21 Best Things to Do This Week in Metro Phoenix
Benjamin Leatherman
Need plans, Phoenix? This week you can head to Saboten Con for cosplaying fun, hang out at Lustre Rooftop Bar for a Labor Day celebration or experience India right here in Phoenix. Don't be bored, get plans. For more things to do, visit New Times' curated calendar.

Arizona State University v. New Mexico State University
Arizona State University athletic director Ray Anderson won’t come out and say it, but Todd Graham’s job is no doubt hanging precariously on this season’s outcome. The Sun Devils football coach breathed life into the program early on in his tenure, including two consecutive 10-win seasons, but has seen his successes wane dramatically over the past two seasons.

With his seat as hot as ever and with a daunting midseason stretch that will likely leave his team in tatters, Graham cannot afford to lose what ought to be a freebie against New Mexico State University on Thursday, August 31, at Tempe’s Sun Devil Stadium, 500 East Veterans Way. Fans attending the 7:30 p.m. season opener should expect the Devils to make quick work of the Aggies. Tickets are $9 and up. Visit the Sun Devils website or call 480-727-0000 for details. Rob Kroehler

click to enlarge Basically nerd paradise. - COURTESY OF ARIZONA TECHNOLOGY COUNCIL FOUNDATION
Basically nerd paradise.
Courtesy of Arizona Technology Council Foundation
Arizona SciTech Festival Kick-Off
A day of panels and workshops centered on science, technology, engineering, and math sounds like nerd paradise. And that’s precisely what you’ll find during the seventh annual Arizona SciTech Festival Kick-Off at Mesa Arts Center, 1 East Main Street.

The event is focused on “Building Arizona’s STEM Ecosystem,” with 40 sessions in seven tracks of interactive panels (including Art, Design through STEM and Computer Science and Engineering), and over 60 exhibitor tables. Attendees will include those in education, government, and nongovernmental organizations.

The kickoff runs from 7:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, August 31. Cost is $40 for general admission, $30 for educators, and free for students (though registration is needed). For more information and to register, see the AZ SciTech website or call 480-250-7764. Lauren Cusimano

click to enlarge See Saskia Jordá’s newest body of work at Eric Fischl Gallery. - SASKIA JORDÁ/COURTESY OF ERIC FISCHL GALLERY
See Saskia Jordá’s newest body of work at Eric Fischl Gallery.
Saskia Jordá/Courtesy of Eric Fischl gallery
Maybe you’ve seen Saskia Jordá’s work at Phoenix Art Museum or Scottsdale’s Canal Convergence. Using wood, fabric, and other media, she’s explored everything from forest fires to migration. Now, she’s taking on the concept of lineage with an exhibition of new work at Eric Fischl Gallery.

“Lineage” is anchored by an 18-foot-long burst of red that prompts reflection on the complexities of the human circulatory system that’s essential to life, the intertwined lines of individual and collective ancestry that infuse the human experience, and the artistic lineage of Jordá’s art practice.

You can catch the opening reception from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, August 31. Or see the free exhibit during regular gallery hours, which are Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The exhibition space is located on the second floor of the fine and performing arts building at Phoenix College, 1202 West Thomas Road. Visit the Phoenix College website. Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge A still from Dave Chappelle's recent Netflix stand-up special. - LESTER COHEN
A still from Dave Chappelle's recent Netflix stand-up special.
Lester Cohen
Dave Chappelle
You might think it’s still funny to burst out with the “I’m Rick James, bitch!” catchphrase, but the man who invented it probably won’t be laughing along with you.

Comedian, actor, and writer Dave Chappelle did hilariously play James on Chappelle’s Show, but he got tired of stand-up audiences bellowing it at him relentlessly. That was just one of the many characters Chappelle portrayed, solidifying his place as a comedic great.

Chappelle ended the TV show and didn’t take to the stage much until 2013, when he dove back into stand-up and headlined the Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival. Fans were thrilled to have him back in action. And earlier this year, when he released some Netflix specials, no one could shut up about it.

