The 25 Best Concerts in Phoenix in July 2016

We’re about to hit what’s known as the dog days of summer, a period of the summertime that’s particularly loathsome due to the fact its muggy as hell outside and no sign of relief on the horizon (save for the occasional monsoon storm).

Thankfully, we’re also about to roll into a particular stretch of great concerts happening around the Valley. A number of notable names and rock legends will be headed our way in the next few weeks, including Brian Wilson, Steven Tyler, Boz Scaggs, and Modest Mouse, just to name a few. This month’s slate of shows also includes long-awaited visits from the Flight of the Conchords and the Dixie Chicks, as well as performances by such greats as Fitz and the Tantrums, Dashboard Confessional, Jill Scott, and Lyle Lovett. You’ve also got the chance to catch your first glimpse of Les Claypool and Sean Lennon curious collaboration, which invades the Marquee Theatre in Tempe on July 30.

Read on for details about all of the best shows to see in Phoenix this month or check out our extensive online concert calendar for even more gig happening around Metro Phoenix in July.

G-Eazy & Logic – Saturday, July 2 – Ak-Chin Pavilion

When Gerald Gillum says he’s getting money, he means it. And whether going by Young Gerald or G-Eazy, one thing is certain when it comes to his hip-hop: The man has bars. When he killed it on the English hip-hop radio show Fire in the Booth, it was just a tidbit of the 26-year-old Oakland-bred MC’s talent for rhyming, as he obviously saved his best lyrical content for his records. For Eazy, like many rappers who possess the ability to tear it up freestyle, the flow seems incredible when it’s going down, but after a few listens, it becomes obvious that while the punchiness and wordplay is definitely strong coming straight off the dome, his more nuanced raps and complicated flows come when he is afforded the opportunity to flesh out an idea on paper.

G-Eazy’s newest record, When It’s Dark Out, has an undeniably Eminem-esque feel to it, but that has far less to do with Eazy’s skin color then it does with his cadence and delivery. Though even with what clearly is a heavy influence from the legendary Detroit rapper, it’s also easy to hear a litany of other influences, like mid-2000 East Coast battle rap and, of course, a hint of the G’s hometown hyphy music in the leather jacket-wearing, brash-talking rapper’s repertoire. JEFF MOSES

Thee Commons – Saturday, July 2 – Valley Bar

L.A.’s Thee Commons are a nonstop kind of band; their last release, Rock Is Dead: Long Live Paper and Scissors, was a collection of a long run of self-released and creatively robust EPs, chronicling a band in enthusiastic conversation with a galaxy of influences. And now they’re back not much more than a year later with Loteria Tribal, a ferocious new album of cumbia-garage-punk that matches the energy of Los Saicos — whose unhinged vocals and spaced-out guitar live on in Thee Commons — to plenty of vigorous, “Interstellar Overdrive”–style psychedelic instrumentals. They’ve added in some versatile saxophone work and even a few rapped verses on “En el Sol,” too. Live, they’re fearless, confident and ready to go off-script at a moment’s inspiration. It’s wild stuff, just as it absolutely should be. CHRIS ZIEGLER

BroLoaf's Annual Patriotic Metldown – Saturday, July 2 – Yucca Tap Room

Packing as much color and chaos as the conclusion of any fireworks spectacular, the ribald and rowdy punks of BroLoaf skewer pretty much everything associated with the Fourth of July and 'Murica in off-kiler fashion during their Annual Patriotic Meltdown at the Yucca Tap Room in Tempe. Lead singer Ben Brah and his gang of misfits serve up a PBR-soaked burlesque of three-chord thunder and humorous theatrics at the party that typically includes comedy, costumes, calamity, and over-the-top chants of “USA! USA! USA!” This year's celebration takes place on Saturday, July 2, and will also feature performances by The Dark Hearts, HellRancho, Old Fashion Assassin, Nuclear Beach Party, and (of course) BroLoaf. We’d also be willing to bet that doppelgangers of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will be involved somehow. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN

Flight of the Conchords – Sunday, July 3 – Comerica Theatre

They came, they saw, they Conchord — kind of. After gaining a cult following thanks to their Emmy-nominated HBO series of the same name, the expertly coiffed comedy folk duo Flight of the Conchords (Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie) laid a little low, enjoying the kind of success that still spawns an array of GIFs and Tumblr posts. Now, everyone’s favorite New Zealanders have returned to the stage with the “Flight of the Conchords Sing Flight of the Conchords” tour. Fans can expect to hear favorites “The Most Beautiful Girl (in the Room),” “Carol Brown,” and “Business Time,” along with new material, including a song about being gym sex buddies, “Fuck You On The Ceiling,” and the twosome’s signature clever banter. Irish comedian and musician David O’Doherty will open. JANESSA HILLIARD

