as some the genre's biggest legends and heaviest hitters during the annual Punk Rock Halloween Bash. Creepsville, for instance, will perform as One Man Army while the members of The Venomous Pinks become the TSOL, Krovak pays tribute to Bad Religion, HAM transforms into the Dead Kennedys, and the PV Casualties mimic the Misfits. Attendees can also witness various local musicians offer homage to Goverment Issue, Cocksparrer, and others. Chicago-based punk band Voice of Addicition will perform as themselves. According to the event’s Facebook page, “rad prizes” will be awarded for the best costumes. The transformation starts at 8 p.m. Admission is free. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Reverend Peyton (left) and his Big Damn Band.
The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band & Supersuckers – Saturday, October 29 – Valley Bar
While Reverend Peyton is a big dude with a booming voice, his band really isn't that big in numbers. There's the Rev himself, who plays a mean slide on his resonator guitar; his wife, Washboard Breezy, who scrapes the hell out of a washboard; and Max Senteney chugging away on a stripped-down drum kit that includes a five-gallon plastic bucket. You get these three together, though, and they make some big damn music. Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band rips through backwoods Mississippi Delta blues with the fervor and the fury of the Ramones, getting crowds stomping and hollering all over the world. The trio shares the bill with the equally energetic Supersuckers. JON SOLOMON
Eliot Lee Hazel
Yeasayer – Sunday, October 30 – The Pressroom
This Brooklyn art-rock trio’s fourth album, Amen & Goodbye, manages to be both their weirdest and their most accessible work to date. There’s a pop hook or unexpected new texture around every corner on such densely packed songs as “I Am Chemistry,” which turns chemical compounds into poetry (“C4H10FO2P” — the formula for sarin — “puts you on your knees”) over Afrobeat-tinged psychedelia. The satisfyingly straightforward electro-pop of “Silly Me” segues into the fittingly trippy, dreamlike “Half Asleep,” which in turn transitions seamlessly into the funky, horn-laced “Dead Sea Scrolls.” Credit producer-drummer Joey Waronker (Beck, Atoms for Peace) for wrangling Yeasayer’s intriguing but sometimes clashing influences into the most cohesive album of their career. ANDY HERMANN
The members of Fidlar.
Courtesy of BB Gun Press
Fidlar – Sunday, October 30 – Crescent Ballroom
Since being named one of the best new bands of 2012 by Pitchfork, Fidlar has managed to meet the expectations that come with a distinction like that. More importantly, they've bucked the trend of bands once heralded by Pitchfork only to be tossed aside when something shinier and newer came along. This is largely chalked up to the band’s skate-punk aesthetic, as it feels like the band could really “give a fuck” about what the media thinks about the their music. This sort of idealism garners attention with today’s youthful fans who have been raised in a world of little need, and who have taken a turn from ennui to steer clear into jaded anger filled boredom. Lucky for them, Fidlar makes the type of music that they can easily associate with: Life might suck, but there’s always a 40 ounce to be found and a party to be had. Nothing but age can stop the good times from happening, and Fidlar's here to soundtrack them till that happens. JAIME-PAUL FALCON
Courtesy of The Stunt Company
Caspian – Sunday, October 30 – The Rebel Lounge
Whether Caspian, which formed in Massachusetts in 2003, is a traditionally based post-rock act or not is up for debate. But the fact is, with minimal vocals an artist still must find a way to express himself while engaging the audience in fresh and, if possible, unique ways. The perceived restraints of an instrumental rock group might seem rather restrictive, but lead synth player Phil Jamieson does well to hide any concern that might be there. KELLY DEARMORE
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