See the man in motion at 8 p.m. on Friday, September 1, at Comerica Theatre, 400 West Washington Street. Tickets are $50 to $100. Call 602-379- 2800 or visit the Comerica Theatre website. Amy Young

click to enlarge Get a little geeky. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Get a little geeky.
Benjamin Leatherman
Saboten Con
Gokus and Narutos and Pokémon, oh my. Expect to encounter all these popular anime characters (or their cosplay doppelgangers, at least) lurking around downtown Phoenix during Labor Day Weekend, particularly in close proximity to the Sheraton Grand Phoenix, 340 North Third Street. It’s the site of Saboten Con, the annual anime and Japanese pop-culture convention, which runs from Friday, September 1, to Monday, September 4.

This year will be the 10th edition of the event, which launched in 2008 and celebrates anything and everything with anime, manga, J-culture in general. Special guests include Funimation voice actor/director Dave Trosko, Carla Perez and Robert Axelrod from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and a variety of Japanese bands and musicians. Various panels and activities like a J-fashion show, concerts, cosplay masquerade, maid cafes, and more take place throughout the weekend. Hours vary. Daily memberships are $15 to $25, and a four-day pass is $50. Visit the Saboten Con website for more details. Benjamin Leatherman

Picture your love life as art when you hit Step Gallery for “Union.” - COURTESY OF ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY
Picture your love life as art when you hit Step Gallery for “Union.”
Courtesy of Arizona State University
What would your love life look like if you turned it into an art installation? See what a couple of recently married artists and graduate students, Christina Kemp-Sullivan and Buzzy Sullivan, came up with when they tried this at home.

The duo will present an ephemeral, photography-based exhibition called “Union” at Step Gallery, located inside ASU’s Grant Street Studios at 605 East Grant Street. It’s a reflection of their lives as emerging artists, graduate students, and newlyweds. The exhibition also hints at the challenges of living in an urban desert environment.
Take a look between 6 and 9 p.m. on Friday, September 1. The free show runs through Saturday, September 2. Visit the ASU event website. Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Gustavo Flores and Jacqueline Anderson try to avoid an eclipse of the honeymoon in Barefoot in the Park. - RENEE ASHLOCK
Gustavo Flores and Jacqueline Anderson try to avoid an eclipse of the honeymoon in Barefoot in the Park.
Renee Ashlock
Barefoot in the Park
Why are all the coolest celebrities expiring? Well, you’re aging, so the heroes of your formative years draw closer to death every minute. Go see a comedy!

At press time, Neil Simon’s still alive, and dude’s written 34 plays. (You could, too, if you spent your lousy childhood submerged in movies and books.) The second of those is Barefoot in the Park. It’s a love letter to 1960s Manhattan, but mostly it’s about becoming a grown-up and then meshing your life with the right person for you.

The play runs through Sunday, October 8, in Desert Stages Theatre’s new Scottsdale Fashion Square space at 7014 East Camelback Road. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. on Friday, September 1. Tickets are $22 to $28 at the Desert Stages website or 480-483-1664. Julie Peterson

click to enlarge Explore the intersections of art and activism at the Sagrado Galleria. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Explore the intersections of art and activism at the Sagrado Galleria.
Lynn Trimble
“Las Fronteras Nos Dividen, Pero El Arte Nos Une”
Four women share stories of crossed paths and borders as Sagrado Galleria, 6437 South Central Avenue, presents its newest exhibition. “Las Fronteras Nos Dividen, Pero El Arte Nos Une” features work by Giovana Aviles, Carla Chavarria, Isela Meraz, and Gloria Martinez-Casillas.

These artists have experienced “the beauty and hardships” of immigration. And one knows firsthand the perils and promise of living as an undocumented immigrant in the U.S. The gallery showcases those stories through textiles, water paintings, beads, photography, and multimedia work.