XIXA – Sunday, July 3 – Valley Bar

Tucson’s XIXA has performed several times in Phoenix over the last three years as Chicha Dust, drawing its original name from the form of Peruvian psychedelic cumbia that inspired the band. The name change to XIXA reflects a change in sound, as the now six-piece band began writing their own songs and moving away from the traditional cover songs they adopted at the start. In February, XIXA released its debut album, Bloodline, on the influential Barbès label that released the Roots of Chicha compilation that first introduced Brian Lopez and Gabriel Sullivan to the music. “We just knew that we had something unique there, and slowly we started to incorporate some of our own songs, and the sound took more of a rock ’n’ roll approach and separated us from the more authentic cumbia bands around,” Lopez says.

Having both played as sidemen in Giant Sand, Lopez and Sullivan each put their own solo projects on the backburner as Chicha Dust began growing more popular in Tucson and Phoenix as well, their blend of Latin rhythms and psychedelic guitar rock finding an instant connection with audiences no matter if the lyrics were in Spanish or English. Now, XIXA has shed its cover-band roots, having developed a more complex and unique sound that’s already made a strong impression on European audiences during an April-May tour. “We came from a rock ’n’ roll background, but we were obsessed with this chicha thing,” Sullivan says. “It was the perfect time, because we were naturally finding in that music where each of our personalities fit in in natural ways.” ERIC SWEDLUND

Dillon Francis – Monday, July 4 – Maya Day and Nightclub

Thanks to our beloved Bill of Rights, particularly the First Amendment, we Americans enjoy the freedom to express ourselves however we choose to do so. When it comes to ultra-eccentric electronic dance music DJ/producer Dillon Francis, it means that he’s free to bust out with whatever hilarious or bizarre bits he can think of, which he does quite often on his Instagram and Snapchat accounts. That includes dressing up as a doughnut, showing off his personal piñata, Gerald, doing coke off an iPad, or poking fun at the excesses of the DJ world. He also shares his latest sounds, which are typically of the moombahton and electro-house variety, including his latest track, "Candy." You’re guaranteed to hear it being blasted at Maya Day and Nightclub in Scottsdale on Monday, July 4, when Francis headlines the Independence Day pool party at the club. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN

Selena Gomez – Tuesday, July 5 – Talking Stick Resort Arena

The cult of celebrity is freaking weird, at best, and at its worst, it is horrifying. Is there possibly a balance that can be struck when someone is attractive, talented, and outgoing enough to put themselves out there in front of the world, yet still just a person like the rest of us? Is it even possible to have any semblance of normality when you are someone like Selena Gomez? Even if you get to have those normal moments, they are still probably clouded by the most intense mix of paranoia, fear, insecurity, and, no doubt, an intoxicating blend of the surreal and ridiculous. And then, on top of it all, the shadow of Mickey Mouse, the musk of Justin Bieber, and the pressure of the bubblegum-pop world weighing down on your tiny shoulders as you attempt to distinguish yourself from people like Arianna Grande … If it were silence, it would be deafening, but instead, it’s just soul crushing and deadening. How can you not feel sorry for Selena Gomez? We know how. Buy a ticket to her concert and dance the night away, because if you don’t, Taylor Swift will fix upon you the stone-cold, soul-killing stare of death possessed only by pop stars. TOM REARDON

Chicago – Wednesday, July 6 – Celebrity Theatre

“25 or 6 to 4” is a heavy piece of music. Listen to it with a head full of good, Grateful Dead-quality acid, and your life will change. Seriously. It is likely the dudes in Chicago were on to something pretty righteous when they recorded this song back in 1970 for their eponymously titled first album. It’s also the bane of existence for almost every stoner rock band ever because they all try to figure out how to do a good cover version, but it ends up with the same conundrum: What to do about the totally kick ass horns in the song? Several bands have tried it, but most of them have failed miserably, except for Bruce Foxton, who played bass with the Jam. His version is excellent (although still looking up at the original with the awe of a tiny fanboy at a comicon), but then again, he was in the Jam and besides Chicago, the Jam is also one of the best bands ever to periodically employ some horns. Chicago is more than one song, though, and even though they ventured into some silly mashup of pop-soaked soft jazz for a good portion of their career, they totally bring it live. If you can stand the suburban version of Riverdance, you’ll have a good time at their show. TOM REARDON

