10 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

Take a deep breath.

Concert season is in full swing, and we have a full slate of shows to see this weekend.

There is a massive local hip-hop festival, a show by a local hero, shows by rock legends, current rap stars. Everything you could want is happening this weekend.

So check out our 10 favorite concerts we'd love to see this weekend, and browse our comprehensive concert listings for more options.

Wiz Khalifa - Friday, October 17 - Veterans Memorial Coliseum

When Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa released the song "Black and Yellow" four years ago, he and his team figured at most, it would be a regional hit. Instead, it ricocheted the artist to mainstream pop stardom.

Ever since, he's been walking a tightrope. Khalifa toured relentlessly for a couple years as an indie artist, building an army of fans he calls the Taylor Gang. The devotees were less than pleased when Rolling Papers, his debut studio album on Atlantic, was studded with bubblegum ditties.

It should be fun to see how Khalifa's East Coast urban sensibilities mesh with the Grand Canyon state's libertarian, Wild West sensibilities at the Arizona State Fair. --Rebecca Haithcoat

Of Montreal - Friday, October 17 - Crescent Ballroom

If you don't know, Kevin Barnes is the singer and songwriter of the Georgia band of Montreal, which began as Barnes' solo project but quickly added members. Of Montreal's performances became increasingly opera-like, with elaborate visual art setpieces, and Barnes quickly made a name for himself such stage antics as cross-dressing and performing naked. However, it's his heart-wrenching, bookish lyrics set contrastingly to funky, danceable music that gives the band its enduring appeal. --Heather Hoch

Janiva Magness - Friday, October 17 - Musical Instrument Museum

Janiva Magness is one of the hottest female blues performers on the circuit today and performs in Phoenix periodically. She won the BB King Entertainer of the Year in 2009 and Contemporary Female Blues Artist of the Year in 2010. Her new CD, Original, is her ninth album. --Stan Bindell

Christian Bland 
and the Revelators - Friday, October 17 - Last Exit Live

The whole "Don't Mess with Texas" slogan actually was an anti-littering campaign, but damn, if that state don't have attitude. And though it's not exactly weirder than most other American cities (including this one), Austin does breed a distinct kind of freak, Christian Bland being one of the most notable. The Black Angels frontman, distinctive for his trademark screeches that pop off at peak of his psychedelic dirges, brings a more subdued, but still spun-out sound to his side project, Christian Bland and the Revelators. The Lost Album, recorded in 2007 in an old ice cream factory, went missing for a few years but thankfully was found recently. This is excellent news for fans of Bland's more experimental, drawn-out trips, as lately the Angels have taken a more concise, pop-driven route, for better or worse. Even the Black Keys have taken note -- just compare Turn Blue to Phosphene Dream. Everyone can get on board this trippy train. --Troy Farah

Arizona Hip Hop Festival - Saturday, October 18 - Comerica Theatre

Name an Arizona rapper. I dare you. Give me the name of one Arizona rapper that has made it big, broken out, signed to a major label, and had a music video directed by Spike Jonez. If you can, good for you -- let us know who it is. But the fact remains that Arizona has yet to produce a hip-hop star, as it has done in other genres. But don't let that fool you, because the local scene is teeming with underground MCs and DJs, and JustUs Samuel has gathered seemingly all of them together for the one massive show at Comerica Theatre. And that's no hyperbole. More than 80 artists are scattered throughout three stages for the event, which starts in the early afternoon and runs past midnight. Tickets are $15 if you buy directly from an artist and $20 straight from the box office. We're not sure if anyone has thrown a local show of this scale before, and so we await to see if it will collapse under the weight of its own ambition or if it will match the hyperbole being used to promote the show, which promises, "This event will show the rest of the nation that we can stand together on our own two feet. This is the birth of a #NewAZ." --David Accomazzo

Mastodon - Saturday, October 18 - Marquee Theatre

As a drummer, Brann Dailor makes even the most complex songs seem simple. As the rhythm machine behind progressive metal titans Mastodon, however, it's obvious the apparent ease is a product of enormous skill and loads of practice.