The opening reception runs from 6 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, September 2. It includes a 6 p.m. artist panel moderated by Phoenix-based grassroots organizer Marisa Franco. Visit the Sagrado website. Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Join Anarbor as they honor Tyler Hedstrom. - JAKE GRAVBROT
Join Anarbor as they honor Tyler Hedstrom.
Jake Gravbrot
Tyler Hedstrom Memorial Show
This year has been a rough one for Valley band Anarbor. In July, the group’s 17-year-old drummer, Tyler Hedstrom, took his own life. To celebrate his life, the band will host the Tyler Hedstrom Memorial Show, bringing together music, friends, family, and fans.

The lineup features Sundressed, Justin Reece, The Secret Destroyers, and Headstrum, a band led by Tyler’s brother Alex Hedstrom.

The Saturday, September 2, concert is at Wasted Grain, 7295 East Stetson Drive in Scottsdale. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $15 through Brown Paper Tickets. For more information, visit the Facebook event page. Lindsay Roberts

click to enlarge Be kind, rewind. - UNIVERSAL PICTURES
Be kind, rewind.
Universal Pictures
VHS Swap
If a yard sale just doesn’t feel like a fitting goodbye for your VCR, VHS tapes, old magazines, posters, and board games, then consider joining the other tapeheads at the VHS Swap hosted by FilmBar, 815 North Second Street.

Presented with support from Zia Records, the second annual Vswap is a small vendors’ market of tapes, games, and assorted collectibles. There’s no charge to sell, and no charge to poke around. A screening of Fast Times at Ridgemont High follows the swap, and a live taping of the BS Movies podcast and a trivia session follow the movie.

The VHS Swap is from 8 to 10 p.m. (the movie starts at 10), on Saturday, September 2. To RSVP, see the Facebook event page. Lauren Cusimano

Read on for more of the best things to do in metro Phoenix this week.
click to enlarge Got kink? - PHOTO BY IRENE SILVER
Got kink?
Photo by Irene Silver


Kink comes in different forms. It can be an affinity for bondage, leather, burlesque, or spanking. During the Arizona Fetish Society’s 18-and-older Fetishball on Saturday, September 2, you can explore what turns you on in a safe place, with others like you.

Industrial pop group Aesthetic Perfection will headline the event, which will feature burlesque, sideshow, circus, and male exotic dance performances. Throughout the evening, fetish DJs will play a mixture of rock and electronic music. In public bondage areas, you can try different forms of play, including flogging and bondage. The ball encourages attendees to express creative, kinky, and outrageous sides through fetish wear like kinky prom dresses, vintage tuxedos, military-inspired attire, a corset and garters, latex or rubber ensembles, leather kilts, or chokers or chains.

The event starts at 8 p.m. at Club Red, 1306 West University Drive, Mesa, and costs $25 at the door. For more information, go to the Arizona Fetish Society website. Laura Latzko

click to enlarge You may need a headlamp. - COURTESY OF GO PADDLE AZ
You may need a headlamp.
Courtesy of Go Paddle AZ
Full Moon Kayak Tour
Been waiting for a chance to rock that fashionable headlamp in your utility closet? Strap on the headgear or grab a flashlight and take the Full Moon Kayak Tour. Attendees will paddle illuminated kayaks from the starting point at Go Paddle AZ, 8708 West Harbor Boulevard in Peoria, to Honeymoon Cove. The scenic cruise lands on a quiet shore for marshmallows and a campfire before heading back to the marina for live music and mingling.

Bring your own kayak or rent one there and paddle through the tour from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 2. Admission is $20 to $75 for those 18 and older. Visit the Go Paddle website. Amy Young

click to enlarge Experience India, no airfare required. - MIM
Experience India, no airfare required.
Experience India
If a one-day staycation to an exotic destination seems like something that fits into your plans, why not see what India offers?

You don’t even have to get on a plane. Experience India lets you soak up various facets of the culture, right here in the Valley. Music and dance performances are on the agenda, along with workshops where you can learn dance moves and how to craft instruments. Curators will discuss the musical instruments of India. Get informed and have fun from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, September 3, at the Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 East Mayo Boulevard in Scottsdale. The event is included in regular museum admission of $10 to $20, and it’s free for kids 3 and younger. Call 480-478-6000 or visit the MIM website. Amy Young

click to enlarge Seek some psychic insight. - ROBIN SELBY - PURPLE LOTUS PRODUCTIONS
Seek some psychic insight.
Robin Selby - Purple Lotus Productions
Psychic Fair
Don’t expect a scene straight out of That’s So Raven or Medium when Fantasia Crystals hosts its upcoming Psychic Fair. Instead, attendees can seek insights from a variety of psychics and intuitive readers on Sunday, September 3.