Jon Bellion – Wednesday, July 6 – Crescent Ballroom

Jon Bellion cites Kanye West as an influence, he even went as far as dropping out of college to take on music as a career. Just like Yeezus himself, it seems like his determination paid off. Bellion wrote the hook to the Eminem and Rihanna single, "The Monster," and ever since then Bellion's been slowly garnering more and more attention. As a pop artist, Bellion has let the rap influence change up the usual pop artist plan of action by releasing a slew of mixtapes before a proper release. The latest is The Definition which opens on probably the most recognizable thing Kanye West has ever said (well, on an actual song), "Wait 'till I get my money right," and filled to the brim with grandiose pop ballads. H. DREW BLACKBURN

The Falcon – Wednesday, July 6 – Pub Rock

Earlier this year, guitarist Brendan Kelly and his bandmates in punk rock act The Falcon released Gather Up the Chaps (Red Scare), which is the second full-length LP in the band’s 12-year existence. For fans of the Lawrence Arms or Alkaline Trio, the sound of the Falcon is definitely a departure of sorts, even if there are unmistakable similarities to the musician’s other projects. Kelly explains this best, actually. “It’s very, very dark. I usually don’t think of dark and fun going together,” Kelly says. Nevertheless, the Falcon’s effort is certainly a fun but dark punk-rock record. Kelly’s vocals add some serious edge to songs like “War of Colossus,” where Kelly sings during the opening verse: “You hate that boy in the mirror / You hate that boy in your clothes / I’m kinda starting to hate that boy too / I don’t give a shit if he knows.”

The theme of “War on Colossus” is pretty heavy, but the way it is packaged into a minute and 47 seconds will please jaded old-school punks and younger poppy-punk fans alike. Other stand-out tracks on Gather Up the Chaps include “Hasselhoff Cheeseburger,” whose name alone is worthy of attention, and “If Dave Did It,” which weaves a tale of jealousy and potential for murder. Considering the success of the band’s other projects, it would be easy to consider the Falcon a side project, but Kelly doesn’t see it that way. “I consider the Falcon very much as important as anything else I do. Right now, it’s my main band,” Kelly says. For a pro like him, to just “mail it in” wouldn’t be good enough at all. TOM REARDON

Todd Snider –Thursday, July 7 –Musical Instrument Museum

It's hard to choose just one song as Todd Snider's musical calling card, but a halfway decent choice is "Alright Guy," from his 1994 debut Songs for the Daily Planet. He starts that one off by ogling Madonna's Sex book and ends up swearing "maybe I'm dirty and maybe I smoke a little dope / But it ain't like I'm going on TV and tearing up pictures of the Pope." One of the wittiest troubadours anywhere, Snider is a constant thorn in the music business' side with a wicked ear for satire ("Talkin' Seattle Grunge-Rock Blues") and a deep appreciation for music history, calling his 2004 album East Nashville Skyline. No slacker this one, Snider is turning out to be a pretty good scamp himself. CHRIS GRAY

Slightly Stoopid – Friday, July 8 – Mesa Amphitheatre

In a culture that tends to pigeonhole practically everything for the sake of convenience, Slightly Stoopid defy any notion of easy categorization. They even defy their own branding, with an adept combination of reggae, funk, hip-hop, rock, and punk that's far from what their goofy name might imply. Unlike other bands who don't dare to step out beyond their self-prescribed boundaries, Slightly Stoopid wander willingly, and frequently, in fact, into varied terrain, allowing themselves to be taken wherever their muse might carry them. A favorite on the festival circuit, their freewheeling populist appeal has brought them an ever-increasing following — unapologetically dubbed "the Stoopidheads" — since the release of their eponymous debut in 1996. LEE ZIMMERMAN

Brian Wilson – Saturday, July 9 – Celebrity Theatre

Aside from a fiftieth anniversary tour with the Beach Boys a few years ago, Brian Wilson has spent a good part of the last four decades away from the band that he formed in the early '60s with brothers Carl and Denis Wilson and cousin Mike Love and Al Jardine. Since releasing his 1988 self-titled debut solo album, Brian Wilson has gone on to release a number of albums under his own name, including tributes to Disney and George Gershwin. Wilson’s eleventh studio album, No Pier Pressure, was released last year and features guest appearances by She & Him, Kacey Musgraves, Nate Ruess and Sebu Simonian of Capital Cities. Wilson says he was trying recapture the mid­’60s Beach Boys harmonies on the album. For his current tour Wilson, who will be joined by Jardine and Blondie Chaplin (who had a brief stint with the Beach Boys in the '70s), Wilson will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Beach Boys’ ultra-influential Pet Sounds by performing the album in its entirety.
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