But when singing is added to Dailor's to-do list, things get much hairier, and even the accomplished musician is forced to admit it can be a struggle.

After 14 years and six stellar albums, it would seem Dailor has a tight handle on his dual duties, but the truth is more complicated. Due to the complex nature of Mastodon's entire canon, everyone in the band plays dual roles. Dailor says those responsibilities and the desire to continually progress add a lot of pressure to the writing and performing processes.

Lately, however, the focus from the outside has been less on Mastodon's music and more on a particular video the band released a few weeks ago for the single "The Motherload." The five-minute video starts not unlike any other heavy metal video, with cryptic imagery featuring chains, sorcery, and other vaguely biblical themes. --Oakland L. Childers

John Fogerty - Saturday, October 18 - Veterans Memorial Coliseum

Consumed by an obsessive victim mentality, Fogerty allowed a standard music rip-off deal orchestrated by Fantasy Records' Saul Zaentz to transform his life, music and personality. In the resulting frenzy of litigation, he sued everyone, repeatedly, including his former Credence Clearwater Revival bandmates, and spewed his venomous frustration in a series of ridiculous songs, notably the idiotic "Zanz Can't Dance." Snatching karmic defeat from the jaws of legal victory by refusing to let his former colleagues perform at Creedence's Hall of Fame induction, Fogerty's self-propelled legacy of sanitized bubblegum blues and all around douchery is unparalleled. --Jonny Whiteside

Editor's note: But he still puts on a hell of a show.

MIMFest - Saturday, October 18, and Sunday, October 19 - Musical Instrument Museum

The Musical Instrument Museum gathers a vast collection of the world's music under one roof. And when it throws a music festival, it brings musicians from all over the world and spreads the noise over multiple stages for a weekend that will expose Phoenix residents to an incredibly diverse range of genres.

Performing at MIMFest, which happens this Saturday, October 18, and Sunday, October 19, at the museum grounds, are the Mali-born, Grammy-nominated Bassekou Kouyate, one of the world's foremost players of an African lute known as the ngoni, and Latin jazz great Poncho Sanchez. Traditional string duo Billy Strings and Don Julin are also on the bill, as are Tex-Mex pioneers Max Baca & Flaco Jimenez. That's four vastly different styles of music, and those are just four of the 17 acts scheduled for the weekend. --David Accomazzo

Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers - Saturday, October 18 - Pressroom

Say what you will about Roger Clyne's talents (which are substantial), when it comes to instigating a party, the native Arizonan is skilled. The stories surrounding the raucous Refreshments shows he was a part of back during the Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy days have been trumped by the kind of off-the-hook wingdings he hosts as frontman for the Peacemakers. The tequila-soaked "Circus Mexicus" beach blast held in Puerto Peñasco draws thousands of Peaceheads every year, for instance, and this weekend, the band arrives at Pressroom, riding the heels of its latest album released earlier this year, The Independent. No opening acts are scheduled, so the band will likely devote the entire evening celebrating New Year's Eve with songs like "Mekong" and "Nada," as well as tales of Mexican moonshine. --Benjamin Leatherman

Royal Canoe - Sunday, October 19 - Pub Rock Live

Those who showed up early to the Bombay Bicycle Club show in March at Crescent Ballroom were privy to the layered experimental sounds of Winnipeg's Royal Canoe. The sextet stood like a group of mad scientists over their pedals, sound boards, and laptops to create avant-garde hip-hop-influenced loops of sound with the precision of a Swiss watch. They never missed a beat. Imagine six Roxy Music-era Brian Enos singing into vocoders while huddled over knobs and dials and bouncing to the sound of the pulse they were creating -- but without Bryan Ferry standing over them in jealousy -- and you've got the idea. After opening up for the likes of Alt-J and of Montreal, the six-piece is headlining behind Today We're Believers, their Juno-nominated (Canada's equivalent to the Grammys) Alternative Album of the Year. Though the 12 tracks on the album were largely manufactured on computers, it does have a homemade feel honed by the band over the past several years. This approach also worked well when they took on six tracks of Beck's Song Reader book, which received attention from Mr. Hansen himself, or his Twitter page anyway. --Jason Keil

Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.

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