Thundercat is scheduled to perform on Thursday, August 31, at The Van Buren.
Thundercat is scheduled to perform on Thursday, August 31, at The Van Buren.
Eddie Alcazar

The 10 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week

August is ending on a high note when it comes to great concerts.

The final days of this month will include a couple of long-awaited performances by the phenomenally talented bassist Thundercat and R&B superstar Mary J. Blige, appearances by rock legend Pat Benatar and old-school punkers G.B.H., and a visit from the enigmatic Hanni El Khatib.

There will also be gigs by Top 40 hitmakers OneRepublic, guitar virtuoso Ottmar Liebert, and singer-songwriter Sawyer Fredericks, one of the youngest winners of The Voice.

Plus, The Rocket Summer will be celebrating the 10th annivesary of its hit album Do You Feel at Crescent Ballroom.

All of these shows can be found in the following rundown of the best concerts in Phoenix this week. (For even more performances worth checking out over the next few nights, be sure to peep our online music listings.)

G.B.H.: Keeping it punk since 1978.EXPAND
G.B.H.: Keeping it punk since 1978.
Craig Burton/Hellcat Records

G.B.H.
Tuesday, August 29
The Rebel Lounge
The punks of G.B.H. are still alive and kicking these days, shouting down the culture of early ‘80s Britain while we raise our fists in nostalgic rage, trying to get into a lather remembering mean ol' Maggie Thatcher. It's a cool trick, but it wouldn't succeed were it not for the undeniable power of the hard-charging punk style that G.B.H. and their '82 U.K. peers pioneered. That bleak, remorseless heaviness was proto-metallic in its brutality and all but nihilistic in its outlook. While the memories and the whole "living legend" thing might be a solid enough reason for the old punks to pull on their leathers and check out the show, G.B.H. still defines true-school punk so precisely that its new, younger audience loves the group not for the old times, but for the fact that the band's approach is timeless in capturing the spiritual tenor of disaffected youth. Jason Ferguson

Bryce Avary of The Rocket Summer.EXPAND
Bryce Avary of The Rocket Summer.
Courtesy of High Road Touring

The Rocket Summer
Tuesday, August 29
Crescent Ballroom

Indie rock/pop-rock act The Rocket Summer visits the Crescent Ballroom on Tuesday and will be playing all 13 tracks from its 2007 album Do You Feel as a part of the band's nationwide 10-year anniversary tour. “It’s going to be a celebration,” says Bryce Avary, the band's multi-instrumentalist frontman and only official member. Do You Feel is The Rocket Summer’s third studio album, and the anniversary tour works to highlight the sentiment Avary felt a decade ago. “I think at the time I felt my spirit had a real sense of wanting a call to action," he says. "But all I knew is that I wanted to write something that made people question and [made] people go, ‘Why am I not doing something?’ You know, that can look like so many different things. But for me, it was just wanting to stand up and make a difference, essentially, as hokey as that sounds. That kind of fueled a lot of the songs on Do You Feel. It’s not entirely about that, but it was just something I could sink my teeth into the magic and what I was feeling in 2007.” John McClanahan

Neil Giraldo and Pat Benetar.EXPAND
Neil Giraldo and Pat Benetar.
Courtesy of Ticketmaster

Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo
Tuesday, August 29
Comerica Theatre

Pat Benatar recorded “Shine” — her first original song not to appear on a holiday record in over a decade — to benefit the Women’s March on Washington this past January. Once a pop star, she hasn’t exactly been high in the charts since the ’80s, when she was an unconventional cultural icon. Feminist ideals have informed Benatar’s career from the beginning, and her short hair style, fashion choices, and depiction of women in her music videos helped break down conventional views of women in mainstream culture. She sang songs about child abuse in “Hell Is for Children” and unabashed ballads of socially critical self-empowerment like “Love Is a Battlefield” and “Invincible.” Currently touring with her longtime creative partner and husband of 35 years, guitarist and songwriter Neil Giraldo, Benatar has aged well as a performer, and her famously powerful voice has remained captivating. Tom Murphy

