8 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

Gift of Gab and Chief Xcel of Blackalicious.EXPAND
Gift of Gab and Chief Xcel of Blackalicious.
Courtesy Photo

If ever there was a sign of summer's impending conclusion, it might just be this weekend's slate of live shows. After a long hiatus, it seems like things are picking back up again around these parts, especially when it comes to live music. The Phoenix Symphony is back in session, there are a couple of big outdoor shows happening (including the Mad Decent Block Party in Chandler), and there are “can't miss” concerts going down pretty much everywhere.

So it shouldn't come as a surprise that we have a whopping eight shows taking place this weekend for your consideration, ranging from hip-hop and indie rock to industrial and EDM. As always, if they aren't necessarily your cup of tea, feel free to peruse our online concert calendar for other options.

Blackalicious - Friday, September 18 - Crescent Ballroom

“We gotta have faith. It’s one of the most powerful forces. You create your life through what you believe,” Gift of Gab declared while introducing the new song “Blacka” at a Blackalicious concert last summer in Atlanta. “Belief and faith can work for you or it can work against you. So, be positive, think positive, do positive things.” Gab and his musical partner, DJ/producer Chief Xcel, have long employed “the positive tip” in their rapid-fire tracks, instead of glorifying thuggery and materialism as do so many other rappers. But it has been difficult for longtime fans to remain positive after waiting almost a decade for the Sacramento duo to release something new since 2005’s spellbinding word-fest, The Craft. With its shout-along chorus, “Blacka” is an intriguing tease from Blackalicious’ long-awaited album, Imani Vol. 1, and has been on the set lists of their current tour, which hits Crescent Ballroom on Friday night. FALLING JAMES

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Mad Decent Block Party - Friday, September 18 - Rawhide Western Town

While he doesn't possess either a stovepipe hat or a bullwhip, esteemed dance music king Diplo is most certainly a ringmaster of the highest order. After all, he's spent the last few years overseeing one of the larger and more vibrant circuses in the EDM world – namely, the Mad Decent Block Party. Packing just as many thrills, spectacle, and hype as any production put together by the fabled P.T. Barnum, the dance music festival offers an action-packed night of raging that's all color, energy, and sound. As with previous versions of the event, which debuted as a series of block parties ion the east coast back in the aughts and has since expanded into a annual summertime tour, the varying lineups in each city are curated by Diplo himself and feature many artists, DJ, and acts associated with his Mad Decent label. When this year's MDBP rolls into Rawhide in Chandler on Friday, September 18, it will include both Mad Decent cohorts like Dillon Francis, Oliver Heldens, What So Not, Yellow Claw, Post Malone, and Thomas Jack, as well as Diplo's famed side project, Major Lazer. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN

Delta Nove - Friday, September 18, and Saturday, September 19 - Cactus Jack's

Southern California-based eclectomaniacs Delta Nove blend the percussive powers of roots reggae, rock, world music, and funk, and the well-traveled five-piece do so with style. Consisting of guitarist Bobby Easton, drummer Dominic Feedam, bassist Viking Burkhiser, trumpet player Nic Chaffee, and saxophonist Justin Padilla, the troupe has spent the last decade or so spreading their sound across counties, communities and clubs throughout the country, often playing with the likes of the Black Crows, Ozomatli and scores of others. Part of their legacy is the band’s live jam sessions known as the “Collab Lab,” which has taken place at venues in and around they're home base of Orange County where they ask a musician or two to join them on stage and hash out some improv jams and one-of-a-kind moments. Delta Nove is likely to get a similarly groovy jam going this weekend at Cactus Jack's in Ahwatukee when they perform a two-night set. NATE JACKSON

My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult - Saturday, September 19 - Pub Rock

My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult began as a film idea that Frankie Nardiello and Marsten Daley had that never fully came to fruition. The two met while touring with Ministry, and in 1987, inspired in part by disco, exploitation films, the industrial scene happening around them in Chicago and a mutual love for campy horror movies, the pair formed a creative partnership that produced something better than any movie they could have made. With Nardiello taking on the stage name of Groovie Mann and Daley performing as Buzz McCoy, the two larger-than-life characters have been making larger-than-life music and putting on incredibly entertaining and gloriously colorful (in every sense) shows ever since.

