Nerd Culture

The Best Things to Do in Metro Phoenix This Weekend

Kong Pong is played at Oktoberfest.
Kong Pong is played at Oktoberfest. Alexandra Gaspar

Looking for some weekend fun? You can laugh with Piff the Magic Dragon, support the Phoenix Suns, or jam out to Quintron and Miss Pussycat. For more things to do, visit Phoenix New Times’ calendar.

Banned Books Reading
Eager to support free expression? Get an assist from fellow censorship opponents during an adult story time called the Banned Books Reading happening from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, September 27, at Alwun House, 1204 East Roosevelt Street. It’s one of many events taking place around the world during Banned Books Week, which runs September 23 to 29. The readings, culled from a diverse assortment of banned books, are being presented by Alwun House and the Arizona LGBT+ History Project, with books donated by Bookmans. Readings start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 in advance or $10 at the door. Visit Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Matty B. bringing color to Tempe Art A Gogh-Gogh in 2016. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Matty B. bringing color to Tempe Art A Gogh-Gogh in 2016.
Benjamin Leatherman
Tempe Art A Gogh-Gogh
The seventh anniversary of a Valley arts and music mashup called Tempe Art A Gogh-Gogh is upon us. Part art show, part concert, it’s a chance to show the local love for hometown creatives, including co-presenter James B. Hunt, who uses the moniker NXOEED and often hides his creations around town for impromptu art hunts. Expect art, live music, a dance party, and sticker drop with 50 participating artists — including Champ Styles, Chelsi Rossi, JB Snyder, Michael 23, Tara Sharpe, and Volar. The free event takes place at Yucca Tap Room, 29 West Southern Avenue, Tempe, from 8 to 11:30 a.m. on Friday, September 28. Visit Lynn Trimble

Sisoyev Public Relations
Piff the Magic Dragon
Music fans may recognize Piff The Magic Dragon from the cover of Mumford and Sons’ album Babel. Reality show fans may know the costumed magician from the 10th season of America’s Got Talent. While he didn’t win the competition, his hilarious appearance on the program breathed fire into his career. The British artist formerly known as John van der Put, accompanied by his adorable magic chihuahua Mr. Piffles, has a residency at the Flamingo in Las Vegas in addition to performing to sold-out audiences throughout North America. The magic begins at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Friday, September 28, at Stand Up Live, 50 West Jefferson Street, with additional shows on Saturday, September 27. Tickets are $27 with a two-drink minimum. For more information, visit Jason Keil

click to enlarge ANDY MARVIN
Andy Marvin
Y2K: High School Musical Night
Back in the day, Friday nights used to mean sitting in front of the TV and watching the next Disney Channel Original Movie. Now that you’re a little older, you can go back to listening to music from Camp Rock and Hannah Montana. Y2K: High School Musical Night is a great time to grab your fellow Wildcats and dance to The Jonas Brothers and The Cheetah Girls. Throw in two full bars and a photo booth and this night will be truly unforgettable. This event is 21+. The fun begins at 10 p.m. on Friday, September 28, at Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue. Tickets are $10-$15. For more information, visit Jason Keil

click to enlarge JEFF ROFFMAN
Jeff Roffman
Maria de Buenos Aires
The worlds of tango and opera were forever intertwined 50 years ago when Astor Piazzolla wrote the operetta Maria de Buenos Aires. When the composer fused the styles to tell the surreal story of an Argentinian prostitute enticed by the seductive dance and doomed to hell as a result, many fans of ballroom dance were shocked by this hybrid of genres. In the years since Piazzolla’s nontraditional masterpiece has brought new fans to the musical theater.

The curtain rises at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, September 28, at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe Street, with additional performances on September 29 and 30. Tickets are $30 to $140. For more information, visit Jason Keil

click to enlarge Checking out Isaac Caruso's Chile Pepper Festival mural. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Checking out Isaac Caruso's Chile Pepper Festival mural.
Lynn Trimble
Chile Pepper Festival
Haul out those Donna Summer disco tunes, because the hot stuff is headed your way. The free Chile Pepper Festival returns to Roosevelt Row from 5 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, September 29. It’s a mix of local food, live music, and creativity presented by the Roosevelt Row CDC and the Roosevelt Growhouse Community Garden, complete with talent show, chile roasting, salsa dancing, and a kids’ zone. Chef teams are representing more than a dozen restaurants, including Carly’s Bistro, Paz Cantina, and Welcome Diner. Performers include Mariachi Pasion, Flamenco Por La Vida, and many more. Bring cash for food truck fare and drinks. And make time to explore murals by artists including Bill Dambrova, Lauren Lee, and the Fortoul Brothers while you’re there. Visit Lynn Trimble

Amour de Agony
The Alwun House has been home to many a thrilling performance over the years, particularly those of a sexy, strange, spectacular, or fringe nature. So it seems fitting that the historic art space and venue, which is located at 1204 East Roosevelt Street, would host an event like this weekend’s Amour de Agony affair.