Bring your burning questions to the shop at 5108 North Seventh Street. Fifteen-minute readings cost $15. Be sure to bring cash, as not all readers take credit cards. For information about the event, which runs from noon to 5 p.m., visit the Facebook event page. Lindsay Roberts

click to enlarge Game on. - BARRY GOSSAGE/NBAE
Game on.
Barry Gossage/NBAE
Phoenix Mercury v. Atlanta Dream
With few exceptions, Arizona sports franchises have hardly played at an elite level over the past several years. That makes the Phoenix Mercury’s 2017 campaign particularly gut wrenching. The hoops squad has been a stalwart of success throughout the years, routinely making the playoffs, three times hoisting trophies.

This season started out business as usual until MVP-candidate Brittney Griner suffered a knee injury, sidelining her for weeks. With Griner back, the Mercury find themselves in unfamiliar territory, fighting to make it to the playoffs in a battle that will likely go down to the wire.

Speaking of which, the Merc close out the regular season at Talking Stick Resort Arena, 201 East Jefferson Street, on Sunday, September 3, with a 1 p.m. game against the Atlanta Dream. Tickets are $9 and up. Visit the Mercury website or call 602-379-2000 for details. Rob Kroehler

Labor Day weekend
During the last big holiday of the summer, you don’t need much to have a great time, just a spot in a pool or on a lounge chair with your favorite drink. Lustre Rooftop Bar will celebrate Labor Day weekend with a pool party featuring guest DJs, drink specials and tastings, giant pool toys and beach balls, and a barbecue with shrimp skewers, sliders, kebabs, and hot dogs. There is no cover for attendees, including those not staying at the hotel.

Festivities take place daily from 2 to 6 p.m., and 8 p.m. to midnight from Friday, September 1, to Monday, September 4. The bar is located inside Kimpton Hotel Palomar Phoenix, 2 East Jefferson Street. For VIP couch and cabana reservations, contact [email protected] Find out more about the event at the Lustre Rooftop Bar website. Laura Latzko

click to enlarge Don't be a drag. - SCOTTY KIRBY
Don't be a drag.
Scotty Kirby
Labor Day Divas Show
Kick back and see others werk it this Labor Day. The annual Labor Day Divas Show at Kobalt Bar, 3110 North Central Avenue, #125, is about as traditional in this town as hot dogs and one last pool party.

This day-off drag show features big-name performers like Aimee V. Justice, Olivia Gardens, Claudia B., and TC Taylor, your hostess for the afternoon, on the small stage at Park Central. You’re invited as long as you bring the singles. Say “Bye, girl” to summer from 1 to 4 p.m. on Monday, September 4, with drag queens, drinks, and dynamite lip-syncing.

Entry is free, but those cocktails are gonna cost you. For more information, call 602-264-5307 or visit the Facebook event page. Lauren Cusimano

click to enlarge Tess Gerritsen definitely knows a secret. - JESSICA HILLS
Tess Gerritsen definitely knows a secret.
Jessica Hills
I Know a Secret
Tess Gerritsen is certainly following the mantra “Write what you know.”

The former medical doctor rocketed to fame in 1996 with the medical thriller Harvest. Since then, she has written more than two dozen best-sellers, including the “Rizzoli and Isles” series about a medical examiner and police detective, which has been adapted into a popular TV series on TNT, starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander. The latest Rizzoli and Isles adventure, I Know a Secret, hit shelves on August 15.

