MRCH will celebrate the release of their new album at Valley Bar on Saturday, October 14.
MRCH will celebrate the release of their new album at Valley Bar on Saturday, October 14.
Frank Thomas

The 13 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

Watchu got going on this weekend? Hopefully something fun, considering there are few (if any) reasons to stay glued to the furniture at home.

If you need some options, we’ve got several to offer, particularly of the live music variety.

For starters, there’s the Arizona State Fair’s concert series (which includes performances by Gin Blossoms and Jake Miller this weekend). Meanwhile, hitmakers Macklemore and Harry Styles have shows, reggae icon Damian Marley will be at The Van Buren, and local band MRCH will celebrate the release of their new album.

The Halloween party season will also kick off this weekend with the BOO! Arizona dance music festival down at Rawhide, while the annual PHX Ska-Punk Bowling fest will be happening in Tempe.

Details about each of the events, as well as other notable shows, can be found below in our rundown of the best concerts in Phoenix this weekend. (And for even more live music happening in Phoenix, hit up our online listings.)

Singer-songwriter and violinist Andrew Bird.EXPAND
Singer-songwriter and violinist Andrew Bird.
Cameron Wittig

Andrew Bird
Friday, October 13
Mesa Arts Center

Like with 2012’s Break It Yourself, Andrew Bird’s latest indie pop album Are You Serious finds the classically trained violinist and singer-songwriter cruising gentle waves of indie rock while romantically toying with the English language à la Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde.

While the A.V. Club may have called this a “slight” record that takes “no musical risks,” the powerful effect of an absurdly talented and genius musician choosing relatively simple foundations — as Bird does with the bluesy groove of “Capsized” and the brutal passion of “Left Handed Kisses,” his lyric-driven duet with Fiona Apple — is both bold and admirable.

Risky arrangements or not, Bird unleashes flourishes of instrumental virtuosity throughout Are You Serious, and he will no doubt do the same at Mesa Arts Center. Adam Perry

Nicholas Rattiga and Jacob Rubeck of Surf Curse.
Nicholas Rattiga and Jacob Rubeck of Surf Curse.
Matthew James Wilson

Surf Curse
Friday, October 13
Crescent Ballroom

There’s a new wave of bands – if you’ll pardon the expression – who are equally inspired by the classic surf-pop reveries of The Beach Boys and the fuzzed-out minimalism of The Ramones. Even the names of such groups as Wavves and Best Coast evoke the beach, and you can get a rough idea of Surf Curse’s sound before they’ve even played a note.

Hailing from the notorious surfing hotbed of Henderson, Nevada, Jacob Rubeck and Nicholas Rattigan don’t gush about the ocean as much as, say, Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino. Instead, “Beach Whatever,” from the duo’s Sad Boys EP, is a more droning and mysterious entreaty. “Haunt Me” is a short, lo-fi love song that’s closer to the arty abruptness of Wire than the pop-punk power of The Descendents. Falling James

EDM artist Chris Lake.
EDM artist Chris Lake.
Courtesy of Good Question

Chris Lake
Friday, October 13
Shady Park in Tempe

Never heard of UK DJ-producer Chris Lake? Then you're hopelessly out of the loop, because he's one of the more renowned EDM stars in the world. Some notable stats: two Billboard Dance Airplay Chart number ones, several U.S. Dance Chart top tens, and "the best thing to come out of Scotland since Mylo," according to BBC Radio 1 über-tastemaker, Pete Tong.

But Lake prefers to hype his music, not his accolades. And following 2005 vocal house smash "Changes," he would go on to remix Madonna, Kylie Minogue, and Black Eyed Peas, while banging out his own chart-topping anthemic house originals. In 2010, Lake teamed with Italian producer Marco Lys for the full-length album Cross The Line. With its infusion of electro-house, disco, and everything from bebop jazz and Latin to music of the American South, it was an ambitious work that offered a little something for everyone.

