30 Best Concerts in Phoenix in September 2016

Kraftwerk is scheduled to perform on Thursday, September 15, at the Orpheum Theatre.
Kraftwerk is scheduled to perform on Thursday, September 15, at the Orpheum Theatre.
Peter Boettcher/Kraftwerk

The summertime certainly had its fair share of great concerts, including many of the stunning, spectacular and super-sized variety. With that being said, September is going to be even better. No joke.

As a matter of fact, we can assuredly state that this month will feature some of the most-anticipated concerts of the year. For proof, you can look no further that its lineup of stellar shows. Highly influential electronica band Kraftwerk is bringing its 3-D spectacle to the Orpheum Theatre, arguably the best venue in the Valley. Heavy metal legends Black Sabbath will be performing their final concert ever here in Phoenix. And we’re finally going to get to see what all the hullabaloo regarding Prophets of Rage is all about when they swing through town.

In other words, we hope you’ve got plenty of disposable income saved up.

Here’s a look at every concert we’re looking forward to seeing in September.

Hot Sugar – Friday, September 2 – Valley Bar
Don't let the name fool you. Hot Sugar's work can be considerably icy and bitter — at least nominally so. Track titles like "Addictions," "Trauma," and "Dead Inside" certainly seem to point to a darker section of the human condition, a running theme in his work. But the actual sound of the Grammy-nominated NYC producer (born Nick Koenig) can be beatifically sweet. Carried by delicate melodic arrangements intricately constructed from field recordings and found sounds, it's precisely the type of contemplative, genre-defying electronica championed by the iconic Ninja Tune label, which released his breakout Moon Money EP in 2012. Of course, Koenig has been nothing short of prolific since, dropping his debut long player, God's Hand, last year and even contributing music for the Comedy Central hit show Broad City. SEAN LEVISMAN

Gareth Emery – Friday, September 2 – Maya Day & Nightclub
What does it feel like to release an anthem — a track that becomes unanimous with a genre? Is there any hint of what's to come in the recording studio? Does the sky blacken and the thunder clap closer until, finally, the song is done and a flock of golden hummingbirds flies into the studio to carry the fresh CD — still hot to the touch — to radio stations across the world? Not according to Gareth Emery. "You never really can know a record will be big," he says. "You make it as good as you can possibly make it, and the rest of the world decides from that point." Emery would know. His 2012 song "Concrete Angel" became arguably the most popular trance track of all time, carving his name into the #trancefamily hall of fame. But despite the fact that Emery has made one of the most popular trance songs of all time, he doesn't like to confine himself to one genre. "I don't really like defining what my sound is," he says. "Anyone else is welcome to, but I'd rather not define it myself other than to say it's melodic, electronic dance music. Defining your sound narrowly only leads to disappointment." ELVIS ANDERSON

Bass Cadets
Bass Cadets
Fadewood Studios/Damascus

Fetishball 2016 – Saturday, September 3 – Club Red
Industrial music and the fetish lifestyle have gone hand-in-PVC-gloved-hand for what seems like ages. It isn’t shocking, considering the genre’s twisted aesthetic, intense nature, and dark deviance lends itself quite well to kinky pursuits, especially those of the BDSM variety. Truth be told, a majority of fetish events (both here in the Valley and elsewhere) have frequently featured industrial or one of its many subgenres. But according to Mark Peskin, a local DJ and co-founder of the Arizona Fetish Society, that doesn’t always have to be the case. “Industrial has definitely been the go-to music of choice for many fetish events,” he says. “But I don't necessarily feel that it has to be the status quo.” Hence the reason why the society’s first-ever event, Fetishball 2016, will showcase a variety of electronic dance music styles in addition to different flavors of industrial. As such, the debaucherous and decadent bacchanal will include gigs by industrial metal bands 3Teeth and Amnestic, dubstep producers Sluggo and Nerd Rage (collectively known as Bass Cadets), and darkwave disco duo The Audio Virus. Tristan/Iseult of HÄXAN will also perform and DJ Sharktopus will spin industrial-pop mashups. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN

The Flamin' Groovies
The Flamin' Groovies
Anne Laurent

The Flamin’ Groovies – Sunday, September 4 – Rhythm Room
The Flamin’ Groovies are one of the few bands to establish actual classics across several incarnations and generations. Their Teenage Head album is Stones-y rock & roll that should’ve been huge; their variously re-recorded “Slow Death” is an unkillable proto-punk monster; and then in 1976, they regrouped again around founding guitarist Cyril Jordan and singer-guitarist Chris Wilson and put out the ne plus ultra power-pop song, “Shake Some Action,” quite possibly the very definition of the form. In 2011, Jordan and co-founder Roy Loney did their first West Coast shows since 1984, delivering what amounted to a very-best-of set. These days, however, Jordan, Wilson and a highly capable crew will be performing a variety of hits and favorites from the bands ample discography. Don’t think of it as a reunion — it’s more like a revelation. CHRIS ZIEGLER

Drake - Tuesday, September 6 at Talking Stick Resort Arena
You can take Drake two ways, each yielding wildly different receptions of the Toronto superstar’s work. There’s Drake as a rapper who’s become the target of much censure based on the fact that the dude does not write his own bars. Meek Mill most notably (and publicly) led that charge, though there is also some speculation that the legendary Andre 3000 himself threw some shade in Drake’s direction on Frank Ocean’s new album, Blonde, when he raps, “After 20 years in, I’m so naïve. I was under the impression that everyone wrote they own verses.” On the flip side, there’s Drake the pop star, who performs likable earworms with undeniable dance-ability. He’s the stuff meme dreams are made of and seems to have the wherewithal to go right along with it. It’s that Drake that is most easy with which to reconcile fandom, because we all know we all know the words to “Hotline Bling.” It’s fine. Besides, Drake is joined on this tour with trap rapper Future, which should lend a little bit of cred for those concerned with that sort of thing. HEATHER HOCH

The Game – Tuesday, September 6 – The Pressroom
Back in 2009, rapper The Game was insisting that his 2008 album, L.A.X., was his final one. This wasn’t because of creative differences or a new career, as he told journalist Ben Westhoff. “’Cause, see, you guys don’t need me anymore. You got all these other wack rappers that you love so much.” Well, wack rappers haven’t gone anywhere, and neither has The Game, who has continued making music since his faux-retirement. Last year he released The Documentary 2 and its companion, The Documentary 2.5, both major, star-studded affairs featuring a who’s who of everyone hot in hip-hop — guys like Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Future, Kanye West, and more, including older-school guys like Diddy, Snoop Dogg, and Ice Cube. Pitchfork cynically described the strategy as this: “Hitch the Game to the greatest possible number of bandwagons and hope it moves.” Well, it seems to have worked. The album received positive reviews across the board, and kept The Game in the hip-hop conversation more than a decade after his debut album. DAVID ACCOMAZZO

Purple – Tuesday, September 6 – Valley Bar
If you listen to Beaumont, Texas, trio Purple’s debut album, 409, released last year, you’ll find that Purple’s sound hits you like a bolt of lightning shot out of a Jim Beam bottle with a thunderclap punk-rock chaser. The unlikely bedfellows of garage rock, grunge, country, reggae, and hip-hop genres are not just labels used to impress a wide audience of fans and prick up the ears of critics. Hanna Brewer, fellow founding member guitarist/vocalist Taylor Busby, and bass player Joe “Prankster” Cannariato harness a party-rock sound that cannot be conveniently classified. And more specifically for Brewer, it is a sound borne out of vengeance aimed at the religious zealotry, racial bigotry, and small-town mentality that pervaded the Jefferson County seat in which she was raised — Vidor, Texas. The band just released its sophomore album, Bodacious. MARK C. HORN

