The 13 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

Rhiannon Giddens is scheduled to perform on Sunday, April 30, at the Musical Instrument Museum.
Rhiannon Giddens is scheduled to perform on Sunday, April 30, at the Musical Instrument Museum.
Dan Winters

This weekend is loaded up with big events, ranging from enormous pool parties to a few mini-festivals starring a slew of local bands.

The Crescent Ballroom, for instance, will serve up the Arizona Americana Showcase on Friday night featuring a half-dozen Valley acts that are big on the genre. Meanwhile, Dinosaur Love will release its new album at the Trunk Space, and renowned turntablist DJ Craze will be at Gypsy Bar to make up his rescheduled gig that was originally set to happen earlier this month.

The rest of the weekend is going to be just as busy. On Saturday, Last Exit Live will celebrate its fourth anniversary, Valley Bar will host the first-ever Gritty City Stringfest, and both Deerhunter and Son Volt will be in town for shows.

Sunday will feature the first-ever Country Splash at Big Surf, the talented Rhiannon Giddens visiting the Musical Instrument Museum, and sibling punk rock band The Garden at The Rebel Lounge.

With everything that’s happening over the next few days, it helps to have a guide to keep all the details straight. Hence the following rundown of all the “can’t miss” concerts and events happening in the Valley this weekend. (If you somehow need even more options, check out our extensive online music listings.)

Turntablist extraordinaire DJ Craze.EXPAND
Turntablist extraordinaire DJ Craze.
Courtesy of Relentless Beats

DJ Craze
Friday, April 28
Gypsy Bar

A few years ago, comedian Daniel Tosh put the DJs of the world on blast via his famed TV show Tosh.0. And true to form, the fearlessly snarky standup comic was quite merciless: "Do you know why everyone thinks they can DJ? Because everyone can," Tosh stated. "It's easy: pat your head and rub your stomach. There, you're an amazing DJ. Ninety percent of what DJs do is [pretending] to touch stuff. Stop acting like you're so busy. You're not hacking into the mainframe of the Pentagon; you're a professional iPod controller." Ouch. All that said, however, its readily apparent that Tosh has never seen the legendary DJ Craze perform one of his signature sets, since the comedian would likely take back a few of his aforementioned barbs. The world-renowned turntablist is nothing like your ordinary club jock or button-pusher, as his gigs are filled with a flurry of activity on the ones and twos. Not only can the Miami-born selector serve up records, he can also cut, scratch, spin, and manipulate the decks to create a symphony of hip-hop, breaks, bass, and trap sounds. Its little wonder, then, that he claimed the DMC World Championships three times in the late '90s and is considered to be one of the best in the DJ biz. Benjamin Leatherman

The members of San Fermin.
The members of San Fermin.
Denny Renshaw

San Fermin
Friday, April 28 Show Rescheduled for September 24
Valley Bar

On the surface, it'd be easy to see classical and pop music as polar opposites. But the world of baroque pop is proof that there's an unexpected harmony between pop melodies and classical arrangements. Ellis Ludwig-Leone (her own name is half classical, for God's sake) uses her flexible vocals to work around an arrangement of horns and pianos while singing about timeless topics like the perils of falling in love and the fear of growing older. In keeping her lyrics broad, it helps San Fermin connect the classical and modern by reminding us that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Matt Wood

Peter Kulikowski, the local musician behind one-man band Dinosaur Love.
Peter Kulikowski, the local musician behind one-man band Dinosaur Love.

