5 Best Concerts to See in Phoenix This Weekend

Sara Robinson and the Midnight Special play Crescent Ballroom on Sunday.
Sara Robinson and the Midnight Special play Crescent Ballroom on Sunday.
Jim Louvau

We've checked out the calendar, and musically, it seems like summer is coming to end. Musically, at least. From here on out, there are a steady diet of great shows coming to town. Check out our picks below, and browse our comprehensive concert listings if you'd like more options.

The Offspring/Pennywise/Bad Religion - Friday, August 29 - Mesa Amphitheatre

Something about this summer in Phoenix has attracted a wave of has-been bands coming through town on nostalgia tours. Looking at some of the shows that have come through here, you'd be right in thinking it was a different decade -- KISS, Alice Cooper, Def Leppard, Everclear, Soul Asylum, Eve6, Ginuwine, and more have played in the Valley, and that trend continues tonight with the Offspring/Pennywise/Bad Religion concert at Mesa Amphitheatre.

Now, all of these bands have something to offer, and bless their hearts for touring, even though the headliner hasn't released an album since 2012. Because let's be honest -- no one is paying $45 to hear Pennywise play songs from All Or Nothing. This tour is all about the good ol' days, the days when you bought CDs in stores and "discovered" new bands on MTV. And when you listen back to listen to these bands' hits, songs like "Come Out and Play (Keep 'em Separated)", "Self Esteem," "Fuck Authority," "Sorrow" and "American Jesus," you realize why these bands got popular in the first place, and it's easy to slip into memories of where you were in life the first time (of many) you heard these songs. --David Accomazzo


Electrisad - Friday, August 29 - Trunk Space

Electrisad has had a very punctuated emergence as a fixture in the Phoenix scene.

The band's music is, on the surface, simple synth-pop with soft melodic vocals, but there is a pervasive and nuanced sentimentality to it. It sounds like angst and heartbreak in a way that evokes the music selection on a John Hughes soundtrack. Choruses like "everything I love turns to dust," are delivered in a way that belie any kind of melodrama lyrics like that would normally imply. It's subdued but also kind of cheery. --Mike Bogumil


The Black Moods - Saturday, August 30 - Crescent Ballroom

Black Moods fans eagerly anticipating the release of the rock band's follow-up to its eclectic self-titled debut album will have to hold their breath a little longer. The Phoenix trio is tabling its upcoming album in an effort to strengthen the material, lengthen the album, and fine-tune the details. The decision came as a request from the band's new management team, Street Smart Marketing, which is working to push the talented musicians to the next level in their career. As for the Black Moods members -- guitarist/singer Josh Kennedy, bassist Ryan Prier, and drummer Danny "Chico" Diaz -- they have surrendered everything involved with having a normal life, right down to a mailing address, in an effort to spread their music on the road as far as possible. They know the sacrifices will make the victory that much sweeter once they get their hands on the prize. In the meantime, audiences can still get a taste of the upcoming material, as well as their now-familiar tunes, by catching the band's powerful stage performance whenever the opportunity presents itself. Anybody who has already seen the Moods' live show is well aware that it's an event not to be missed. --Caleb Haley

Luna Aura - Saturday, August 30 - Lustre Bar

Phoenix, as a rule of thumb, doesn't breed bona fide pop musicians all that often. With the exception of Jordin Sparks, who won American Idol seven years ago, it's a city better known for its contrast between metal and indie, folk and crusty desert punk. Though it may appear to be a wasteland for a pop artist, it's quite the opposite for Aura -- she knows she's practically one of a kind here.

The unabashed rap-influenced pop musician has a slot coming up in September at Tempe's Summer Ends Music Festival, and she will release on August 26 her self-titled debut EP, which was recorded, mixed, and mastered at legendary Capitol Studios in Los Angeles. Though these events are happening soon, 21-year‑old Luna Aura comes across as collected, unfazed. -- K.C. Libman

Paul Cardone Half Century - Sunday, August 31 - Crescent Ballroom

When the Tempe History Museum unveils its long-awaited exhibition delving into the city's storied musical past later this year, don't be surprised if there's little to no mention of Paul Cardone among the displays doting on Gin Blossoms, the Refreshments, and other local jangle-pop icons. By all rights, there should be, especially when you consider that the bassist and badass rock 'n' roll oracle has quietly served as an influential staple and unsung hero of Tempe music for more than 30 years. A scene veteran scene since the days when his Duran Duran-like New Wave project Shadowtalk haunted such bygone landmarks as the Sun Club and Long Wong's in the mid-1980s (before anyone had even heard of the Blossoms), Cardone cheerfully toiled as a go-to sideman and utility player for many Tempe legends over the decades. He sat in, recorded with, and jammed alongside the likes of the Chimeras and Dead Hot Workshop and even filled in for the latter band's bassist at Roger Clyne's wedding because he was busy sleeping. In the ensuing years, Cardone became a godfather, guru, and one-man social network for burgeoning local acts and modern-day favorites like Dry River Yacht Club and Japhy's Descent, offering advice, arranging gigs, lending gear, collaborating on songs, sharing stages, or just buying a round. Many of these same musicians, past and present, will participate in a two-night feting of Cardone in honor of his 50th birthday. Dubbed "PCHC" (as in "Paul Cardone Half-Century"), the first night will feature DRYC, Japhy's, Banana Gun, and other Tempe bands. Meanwhile, the second evening includes such icons as Dead Hot, The Sand Rubies, Gentleman Afterdark, and a collaboration between Cardone and seminal Valley rocker (and former Jetsonz guitarist) Bruce Connole. --Benjamin Leatherman

Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.

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