The hitmakers of OneRepublic.
The hitmakers of OneRepublic.
Courtesy of Ticketmaster

Honda Civic Tour feat. OneRepublic
Tuesday, August 29
Ak-Chin Pavilion

OneRepublic is pretty consistent. As a band, they generally stay out of the spotlight. We never see them in the news, never see any controversial interview quotes – they're just that kind of band. However, the medium most friendly to OneRepublic is the radio, and people may not realize how prevalent their music has been on the Top 40 airwaves over the past decade. The Colorado-formed band has a lot of hits: "Apologize," "Counting Stars," "Love Runs Out," "Good Life," "Stop and Stare," "Secrets," and many more. The secret to OneRepublic's muted yet explosive success is lead singer Ryan Tedder, whom many people may not know spends a big chunk of his time writing songs for other pop stars. And Tedder is in a league of his own. Having written huge hits like Kelly Clarkson's "Already Gone," Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love," Beyonce's "Halo," and Adele's "Rumour Has It" – seriously, check out the full list – he is definitely up there with full-time songwriters like Dr. Luke and Max Martin as one of the most renowned and accredited go-to men in pop music. It wouldn't be bad to have an ear like his, huh? Ivan Guzman

Singer-songwriter Sawyer Fredericks, one of the youngest-ever winners of The Voice.EXPAND
Singer-songwriter Sawyer Fredericks, one of the youngest-ever winners of The Voice.
Lissy Laricchia

Sawyer Fredericks
Tuesday, August 29
Valley Bar

Sawyer Fredericks should be a familiar name to regular viewers of The Voice, owing to the fact that the teenage singer-songwriter became the youngest-ever winner of the reality singing competition back in 2015. Coached by Pharrell (with whom he shares a penchant for adorable hats), the then 16-year-old Fredericks bested more than a dozen other competitors thanks to his golden singing voice, rampant popularity, and glowing performances of such tracks as "Take Me to the River" by Al Green, "A Thousand Years" by Christina Perri, and John Lennon’s "Imagine." And while he reportedly racked up a number of sales records on iTunes for the songs he sung on The Voice, the two albums he released on Republic Records, a 2015 self-titled EP and 2016’s A Good Storm, produced modest sales and resulted in Fredericks leaving the label. This week, Fredericks (who has a new full-length, Hide Your Ghost, in the works) swings through Valley Bar with American Idol’s Haley Johnsen and fellow Voice contestant Gabriel Wolfchild in tow. Benjamin Leatherman

Read on for even more great concerts happening in Phoenix this week, including Mary J. Blige, Thundercat, and Hanni El Khatib.

R&B superstar songstress Mary J. Blige.EXPAND
R&B superstar songstress Mary J. Blige.
Courtesy of EMI

Mary J. Blige
Wednesday, August 30
Comerica Theatre

Though one of her biggest hits is titled “No More Drama,” Mary J. Blige has seen her share of dramatics. And 2017, unfortunately, has proved tumultuous for the artist’s personal life. Despite a very public divorce from her husband of 13 years, Blige is doing what she does best: working through it in her music. In a recent interview with Billboard, Blige admits the recording process for her most recent album, Strength of a Woman, forced her to start the healing process. However, making the song “Thick of It,” which is about her divorce, was especially difficult for the singer. “It was hard to go back to the studio and do it, but I had to do it, in order to — how can I say it? — get free, because my music is therapeutic to me as well,” Blige says. “And if I don’t write about it and if I don’t sing about where I am in my life, I won’t start a healing process.” And with her album Strength of a Woman debuting at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, it looks like both Blige and her fans are done with the drama and ready to start healing. Emily Roberts

Don't try to pigeonhole Hanni El Khatib.EXPAND
Don't try to pigeonhole Hanni El Khatib.
Courtesy of Innovative Leisure