And while Lake hasn’t dropped any official follow-ups to Cross The Line in the past seven years, he’s stayed plenty busy, including collaborating with artists like Steve Aoki and Anna Lunoe, as well as touring the world. This weekend, he visits Shady Park with Noise Frenzy as a part of his “Lose My Mind” tour. Sean Levisman


PHX Ska Punk Bowling
Friday, October 13, and Saturday, October 14
Yucca Tap Room in Tempe

Maybe its because both are lowbrow pursuits with a fondness for cheap beer, gaudy apparel, and making a racket, but bowling and punk rock go together as naturally as your fingers in the holes of a 12-pound Brunswick ball. The two have been pin pals for a couple of decades or more, as evidenced by the rowdy shows held at rundown alleys like Chicago's famed Fireside Bowl from '94 onward. (Here in the Valley, the bygone Tempe Bowl was infamously the site of many a wild show in that era.) And, of course, there's the renowned Punk Rock Bowling festival that brings thousands to Vegas every summer.

It helped to partly inspire a homegrown takeoff of the event, PHX Ska/Punk Bowling, which launched in 2013 in Tempe and proved popular enough to take place every year since. Typically, the event features multiple nights of both ska and punk music at local venues with 10-pin action happening at a nearby bowling alley.

This year’s event spans the entire weekend with two straight nights of shows at Yucca Tap Room in Tempe. L.A. punk act The Generators will headline the first show on Friday, October 13, which will also include sets by Antagonizers, C:28, Upstart 33, We Might Be Wasted, and Kill Your T.V. The following evening’s festivities on Saturday will include The Untouchables, Apathy Cycle, Los Lerpes, Skull Drug, Bowcat, Falcon A, Reason Unknown, Rundown Roommates, and Jahfunkdafied.

Actual bowling will also take place during the weekend, specifically on Sunday, October 15, at AMF Tempe Village Lanes, although you should refrain from slam dancing in the alleys like they did at Tempe Bowl back in the day. Benjamin Leatherman

Macklemore at the March Madness Music Festival back in April.EXPAND
Macklemore at the March Madness Music Festival back in April.
Jim Louvau

Macklemore
Saturday, October 14
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Seattle-born rapper Ben Haggerty, better known to most as Macklemore (or Professor Mack Lemore, if you’re way old-school) is a polarizing figure in the hip-hop world, to say the least. And while opinions about his talents and stature may vary from person to person, the fact remains that he’s had a phenomenally successful career thus far.

His biggest success to date, of course, is 2012's smash-hit The Heist, a collaboration with Ryan Lewis. Maybe you remember the hit song “Thrift Shop” (poppin’ tags, anyone?) or “Same Love.” Four years later, the duo released the follow-up, This Unruly Mess I've Made.

Macklemore’s career without Lewis hasn’t been as prolific, however. As a matter of fact, before his latest record, Gemini, dropped last month, he hadn’t released a solo album in more than six years. Macklemore’s making up for lost time, however, by touring relentlessly in support of Gemini, including playing the Marquee in Tempe this month. Sara Button

Harry StylesEXPAND
Harry Styles
Harley Weir

Harry Styles
Saturday, October 14
Comerica Theatre

If you’ve dated Taylor Swift, aged out of the biggest boy band ever, and inherited fame and fortune sometime during puberty, what kind of art do you make? That’s what former One Direction member Harry Styles’ 2017 has been about – about delivering an album that shows the world just who grown up Harry Styles really is.

And the answer to our aforementioned question? He’s a nostalgic, and romantic about well-worn, tried-and-true rock ‘n’ roll — the kind that came on vinyl records, the type that muddled emotion with ego and drew fairly straightforward conclusions about things like rebellion, love, sex, and power.

Freed up by the One Direction breakup, Styles is at once exploring new territory and familiarizing himself with traditional song forms. However, the dramatic nature of his life story remains Styles' greatest hook. Jonathan Patrick

Costumed revelers at last year's BOO! Arizona festival.
Costumed revelers at last year's BOO! Arizona festival.
Benjamin Leatherman

BOO! Arizona 2017
Saturday, October 14
Rawhide Event Center

Screams, shrieks, and sinister sounds will pierce the night out at Rawhide this weekend. But lest you worry that something horrific is afoot, be aware that it’s merely the latest edition of BOO! Arizona taking place at the Chandler venue.