Described as a blend of sideshow spectacle and vaudeville thrills, this “variety theatrical spectacular” on Saturday, September 29, will feature performances offering a mix of pain and pleasure as the audience is taken on a trip “through the tragic, inevitability of the unadulterated human condition.” (Fire-dancing and bizarre body modifications may also be involved.)

Amour de Agony’s cast of performers will include local pinup queen Ginger Applebottem, The Circus Farm’s Tabitha Kelly, Shawn Cook, and Jett Runaway of the Runaway Street Circus. The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door. Call 602-253-7887 or see Benjamin Leatherman

click to enlarge Patrons at San Tan Brewing's Oktoberfest in 2016. - ALEXANDRA GASPAR
Patrons at San Tan Brewing's Oktoberfest in 2016.
Alexandra Gaspar
San Tan Brewing's Oktoberfest
According to number-crunchers at the U.S. Census Bureau, Maricopa County boasts the largest concentration of German-Americans in the nation. Their ranks tend to swell this time of year, however, when practically everyone and their mutter claims to be of Germanic descent, particularly those in attendance at any of the Oktoberfest celebrations happening across the Valley. One of the biggest is San Tan Brewing’s Oktoberfest, a one-day bacchanal of beer, bratwurst, and other Bavarian delights that takes over Dr. AJ Chandler Park, 178 East Commonwealth Avenue in Chandler.

This year’s edition takes place on Saturday, September 29, and will feature brews like San Tan’s seasonal Oktoberfest lager, eats like pretzels and brats, and plenty of polka. Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers will headline a slate of live music and activities like a brat-eating contest, stein-holding competition, and wiener dog races are also planned.

Gates open at 3 p.m. Tickets are $12 for general admission and $125 for VIP admission (which includes six drinks, catered food, and other amenities.) Benjamin Leatherman

Phoenix Rising FC versus Saint Louis FC
It turns out that not every Valley sports team has been an utter disappointment this year. As a matter of fact, local pro soccer squad Phoenix Rising FC are having their best season ever. Led by head coach Patrice Carteron, they’ve become one of the premier clubs in the United Soccer League, racked up one of their best won-loss records (29-17 as of this writing), and are on track to secure a top berth in next month’s playoffs.

There’s still plenty of regular-season play to contend with before they begin their drive for postseason glory, however. Next up is a home game against Saint Louis FC on Saturday, September 29. Back in May, our hometown soccer heroes handily beat Saint Louis, 3-1, and hope to do the same during their match this weekend at the Phoenix Rising FC Soccer Complex, 751 North McClintock Drive in Tempe. The game starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $17.73 to $103.29. Call 623-594-9606 or see Benjamin Leatherman

Garlic Festival
Alliophiles of the Valley, get ready to indulge your love of all things garlic. For two straight days, the pungent plant will be in abundance at the Queen Creek Olive Mill, 25062 South Meridian Road, Queen Creek, during the annual Garlic Festival. The weekend-long celebration, which takes place on Saturday, September 29, and Sunday, September 30, will offer the chance to eat, stink, and be merry as food trucks and vendors from across the Valley serve creations and concoctions loaded with garlic. You can even try such garlic-infused sweet treats as gelato, brownies, and muffins. Queen Creek Olive Mill owner Perry Rea will conduct cooking demonstrations, a special garlic-centric menu will also be offered all day, and a beer and wine garden will provide liquid refreshment. Thankfully, breath mints will be provided. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free. Call 480-888-9290 or visit Benjamin Leatherman

Phoenix Suns Open Practice
Are you a believer in the Phoenix Suns yet? Okay, well it’s early. Their first game is still a few weeks away. They’ve got so many new players you’ll need a program to identify them. Their superstar guard, Devin Booker, had surgery on his shooting hand. But now is the time to be hopeful that they will be much better than last season’s last-place team. So if you want a sneak peak at the rising Suns, they are hosting an open practice at Talking Stick Resort Arena, 201 East Jefferson Street, at noon on Saturday, September 29. You’ll get a look at all the new Suns, including No. 1 draft pick Deandre Ayton, hot dogs will only cost $2, there will be a host of activities for kids and adults and admission is free if you RSVP online at Doors open at 11 a.m. for the practice and 10:30 a.m. for the Fan Festival. Stuart Warner