Hanni El Khatib
Wednesday, August 30
Last Exit Live

Hanni El Khatib’s natural setting is night. The tattoos covering his arms are darkly inked. His wardrobe color scheme is fit for the hero of a Johnny Cash song. His career mission statement might even be found in the title track to his 2015 album Moonlight: “All my life, I’ve been fighting for the moonlight.” And most nights, he’s working, either performing at venues or producing songs in the studio. “I’ve always felt like an underground guy …grinding away,” El Khatib says. “It’s about the end game. I want to record, produce and work with diverse musicians without fitting into a box.” He’s discussing the events that transpired in the wake of his 2013 album, Head in the Dirt. Produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, it ostensibly anointed El Khatib the next superstar of garage rock. The album earned some terrestrial-radio airplay and was licensed for an Audi commercial that aired during the Super Bowl, but it failed to produce a transformative hit. If there was a knock on El Khatib’s previous efforts, it was that he too neatly compartmentalized his tastes. The songwriting was uniformly stellar, but each song could be categorized: soul, garage rock, blues. For Moonlight and his most recent effort, Savage Times, he found a way to synthesize his love of gloomy trip-hop, ’70s sleaze-rock, disco, stoner-prog, and jittery post-punk. It’s less sonic mash-up, more a Molotov cocktail tossed after midnight. Jeff Weiss

Healthy & Hydrated
Wednesday, August 30
Valley Bar

The self-described raison d'être of this monthly cipher at Valley Bar is to showcase “new, ambitious talent from PHX.” As such, each edition of Healthy & Hydrated, which is organized by local promoter Simply Presents, features a half-dozen or so the local scene’s up-and-coming rappers and organic hip-hop artists. This month's session on Wednesday, August 30, will include performances from such cats as Salty Brasi, Theloni Bloke, Jalopy Bungus, Kake Rare, and Slim Billions. Local DJ Eric Daily, better known as Deux Yeux, provides the sounds. The showcase kicks off at 7 p.m. Admission is $5 in advance, $7 at the door. Benjamin Leatherman

Thundercat pays a visit to The Van Buren this week.
Thundercat pays a visit to The Van Buren this week.
Eddie Alcazar

Thundercat
Thursday, August 31
The Van Buren

Bass guitarist Thundercat came into the public spotlight with his contribution to Kendrick Lamar’s most recent albums, 2015’s To Pimp a Butterfly and 2016’s Untitled Unmastered. But long before that, Thundercat had an under-the-radar distinguished music career. For starters, he joined Suicidal Tendencies at age 16. Later, he launched into high-profile collaborations with other artists, starting in 2008 with Erykah Badu and her New Amerykah albums. During his work with Flying Lotus on the latter’s 2010 opus, Cosmogramma, the two artists found that they had a fruitful creative partnership; they’ve been contributing to each other’s albums ever since. Thundercat’s 2017 solo effort, Drunk, is a futuristic blend of space funk, jazz fusion, and panoramic electronic soundscapes. On that record, Lamar, Pharrell Williams, Wiz Khalifa, FlyLo, and jazz phenom Kamasi Washington add their own magic to Thundercat’s sonic wizardry. Tom Murphy

Guitar virtuoso Ottmar Liebert.EXPAND
Guitar virtuoso Ottmar Liebert.
Matt Callahan

Ottmar Liebert and Luna Negra
Thursday, August 31
Musical Instrument Museum

Born in Germany to a Chinese-German father and a Hungarian mother, Ottmar Liebert began his love affair with the guitar at the tender age of 11. By the time he was 18, he was educated as to the many ethnicities of music, and he began traveling as a musician throughout Europe and Asia before settling in the United States in the 1980s. His tastes always veered toward the erudite and artistic, but it wasn't until forming the funky, folk-jazz ensemble Luna Negra in 1988 that he finally found a venue for his discerning craftsmanship. Liebert is an eternal student, always seeking musical enlightenment through the honing of his skills. His expansive discography includes close to 30 different albums, including last year's Waiting n Swan. His current tour brings him to (where else?) the Musical Instrument Museum on Thursday. Abel Folgar

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