The 13 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

JoJo is scheduled to perform on Friday, May 19, at Livewire in Scottsdale.EXPAND
JoJo is scheduled to perform on Friday, May 19, at Livewire in Scottsdale.
Brooke Nipar/Atlantic Records

Savor the great weather while it lasts, folks, because you-know-what is right around the corner. Things are even better after dark, thanks to the cooler climes, frequent breezes, and starry skies.

It will make for an enjoyable setting for the outdoor concerts and music events happening around the Valley this weekend, like Chris Stapleton’s show over at Ak-Chin Pavilion on Friday or Dirty Disco down at Rawhide in Chandler on Saturday.

Oh yeah, and the indoor shows happening over the next few nights will be rad as well. There are plenty of notable ones happening, including Rebel Lounge’s second annivesary, The Orbiting Circus (of the Air) at Trunk Space, The Damned's long-awaited return, and JoJo’s performance at Livewire in Scottsdale.

All of the aforementioned events and many others are included in the following list of the 13 best concerts happening in Phoenix this weekend. (For even more shows, hit up our online music listings.)

Chris Stapleton: country music's New Age outlaw.EXPAND
Chris Stapleton: country music's New Age outlaw.
Becky Fluke

Chris Stapleton
Friday, May 19
Ak-Chin Pavilion

Established Nashville songwriter Chris Stapleton — the pen behind such massive country-pop hits as Kenny Chesney’s “Never Wanted Nothing More,” Josh Turner’s “Your Man” and Luke Bryan’s “Drink a Beer” — has stepped into the spotlight himself. In 2015, Stapleton’s solo debut, Traveller, won the Country Music Association Award for Album of the Year and the Grammy for Best Country Album. The long-haired, heavy-bearded singer-songwriter has now become known for soulful yet understated performances of classically constructed country songs — but his powers aren’t limited to the country genre. Recently, the Kentucky native has been paying tribute to fallen heroes at his live shows, and his rendition of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” in Berkeley went viral. Katie Moulton

Mickey Avalon & Dirt Nasty
Friday, May 19
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

A little less than a decade ago, ’90s MTV VJ heartthrob, model, actor, and onetime porn star Simon Rex smartly reinvented himself for a new generation as the gnarly musical persona Dirt Nasty. A protégé of fellow filthy Hollywood rapper Mickey Avalon (who also appears on this bill), Nasty was able to move fluidly into the role of cokehound and sex machine, making his way across MySpace and onto the stage with songs like “1980” and “Cracker Ass Fantastic.” The Nasty name and joke persevered, and in 2011 he made Nasty As I Wanna Be, a record filled with contributions from famous friends like LMFAO, Ke$ha, Warren G, and Too $hort. Bree Davies

Pop/R&B singer JoJo.EXPAND
Pop/R&B singer JoJo.
Brooke Nipar/Atlantic Records

JoJo
Friday, May 19
Livewire in Scottsdale

The 2004 hit song “Leave (Get Out)” triggered singer JoJo’s big break, as she became the youngest artist to have a single to top the Billboard Hot 100 charts and one of her music videos found a home on the MTV show Total Request Live, garnering her even more fans. JoJo soon found herself silenced by a bad recording contract — but in late 2016, with her legal battles behind her, she resurfaced with Mad Love, her first album in a decade. The East Coaster’s strong, soulful style hasn’t faded, and she’s taken full control of her career again. She’s been collaborating with the likes of Alessia Cara, Remy Ma, and Wiz Khalifa, proving herself as a pop-culture force. Rightfully joining the ranks of contemporaries like Ariana Grande and Tov Lo, JoJo and her unique throwback R&B are saturating the mainstream once again. Bree Davies

Members of The Linecutters perform.
Members of The Linecutters perform.
Jett Smith