Dinosaur Love
Friday, April 28
The Trunk Space

For most people, dinosaur love is a phase they outgrow in childhood. They may spend a couple of years playing with stegosaurus figures and drawing rampaging T-rexes, but they’ll soon cast them aside for superheroes, Pokemon, or Jedi. Peter Kulikowski isn’t most people. And the name of his one-man-band project, Dinosaur Love, says it all. He wears a huge green T-rex head when he takes the stage, singing songs about meteor strikes, dinosaurs in love, and why Jurassic Park really sucks. It’s the sort of gimmick that people would dismiss as a novelty act, but they’d be wrong to do so — Dinosaur Love is no joke. Kulikowski has evolved into becoming one of Phoenix’s most prolific and versatile songwriters. In addition to playing all the instruments on his albums, he also self-produces his work. Combining guitars with garage rock organ sounds and the influence of The Beach Boys, Dinosaur Love produces songs that can sound as huge as the extinct muses that inspired them. On Friday, April 28, Dinosaur Love will release an album of “conspiracy theory rock” called The Gospel. They’ll be delivering the good word at The Trunk Space, performing a release show with Andy Warpigs, Nocturnal North, and Drunk & Horny. Come on out to hear songs about the Illuminati, reptilian shapeshifters, and dinosaur messiahs. Ashley Naftule

Pedal-steel guitarist guru John Rauhouse.
Pedal-steel guitarist guru John Rauhouse.
Courtesy of Bloodshot Records

Arizona Americana Showcase
Friday, April 28
Crescent Ballroom

Americana has become as much of a catch-all bit of musical nomenclature as "rock 'n' roll" or "EDM," covering a wide-ranging swath of rootsy styles, artists, and acts. For proof, look no further than the range of talents that will be featured at this weekend’s Arizona Americana Showcase at the Crescent of Friday night. American Longspurs, for instance, hail from more of the alt-country/y’allternative territory. Meanwhile, Some Dark Hollow is in the hootin’ and hollerin’ vein of old-school country and indie bluegrass, Huckleberry does the post-country thing, and Lost in the Sun is more of an acoustic Americana thing. See if you can spot the differences during the event, which starts at 8 p.m. and will also feature performances by Jon Rauhouse and the Country Music Orchestra and Wheelwright, the newest project of Jared Kolesar of Jared and the Mill fame. Benjamin Leatherman

Brannon Kleinlein of Last Exit LiveEXPAND
Brannon Kleinlein of Last Exit Live
Benjamin Leatherman

Last Exit Live's Four-Year Anniversary
Saturday, April 29
Last Exit Live

In 2013, Last Exit owner Brannon Kleinlein was looking for a location to revive his dormant bar and music venue, which had closed down a few years prior. He’d thought about bringing it back to Tempe, the former home for Last Exit, but wound up going with downtown Phoenix instead. “I definitely was considering Tempe, but what venues that are still there are kinda spread out, and there’s no longer really a scene like on Mill Avenue in the ’90s,” Kleinlein told New Times in 2015. “I just felt like there was a better opportunity for me in downtown Phoenix.” And he hasn’t regretted that decision, especially since the venue’s has been busy with shows since its return. This weekend, Kleinlein will celebrate Last Exit Live’s fourth anniversary along with many of the local bands that have gigged there in recent years, including Banana Gun, decker., Wyves, Bear Ghost, Sara Robinson, Ruca, and Japhy’s Descent. Performances will take place both inside the place and on an outdoor stage that will be set up in the parking lot. The party starts at 7 p.m. Benjamin Leatherman

Diplo is diving into this year's Wet Electric.
Diplo is diving into this year's Wet Electric.
Courtesy of Mtheory

Wet Electric
Saturday, April 29
Big Surf in Tempe

It's time to drop a little knowledge on y'all: According to the eggheads of acoustic science, sound waves tend to travel much more efficiently through water than through air. And the practical upshot of this particular factoid? If you somehow wind up underwater at this weekend's Wet Electric, either after taking a trip down a waterslide or after getting dunked in the park’s ginormous wave pool – you won't miss a single second of all the club bangers, hit tracks, or remixes being blasted by its performers. And believe us, there will be a lot of music to soak up during the daylong electronic dance music festival and pool party. More than a dozen superstar DJs and EDM artists in total and a collection of local talents are scheduled to perform at Wet Electric on two different stages, including Diplo, Borgore, Audien, Anna Lunoe, Yookie, Jimmy Edgar, Justin Jay, Kill_Frenzy, Wax Motif, Bijou, and Gerry Gonza. For more details, hit up our comprehensive guide to the event. Benjamin Leatherman

Read on for more "can't miss" concerts and music events this weekend, including Deer Hunter, Son Volt, Rhiannon Giddens, and the first-ever Country Splash.



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