Up for seeing a great concert this weekend? If so, we’ve got a few suggestions for y’all.
As a matter of fact, we’ve got 10 of ‘em, which include shows from a wide variety of genres, ranging from R. Kelly and Yuna to the Cookers and Nicolas Jaar. We’ve also got the lowdown on an infamous rave featuring rave godfather Frankie Bones, Alt AZ’s first-ever Zombie Prom out at Fear Farm in the West Valley, and that long-awaited show by the Flaming Lips at the Arizona State Fair.
If you need event more options, be sure to check out our extensive live music listings. In the meantime, here are the 10 best concerts to check out this weekend in Phoenix.
R. Kelly – Friday, October 21 – Talking Stick Resort Arena
Assuming that R. Kelly doesn’t cancel this show like he did the previously scheduled one, this concert will put Phoenix music fans into an ethical pickle. How much, if at all, should fans care about the personal lives of the people who create the art they love? R. Kelly fandom begs this question like no other artist. His music is undeniably brilliant, eclectic, and beautiful; melodies flow out of him like water from a fractured main. He has also been accused of some of the most sickening crimes ever levied against a successful musician. From marrying Aaliyah when she was 14 to being accused of urinating on a different 14-year-old girl, it’s impossible to think of R. Kelly without considering the people he has allegedly harmed through the years. Can a song be beautiful if it’s written and performed by a disgusting person? The tickets sold will be telling. DAVID ACCOMAZZO
The Cookers – Friday, October 21 – Musical Instrument Museum
The Cookers are a group of jazz all-stars that trumpeter David Weiss put together six years ago featuring a group of seasoned veterans, some of whom have more than five decades of experience. Saxophonist Billy Harper, for example, was a member of groups led by Lee Morgan and Max Roach and did a two-year stint with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Then there's trumpeter Eddie Henderson and drummer Billy Hart, who were both part of Herbie Hancock's electric Mwandishi ensemble. Pianist George Cables, meanwhile, played with Dexter Gordon and Art Pepper, and bassist Cecil McBee was part of Charles Lloyd's famed 1960s quartet with Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette. JON SOLOMAN
Apache Lake Music Festival – Friday, October 21, and Saturday, October 22 – Apache Lake Resort
It’s become a tradition of sorts for the local music scene to celebrate the coming of fall by packing it up and hauling gear to the mountains for the Apache Lake Music Festival. The event is in its seventh year, and this year promises a who’s-who of the local music scene. On Friday, Spafford, Banana Gun, decker., Black Bottom Lighters, Brothers Gow, Luna Aura, and many others spread their songs across the festival’s indoor and outdoor stages, and on Saturday, Sara Robinson, Captain Squeegee, Bear Ghost, Dry River Yacht Club, Wyves, Harper & the Moths, and more will play. Co-founders Brannon Kleinlein, the owner of Last Exit Live, and legendary bassist Paul "PC" Cardone have created a project with great staying power. DAVID ACCOMAZZO
Flaming Lips – Saturday, October 22 – Arizona State Fair
The Flaming Lips occupy a strange space in popular music. A major label act with indie cred to spare, the Lips have blazed their own weird, artsy trail through the three decades the band has been together. Frontman Wayne Coyne is a fountain of ideas, and he tapped Phoenix band Treasure Mammal for a collaborative album that covered each track of the Beatles’ landmark album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. He’s unfiltered in his ideas as well, fearlessly plowing forward with even the most ill-considered projects — music fans should not forget how he enabled Miley Cyrus’ self-indulgent piece of shit album Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz.
