The Eight Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend
5 Seconds of Summer
Still got some money, energy, and mojo left over from your action-packed Labor Day adventures? Feel like checking out a cool concert or dance party this weekend? If you answered “yes” to either question, we’ve got a few suggestions for you.
This weekend’s slate of “can’t miss” concerts includes emo shows, superstar DJs, an off-the-radar rave, emotive indie rock, and even a Twin Peaks-inspired dance night (complete with doughnuts).
The choice, of course, is yours. For even more options, check out our extensive online concert listings.
AZHCXX – Friday, September 9 – Mind's Eye Studios
The Valley’s dance music scene was a very different place back in 1996. Beats were blasting from such now-defunct spots at The Works in Scottsdale or Club Freedom in Tempe, record shops like Swell were doing brisk business selling vinyl and DJ gear, and the local rave scene was both epic and enormous. (Oh, and everyone was wearing those damned JNCO Jeans.) A few things happen to still be around from those halcyon days of the dance scene, including the Arizona Hardcore Junkies. The local events promoter and DJ collective, which focuses on the harder-edge genres of dance music such as hardcore and hardstyle, launched back in Tempe in 1996 and is still putting on raves and underground dance parties to this day. The group will celebrate its 20th anniversary this weekend at Mind’s Eye Studio in Mesa with a massive blowout. The event, which is dubbed AZHCXX, takes place on Friday, September 9, and will star such special guests as The Outside Agency, Delta9, Fight, Fiend, Deadnoise, Forsaken Is Dead, and more. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
A-Trak – Friday, September 9 – Maya Day & Nightclub
Montreal-born DJ and producer A-Trak is perhaps most recently known as one half of Duck Sauce, the disco-house production crew he has formed with Armand Van Helden. Clubbers will instantly recognize their smash singles "Barbara Streisand" and "Big Bad Wolf." But A-Trak also boasts a serious background as a turntablist. And in 2003, he served as Kanye West's personal tour DJ, and has contributed scratches to West's albums Late Registration and Graduation. A-Trak is also an established house producer and elite remixer — check out his club mix of Yeah Yeah Yeah's "Heads Will Roll" — and owner of the record label Fool's Gold. With a keen interest in both hip-hop and electro house, he has developed into a prominent figure within the North American dance music scene. TOM MURPHY
Beth Hart – Saturday, September 10 – Livewire
Beth Hart has been a star among industry insiders and hardcore blues maniacs for nearly two decades, but the reason she’s filling mid-size theaters now can be traced back to the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors, when Jeff Beck asked her to sing Etta James’s “I’d Rather Go Blind” as part of the evening's Buddy Guy tribute. That was pretty much all it took. Besides the instant bump her lights-out performance on national TV gave her — President Obama led the standing ovation — the broadcast’s producer and musical director wound up co-producing Hart’s next album, this year’s deeply personal (she wrote all the songs herself) mixture of high-powered R&B and more intimate singer-songwriter moments, Better Than Home. CHRIS GRAY
5 Seconds of Summer – Saturday, September 10 – Gila River Arena
The debate about whether rock is dead is one of the oldest, and most tired, around. It’s not even a debate, really. Rock music as a force in pop music is dead, long dead. The spot in the popular conversation once dominated by acts like Nirvana, Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, and Van Halen is now the realm of pop, hip-hop, and R&B. This should be so obvious that no further proof is needed, but just in case, take a look at the Billboard 200. There’s not a proper rock album until you get down to Skillet at number 46, and they’re little more than a pop band with power chords. Twenty-five years ago, the young men in Nirvana blew open the world of music with Nevermind. Now, the closest equivalent is 5 Seconds of Summer, a group of young Australians who play their own instruments and write songs about being “so down” and how a particular lady is “kind of hot” and that “good girls are bad girls that haven’t been caught.” These are your rock stars now, America. Eat your crying, broken heart out. DAVID ACCOMAZZO
Bayside – Saturday, September 10 – The Pressroom
