If you haven’t already noticed by now, August has already been a month of great concerts and memorable. However, the best is yet to come.
More specifically, some of the biggest concerts of the month will be taking place this coming week, including some long-awaited performances by some quite legendary musicians and bands.
But don’t take our word for it. Check out our weekly rundown of the best shows happening over the next few days and see if you agree. (Plus, you can also peruse our extensively updated live music listings for even more concerts happening this week.)
Guns N’ Roses – Monday, August 15 — University of Phoenix Stadium
It would be really easy to write something either positively glowing or completely negative about Guns N’ Roses, who make a Phoenix appearance on whatever the heck this current tour and reincarnation is called on August 15. Most music fans either love or hate the band, which is understandable due to the myriad of polarizing attributes they possess. On one hand, they churned out one of the most beloved hard rock albums of all time when they released Appetite for Destruction in the summer of 1987. Kids with long hair (we called them “hessians” at my high school) creamed in their tight, and often tucked into knee-high moccasins, jeans when they first heard “Sweet Child o’Mine” or “Welcome to the Jungle.” But conversely, who knows how many unfortunate souls decided to try heroin after listening to “Mr. Brownstone” without really listening to the lyrics? Probably way too many, but we’re guessing lead singer Axl Rose gives exactly zero shits if the song GN’R guitar players Slash (aka Saul Hudson) and Izzy Stradlin (who left the band in 1991) wrote actually affected anyone. After a long feud, the frequently (and often egregiously) tardy Rose and Slash have made up, and the cash from concert ticket sales has to smell like roses, or at very least, compromise. TOM REARDON
Silversun Pickups – Tuesday, August 16 – Marquee Theatre
While the saying goes that alcohol is never the answer, sometimes it just is. How did Silversun Pickups first meet? Frontman Brian Aubert saw Nikki Monninger nicking mini bottles from the drink cart while the two were on a flight from Los Angeles to London. Where did their band’s name come from? From making regular trips to Silversun Liquors in Los Angeles. It was a convenient setup, just steps away from the Silver Lake Lounge that was one of the many clubs in the area to boast live music — groups like Weezer and Red Hot Chili Peppers have ties to Silver Lake — and where Aubert and Monninger played through most of the early 2000s. After a set at New York’s CMJ alternative music festival, drummer Christopher Guanlao and keyboardist Joe Lester rounded out the quartet to begin 10 years of indie and alternative rock chart-topping and enough hits to justify releasing The Singles Collection in 2014. Now, the group is primed to lead the shoegaze revival with its distorted guitars, pulsing rhythms, and melodies over chaotic noise. And where does that leave listeners? In a drunken haze. TAYLOR GILLIAM
Guided By Voices – Tuesday, August 16 – Crescent Ballroom
Guided by Voices, that old lo-fi, college radio stalwart, is best known for cramming as many tracks into an LP-length disc as humanly possible, thus bringing their average song length down to about two minutes. Over the years, they’ve taken a similar approach to their lineup: Frontman Robert Pollard seems hellbent on cramming as many contributing members as possible into their three-decade lifespan. In a way, the GBV alumni list reads a little like a GBV album tracklist. So when Pollard announced GBV’s 2016 reunion tour, the lineup was a big question. It looks like there will be a certain symmetry here, too. While their 2010 reunion tour featured the return of Tobin Sprout, that emblem of first-gen, super lo-fi GBV, their second reunion tour will include Doug Gillard, the engine of second-gen, less lo-fi, more virtuosic GBV. Well, maybe, anyway — this tour is actually in support of Robert Pollard’s latest solo album, Of Course You Are. But they’re certain to play a couple of classics from their enormous repertoire, too — after all, it shouldn’t take long. ELLIOT WRIGHT
Old Crow Medicine Show – Tuesday, August 16 – Comerica Theatre
Seventeen years and eight albums into their career, Tennessee string band Old Crow Medicine Show still play with the wide-eyed charisma of a pack of buskers. Like any good roots outfit, they're best experienced live. Old Crow's seven members look and act like a party onstage — a party brimming with banjos, mandolins, and bluegrass soul. With singalong-style performances and a charming sincerity that hasn't wavered through the many lineup changes they've seen over the past few years, this group continues to light up stages wherever the road takes them. Singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile, the talented alt-country/folk rock performer whose 2015 album, The Firewatcher's Daughter, was a smash success, will open the evening along with Americana duo The Secret Sisters. CARENA LIPTAK