The annual electronic dance event – which is equal parts costume ball, music festival, and rager – serves as the unofficial kickoff to the Halloween party season. At its inaugural edition last fall, thousands of kandi kids, EDM fans, and costumed revelers got their ghoulish groove on while renowned DJs blasted a high-energy, hard-hitting, bass-heavy soundtrack. A similar scene is likely to unfold on Saturday, October 14, during BOO! Arizona 2017 as beats and bass go bump in the night at Rawhide in Chandler.

This year’s event will be headlined by a back-to-back set between dubstep pioneer 12th Planet and “crunkstep” king Crizzly. Other DJs and artists on the lineup include Laidback Luke, Bonnie x Clyde, Bro Safari, KSHMR, Monxx, Valentino Khan, and the appropriately named Zomboy. Gates open at 5 p.m., and the festivities go until 2:30 a.m. Benjamin Leatherman

Renowned rock band The Church.EXPAND
Renowned rock band The Church.
Courtesy of the artist

The Church
Saturday, October 14
The Pressroom

For decades, The Church have struggled with a dilemma that would be the envy of most bands. Ever since they released Classic Numbers fixture “Under the Milky Way” in 1988, that song’s ubiquity on soundtracks and vintage alt-rock compilations has, unfortunately, left the rest of the psych-tinged Australian rockers’ vast discography in relative obscurity.

This despite an abundance of true gems, from uplifting native-land breakthrough “The Unguarded Moment” to Starfish-era single “Reptile,” which is nearly as haunting as “Milky Way,” all the way through 2015’s Further/Deeper, the first Church album since the departure of longtime guitarist Marty Willson-Piper.

Fans worried about any disruptive effects of new member Ian Haug (ex-Powderfinger) on the group’s mellow, melancholy sound need not worry. Under the auspices of bassist/vocalist Steve Kilbey since the get-go, The Church — whose new album, Man Woman Life Death Infinity, was released last month – have long since developed into a model of musical consistency. Chris Gray

The Gin Blossoms are headed back to the state fair this weekend.EXPAND
The Gin Blossoms are headed back to the state fair this weekend.
Saki Photography

Gin Blossoms
Saturday, October 14
Arizona State Fair

Tempe’s own Gin Blossoms endured a revolving door of members, a decision to recast the roles of everyone in the band, and the firing and death of their original singer, Doug Hopkins. Through all of that, the local boys not only found mainstream success, but they’re still at it 30 years later.

After touring with Lit, Everclear, and Sugar Ray on the Summerland Tour back in 2012, the guys decided to get back into the studio, announcing the completion of their sixth album in April 2017. No word on the title or when they intend to release it, but we’ll be ready and eagerly waiting when they do.

In the meantime, the Blossoms will return to the Arizona State Fair (where they’ve performed on five other occasions) for a gig inside the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Their 90-minute set starts promptly at 7 p.m. It’s free to fairgoers with reserved seating available for $40-$60. Eran Ryan

Jesse Pangburn and Mickey Pangburn of MRCH.
Jesse Pangburn and Mickey Pangburn of MRCH.
Frank Thomas

MRCH (Album Release Show)
Saturday, October 14
Valley Bar

The Valley’s a breeding ground for electronic music — from the bumping nightclub scene of Old Town Scottsdale to downtown Phoenix’s indie hangouts. But MRCH do things differently. In contrast to the boringly predictable drops and paint-by-numbers lyrics about “chicks in the club,” the band (whose name is pronounced “march”) create music against the electronic grain.

The Phoenix-based duo comprises Mickey Pangburn as frontwoman, guitarist, and synth player and Jesse Pangburn on drums. Together, they deliver a danceable, energetic sound with dreamy vocals that transcend their genre of choice.

