Jay-Z is scheduled to perform on Friday, November 3, at Talking Stick Resort Arena.EXPAND
Jay-Z is scheduled to perform on Friday, November 3, at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
Debby Wong/Shutterstock.com

The 11 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

Are you up for seeing a great concert this weekend? You’ve got no shortage of options, including the following 11 music events.

Arguably, the two biggest shows of the weekend will be performances by superstars Jay-Z on Friday and Bruno Mars on Sunday. Both will be at Talking Stick Resort Arena and both are likely to be packed.

Elsewhere this weekend, you can attend the final Tongue Tied dance party or the latest Endless Bummer fest, as well as gigs by Son Little, Gregory Porter, Chicano Batman, and Yelawolf.

If you need even more options, be sure to check out our extensive live music listings. In the meantime, here are the 11 best concerts to check out this weekend in Phoenix.

The members of death metal act Children of Bodom.EXPAND
The members of death metal act Children of Bodom.
Courtesy of the band

Children of Bodom
Friday, November 3
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Having changed their name from Inearthed to a reference to the infamous Lake Bodom murders of 1960, this Finnish band continue to defy easy categorization in any specific subgenre of metal. The band's precision and furiously fast and melodic riffing are clearly influenced by the new wave of British heavy metal, while the players use enough underlying atmospheric tones and thrashy leads to garner a black-metal comparison, as well.

But these Children perform their music with a clear zest for life, even if most of their lyrics focus on the kind of subject matter that inspired their current moniker. Like the thrash legends of the '80s, Children of Bodom has toured like their life depended on it over the course of its career — a work ethic that has yielded a consistently energetic and masterful live show. Tom Murphy

Son Little
Son Little
Anthony Saint James

Son Little
Friday, November 3
Valley Bar

Son Little, a.k.a. Aaron Livingston, has created a sound that many have called "genre-bending." It canvasses notes of old soul, and Livingston's vintage vocals breathe life into a style reminiscent of Otis Redding's. He steps into the political sphere of Crosby, Stills & Nash's "Ohio" on songs like "Oh Mother," which brings about Livingston's perspectives on the atrocities of racial discrimination, heightened by current events and incidents involving police brutality.

His music also crosses the bridge into the sexier, less-charged territories of "The River," a song electrified with passion, longing, and infectious hand claps. Visceral and carnal, his most popular song is a departure from his gospel roots, drenched in deep Southern twang and bluesy pauses.

For many listeners, the gateway Son Little song is "The River," a raw combination of rich soul, dirty South, rock, and a choral intimacy. The soul inherent on Son Little's tracks is transportive, not only from genre to genre, but through time. While Son Little's distinctive voice does reflect obvious influence from early American soul, lyrically his perspectives range from the spirit of the fighting Irish to the reflective observations of Rastafari. Stephanie Grey

Jay-Z in concert.
Jay-Z in concert.

Jay-Z
Friday, November 3
Talking Stick Resort Arena

In order to drop a bomb, you have to build one first. This past summer, Jay-Z unleashed the explosive album 4:44, four years after his previous release. New tracks from the hip-hop megastar generated much excitement, partly because of a desire to hear what he might have to say about his wife, Beyoncé. Not that fans’ obsession with the couple was anything new. This time, though, the intrigue went deeper. And darker.

Fans wanted to know if Jay’s new album included responses to Beyoncé’s Lemonade, the critically acclaimed, gut-bomb of a masterpiece that dropped a little more than a year prior. Would Jay-Z bother owning up? That was the question. Fuck yeah, he bothered.

Though he never made an official public confession, in this revealing and deeply personal collection of songs, 4:44 does find Jay-Z addressing those call-outs from his wife. The record includes some critical takes on society and an analysis of the black experience in America that uses O.J. Simpson as an example. Music industry greed is another topic on his hitlist.

Now, haters, they’re gonna hate. Some folks find it hollow when a guy with a net worth reported to be over $800 million and ownership in companies like Tidal and Rocawear calls out greediness in others. On the flipside, it’s the words he’s chosen thus far that have given him the success he has today. Amy Young

The bluegrass boys of the Steep Canyon Rangers.EXPAND
The bluegrass boys of the Steep Canyon Rangers.
Courtesy of the artist

Steep Canyon Rangers
Friday, November 3
Mesa Arts Center

Approximately 73 million bands have formed at colleges over the years, and the vast majority of them fall into the rock or pop categories, with a few hip-hop or jazz outfits thrown in for good measure. That makes the Steep Canyon Rangers an anomaly — a bluegrass combo formed in the shadow of academia.

