If ever there was a time to see Bob Dylan in concert, it’d be this weekend.
As you might’ve heard by now, the folk legend is making headlines for winning the Nobel Prize for Literature earlier this week, arguably one of the proudest accomplishments of his 57-year career in music. So if you get the chance, be sure to thank the singer this weekend when he rolls through Comerica Theatre.
Or you could just kick back and watch as he rattles off another unforgettable performance.
There are other big concerts happening around the Valley this coming weekend as well, including gigs by Willie Nelson, Sigur Ros, Ra Ra Riot, Ryley Walker, and several others. Here’s a look at our concert picks for metro Phoenix this weekend.
Sigur Ros – Friday, October 14 – Orpheum Theater
It speaks to the primal power of Sigur Rós' sound that the Icelandic band has never needed to abandon its native Icelandic tongue (except occasionally for the invented gibberish variant, Hopelandic), much less yield to pop song constructs, to find success. For nearly two decades now, the group has channeled an original sonic aesthetic often associated with post rock, a genre pioneered by mostly instrumental indie outfits like Tortoise and Mogwai. But even that tag does not come close to doing justice to the deep emotional complexity of Sigur Rós' music, which often drifts toward elegiac, soaring heights of majesty. Horns, both mournful and brilliant, accentuate the songs, as do soul-stirring strings and heartbreaking piano hooks. The band employs electric guitars at all levels, from screeching feedback to rumbling ambiance. And frontman Jon Thor Birgisson, a.k.a. Jónsi, often breaks out a bow to drag across his guitar, creating Sigur Rós' signature, sweet rumble. Then there is Jónsi's voice, which hardly an American can understand. And yet, his crooning has been known to bring people to tears at concerts. HANS MORGENSTERN
Ra Ra Riot – Friday, October 14 – Crescent Ballroom
Like many bands before them, Ra Ra Riot began as a way of passing the time, an avenue by which a group of college friends could explore their artistic side, have some fun, and maybe make a few bucks in the process. Unlike most of their predecessors, however, the band has made a career out of that pursuit of fun more than a decade later. “In the beginning, I never thought I’d still be talking about the band right now,” Ra Ra Riot frontman Wes Miles recently revealed in an interview with New Times sister paper Houston Press. “After the first year or so, we realized that this was something we all wanted to do and wanted to take a little further and keep going. Early on, it was mostly just something to pass the time, but it was just too much fun to leave behind.” A decade in, Ra Ra Riot has more than proven itself as one of the nation’s pre-eminent indie bands and is touring in support of its latest, Need Your Light, which was released in February. They began as a group of friends pursuing music, and the band is still very close to this day. However, Miles admits, the key to maintaining sanity – particularly on the road – is not spending all of one’s time with one's bandmates. CLINT HALE
That 1 Guy — Friday, October 14 — Crescent Ballroom
Think one-man band: cymbals on the elbows, drum on the back, horns under the arms, and tambourines on the knees, creating a cacophony of sound designed to annoy passers-by. Now, try to envision That 1 Guy, a.k.a Mike Silverman, as he takes the one-man band concept to a whole new level with the wide-ranging sounds created on his homemade Magic Pipe. In fact, this 1 Guy sounds like a handful as he drifts through prog-rock overtures, funk dance grooves, avant-classical passages, and mind-melting free jazz expressionism. While Silverman does have set songs, his background practically dictates a need for improvisation and "going off on sonic adventures."
"The idea of being a one-man band was always in the back of my mind," Silverman says. "When it finally became time to give it a try, it was basically me just figuring out how I could do it as a bass. I had a very percussive style on the upright bass beyond what the instrument was normally capable of. I pushed the boundaries of the instrument itself, but I wasn't satisfied with the sonic range I was getting out of it. I wished I could build an instrument that covered more ground and allowed me to be more dynamic and have a greater sonic range." GLENN BURNSILVER
Drive-By Truckers — Friday, October 14 — Livewire
Once mandatory in any great rock act’s catalog, live albums are all but extinct nowadays, something nobody told the Drive-By Truckers. The Athens veterans’ latest, It's Great To Be Alive, is not only a live album, but a double live album. Its 35 tracks span 1998’s “The Living Bubba” (about a friend who died of AIDS) to the sprawling “Grand Canyon,” a highlight of 2014’s uneven English Oceans. Entering their third decade this year, the Truckers remain virtually unique within rock and roll thanks to their pair of A-list songwriters, Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley, and a lineup as heavy-duty as any of the Southern-rock greats of yesteryear. The Truckers just happen to be as informed by the tradition of William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor as the one established by Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers, but their true element will always be on the stage. CHRIS GRAY
Los Lobos — Friday, October 14 — Talking Stick Resort