For instance, their 2015 track “Spin” features a simplistic, repetitive beat, but uses that canvas to discuss love and cynicism. The chorus — minus some oohs, ahhs, and echoes — goes “never know / who to trust / so you become / come come come / cynical / al al al / like us.” Fans of electronic indie sounds of Sleigh Bells, Phantogram, and Beach House will vibe well with MRCH. This weekend, they’ll celebrate the release of their new album, Reactions, at Valley Bar. Lindsay Roberts

Lords of Acid, Christian Death & Combichrist
Saturday, October 14
Club Red in Mesa

Goth music fans of the Valley will rejoice on October 14. Not only is their favorite month of the year in full swing, but the trio of Lords of Acid, Christian Death, and Combichrist will be visiting Club Red in Mesa.

Lords of Acid is steeped in mystery even to this day. The act’s lyrics, layered with factory and industrial beats, delve into everything from voodoo to the sex magic espoused by Aleister Crowley. Somehow the Lords knew that combining the loud and repetitive with the occult and otherworldly would start an entirely new trend in fashion and music.

Openers Christian Death and Combichrist are equally responsible for influencing the goth-rock and industrial genres, respectively, each with its own unique vibe. Expect all-black wardrobes, dark beats, and living legends at the show. Addison Herron-Wheeler

Bluesman JW-Jones.EXPAND
Bluesman JW-Jones.
Courtesy of the artist

JW-Jones
Saturday, October 14
Rhythm Room

Going out of – hell, just trying to get out of – the box in blues is hard. Purists, traditionalists, or whatever you want to call them built the box and they are proud of the box. So who knows what traditionalists will make of JW-Jones, a brash young Canadian with a mostly-Texas blues bone who refuses to play by the rules.

Blues Revue calls Jones "a fluid amalgam of T-Bone Walker's big, bright chords, Johnny 'Guitar' Watson's slashing leads, and Clarence 'Gatemouth' Brown's jazzy sting." That's high praise indeed. For his part, Jones says it's nice to have the accolades, but his influences are fairly wide.

"My hope is that the combination of their influence on me, along with other Texas players like Albert Collins, Anson Funderburgh, Jimmie Vaughan, Lightnin' Hopkins, and Hash Brown, is that they come out sounding like my own interpretation with my own voice," Jones says. "It's a long road to finding your own voice in this deep music. That's the challenge, and I am in it for the long haul."

A 37-year-old guitar-slinger from Ottawa, Canada, Jones counts Charlie Musselwhite and Dan Aykroyd as fans. In spite of such endorsements, though, blues purists may have a problem with some of Jones' outside-the-blues-box tunes like the incredibly catchy "If It Feels This Good Tomorrow," which sounds like it fits somewhere between AAA radio and Americana if the Fabulous Thunderbirds gave a damn about Americana. William Michael Smith

Reggae star Damian Marley.EXPAND
Reggae star Damian Marley.
Courtesy of Press Here Now

Damian Marley
Sunday, October 15
The Van Buren

Though the son of an influential music legend, Bob Marley, like Sean Lennon, Damian Marley has firmly established himself as a noteworthy musician in his own right. His debut album, 1996's Mr. Marley, came out after he’d recently turned 18. The follow-up, the 2001 release Halfway Tree, received a 2002 Grammy for Best Reggae Album. Clearly, Damian Marley had arrived.

It was the 2005 album, Welcome to Jamrock, that catapulted Marley further into the realm of public consciousness. The record, richly composed, imaginatively socially aware, and peppered with noteworthy collaborators, including Nas and Black Thought of The Roots, proved that reggae could speak hard truths while still enjoying wide popularity. Marley subsequently expanded upon his collaboration with Nas, recognizing a kindred spirit, and the result was a 2010 album written by both men called Distant Relative

Since then Marley has collaborated with EDM artists like Rusko and Skrillex, whose dubstep clearly has roots in reggae, and participated in the collaborative project, SuperHeavy, along with Mick Jagger, Dave Stewart, Joss Stone and A.R. Rahman. Last fall, Marley opened a recreational marijuana dispensary in Denver called Stony Hill, which shares its name with his recently released studio album. Tom Murphy

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