The Nine Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend
Arizona Hip-Hop Festvial founder Justus Samuel.
Courtesy of the artist
If you’re a follower of local hip-hop, its likely you’ll be at Comerica Theatre this weekend with a few thousand like-minded fans at the latest Arizona Hip-Hop Festival. Meanwhile, those who are big into electronic dance music will be down at Rawhide in Chandler attending this year’s Global Dance Festival Arizona.
By no means are those the only big shows happening in Phoenix over the next couple night. Not in the least.
William Fitzsimmons is due in town this weekend, as is Journey, The Suffers, Huey Lewis and the News, and Amanda Shires.
Here’s a look at each of the aforementined concerts, as well as a few others.
Bruce Hornsby – Friday, November 18 – Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
His heads-down, unassuming demeanor notwithstanding, Bruce Hornsby is easily one of America's most versatile and accomplished musicians of the past three decades. Few other artists can claim such wide musical parameters, from the early Americana that brought him big hits like "The Way It Is," "Mandolin Rain," and "The Valley Road" with his band the Range to bluegrass collaborations with Ricky Skaggs; jazz sessions with the likes of Pat Metheny, Jack DeJohnnette, Wayne Shorter, Christian McBride, and Branford Marsalis; stints touring with the Grateful Dead; and stylistic explorations that encompassed electronica, swing, big band, and a multitude of other styles in between. This doesn't even include the numerous sessions that found him backing the likes of Bob Dylan; Willie Nelson; Stevie Nicks; the Cowboy Junkies; Bill Evans; Crosby, Stills and Nash; Don Henley; the Yellowjackets; Bonnie Raitt; Bela Fleck; Bob Weir; and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. After more than a dozen albums featuring his name on the marquee (including his brand new album, Rehab Reunion) an untold number of live recordings, and several more recordings with the Dead and its various offshoots, Hornsby been duly rewarded with Grammys, solid sales, and peer recognition. LEE ZIMMERMAN
Arizona Hip Hop Festival – Saturday, November 19 – Comerica Theatre
In its third year, the Arizona Hip Hop Festival is bigger than ever. Who knew that there were 245 separate rap groups in Phoenix, let alone that there was an event that could get them all under one roof? Yet that is the promise of the Arizona Hip Hop Festival, which aims to bring together music, art, dance, and culture under one roof for a solid day of local music. This year, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton issued a proclamation declaring November 19 Hip Hop Day in the city, meaning this year’s festival is happening with the local government’s blessing. DAVID ACCOMAZZO
Global Dance Festival Arizona – Saturday, November 19 – Rawhide Western Town
What makes an electronic music festival a memorable one? The lineup’s typically the biggest thing, as are such factors as production value, execution, the energy level of the crowd, and (of course) the quality of the actual performances. There’s also something to be said for the location itself, which can help add something extra to the experience, particuarly if its unique, and help the event stand out from any of the hundreds of other EDM extravaganza around the world. To wit: there’s Dimensions Festival, which takes place at an 18th century fort in Croatia or Day Zero, an all-night rager within the Mayan ruins of Tulum outside of Cancun, Mexico. And then there’s the Valley’s own Global Dance Festival Arizona, which ultizes the kitschy setting of Rawhide Western Town,. DJs mix with duded-up cowboys at the annual event as a nonstop soundtrack of beats and bass are unleashed from three different stages that are located among the theme park’s old-timey structures. Y’all can expect a similar experience at this year’s edition of the festival, which takes place on Saturday, November 19, and features such artists as Bassnectar, Nero, Galantis, Alison Wonderland, Cedric Gervais, Datsik, Herobust, Lee Foss, Louis the Child, Mat Zo, Valentino Khan, and Cheat Codes, Gina Turner. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Jim Vondruska Photography
William Fitzsimmons – Saturday, November 19 – Valley Bar
William Fitzsimmons is the child of two blind parents. During his childhood in Pittsburgh, they taught him to play a bevy of instruments. And so, he became on of the most prominent indie folkers around. His music has been featured on the bastions of indie folk—because it’s sullen yet not that expensive to get the rights to—intense network dramas. He gets the highest amount of praise for his 2008 album The Sparrow and the Crow which is based on his parents divorce and his own as well. Some heavy stuff going on here, so rest assured he keeps the picking and plucking light and breezy. H. DREW BLACKBURN
Journey – Saturday, November 19 – Talking Stick Resort
