This weekend is packed with activity. Really packed. And the fact that it’s Memorial Day weekend probably has something to do with it.
As you may have heard, Phoenix Comicon will take over downtown Phoenix starting today. There are also loads of MDW-related pool parties and club events happening every night this weekend. The Blunt Club is also throwing a two-day party in honor of its 15th anniversary.
And then there are all the big concerts and live music events going down. Highlights include legendary metal act Living Colour performing at BLK Live, Dead and Company’s performance at Ak-Chin Pavilion, and New Kids on the Block reliving their glory days at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Plus, local acts like The Stakes, Mouse Powell, and The Sugar Thieves also have album release shows happening this weekend.
Many of these shows can be found in the following rundown of the best concerts in the Valley this weekend. (And for even more live music, hit up our online concert calendar.)
Friday, May 26
BLK Live in Scottsdale
Living Colour bucked the trend of hard rock in the 1980s by infusing funk and avant-garde guitar work into the nearly all-white genre, picking up devoted fans and two Grammy Awards, going on tour with Guns N' Roses and the Rolling Stones, and creating an environment and message to other minority musicians that music is for everyone, no matter the genre. Formed in 1984 by English-born guitarist Vernon Reid, Living Colour went through a few iterations before finally settling on the quartet of Reid, Muzz Skillings on bass (who has since left the group and was replaced by Doug Wimbish), Will Calhoun on drums, and lead vocalist Corey Glover. In 1988, Living Colour released its debut album, Vivid, which includes the lead single "Cult of Personality." On the strength of the song's lyrics, frenetic guitar solos, and memorable riff, "Cult" became a radio hit. But even with a hit, things didn't come easily. "We dealt with a lot of overt and subliminal racism when it came to a band like ours," Glover says. "Beyond the skin color, it was the way we dressed, and people thought, 'What are you, a reggae band?' We were a band without a country. We weren't metal enough to be a metal band, not punk enough to be a punk band, and not R&B enough to be an R&B group." Nearly 30 years later, the band's signature song seems more topical than ever. "It's not just [Donald] Trump. There is a cult of [Barack] Obama; there is a cult of Bernie Sanders," Glover says. "People like Trump have been constructed by us to fit what we want to hear and what we want. The same thing with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders." Matthew Stewart
The Sugar Thieves (CD Release Party)
Friday, May 26
Guitarist Mikel Lander and vocalist Meredith Moore originally met in 2006 through a mutual friend at a Tempe house party. It may not have been a meet-cute sort of encounter (and Lander initially rebuffe Moore’s invitation to jam together) but it wound up changing both of their lives forever. The couple, who’ve been married for a few years now, form the core of The Sugar Thieves, one of the Valley's best roots/blues acts the serve up “meat shakin’” sounds that showcase their singing talents (Lander boasts a Tom Waits-meets-Nick Cave growl, while Moore has an astounding vocal range that’s always pitch-perfect) and his skills as a picker. Over the last decade, they’ve won the Arizona Blues Challenge on three occasions, gigged at venues across the Valley, and put out a few albums, the latest being 2 Cups. The eight-song LP, which dropped earlier this month on local label Fervor Records, features Lander and Moore doing what they do best, singing and playing the blues. They’ll celebrate the album’s release this weekend at the Rhythm Room (natch). Benjamin Leatherman
New Kids on the Block
Friday, May 26
Talking Stick Resort Arena
Whether they’re singing, acting, or flipping burgers in front of the camera for a reality TV show, the Wahlberg family has become a pop culture staple. Though Mark is a dominating presence at the box office, it’s brother Donnie we can thank for acquainting us with this ubiquitous clan. He was the first member of the ’80s boy band New Kids on the
The Blunt Club’s 15th Anniversary
Friday, May 26, at Crescent Ballroom
Saturday, May 27, at Yucca Tap Room in Tempe
Valley hip-hop night The Blunt Club has put on a vast amount of shows over the last 15 years, to say the least. And while
Saturday, May 27
Club Red in Mesa
For more than 20 years, Norwegian musician Hoest has released wave after wave of dissonant black metal under the Taake banner. Playing all instruments on his albums and spewing raspy vocal venom, Hoest presents a Scandinavian black-metal sound that conjures up visions that are entirely in grayscale. That’s not to say that his recorded output is a barrage from start to finish. Taake’s most recent record, 2014’s Stridens Hus, is peppered with flourishes of catchy guitar hooks that place emphasis on the “metal” side of black metal, especially on tracks such as “Orm.” It is this blend of hooks and hammering force that makes Taake stand out from the vast array of corpse-paint-wearing musicians. Jason Roche