Banjoist Graham Sharp, bassist Charles Humphrey III, guitarist Woody Platt, fiddler Nicky Sanders, and mandolinist Mike Guggino were students at the University of North Carolina when they first debuted in 2000 and became one of the genre's most high-profile acts. And they became even more prominent the past several years after hooking up with jokester-turned-banjoist Steve Martin in 2009 and won a Grammy for best bluegrass album in 2013 for their solo album, Nobody Knows You.

While the Rangers won't have Martin in tow when they pay a visit to the Mesa Arts Center this weekend, they will be performing the sort of upbeat down-home sounds that attracted the legendary actor/comedian in the first place. Michael Roberts

Jerusafunk is scheduled to perform at the Endless Bummer fest.EXPAND
Jerusafunk is scheduled to perform at the Endless Bummer fest.
Courtesy of the artist

Endless Bummer ’17
Saturday, November 4
Trunk Space

There isn’t much about Sunnyslope that screams “punk rock,” but looks can be deceiving. Three music labels — Slope Records, Onus Records, and Casa Butthole Record Collective — call the neighborhood home. Each is dedicated to releasing homegrown garage rock, punk, and experimental sounds.

While Slope and Onus are doing their part to put the ’slope on the map, the folks at CBRC are making a mark on the local scene with tape releases and an annual festival called Endless Bummer. The one-day music marathon debuted in 2016 to a packed house at FiftyOneWest in Tempe. It featured more than 20 bands, mixing together collective-affiliated bands and other DIY groups, showcasing the best the Phoenix underground had to offer.

This year, Endless Bummer is coming to The Trunk Space. Some of the bands on the bill share the musical signatures that define so many Casa Butthole records: a delirious blend of punk attitude, white-noise laced garage rock production values, and Misfits-style ghoulishness. The lineup includes goth/surf combo Hex Wave and CBRC head Josué Kinter Rodriguez’s project Rum Drinker, probably the only band in town that could get away with doing a “Cheeseburger in Paradise” cover. Then there’s garage rock groups like Sugar Skull Explosion, a father-daughter duo (said daughter is still in elementary school) who hammer out tunes with anarchic glee while wearing skull masks.

While quite a few bands on this year’s roster are graveyard bosom buddies with the Casa aesthetic, there’s a surprising amount of music diversity in the lineup. Rap fans can enjoy Joobs and local queer rap/electronic music god The Doyenne. Jazz and experimental music fiends can trip out to Sunn Trio’s discordant soundscapes, while folk punk aficionados can shout along to “Kill The FBI” with Travis James & The Acrimonious Assembly Of Arsonists.

As of press time, 21 bands are scheduled to perform between noon to midnight on November 4 for Endless Bummer ’17. With tickets only $10 a pop, it’s the cheapest and finest way to see the best of Phoenix’s DIY scene. Ashley Naftule

The musicians of Chicano Batman.EXPAND
The musicians of Chicano Batman.
Courtesy of ATO Records

Chicano Batman
Saturday, November 4
The Van Buren

Los Angeles-based Chicano Batman isn’t particularly dark, and the only crime the soul band seems to be fighting is that of bad taste. The group’s matching outfits recall the Chicano-rock movement of the early ’60s and bands like Thee Midniters. Like that act, Chicano Batman plays music on the softer side of rock while projecting an understated passion that keeps performances from seeming safe.

Embracing tropicalia and psych, Chicano Batman makes smooth music, with lyrics in both Spanish and English, that stretches the standard pop format. This year’s Freedom Is Free finds the four-piece extending itself further into the realms of jazz and funk without watering down its vision or losing any of its inherent cool. Tom Murphy

Michael Wayne Atha, better known as rap star Yelawolf.
Michael Wayne Atha, better known as rap star Yelawolf.
Courtesy of Universal Music Group

Yelawolf
Saturday, November 4
Club Red in Mesa

To many rap fans, Yelawolf is the classic underdog story. Signed to a major label and then dropped, Yelawolf released a couple of mixtapes before catching the ear of Eminem, which paved the way for his breakthrough.

The heavily tattooed, Alabama-bred artist continues to climb into the conscience of fans, helped by the inclusion of his single “Till It’s Gone” on Sons of Anarchy, while blending hardcore rap, bluegrass, and country to create a sound that goes far beyond conventional Southern rap.

