Bishop Briggs is scheduled to perform at Alt AZ 93.3's Dia De Los Alt on Friday, September 22, at Mesa Amphitheatre.EXPAND
Bishop Briggs is scheduled to perform at Alt AZ 93.3's Dia De Los Alt on Friday, September 22, at Mesa Amphitheatre.
Jabari Jacobs

The 12 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

Guess what, you guys. It’s officially fall in Phoenix. For proof, look no further than the arrival of all the outdoor music festisvals.

Three of ‘em will be taking place around the Valley this weekend, including Alt AZ's big Dia De Los Alt celebration at Mesa Amphitheatre on Friday, the two-day Unity Kickoff Festival at Shady Park in Tempe, and the latest Global Dance Festival Arizona, which happens at Rawhide in Chandler.

There are plenty of notable concerts happening indoors as well, such as Jared & The Mill at The Van Buren, Zola Jesus at Valley Bar, Deerhoof at Crescent Ballroom, Fleet Foxes at Comerica, and The Perceptionists at The Rebel Lounge.

Read on for more details about each event or hit up our online concert calendar for even more music events this weekend.

Ben Folds returns to the Valley with a twist on audience requests.
Ben Folds returns to the Valley with a twist on audience requests.
Kholood Eid

Ben Folds
Friday, September 22
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

When you go to a Ben Folds show, you expect it to be highly interactive, with lots of singalongs and banter between Folds and the audience. But Folds is flipping the script when it comes to planning his fall tour set list. A few years ago, he encouraged his enthusiastic fans to — in lieu of shouting favorite songs for the encore – launch their requests on stage as a paper airplane. It quickly became a tradition, with Folds providing the paper at some shows.

His upcoming Marquee Theatre show will feature a set entirely composed of “airplane requests” from the audience. Anything from his staggering career is fair game, including songs from Ben Folds Five. Fan favorites like “Brick” and “Army” will certainly have their fair share of planes, so we suggest throwing in some deeper cuts (“Underground” or “Kate” perhaps?). Ashley Harris

Nika Roza Danilova, a.k.a. Zola Jesus, is coming to downtown Phoenix.
Nika Roza Danilova, a.k.a. Zola Jesus, is coming to downtown Phoenix.
Tim Saccenti

Zola Jesus
Friday, September 22
Valley Bar

The world has changed a lot since the release of the 2014 Zola Jesus album Taiga. That record was the only one that Nika Roza Danilova, a.k.a. Zola Jesus, has put out with well-known experimental-music label Mute, which she doesn't regret working with. But for her forthcoming album, 2017's Okovi, she is returning to the smaller independent label that nurtured her early career, Sacred Bones, an imprint started by Caleb Braaten.

That sort of homecoming extended beyond just going back to a record label that offered familiarity and comfort. Since the rise of Zola Jesus as a buzz artist in underground circles, Danilova has lived alternately in New York, Los Angeles, and Washington.

She has written spacious, emotionally cathartic music that parallels and perhaps informs some of the minimal synth, atmospheric post-punk, goth rock, and industrial music that has emerged as a cohesive scene over the past decade. Danilova even worked with industrial-music legend J.G. Thirlwell on the 2013 remix album of her earlier material, Versions. Tom Murphy

Benny Bennasi takes over Maya Day & Nightclub this weekend.EXPAND
Benny Bennasi takes over Maya Day & Nightclub this weekend.
MAK Management

Benny Bennasi
Friday, September 22
Maya Day & Nightclub in Scottsdale

Internationally renowned DJ and producer Benny Benassi played for his first crowds in the '80s, but what really blew him up was 2003’s “Satisfaction.” He’s released more than a few albums and won several awards, including a Grammy for his remix of “Bring the Noise.” Though Benassi has been killing the game for over a decade now, he shows no signs of stopping anytime soon, putting on hundreds of club gigs worldwide each year, playing festivals like Ultra and Spring Awakening, and landing at Maya in Scottsdale this weekend for a Friday evening set inside its nightclub. One thing’s for sure: After all these years of practice, Benassi knows how to throw down. Sarah Purkrabek

The Toadies formed almost three decades ago, but they're as busy as ever.
The Toadies formed almost three decades ago, but they're as busy as ever.
Matt Cooper

Toadies
Friday, September 22
Crescent Ballroom

September is a busy month for the Toadies. The alternative band kicked off a 47-date, 29-state tour earlier this month that has them crisscrossing the U.S. until early November. Plus, they released their new album, The Lower Side of Uptown, via Kirtland Records. It's the follow up to 2015's Heretics and is the Toadies' seventh album overall.