RiFF RAFF – Tuesday, August 16 – Club Red
RiFF RAFF is a man of many names, reputations, and styles. His polarizing brand of hip-hop is an exaggerated take on the storied Houston, Texas, rap scene, featuring absurd freestyled punchline raps, a penchant for platinum and diamond jewelry, as well as uniquely braided hair. The FREESTYLE SCiENTiST has his share of critics and detractors, but has developed a massive fan base thanks to his tireless internet presence, on both YouTube and social media. JODY HiGHROLLER’s fans have an insatiable appetite for his humorous music and ridiculous videos, but more importantly, it’s his neverending desire to have fun and be happy that make his shows a party destination. This go-around at the Club Red in Mesa offers fans a chance to see the RAP GAME JAMES FRANCO perform new songs from his recently released Peach Panther album. MIKEL GALICIA
Adele – Tuesday, August 16, and Wednesday, August 17 — Talking Stick Resort Arena
What more is there to say about Adele? She’s playing two nights in Phoenix at the basketball arena, and both nights have been sold out for ages. Pop stars with that kind of pull are few and far between these days, but Adele has managed to conquer pop radio ever since 2009, her powerful voice able to melt the hearts of even the most cynical pop-music haters. She’s an atypical pop star as well. She doesn’t sell sex; Vice praised her Rolling Stone cover from last year as being “daring” for not catering to the male gaze. Not only did “Hello,” the single from her most recent album, 25, break all sorts of records on its way to the top of the charts, 25 sold more than 3 million copies the first week it was on sale. That’s insane even by inflated, pre-internet-piracy standards. Adele has numerous accomplishments under her belt, but let’s not forget an oft-overlooked, but very impressive one: In 2012, she sang one of the best songs to ever kick off a Bond movie, the Oscar-winning Skyfall. DAVID ACCOMAZZO
Edwin McCain – Wednesday, August 17 – Crescent Ballroom
Who hasn't been to a post-1998 wedding in which the couple danced to Edwin McCain? The saxophone-drenched ballad "I'll Be," in which McCain promises, in essence, never to be a douchebag, granted him the one commercial success he needed to live easy. He's since dropped off the mainstream music radar but continues to record albums on independent labels and perform in small venues. His fan base is glad of it, for the singer-songwriter's live and often acoustic performances are peppered with personal anecdotes and covers of his favorite songs, all of which work best in an intimate setting. ERIKA HOBART
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The Gipsy Kings – Thursday, August 18 – Celebrity Theatre
If nothing else, the Gipsy Kings hold the distinction of being the soundtrack to one of the great moments in comedic history. If you've never seen The Big Lebowski, you should stop what you're doing right now and change that. But those sane souls who have seen the Coen brothers classic will remember the scene we're talking about. The immortal Jesus Quintana pulls up his purple socks, grabs a bowling ball, sensually teasing it with his reptilian tongue, then rolls a sultry strike — all in glorious slow motion. "Fuckin' Quintana," The Dude says. "That creep can roll, man." The scene is perfect and hilarious in every way, but the glue holding the whole thing together is the Gipsy Kings' flamenco rendition of "Hotel California." Formed in the South of France in 1978, Gipsy Kings come from a Spanish Romani heritage. With 13 studio albums and a pair of live records to its name, the Gipsy Kings seek to use new technologies to distribute its old-world sounds. DAVID ROLLAND
AJJ – Thursday, August 18, and Friday, August 19 – The Rebel Lounge
It's hard to believe that it's been more than two years since AJJ (formerly known as Andrew Jackson Jihad) released their last full-length album, Christmas Island. One of the biggest indie rock bands to ever come out of Phoenix, AJJ is bracing for the release of The Bible 2 later this summer, and to give us an idea of what that record is going to sound like, they dropped the video for the pre-release single "Goodbye, Oh Goodbye" last week. The song itself is indie pop at its finest, and features some of the slickest production I've ever heard on an AJJ record. It's got everything — raging guitars, nervous vocals, pounding rhythms, quirky lyrics, and an infectious hook that resonates inside your head. It could well be the single that sends them over the edge of indie. The video will certainly attract some attention, as it is a straight-up parody of OK Go videos and, oddly, sponsored by the meal replacement product Soylent. While the video is a funny aside, the song itself is propelled by the histrionic vocals of Sean Bonnette, reminiscent of early Beirut crossed with Angst In My Pants-era Sparks, which is fascinating on a sonic level alone. Later this week, AJJ returns to the Valley for a two-night stint on Thursday, August 18, and Friday, August 19, at The Rebel Lounge. MITCHELL HILLMAN