Serenity in the Desert
It’s going on 16 years since the shortsighted executives at the Fox network canceled Firefly, and fans of Joss Whedon’s cult sci-fi show (a.k.a. Browncoats) couldn’t love the program more. Hence the annual Serenity in the Desert, a one-day geek gathering and charity fundraiser put on by the Arizona Browncoats fan group that celebrates all things Firefly and its creator. This year’s event takes place on Sunday, September 30, at the Studio Movie Grill, 15515 North Hayden Road in Scottsdale, and will feature screenings of Serenity, the 2005 film that continued the show’s storyline, and Doctor Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, Whedon’s popular musical-comedy miniseries. A costume contest, raffles, vendors, and other geeky fun will be offered. Liftoff is at 4 p.m. It’s $15 for general admission or $20 for admission plus entry into the raffle. Call 480-991-3106 or see Benjamin Leatherman

click to enlarge Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Tempe. - BLACK THEATRE TROUPE
Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Tempe.
Black Theatre Troupe
The Wiz
Recently, The Wizard of Oz fans celebrated the recovery of stolen ruby red slippers worn by Judy Garland in the 1939 film. But there’s something else to celebrate: the Black Theatre Troupe’s production of The Wiz, a musical that puts a new twist on the L. Frank Baum tale that inspired the movie. Think Dorothy meets gospel, rock, and soul music.

The Broadway production earned several 1975 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. And NBC presented The Wiz Live! in 2015. Now you can see how Arizona creatives rock it. Check it out on Sunday, September 30, at 2:30 p.m. at Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 West Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe. Tickets are $35. Visit Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge ALISON GREEN
Alison Green
Quintron and Miss Pussycat
“You’ve never seen anything like this” is a phrase that gets tossed around with much hyperbole but perfectly applies to performers Quintron and Miss Pussycat. The New Orleans-based duo, who once toured with The White Sripes, put on a spectacle that is a mixture of blues concert and performance art. Swamp-rock pioneer Quintron plays psychedelic noise rock on his car-like organ/synth combo, while Miss Pussycat sings back-up and puts on a puppet show. Third Man Records released a 12-inch vinyl recording of one of Quintron and Miss Pussycat’s performances at the label’s storefront. The time to get your strings pulled is 8 p.m. on Monday, October 1, at Valley Bar, 130 North Central Avenue. Tickets are $12 to $14. Visit Jason Keil

Phoenix Suns versus Sacramento Kings
When the Phoenix Suns hit their home court this weekend against the Sacramento Kings, it’ll be significant for few different reasons. For starters, it’s the beginning of preseason for both teams and the first of five times they’ll meet over the next several months. It’s also the latest chapter in the ongoing saga of Deandre Ayton and Marvin Bagley III. The two rookie sensations played together at local high school Hillcrest Prep Academy in 2015 before eventually becoming the top two picks in this year’s NBA Draft (Ayton was tapped by Phoenix at No. 1 while Bagley went to Sacramento at No. 2).

The friends then became foes back in July when the Suns trounced the Kings, 71-63, in summer league play. The loss reportedly irked Bagley, who’s already nursing a major grudge against the Suns for being passed over by his hometown team in the draft. And he’ll be seeking some payback this weekend when Sacramento battles Phoenix. Watch the drama unfold on Monday, October 1, at Talking Stick Resort Arena, 201 East Jefferson Street. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $5. See Benjamin Leatherman

click to enlarge Love pairs well with fresh pies. - COURTESY OF ASU GAMMAGE
Love pairs well with fresh pies.
Courtesy of ASU Gammage
When Hamilton won the 2016 Tony Award for best musical, it eclipsed several other nominees, including Waitress, the tale of a small-town, pregnant pie maker who dreams of escaping her diner job and devastating marriage. The touring Broadway production is heading to ASU Gammage, 1200 South Forest Avenue in Tempe, where your first chance to see it is 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 2.

The musical, with music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles of “Brave” and “Love Song” fame, is beautiful and bittersweet. Piemaker Jenna pursues her dreams, of course. But they change during the course of the musical, affirming that sometimes you just have to roll with it, rather than sticking with a recipe. Tickets start at $47. Visit Lynn Trimble

Big Gay Classics: Mean Girls
Lindsay Lohan went from Disney star to teen royalty in the classic comedy Mean Girls. Tina Fey wrote the script about a high-schooler navigating her way through the cliques at her new school. The movie inspired a Broadway musical, an endless glut of Buzzfeed quizzes, and a litany of memes and catchphrases that have entered the pop culture lexicon. Since this is part of FilmBar’s Big Gay Classic Series, there will be wine specials and prizes, and be sure to come dressed as your favorite Plastic. Fetch happens at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 3, at 815 North Second Street. Tickets are $14; proceeds from the event benefit LGBT charities. For more information, visit Jason Keil
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Jason Keil was the Phoenix New Times culture editor from August 2019 to May 2020.
Contact: Jason Keil
Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.
Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble
Stuart Warner is editor of New Times. He has been a journalist since the stoned ages of 1969, playing a major role on teams that won three Pulitzer Prizes. He is also the author of the biography JOCK: A Coach's Story.
Contact: Stuart Warner