For The Lower Side of Uptown, the Toadies enlisted the help of producer Chris “Frenchie” Smith and mixer Rob Schnapf. Smith and Schnapf have a long history of working together for the Toadies. Smith produced the band’s 2012 album Play. Rock. Music., and Schnapf produced Heretics and Feeler and co-produced Rubberneck and Hell Below/Stars Above.

“Since our last album was a stripped-down, mainly acoustic recording, we had kind of assumed that sound would play at least a part of this new album, perhaps mixed in with our more traditional loud rocking sounds,” Toadies drummer Mark “Rez” Reznicek says. “But once we started making music, it sort of took a life of its own and became an altogether heavier affair.” Jesus Jimenez.

British-born pop songstress Bishop Briggs.EXPAND
British-born pop songstress Bishop Briggs.
Chad Kamenshine

Alt AZ 93.3’s Dia De Los Alt
Friday, September 22
Mesa Amphitheatre

The folks from local alternative radio powerhouse 93.3 Alt AZ will debut the station’s annual Dia De Los Alt concert and festival this weekend. And they’re bring in a variety of big-name acts and artists to the Mesa Amphitheatre for the occasion.

The lineup will include New York City-based indie pop act Bleachers, British-born indie singer Bishop Briggs, and alt-rock favorites Sir Sly. Local rock band Rival Coast will have the honor of opening the event, which starts at 3 p.m. Tickets are $39. Benjamin Leatherman

Dirty Sunset is celebrating the release of its latest album this weekend.EXPAND
Dirty Sunset is celebrating the release of its latest album this weekend.
Rachael Smith/RaySquared Productions

Unity Kickoff Festival
Friday, September 22, and Saturday, September 23
Shady Park in Tempe

This two-day confluence of art and music is significant for a few reasons. First, it’s the biggest event that Shady Park has hosted in its two-year history of existence. Secondly, the event celebrates the launch of the locally focused Unity Through Community nonprofit and collective, which hopes to “[provide] shared creative tools to practicing craftspeople and curious newcomers.”

According to co-founder Robert “Fun Bobby” Birmingham, it also seeks to provide opportunities for local artists and musicians. “We’re all about empowering creativity for the mind-bending evolutionary benefits it provides people. We believe in artists, idealists, crazy, out-of-the-box thinkers,” he says.

The festival, which takes place both inside and outside of Shady Park, kicks off on Friday with performances from Marvel Years, The Greenhouse Project, The Real Seals, Dr. Delicious, The Hourglass Cats, Dirty Sunset, Clint Stevens Band, Jerusafunk, Sunset Voodoo, and others.

Day two of the event will offer sets by Catharsis, Grave Danger, Banana Gun, Walt Richardson Band, Ghetto Cowgirl, The Haymarket Squares, ILL Choppo, Sara Robinson Band, W.A.S.H., The Sugar Thieves, The Woodworks, Japhy's Decent, Page the Village Idiot, and The Riley Rainbow Family Circus. Tickets are $15 to $20. Benjamin Leatherman

Deerhoof in concert.EXPAND
Deerhoof in concert.
Joe Singh

Deerhoof
Saturday, September 23
Crescent Ballroom

In the increasingly complicated zoology of indie rock, the tracks of artistic San Francisco outfit Deerhoof remain easy to spot, but difficult to follow. At times they resemble playful finger-painting, at others, emotive and abstract expressionism.

Atop the Sonic Youth-inspired structures of guitarist John Dieterich and the minimalist percussion of Greg Saunier, Satomi Matsuzaki, who musically resembles a cross between Yoko Ono and Ralph Wiggum, sporadically spills her childlike vocals that vary from pure gibberish to haiku-like poetry from the perspective of a dog. It's up to you to decide whether it's completely brilliant or complete bullshit (though all evidence strongly suggests the former instead of the latter). Their latest album, Mountain Moves, dropped earlier this month via Joyful Noise. Austin Powell

The musicians of Jared & The Mill.
The musicians of Jared & The Mill.
Lindsay Whiddin

Jared & The Mill
Saturday, September 23
The Van Buren

Jared and the Mill stepped into Gatos Trail Studio in Joshua Tree, California, in late August to record a new album that’s slated for release in spring 2018. It’s the follow-up to 2016’s Orme Dugas EP. Although not too far from home, the change of scenery made an impact.