Anthony Raneri, lead singer and guitarist of the emo rock band Bayside, doesn’t care what other people think of him or his band. He is proud of what the group has accomplished throughout their 16 years together and the seven albums they have released. The quartet’s latest album, the deeply personal Vacancy, was written about Raneri’s experiences after the dissolution of his second marriage and the struggle to, in his words, “sort himself out.” He wrote song after song as he spent months alone in an apartment and reflected on how isolated he felt. You can hear him go through a range of emotions: solitude, frustration, and anger. Some regard the genre of emo as trendy, childish, and unsophisticated; Raneri’s songwriting on Vacancy defies the stigma. The record cycles through the basic reactions to the singer’s anguish in the aftermath of his situation, but it is also filled with moments of intense intimacy. It is the equivalent of peeking into the diary of a heartbroken man. The most remarkable and telling aspect of the album’s breakup theme is that these intense feelings aren’t directed at anyone in particular. Anyone other than himself, anyway. JASON KEIL
Trevor Hall – Saturday, September 10 – Marquee Theatre
He's played Bonnaroo and Langerado. He's toured with Ben Harper, the Wailers, and Steel Pulse. Now, Trevor Hall is taking his acoustic folk/hip hop/reggae mashup on the road solo and he'll be hitting the Valley this weekend. Hall's music stands out from many of his fellow folk singer/songwriters for a couple of reasons: He uses a good amount of reggae influences in the sound and the lyrics. Many of Trevor's songs are about personal discovery, spirituality, and the journey to find oneself, but it doesn't come off as being preachy or self-important. Instead, it's a young man chronicling his life for all to hear. BRETT GILLIN
Somos – Sunday, September 11 – The Rebel Lounge
Somos is crafting smart, angular rock music that is genuinely in its own lane. The Boston-based four-piece and their contemporaries could be lazily labeled as part of the “emo revival,” counting Sorority Noise, Joyce Manor, and Pinegrove among their ranks, but Somos’ latest release, First Day Back, is a distillation of what’s great about this so-called resurgence right now. It’s a record that’s packed with technically proficient musicianship, like the Ivy League-bound child of The Appleseed Cast and Red House Painters, with vocalist and bassist Michael Fiorentino’s brand of academically-charged lyricism acting as a complement rather than a foil. If “emo” means a direct, no-frills approach to what it means to be a rock band in 2016, then fuck it — this is an emo band doing it well. In just four short years, Somos has gone from fledgling house-show act to a fresh face on Hopeless Records, a label that’s home to veterans like Taking Back Sunday, The Used, and Bayside. It’s a quick but deserving ascent for the band, who may not even be fully aware of the reach they now have. “We try not to let it get to us, in terms of expectations, but of course we feel pressure now that we have people that listen to us that aren’t just our friends and family,” Fiorentino says. If their trajectory is to continue at this rate, then that scope beyond friends and family is surely about to expand exponentially. K.C. LIBMAN
Black Lodge/White Lodge: Twin Peaks-Themed Dance Party — Sunday, September 11 — Valley Bar
Back in the sultry, surreal, and unsettling Red Room deep in the Black Lodge, the spirit of Laura Palmer promised to make an appearance again in 25 years. Now, if you take into account that the show’s untimely demise transpired on June 10, 1991, we all shouldn’t have to wait anymore for the return of Twin Peaks. But, negotiations with the show-reviving network Showtime didn’t go so smoothly, so let’s call it 25 years and some change until the show’s slotted 2017 release. There’s no reason to go all Harold Smith until then, though, because DJs President Gator and Tristan/Iseult will be presenting a night filled with the haunting, quirky tunes from David Lynch’s movies, some other indie and dark wave jams, and, of course, Angelo Badalamenti’s incomparable compositions for the show. So slap on your Audrey Horne oxfords, button up your sky-blue Double R Diner uniform, don your moodiest leather jacket, and get to swaying. Just don’t forget to indulge in the night’s refreshments, which include a doughnut bar, pie so good it’ll kill ya’, and a few damn fine cups of coffee. HEATHER HOCH