Juliette Lewis – Wednesday, September 7 – Livewire
The world needs more wild children. You know the type, right? Free spirits who actually do things. Powerful women and men who, when pushed, push back, and tend to keep pushing the boundaries placed in front of them. Juliette Lewis is such a person. A pusher, for sure, of all things good and crazy and feisty and rockin’. Recently, Lewis has taken to wearing stage garb based on the famous jumpsuit of the 1970s’ most notorious stunt man, and her reasoning behind it is typical Lewis: brash and unapologetic. “I strive to be a blend of a superhero, David Lee Roth, wrestler, a dancer … and then, yes, people like Evel Knievel who defy, no, go against the odds. Whatever gets you in the room, no matter what, you will never be bored at one of my shows,” says Lewis with no small amount of bravado in her voice. As a vocalist, Lewis is much more than just Mallory Knox from Natural Born Killers with a mic in her hand. There are shreds of Janis Joplin in her voice, along with some Courtney Love attitude, and hints of Jim Morrison’s poetic lyrics. TOM REARDON

Fifth Harmony – Thursday, September 8 – Ak-Chin Pavilion
After the end of many great girl groups like the Spice Girls, TLC and Destiny’s Child, there hasn’t been a group of girls that has stolen hearts and put girl groups back at the forefront of pop music. That was true until 2012, anyways, when contemporary R&B girl group Fifth Harmony was formed by – who else? – Simon Cowell on the second season of Fox’s X-Factor. The girls entered the competition separately, but once they were placed together they were an undeniable force. Although the group didn’t win the competition, they were winners in the long run as they signed to both Epic Records and the U.K.’s Syco Records. They subsequently released two EPs in 2013, which tided their fans over until their debut studio album, Reflections, dropped in 2014. The album debuted at No. 5 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, reached gold certification and enabled them to headline their first world tour. Not bad for a first album. This year they’re continuing their girl power reign with another tour for their new sophomore album 7/27, so named for the date the group was created. ARIA BELL

A-Trak – Friday, September 9 – Maya Day & Nightclub
Montreal-born DJ and producer A-Trak is perhaps most recently known as one half of Duck Sauce, the disco-house production crew he has formed with Armand Van Helden. Clubbers will instantly recognize their smash singles "Barbara Streisand" and "Big Bad Wolf." But A-Trak also boasts a serious background as a turntablist. And in 2003, he served as Kanye West's personal tour DJ, and has contributed scratches to West's albums Late Registration and Graduation. A-Trak is also an established house producer and elite remixer — check out his club mix of Yeah Yeah Yeah's "Heads Will Roll" — and owner of the record label Fool's Gold. With a keen interest in both hip-hop and electro house he has developed into a prominent figure within the North American dance music scene. TOM MURPHY

5 Seconds of Summer – Saturday, September 10 – Ak-Chin Pavilion
While not the biggest "boy band" in the world, 5 Seconds of Summer is rapidly becoming one of the biggest groups of boys who actually play their instruments onstage. After having visiting Houston a few times opening up for actual biggest "boy band" One Direction, 5SOS get their own headlining show with all the screaming fans that come along with it. Imagine everything you liked about '90s pop-punk — think your Green Days and Blink 182s, with a dash of The Offspring — but cleaned up, polished and completely defanged, and you get 5 Seconds of Summer. Sure, they look like what Hollywood teen films think punk rock is, but their songs aren't bad and they've got good energy onstage. Every generation deserves a Monkees to call their own. CORY GARCIA

Beth Hart – Saturday, September 10 – Livewire
Beth Hart has been a star among industry insiders and hardcore blues maniacs for nearly two decades, but the reason she’s filling mid-size theaters now can be traced back to the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors, when Jeff Beck asked her to sing Etta James’s “I’d Rather Go Blind” as part of the evening's Buddy Guy tribute. That was pretty much all it took. Besides the instant bump her lights-out performance on national TV gave her — President Obama led the standing ovation — the broadcast’s producer and musical director wound up co-producing Hart’s next album, this year’s deeply personal (she wrote all the songs herself) mixture of high-powered R&B and more intimate singer-songwriter moments, Better Than Home. CHRIS GRAY