Chico Chism Memorial Birthday Celebration
Saturday, May 27
The late Chico Chism was most definitely the man. Just ask any blues fans who know a thing or two about the genre’s history (and can rattle off a list of legends that the drummer, who passed away in 2007, performed with in his day) or any of the locals who discovered his talents, lively personality, and charm after he moved to Phoenix. Chism started banging the skins at 14, and didn’t stop for more than five decades, playing with many notable names in blues biz, including the late Howlin’ Wolf in the '70s, as well as such cats as Choker Campbell, Lowell Fulson, Big Joe Turner, Little Junior Parker, Sunnyland Slim, Otis Rush, and both The Fabulous Thunderbirds and Stevie Ray Vaughn. After Valley blues guru Bob Corritore brought him to town in 1986, Chism lit up the Rhythm Room alongside such greats as R.L. Burnside, Bo Diddley, Pinetop Perkins, and Louisiana Red. And he did it with style and aplomb. And how could you not like a cat who once declared, "I’m the house rocker and the show stopper, the woman’s pet and the man’s threat. I’m Chico, the Boogie Man." This weekend, many of his friends will gather at the Rhythm Room to celebrate his life and legacy for an annual birthday tribute, including event hosts Bill Tarsha and the Rocket 88s. Benjamin Leatherman
Saturday, May 27
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
Saturday, May 27
Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale
Steve Aoki has been an icon in EDM for over two decades as an artist, a promoter, and a label executive. He's also had plenty of critics, who've accused him of being a champagne-spraying, cake-throwing showman first and a DJ second. But what's never been called into question is his work ethic. This year, Aoki also reached an impressive milestone when his record label, Dim Mak, turned 21. Aoki is proudest of the artists he's developed through the label, many of whom are now mega-stars in their own right. As per usual, he’s been plenty busy these days, including playing multiple festivals and events like this weekend’s Release pool party at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale. "No matter how many people you’re playing in front of, whether it’s five people or 50,000, you have to truly have an authentic connection with your music, and the experience you’re providing for others or you’ll get jaded,” he said. “I have to remind myself where I’m standing and how fortunate I am to be in the position I’m in. But the music brings me back to a place mentally where I want to do this a million times. Music is my religion." Roderick Pullum
Saturday, May 27
Marquee Theatre in Tempe
Second best isn't that bad, right? To call horrorcore rappers Twiztid — Jamie Madrox and Monoxide Child — the second most popular Juggalo act (after Insane Clown Posse) doesn't seem all that fair. ICP are the originators, of course, making Madrox and Child something like apostles to Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J's Jesus. The duo has spread the good word of the Faygo-drenched lifestyle, appearing on Juggalo imprint Psychopathic Records' Big Money Hustla$, which featured the two starring alongside Rudy Ray Moore, Harland Williams, and more. The band's been a prolific part of the ICP empire, and its success speaks to the power of independent hip-hop. It might come off as goofy to the uninitiated (or the kind of folks opposed to getting face-blasted with sugary soda), but Twiztid's pulling in serious cash and keeping fans happy. This weekend, they’ll do both at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe during their latest Valley show, which will feature a slew of openers, including Kung Fu Vampire, G-Mo Skee, Young Wicked, Gorilla Voltage, Body Bag Syndikate, Poizonous Logik, and several others. Jason P. Woodbury
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Dead and Company
Sunday, May 28
Since the Grateful Dead formed in the ’60s, the music of Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, and countless other contributors has gained a true cult status. Even after frontman Garcia’s death in 1995, the band continued to deliver music. And it’s downright impressive that the music hasn’t stopped over the course of the Dead’s five-decade history. After the band’s 50th-anniversary “Fare Thee Well Tour” in 2015, it seemed like it might. But cut to 2017, and the group is now touring as Dead and Company. The lineup includes John Mayer alongside original members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann. Oteil Burbridge and Jeff Chimenti are also in the mix. Mayer’s strong blues background aids in the faithful delivery of wavy riffs from the days of Garcia. Kayla Clancy