The Linecutters (Album Release Show)
Saturday, May 20
Nile Theater in Mesa

Every band goes through periods of emotional strife and now and again. It’s pretty much a fact of life for musicians. Sometimes it results in a few fights, rampant psychodrama, or, in a worst-case scenario, a breakup. In the case of local punk act The Linecutters, however, it begat a new album. According to vocalist/guitarist Don Liano, the band endured some tumultuous times over the last year, which gave them plenty of fodder for the 12-song LP, Anthill, which dropped this week on local label Slope Records. “We were going through a severe rough patch as a band, to the point where a breakup seemed very likely,” Liano says. Every track on the album deals with a specific emotion, like “Anxiety,” which concerns feelings of doubt over the future of the band. “It's mainly [centered] around the negative things we’ve experienced throughout our day-to-day life,” Liano says. “That wasn't necessarily intentional, it's just kind of what we naturally like to write about. The songs are each like an extreme caricature of specific feelings we have.” Creating Anthill allowed The Linecutters to channel their emotions in a positive direction, he adds. “Putting this record out has brought a whole new life and motivation to the band. We already almost have enough material for a sophomore effort,” Liano says. Benjamin Leatherman

Julian Koster of Neutral Milk Hotel and The Orbiting Human Circus (of the Air).EXPAND
Julian Koster of Neutral Milk Hotel and The Orbiting Human Circus (of the Air).
Courtesy of Merge Records

The Orbiting Human Circus (of the Air)
Saturday, May 20
Trunk Space

What could be better than listening to a weird podcast about a timid janitor named Julian who works at the Eiffel Tower and has committed his time to dreaming of being on the variety show also called the Orbiting Human Circus of the Air, which broadcasts from the top of the tower to a live audience? Well, seeing it live and in person, of course. Normally, fans of the funny and surreal audio podcast are treated to Julian’s inner thoughts as he converses with The Narrator, an imaginary voice only he can hear. The Narrator is quick to point out Julian’s consistent failures. Julian also interacts with the variety show’s staff and performers, some of the latter include a bird that plays numerous instruments. The live version of the podcast takes you inside the Orbiting Human Circus of the Air variety show to witness its weirdness and learn why Julian is obsessed with this bizarre world. You could be treated to acts like a trombone-playing polar bear, or possibly witness legitimate feats of time travel. This immersive event offers songs, stories, and maybe even some magic. The whole shebang is the brainchild of musician Julian Koster, known for being part of the Elephant 6 indie rock collective, and in bands like Neutral Milk Hotel. Koster’s solo project, The Music Tapes, delivers sonic delights as part of the freaky festivities. Amy Young

The marquee and sign of The Rebel Lounge in Central Phoenix.
The marquee and sign of The Rebel Lounge in Central Phoenix.
Courtesy of The Rebel Lounge

The Rebel Lounge's Two-Year Anniversary
Saturday, May 20
The Rebel Lounge

Rebel Lounge owner Stephen Chilton is kind of in disbelief about how two years have gone since the popular music venue opened. "It's sort of crazy," he says. "It doesn't feel like two years. It either feels way longer or way less, depending on the day." And in those two years, the place has become what many consider to be one of the Valley’s better live music spots. It’s also been one of busier ones in Central Phoenix, as it's hosted an estimated 700 gigs since its debut in May 2015. “We've done around 350 shows a year,” Chilton says. “Which is a lot to have happened in that time.” And a lot of 'em have been great, with the exception of the now-infamous performance where rockabilly act Three Bad Jacks set off the sprinkler system. “There have been some slow and off nights, but it's been pretty great,” Chilton says. “We've had everyone from Kool Keith to GBH ... so it's really been all over the map, which is kind of how I like it. For most people, the room doesn't have, like, one sound that defines it, which is what I've been going for." Year three for The Rebel Lounge kicks off on Saturday, May 20, with its second anniversary show that will feature punk-grass outfit The Haymarket Squares, rockabilly band Outlaw Inlaws, and Americana/folk act Some Dark Hollow. "All three bands have played at Rebel a few times and they're ones we really like,” Chilton says. “So it seemed like a fun local show to celebrate the occasion.” Benjamin Leatherman

Read on for even more big concerts happening this weekend, including The Damned, Strelitzia, and Dirty Disco.



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