But one thing the Flaming Lips have always accomplished with special flair has been their live shows. Resembling more of a carnival than a concert, the Lips’ live show is always a treat for hardcore and casual fans alike. Don’t take our word for it though, here’s what Clint Hale of our sister paper Houston Press said of the band’s May performance in Texas: “[The Flaming Lips] bantered with the audience. They encouraged those in attendance to sing along. Hell, Coyne seemed downright delighted to be on the stage. This, in part, is what always separated the Lips from their indie-rock contemporaries. Whereas some bands of the indie cloth take great pains to brood and really explore the darkness of their craft, the Flaming Lips are a bunch of talented dudes who write songs about Japanese warriors who work for the city and fight pink robots in their free time.” And what sounds more fun than that? DAVID ACCOMAZZO
Nicolas Jaar – Saturday, October 22 – Crescent Balloom
Trying to describe Nicolas Jaar's music yields only doughnuts, a string of zeroes, and an increasingly roundabout dance of adjectives and antecedents. It is dance music inflected with Ethiopian jazz, Chilean techno, '90s trip-hop, and American experimental minimalism. It's full of samples that you can't quite put your finger on. A few years ago, Jaar began making music that mastered the use of negative space. In a culture increasingly prone to pornographic detonations in electronic music, Jaar seems more alien than anachronism. Before he was old enough to legally sip Rioja, his style emerged fully formed: immensely patient, subtly psychedelic, bleary and spectral. He briefly amused himself by telling journalists that he made "blue wave," until they started to run with it. "Now, I just tell everyone I make nut-house," Jaar says. "I'm so tired of talking about it. Before, everyone focused on how I made slower music, but now I'm interested in the craziest and weirdest music possible." JEFF WEISS
Bloodfest 2016 – Saturday, October 22 – Location TBA
Heard any rumors lately about this year’s Bloodfest? Probably so, considering there have been plenty swirling around social media in recent weeks. Thing is, every one of ‘em is false. For instance, the infamous underground dance party, which involves local ravers and dance music fans dancing until dawn while being showered with fake blood, has not been canceled. Nor is it taking place in some abandoned warehouse. Oh yeah, and the blood is made by a special-effects company and hasn’t been drained from either humans or the corpses of stray animals. (That one’s an oldie but goodie that’s been dogging Bloodfest promoters for years.) Here’s what is true about this year’s party: it’ll take place on Saturday, October 22, at some clandestine location out in the desert surrounding the Valley and will be headlined by legendary rave godfather Frankie Bones. Local DJs on the lineup include Spear, Sid Show, Share Bearm Detcord, and Grund. As with previous editions of the event, blood weddings and weird theatrics will also take place. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Sevendust – Saturday, October 22 – Marquee Theatre
Known for dark melodies laden with churning guitars, chunky riffs, and lead singer Lajon Witherspoon's haunting timbre, Sevendust carved its niche in the alt-rock/nu-metal landscape some years ago. By the time the band's third record, Animosity, landed them mainstream attention in 2001, they'd already landed a spot on the Mortal Kombat: More Kombat compilation with "My Ruin," from their 1997 self-titled debut (which went gold). They'd also jammed onstage with Pantera's late fretboard mangler, Dimebag Darrell. Last year they released Kill the Flaw, which many reluctant metalheads hate to love. CHRISTOPHER LOPEZ
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Keith Urban – Saturday, October 22 – Talking Stick Resort Arena
He’s everyone’s favorite Aussie country star rocker who can riff on the guitar and sing a song about falling in love in the back of a cop car. Keith Urban has had a career in country music spanning more than 25 years. You would recognize him for his long, blonde locks and the way he bends his knees when he plays the electric guitar. Plenty of others will recognize him as a judge on American Idol. If an Aussie can sing music that falls in the country genre without ever actually singing about a farm or tailgate, Urban has pulled it off. When he visits Talking Stick Resort Arena, he’ll be bringing along one of country’s latest stars-in-the-making, Maren Morris, whose debut album, Hero, netted her five Country Music Award nominations last month. PAIGE SKINNER
Yuna – Sunday, October 23 – Crescent Ballroom
Yuna Zarai is a household name in her native Malaysia, but since moving to Los Angeles from Kuala Lumpur five years ago, she's been doing her best to win over American fans of all demographics. It hasn't been easy, and so far she's had only a minor hit, 2012's "Live Your Life," featuring Pharrell. She certainly looks like a star – thin and modelesque, with a commanding stage presence. Covered from head to toe, however, her modesty is certainly unique in the American pop realm. Growing up in the northern city of Alor Setar, she was raised in a Muslim family, and her guitar-playing father encouraged her love of music. She downplays her conservative background and speaks of music as the universal language. Indeed, she learned English by listening to American singer-songwriters such as Lauryn Hill and Fiona Apple, and began writing songs as a teenager – mostly in English. Yuna began making a name for herself in music in the mid-aughts while studying law at university. As her fame grew, Malaysian media grew obsessed with her. "I wasn't trained to be in front of a camera, so there were a lot of challenges at first," she says. "But I didn't want to be fake." ASA TSENG