5 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

Darkness falls across the desert. Costumed peeps with orange drinks flirt. Phoenicians crawl in search of bands, providing entertainment for all the land. And whosoever shall be seeking musical help, should our list of parties and concerts consult.

Well, there's only so much co-opting of Vincent Price and Michael Jackson you can do before you give up and go another direction. Halloween isn't the only thing happening this weekend, and we've rounded up the best of what's happening Saturday and Sunday as well. Happy Halloween, and read this webcomic if you want to be absolutely terrified (but not if you have heart problems).

The Nash 2nd Anniversary Weekend - Friday, October 31, Saturday, November 1, and Sunday, November 2 - The Nash

It isn't easy operating a jazz club these days, but Phoenix-born drummer Lewis Nash's eponymous club is celebrating its second birthday, marking two years of bringing fantastic jazz to downtown Phoenix.

In celebration, the Nash is hosting a series of concerts Friday through Sunday, starring some top-shelf talent. On Friday, the Cory Weeds Quartet -- Cory Weeds on saxophone, Mike Kocour on piano, Peter Washington on bass, and Nash himself drums - will perform. All performers have pedigree -- Washington has played with Dizzy Gillespie and Art Blakey, Weeds is the owner of Cory Weeds' Cellar Jazz Club in Vancouver, and Kocour is a jazz studies professor at Arizona State University.

On Saturday, November 1, Washington and Nash will back pianist Barry Harris, calling themselves the Barry Harris Trio. Harris is a recipient of an American Jazz Masters Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. The concert takes place in a private home in Scottsdale.

On Sunday, November 2, saxophonist Jimmy Heath will join Harris, Washington, and Nash at the Nash for the marquee performance of the weekend. Heath is one of the all-time greats on the instrument, once prompting Miles Davis to call him one of the "thoroughbreds" of the genre. Along with Davis, Heath has played with John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, and Charlie Parker, and he is certainly showing no signs of slowing down. If you see one jazz show the rest of the year, consider this one at the Nash. --David Accomazzo

Gatecreeper - Saturday, November 1 - 51 West

A name like Gatecreeper suggests a number of images. Tweakers looking to sneak into your complex pool or a lost soul waiting for a crumb from St. Peter; either way, it's not something you want to be. Perhaps the first Arizona megalopolis death metal quintet (the band hails from Phoenix and Tucson), Gatecreeper presents evil guitar riffs over solid bass and drums. Vocalist Chase Maron lays down a near perfect layer of primal screamelling (screaming plus yelling) that is never over the top but definitely angry. Saturday, Gatecreeper headlines a release show for their self-titled EP at 51 West with label mates Lusitania. Biocidio, and Kashyyyk also on the bill at the Tempe all-ages club. It's a show that promises to be crushing to both eardrums and vocal chords. Originally a three-piece, Maron and fellow Gatecreepers Metal Matt (drums) and Erik Wagner (guitar) recruited Max Nattsblod (guitar) and Sean Mears (bass) to round out their sound, which is somewhere between Swedish death metal and American rage rock (think Entombed meets Cro Mags). "We try to take a caveman-like approach to the guitar riffs and vocals," says Maron, and he is not wrong. Gatecreeper rocks, though, and Valley metal fans should grab a handful of hair and drag themselves out to this show. --Tom Reardon Old School Jam - Saturday, November 1 - Arizona State Fair

Anyone who is not down with "OPP" needs to pump "The Breaks" on their way to the Arizona State Fair on Saturday, because it is going to be a "Gangsta's Paradise" inside the Memorial Coliseum when everyone starts doing the "Humpty Dance." That's right, b-boys and b-girls, it is time for the annual Old School Jam! This year's lineup of talent is utterly spectacular, bringing out pioneering hip-hop talents Naughty by Nature, Kurtis Blow, Coolio, and Shock G of Digital Underground. There are too many number one hits to count between all the legendary hip-hop voices that are scheduled to hit the stage, and a seat at the table to see all that amazing hip-hop is as cheap as the $10 cost of admission to the fair. The best part, though, at an event like Old School Jam at the State Fair, is that there is little to no chance that these artists will break out any of that pesky new stuff or those deep cuts from their debut albums, the ones that only their biggest fans -- you know, the ones who sent away in the mail to join the official fan club in 1986 -- really want to hear. It's going to be nothing but the classic hits for the duration. "Feel Me Flow" by Naughty by Nature, "Fantastic Voyage" by Coolio, "No Nose Job" by Shock G, are all songs that any patron should be expecting to hear. Hell, Kurtis Blow might even break out his yuletide classic "Christmas Rappin'" for the family-filled, early November crowd. Very few things at the Arizona State Fair are worth the price tag on them. But 10 simoleons for general admission seating to an intergenerational gathering of hip-hop legends is definitely giving off plenty of bang for those bucks. --Jeff Moses

Waka Flocka Flame, the Chainsmokers - Saturday, November 1 - Comerica Theatre

Don't let reality TV fool you: Waka Flocka Flame hasn't changed just yet. Although the 28-year-old rapper took some time off last year to muck around on VH1's sometimes-entertaining-but-always-disconcerting Love and Hip-Hop: Atlanta, he's been working steadily on a new sound and look for 2014. Earlier this year he announced his intentions to release Flockaveli 2, a rap-EDM mash-up album that sports collaborations from Steve Aoki, Drake and Ne-Yo, among others. With a national tour on its heels, it may be some time before Waka returns to the small screen, but at least we know he'll be doing what he does best in the interim. --Michelle Ofiwe

GWAR - Sunday, November 2 - Marquee Theatre

GWAR frontman Oderus Urungus terrorized and human race and delighted fans of the costumed heavy metal band for decades, but his days of musical mayhem ended earlier year, when the man behind the mask -- Dave Brockie -- died in March. But his band continues on, and they'll stop in Tempe Sunday night. If you haven't already had your fill of Halloween by then, nothing could cap the weekend better than seeing a bunch of magnificently costumed freaks play kick-ass, unfiltered heavy metal. --David Accomazzo

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

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