He released his Hotel EP last October, and his current tour is showcasing new material from his latest album, Trial by Fire. For now, the rapper continues to build a larger audience on the road while keeping an eye on his burgeoning offstage business ventures in his adopted home of Nashville. Daniel Kohn

Jay "Funkfinger" Wiggins and Michelle "Roya" Chinichian of Tongue Tied.EXPAND
Jay "Funkfinger" Wiggins and Michelle "Roya" Chinichian of Tongue Tied.
Benjamin Leatherman

Tongue Tied’s Dance of the Dead
Saturday, November 4
Linger Longer Lounge

One of the Valley’s longest-running dance nights is coming to an end, but not before it gets in its last licks. Tongue Tied, the monthly themed dance party that was fueled by fun and plenty of indie and alternative sounds both retro and modern, will stage its final edition this weekend after a four-year run.

This weekend’s event, dubbed the Dance of the Dead, will take place on Saturday, November 4, and feature a Día de los Muertos theme and honor such dearly departed musicians as David Bowie, Prince, Amy Winehouse, and Michael Jackson. In the spirit of the event, patrons are encouraged to bring various cassettes, LPs, photos, and merch from each artist for a tribute altar that will be set up inside Linger Longer Lounge, the current home of Tongue Tied.

Resident DJs Michelle "Roya" Chinichian and Jay "Funkfinger" Wiggins will also raise a toast to Tongue Tied, which has taken place on the first Saturday of (almost) every month since 2013. “We want an epic finale that completes and feels worthy of the night,” Chinichian says. “The Dance of the Dead party seemed liked the perfect theme to pull the plug on the night and celebrate its life and all the great memories we’ve had.”

There will also be a photo booth, sugar skull face-painting for $5 per person, and a costume contest with a $50 Linger Longer gift card as first prize. The final Tongue Tied starts at 9 p.m. Admission is $5. Benjamin Leatherman

The Family Stone
Saturday, November 4
Chandler Center for the Arts

In the mid-'60s, the division between the races was never more distinct. Despite the emergence of Motown and the assimilation of soul into the musical mainstream, most pop ensembles remained sharply segregated, with musicians of one race or gender rarely performing alongside musicians of another. While bands such as the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Love, and Booker T and the M.G.'s helped change the racial balance, it was Sly and the Family Stone that brought that fully integrated mix to the top of the charts thanks to hit singles such as "Dance to the Music," "I Wanna Take You Higher," and "Everyday People."

When the band took the stage at Woodstock on an August evening in 1969, that fusion of rock and soul made such an indelible impression that its place in music history was instantly assured.

Today, Sly remains an enigmatic presence, rarely seen in public, much less in performance. However, the band carries on, steered by its two surviving original members — saxophone player Jerry Martini and drummer Greg Errico. And though the other original member of the ensemble, trumpet player Cynthia Robinson, passed away last November, she leaves behind the daughter she birthed with Sly — Phunne Stone — to front the band with the same infectious enthusiasm as her father. Lee Zimmerman

Bruno Maris is in for the long haul on his current tour.EXPAND
Bruno Maris is in for the long haul on his current tour.
Kai Z. Feng

Bruno Mars
Sunday, November 5
Talking Stick Resort Arena

In less than a decade and with just three albums under his belt, Bruno Mars has taken the pop music world by storm and moved to the forefront of the genre with the likes of Beyonce, Ariana Grande, and The Weeknd. He’s proven he can deliver powerful ballads and party anthems influenced by the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s and genres such as soul, funk and R&B.

When Mars takes the stage at the Talking Stick Resort Arena, this will be the 105th performance of his yearlong 24K Magic World Tour. But don’t worry about fatigue setting in.

He recently told CBS News, “I know that people wanna go out and have a good time. And they spent their hard-earned money for this ticket, and I just wanna make sure they leave feeling something.” The 32-year-old Honolulu native will deliver one of his signature feel-good performances in support of his double-platinum album, 24K Magic, which has already sold a bazillion copies. Mikel Galicia

Jazz/blues singer Gregory Porter.EXPAND
Jazz/blues singer Gregory Porter.
Erik Umphery

Gregory Porter
Sunday, November 5
Mesa Arts Center

Gregory Porter was born into a black family with an absentee father, in a mostly white neighborhood in Bakersfield, California. As a boy, he endured a burning cross on his lawn and bottles of urine hurled through his windows. He sang only in church, until he honored his mother’s last wish for him on her deathbed and began his vocal career at age 40.

Five years later, Porter has a Grammy and international fame. He’s a jazz singer but, as in the manner of Al Jarreau, Bill Withers, Donny Hathaway, Lou Rawls and George Benson, his soul roots are gloriously self-evident.

Porter, who sounds classic and current at the same time, released the superb album Take Me to the Alley last year on Blue Note. He followed it up with this year’s Nat "King" Cole & Me, a collection of songs paying tribute to the late R&B legend that Porter recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra. Expect to hear songs from both albums during Porter’s performance at Mesa Arts Center this weekend. Tom Murphy

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