Is any band in America more revered or respected than East Los Angeles roots vatos Los Lobos? The core members of this American musical treasure — David Hidalgo, Cesar Rosas, Steve Berlin, Louis Perez, and Conrad Lozano — have produced 19 albums and played everywhere from an Angeleno quinceañera to Farm Aid to the White House. Their sound spans virtually all aspects of American music, from blues, zydeco, soul, and kick-you-in-the-head rock and roll to various Latino styles, including cumbia, norteño, and Tex-Mex. Critics turn handstands whenever they drop an album, and their fans follow them like Deadheads. It's ironic that one of the most important acts of the late 20th century is best known for its cover of "La Bamba." Their first truly significant album, 1984's T Bone Burnett-produced Will The Wolf Survive?, asked the question, and these guys answer in the affirmative every time they step onto a stage. Viva Los Lobos. TOM MURPHY
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Machine Gun Kelly – Saturday, October 15 – Marquee Theatre
He's gone wild with Steve-O, shared paint with the Cavs, and sparked up with Juicy J and (likely) Wiz Khalifa. He was signed by Diddy. He covered XXL magazine. And his track, "Invincible," has been used as theme song by both the NFL and the WWE. Born in Houston but raised all over the world, he found a home in Cleveland, not the first city to spring to mind for those who've gone global. His name is Machine Gun Kelly, and you can ride along with him at Marquee Theatre this weekend. Over the past five years or so, the Cleveland-based rapper has built a devoted following with his careful blend of rap and punk. The heavily tattooed 27-year-old’s checkered past, which includes bouts with homelessness and heroin addiction, gets channeled into his raw lyrics, and his eclectic influences — including Blink-182 and Rise Against — have introduced him to an audience outside of hip-hop. CHRIS GRAY
BOO! Arizona – Saturday, October 15 – Rawhide
As it turns out, ghouls and ghosts won’t be the only thing going bump in the night this time of year. Case in point: bass-heavy beats, cacophonous grinds, and other ominously intense electronic sounds will fill the air this weekend over at Rawhide Event Center, 5700 West North Loop Road in Chandler, during the first-ever edition of BOO! Arizona on Saturday, October 15. It’s a Halloween-themed dance music festival that will feature tons of costumed characters and EDM treats aplenty, especially for anyone who digs dubstep, trap music, or electro. Appropriately enough, the lineup will include performances by DJs and producer that are aptly named for such a macabre affair – such as Knife Party, Excision, NGHTMRE, and Ghastly – and have a habit of blasting brutal sounds. As you might’ve guessed, costumes are encouraged. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Willie Nelson – Saturday, October 15, and Sunday, October 16 – Crescent Ballroom
The fact that Willie Nelson recently penned the tune "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die" serves as proof that some things in life remain comfortingly constant, like Nelson's laid-back, warbly voice, his wry sense of humor, and his penchant for pot. He'll be joined by members of his family, including son Lukas Nelson. There's no telling what surprises the 81-year-old country crooner has up his sleeve, but it's a safe bet he'll pull out some standards from his most recent albums and a classic or two like the ramblin'-man anthem "On the Road Again." LAURA FERREIRO
Ryley Walker – Sunday, October 16 – Valley Bar
Like an indie-rock Van Morrison, young Chicago singer-songwriter and guitar savant Ryley Walker has spent the last few years mixing mellow, summery alt-folk with flights of modern jazz. Walker’s band includes heralded Chicago jazz veterans, like bassist Anton Hatwich, who are at home in both rock and without-a-net avant-garde. Primrose Green, Walker’s 2015 breakthrough LP, helped turn the 26-year-old Illinois native’s psychedelic folk into an underground sensation and put his band on the road pretty much full-time, opening for everyone from Joanna Newsom to Robert Plant. His latest album, Cannots, is a five-track, full-length collaboration with drummer and organist Charles Rumback, a cohort of Walker’s who improvised the entire album with him in two studio sessions. The kind of elegant, creative fusion featured on Cannots routinely finds its way into Walker’s live sets, and his solo performance at Valley Bar will illustrate that perfectly. ADAM PERRY
Bob Dylan – Sunday, October 16 – Comerica Theatre
Bob Dylan continues to mystify, putting out another record of pop standards in May, Fallen Angels, a year after his first full-length foray into the genre, Shadows in the Night. While it may seem foolhardy to take on traditional favorites that were largely popularized by a young, callously assured belter like Frank Sinatra, Dylan makes it work, turning the lights down and shifting the mood inward with his craggy, post-midnight growl and his group’s artfully restrained backing. FALLING JAMES
GriZ – Sunday, October 16 – Marquee Theatre
Grant Kwiecinski, better known as GriZ, is a lot like the music he creates as GRiZ: fun, funky and relentlessly positive.GriZ is typically grouped with the producers of EDM and dance music, and given his songs' big beats and seismic drops, that makes sense. But his recordings — including the just-released album Good Will Prevail — include organic grooves played on plenty of live instruments, Kwiecinski's trusty saxophone among them. And that's not to mention the sort of massive melodies and undeniable hooks that make his tunes work well beyond the dance floor. Originally from Michigan, Kwiecinski now calls Denver home, and he's rapidly become a major player on the electronic scene locally and nationally. But that doesn't mean he's looking to cash in. Most of the music on his All Good label is available for free (visit MyNameIsGRiZ.com for details), and he has no plans to change that just because of his rising profile. MICHAEL ROBERT