“It very much feels like the music we’re trying to capture matches our surrounding environment,” guitarist Larry Gast III says. “Nothing sets the vibe better than sunset over the expansive Joshua Tree desert.”

The band is gearing up for a tour overseas at the end of October. But first, they’ll headline a special show at The Van Buren on September 23, alongside recent tour mates KOLARS and rising locals Bear Ghost and Luxxe. Ashley Harris

Wouter and Sjoerd Janssen of Showtek.
Wouter and Sjoerd Janssen of Showtek.
Courtesy of Deckstar

Global Dance Festival Arizona 2017
Saturday, September 23
Rawhide Event Center in Chandler

The 2017 version of the annual EDM extravaganza – which takes place on Saturday, September 23, at Rawhide in Chanlder – might be happening a bit earlier in the season than in years past, but, rest assured, pretty much everything else about the festival remains the same.

A mix of booming beats and big performances by high-profile DJs and EDM will be the focus of the festival, which will include sessions and sets by Flosstradamus (which is now a single-person act these days), Showtek, Yellow Claw, Gareth Emery, Slander, SNBRN, Dabin, and Said the Sky.

Gates open at 5 p.m. and the festival rages hard until 2 a.m. General admission is $65, and VIP access (which includes quicker entry, a souvenir lanyard, a premium viewing deck, and other perks) is $85. Benjamin Leatherman

Fleet Foxes
Fleet Foxes
Shawn Brackbill

Fleet Foxes
Sunday, September 24
Comerica Theatre

The Seattle-based indie folk band Fleet Foxes has been on a bit of a break during the past three years. Lead singer Robin Pecknold announced in 2014 he’d be taking some time away from the group to attend Columbia University. But in June, he burst back onto the scene with the release of Fleet Foxes’ third studio album, Crack-Up. It’s perhaps the most ambitious project by the band known for idyllic, floating tracks such as “Mykonos” and “Montezuma.”

This time around, the band has gotten even bigger, with nearly 20 musicians playing dozens of instruments to create a darker and more complex sound. Songs “Third of May / Ddaigahara” and "I Am All That I Need / Arroyo Seco / Thumbprint Scar" are cavernous and sprawling affairs that break down into instrumental jams with hints of the neo-folk sound that made the band such a breath of fresh air in the mid-2000s. The show will feature only a taste of these new tracks, however, interspersed with fan favorites and Pecknold’s soothing falsetto. Beach House opens. Nicholas Bostick

San Fermin stops in Phoenix.EXPAND
San Fermin stops in Phoenix.
Allen Tate

San Fermin
Sunday, September 24
Valley Bar

Ellis Ludwig-Leone, the bandleader of the indie group San Fermin, started out composing pieces for classical ensembles, which he continues to do today, but the immediacy and intimacy of rock music allured him. “The whole song has to support the feeling that you want the person hearing it to know,” Ludwig-Leone says. “When writing for an orchestra or ballet, it’s more about the formal construction of the music. With rock, you can hear a person talk to you through the lyrics.”

Divergent emotions are the running theme in San Fermin’s third release, Belong. Ludwig-Leone wanted to steer away from the concept-album architecture that was the foundation of the chamber-pop band’s previous work. Instead, he focused on the internal contradictions he felt when his life changed drastically as a result of San Fermin’s success two years ago. He sat down and slowly unpacked the insecurities and excitement from his subconscious. “It was an opportunity to be alone with my thoughts, which had not happened for a while,” he says. Jason Keil

The Perceptionists
Sunday, September 24
The Rebel Lounge

The bicoastal Boston/Berkeley MC Mr. Lif makes the sort of politically charged Bolshevik boom-bap that warms the coffee of both old-school hip-hop fans and political activists alike. Which – despite what that particular demographic might indicate – doesn't mean that Lif can't get down and party.

On albums like their 2005 debut Black Dialogue and this year’s Resolution, the group does mill about in the classrooms of linguistic analysis ("Black Dialogue"), modern imperialism ("Memorial Day"), and old-fashioned populism ("People for the Prez"), but these Perceptionists have also got a wild streak, as demonstrated by "Party Hard," their stellar collaboration with Boston's most famous hip-hop native, Gang Starr's Guru.

But the best thing about their tracks aren’t the balance of politics and partying; it's the back-and-forth between Lif and fellow Perceptionist MC Akrobatic. With a deep, forceful voice that delivers lyrical body blows, Akrobatic provides a perfect counterpoint to Lif's trebly, precisely placed vocal jabs. The result is music that’s aesthetically and thematically balanced. Sam Chennault

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