Don't. Stop. Believing. Three words that on their own are somewhat unremarkable, but when put together form the foundation of one of rock's best feel good anthems. Journey isn't a one song band by any means, but a song like "Don't Stop Believing" gets special recognition for being pretty damn special (even when its coming from the sweet pipes of the bands current front man, Filipino singer Arnel Pineda). All that said, if you don't get a stirring in your chest when "Faithfully" starts up... well... I'd tell you to feel bad but clearly you're incapable of feelings. You’ll definitely hear the hit – as well as such signature Journey hits as “Wheel in the Sky,” “Any Way You Want It,” “Who's Crying Now,” “Be Good to Yourself,” and, yes, “Seperate Ways (Worlds Apart)” – when the band lands in Scottsdale later this month for a poolside performance at Talking Stick Resort. Be sure to have a lighter handy for the requisite solos by guitarist Neal Schon and drummer Steve Smith. CORY GARCIA
Huey Lewis and the News – Saturday, November 19 – Livewire
The world’s love for Huey Lewis and the News’ perfect cocktail of blues and radio-friendly pop can likely be traced back to their hit “Power of Love” in the film Back to the Future. But It’s probably impossible to attend a concert and not recognize every other song they’ve released over the past few decades. Hits such as “I Want a New Drug” and “The Heart of Rock and Roll” cemented the band as one of the best to come out of the ‘80s. Their last album, Soulsville, was released in 2010 and is a tribute to the artists and music of Stax Records. They’re likely to perform all of the aforemention songs at their upcoming show at Livewire in Scottsdale on November 19. DIAMOND VICTORIA
The Suffers – Sunday, November 20 – Crescent Ballroom
Kamerra “Kam” Franklin doesn’t seem like a singular bit of energy when you see her in person. She almost feels kinetic, a combination of 40 or 50 different singers who all pile inside her when the curtains rise and stay with her weeks after she walks offstage. She glows, radiates and, even when she clutches her purse and laughs with friends, is still a Presence. As lead singer of The Suffers, all eyes are normally on Franklin. The band’s self-titled debut album dropped earlier this year along with a coronating performance on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah to match. For The Suffers, it’s another feather in their growing list of big stages. Formed in 2011 by Adam Castaneda and Pat Kelly, the group has taken on many forms, eventually building toward the ten-piece machine that exists today. Over time, the band danced around with sounds of neo-soul, ska, hip-hop, brass-band jazz and more. Their sound consistently leaves critics unable to put them anywhere near a box, stymieing easy comparisons. It makes Franklin, their de facto leader, satisfied. “We can shy all we like, but it would do us no good,” she says of The Suffers' contemporaries. “Comparisons give folks that may be hesitant to check you out a reason to invest time in listening to you. I'm just glad I love all the artists folks seem to compare us to. It'd get a little awkward if it were the other way around.” BRANDON CALDWELL
Singer-songwriter Amanda Shires
Amanda Shires – Sunday, November 20 – Valley Bar
By the age of 15, Amanda Shires was already playing violin with the Texas Playboys, the group that used to back Western-swing legend Bob Wills. Over the next two decades, she also recorded and performed extensively with Thrift Store Cowboys, Todd Snider and her husband, Jason Isbell. But the native of Lubbock, Texas, also has released a series of distinctive solo albums, including her most recent record, Down Fell the Doves. The album traipses across the wide landscape of Americana, from the intimate acoustic ballad “A Song for Leonard Cohen” to harder-rocking rambles such as “Wasted and Rollin’.” But what distinguishes Shires from other alt-country songbirds is her soulful vocal intimacy and often poetic lyrics, such as the intriguing character sketch “Devastate,” in which a mysterious woman is symbolized as an approaching storm. FALLING JAMES
C.G. Roxanne and the Nightmares – Sunday, November 20 – The Rebel Lounge
C.G. Roxanne and the Nightmares are a rock ’n’ roll band on tour for the first time outside of California, and their first stop is Phoenix. This band got together about two years ago by accident one night in Hollywood. Marlon Rabenreither, Carlos Laszlo, and Sam Thornton were asked to play as a band in a performance-art piece, so they wrote some songs. Turns out, they were pretty good. A year of not playing together passed, and then they were invited to play the birthday party of their late manager, Wild Bruce. The event reunited the trio, and it was too good to stop. At the birthday show, Travis Pavur of Golden Beat Studio invited them to record, and it all just fell into place. Since 2015, the band has released two EPs, with the third getting a tape release on Lolipop Records. A seven-inch vinyl with two new songs followed, and their first full-length record, cheekily titled Greatest Hits, is coming out soon. KAYLA CLANCY
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