Counting Crows
Counting Crows
Danny Clinch

Counting Crows & Rob Thomas – Tuesday, September 13 – Ak-Chin Pavilion
Sha-la-la-la-la-la-la. That’s the rallying cry of all drunk-folk guitar-twang music lovers come September 13 when none other than the Counting Crows hit the stage at Ak-Chin Pavilion. They’re in the midst of their current tour with fellow ‘90s favorite Rob Thomas and its going to be something more than awesome when the band digs into big hits like “Mr. Jones,” “Round Here,” “Hangin’ Around,” “Accidentally in Love,” and, of course, its cover of “Big Yellow Taxi.” If you know the band only from the Shrek soundtrack, stop what you’re doing and listen to “August and Everything After.” If you’re a real product of the ’90s, you already know. When it comes to alt-rock and barstool poetry, this is the pinnacle. KAT BEIN

Hall and Oates
Hall and Oates
RCA Records

Hall & Oates – Wednesday, September 14 – Ak-Chin Pavilion
Hall & Oates haven’t been in the upper reaches of the charts since the late ’80s, but thanks to sound tracks, television appearances like and younger superstars in their debt — Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake, Robin Thicke — the 2014 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees are probably as popular now as they’ve ever been. (“Hall & Oates cure illness,” said Roots drummer ?uestlove in his induction speech.) Certainly few acts in pop history have profited more handsomely from their hometown Philadelphia’s super­stylish brand of soul music, nor seen their influence reflected in such an eclectic range of contemporary entertainers. Anyone can go for that. CHRIS GRAY

Ray LaMontagne – Wednesday, September 14 – Comerica Theatre
Although his recorded work sometimes falls into muddled, hazy messes, LaMontagne’s live shows have a magical quality to them. Phoenix may just witness something truly special Saturday night – if they’ll let him. In the past, LaMontagne has humbly, politely asked audiences to remain as quiet as possible and allow him to do his thing. Back in 2014, he famously walked off stage in the middle of a performance, not returning until a couple that wouldn’t stop talking was removed. Here’s hoping the event won't repeat itself here. Especially considering how hushed and psychedelic his latest record, Ouroboros, is, the “Supernova” and “Trouble” singer will demand our full attention. If we give it to him, he will paint the room in warm hues with his lovelorn tunes. You can’t ask for anything more from an artist whose body of work only gets richer with each release. And while this world-weary road poet can be cosmically cool — a calm in the eye of the storm — he’s also prone to turbulent swings of emotion; fingers crossed that the Valley doesn’t get the wrath of Hurricane Ray. ANGEL MELENDEZ

Goblin Cock – Wednesday, September 14 – Valley Bar
The video for Goblin Cock's 2006 song "Stumped" features girl softball players, comic books, and bad special-effects robots — three sure signs that, while the band's music wouldn't be out of place on a mix tape with Sabbath's, these guys aren't your ordinary metal band. This is metal for the ironic indie kids, which isn't really all that surprising, considering Goblin Cock is the brainchild of one of indie rock's crown princes, Pinback's Rob Crow. Crow's known in his San Diego hometown as the man of a thousand bands (including such projects as Thingy, Heavy Vegetable, Sleeping People, Prefuse 73, and Aspects of Physics). Goblin Cock pairs his nerdy penchant for sci-fi and Dungeons & Dragons with a weird phallophilia and a desire to perform in black cloaks. Still, despite the doom-and-gloom chicanery, you can expect more horn-rimmed specs than hair-spray whores when Goblin Cock throws down at Valley Bar. MAYA KROTH


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