Gerritsen will sign copies of I Know a Secret at 4 p.m. Monday, September 4, at the Poisoned Pen, 4014 North Goldwater Boulevard in Scottsdale. Admission is free, but purchase of the $28 hardcover is required for the signing. For more information, call 480-947-2974. Michael Senft

click to enlarge Dance corpse: The cast of Fun Home is a casket of adorables. - JOAN MARCUS
Dance corpse: The cast of Fun Home is a casket of adorables.
Joan Marcus
Fun Home
We never tire of noticing what gets adapted into musical theater. In the case of Fun Home, it’s Alison Bechdel’s 2006 graphic memoir about coming to terms with one’s sexuality while growing up in a family that runs a funeral home (among many other subjects).

Books that jump around in time and memory are not that easy to transfer to the stage, but award-winners Jeanine Tesori (Caroline, or Change) and Lisa Kron (2.5 Minute Ride) figured it out, resulting in another Tony and the finals of 2014’s Pulitzer Prizes.

The road company’s in town through Sunday, September 10, at ASU Gammage, 1200 South Forest Avenue in Tempe. Showtime on Tuesday, September 5, is 7:30 p.m. For tickets, $20 to $175, call 480-965-3434 or visit the ASU Gammage website. Julie Peterson

Seu Jorge
Seu Jorge brought the Star Man down to Earth with his acoustic guitar and beautifully flawed Portuguese translations of David Bowie’s music in Wes Anderson’s underrated film The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. The Brazilian actor/musician’s renditions of “Rebel, Rebel” and “Rock and Roll Suicide” won the endorsement of none other than The Thin White Duke himself in the liner notes of Jorge’s covers album. Bowie stated that Jorge’s work gave his music “a new level of beauty.” To pay tribute to Bowie after he left our world too soon, Jorge’s tribute tour celebrates the work of an artist who gave hope to the rebels and outcasts of the world.

Put on your official Team Zissou red cap and Speedo at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, September 5, at The Van Buren, 401 West Van Buren Street. Tickets are $43 to $56. For more information, visit the Van Buren website. Jason Keil

click to enlarge Edward Weston, Dead Man, Colorado Desert, 1937 © 1981 Center for Creative Photography. Arizona Board of Regents. - COURTESY OF PHOENIX ART MUSEUM
Edward Weston, Dead Man, Colorado Desert, 1937 © 1981 Center for Creative Photography. Arizona Board of Regents.
Courtesy of Phoenix Art Museum

“Nine Smooth Miles to El Centro”

Renowned 20th-century photographer Edward Weston once found a dead body. Weston was making a Guggenheim-funded road trip through the Colorado desert with his partner Charis Wilson. They spotted a note fastened to a stake on a nearly deserted road and followed its instructions, which led to an abandoned stagecoach station. That’s where they found drifter Grover Sutton, who’d written the note while trying to cross the desert.

Hear the full story at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, September 6, when Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central Avenue, presents the artist talk “Nine Smooth Miles to El Centro.” The lecture will feature photographer scott b. davis discussing Weston’s Dead Man, Colorado Desert, taken in 1937. It’s free, but space is limited. Reserve your tickets online through the Phoenix Art Museum website. Lynn Trimble

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Lauren Cusimano is Phoenix New Times' food and drink editor. She is a journalist and food waste writer based in Tempe. Joys include eating wings, riding bikes, knowing everyone at the bar, talking too much about The Simpsons, and falling asleep while reading.
Contact: Lauren Cusimano
Jason Keil was the Phoenix New Times culture editor from August 2019 to May 2020.
Contact: Jason Keil
Rob is a Phoenix native, husband, dad, and an active member in the local music scene. He's written original songs for feature films.
Contact: Rob Kroehler
Laura Latzko
Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.
Julie has written for the Night & Day events calendar section since 2005. As a student at Arizona State, she received the Glendon and Kathryn Swarthout Creative Writing Award and the Theatre Medallion of Merit.
Contact: Julie Peterson
Michael runs the Sci-Fridays Book Club at the Poisoned Pen, and volunteers at local pop-culture conventions. He can be found at the occasional prog-rock concert.
Contact: Michael Senft
Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble
Amy Young is an arts and culture writer who also spends time curating arts-related exhibits and events, and playing drums in local bands French Girls and Sturdy Ladies.
Contact: Amy Young