TKK, as the act is sometimes known, had a breakthrough hit with the irreverent "Kooler Than Jesus," and its 1991 album, Sexplosion!, made the band an underground sensation. In 1994, TKK appeared in the iconic film The Crow and did music for that accidental classic of sleaze Showgirls, which helped solidify the band's reputation even more as a noteworthy act, as the excellent soundtrack fared better in reviews than the film itself. Since then, Thrill Kill Kult has been on numerous tours and released five albums, including 2009's Death Threat. Early Satanic imagery and lyrical themes included in the humorously lurid aesthetic of the band, TKK has not been a group that has taken itself as seriously as it has the execution of its music and putting on a compelling live show. TOM MURPHY

Jenny Hval - Saturday, September 19 - Valley Bar

Norwegian avant-garde singer/songwriter Jenny Hval stretches the frame of experimental pop music with her third album Apocalypse, girl by the way it challenges ears to participate its well-articulated doom. She’s based in electronic instrumentation but confinement is not a trait she wears well. Sometimes Hval is spacey and eerie (“White Underground”) while other times she flexes her astute spoken word ability (“Kingsize”) to provoke imagery of the modern world gone mad. Apocalypse, girl was released on the local label Sacred Bones and their union is a success in boundary-daring music. SILAS VALENTINO

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Sunday, September 20 - Talking Stick Resort

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition, because Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band Lynyrd Skynyrd is coming to town with its hard Southern rock jams. The legendary rockers are, of course, best known for “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Free Bird,” but they also are some of this country’s most renowned fliers of the Confederate Flag, and anywhere they go, it generally can be assumed that the Stars and Bars will be visible, if not onstage then in the crowd. While the media storm surrounding the rebel flag seemingly has died down since summer’s Charleston church shooting, the particular piece of cloth always has been a lightning rod for controversy, a concept Skynyrd probably understands better than any band in the country. For decades, until just a few years ago, Skynyrd flaunted the flag as a symbol of Southern pride, though there’s little doubt the band also enjoyed the controversy (and fans) that surrounded the banner. Skynyrd is going to keep doing its thing, regardless of what Neil Young thinks. JEFF MOSES

Old 97's - Sunday, September 20 - Crescent Ballroom

With all the pomp and drama that never seem to fade from fellow '90s alt-country survivors like Ryan Adams and Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, Rhett Miller of Dallas-based act Old 97's tends to get overlooked. Really, though, that's how it should be. While Miller's band has never been short on fans, the Old 97's reliable, steady-as-she-goes attitude has produced a far more consistent and approachable body of work over the years than any of Miller's higher-profile contemporaries have ever mustered. JASON HELLER

Metalachi - Sunday, September 20 - Rhythm Room

Those able to picture Axl Rose adorned in an ornate, oversize sombrero or a bandanna-wearing Bret Michaels strumming a fat guitarrón or Mötley Crüe wearing rivet-edged chaps, vests, and pointy boots and eyeliner possibly can envision the spectacle that is Metalachi. Made up of five brothers and half-brothers, Metalachi combines the force and, at times, over-the-top exuberance of heavy metal with the stoic, storied history and tradition of Mexican mariachi music. And somehow, it works — really (well, in kind of a tongue-in-cheek manner). But in the beginning, there were many skeptics, including the band members themselves. "I laughed — and at the same time I got really excited. I saw the potential right away. I was almost mad at myself for not coming up with the idea first," says violinist Maximilian "Dirty" Sanchez. "At our first show, I think we all thought, 'Wow, we're part of something big. We can step outside our everyday mundane lives as mariachi musicians.' Mariachi is very limited creatively, and as far as song choice...we wanted to do something new for mariachi and represent it in a new light." GLENN BURNSILVER

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