The 12 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

MGMT is scheduled to perform on Sunday, May 20, at Marquee Theatre in Tempe.
MGMT is scheduled to perform on Sunday, May 20, at Marquee Theatre in Tempe. Brad Elterman
No plans this weekend? Consider attending one of the great concerts happening at music venues around the Valley. There will certainly be plenty of 'em happening.

MGMT will be in town, as will renowned guitarist Jimmie Vaughan, DJ/producer Sango, folk duo Of Sea and Stone, and Mexican pop/rock singer and songwriter Natalia Lafourcade.

Meanwhile, the legendary Lynyrd Skynyrd will perform what quite possibly might be their final Valley performance ever, local resident Max Cavalera will bring Soulfly to the Marquee Theatre, and The Rebel Lounge will celebrate its third birthday.

Details about each of these shows can be found below. And for even more music events happening around town this week, check out Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar.

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Lynyrd Skynyrd may or may not be playing their last Valley show this weekend.
New Times file photo

Lynyrd Skynyrd
Friday, May 18
Ak-Chin Pavilion

Lynyrd Skynyrd survived as a band longer than anyone might have expected after the 1977 plane crash that killed three members, including frontman Ronnie Van Zant. But the musicians weathered the storm, carrying on, and expanding their legacy as a pre-eminent Southern rock band.

After more than 40 years of rocking and rolling in venues across America, and around the world, the legendary act is in the midst of their final tour. Earlier this year, Lynyrd Skynyrd group kicked off their Last of the Street Survivors Farewell Tour in early May, though sole surviving original member Gary Rossington says the band is "just winding it down a little bit."

Regardless of whether or not it's their final one, Lynyrd Skynyrd's tour brings them to the Valley this weekend. They're scheduled to perform on Friday night at Ak-Chin Pavilion. Bad Company, The Outlaws, and Jamey Johnson will open. Katie Moulton

One of the greatest Rolling Stones albums will be feted at The Nash this weekend.
Courtesy of The Nash
Union32 Plays Sticky Fingers
Friday, May 18
The Nash

When Union32 performs Sticky Fingers at The Nash this weekend, they will demonstrate that there is more to the landmark Rolling Stones album than the provocative Andy Warhol cover art, which featured a real metal zipper on a picture of a tight pair of jeans hugging a man’s genitalia.

The jazz quintet, led by Dr. Brett Reed, will explore the jazz arrangements and deeper musical meaning hidden in the 1971 record, known for its hazy song lyrics depicting dirty basements and allusions to drug use. Beyond the killer riffs of “Brown Sugar” and “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” are the country blues of “Wild Horses” and “Dead Flowers,” and the tenderness of “Moonlight Mile.”

Let the wild horses drag you away at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 18, at The Nash in downtown Phoenix. Tickets are $20 or $10 for students with ID. Jason Keil

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Legendary guitarist Jimmie Vaughan.
Jimmie Vaughan
Friday, May 18
Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale

For guitarist and songwriter Jimmie Vaughan, talent runs in the family. His younger brother, of course, was the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, a certifiable legend of blues rock. Both siblings started playing in their early adolescence, with Jimmie sitting in during jam sessions and club gigs at the age of 13. By 15, he was making a living performing at clubs and parties across his native Dallas. Although their father weaned the pair on country and western, they'd gain much more inspiration from the blues, including such legends as B.B. King and Johnny "Guitar" Watson.

In the mid-'70s, Jimmie formed The Fabulous Thunderbirds with harmonica player Kim Wilson. The T-Birds quickly became the band to see on the blues circuit. Vaughan inspired hundreds of guitarists to trade in their Les Pauls for vintage Stratocasters. Everyone from Robin Trower and Buddy Guy to Eric Clapton and Jimmy Rogers praised his stinging, understated style.

Since striking out on his own in 1994, Vaughn has released a half-dozen albums, including last year's Live at C-Boy's. The track listing reads like a hip mid-1960s jukebox. It includes some straight-up blues covers of Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown and Smokey Smothers, ballads such as "Frame for the Blues," several soul jazz classics, and a jazzy instrumental version of the Beatles' "Can't Buy Me Love." You're likely to hear a few of these during Vaughn's performance at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale this weekend. Tim Livingston

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Phoenix Symphony Hall will be filled with Broadway hits this weekend.
City of Phoenix
Live From Broadway
Friday, May 18, to Sunday, May 20
Phoenix Symphony Hall

1980s pop star Cyndi Lauper gave a shoutout to the #RedForEd movement during the Arizona teachers’ strike, and the Phoenix Symphony will return the acknowledgment by featuring two of the songs she wrote for the hit musical Kinky Boots during the orchestra’s Live From Broadway performances, which run from Friday, May 18, through Sunday, May 20.

Lauper’s “The Soul of a Man” and “History of Wrong Guys” are both on the set list as is a selection from Hamilton and plenty of Andrew Lloyd Webber classics, just in case you are the only person on the planet who hasn’t seen “Memory” performed on stage.

Well-traveled Stuart Chavetz is the guest conductor, and soloist Crystal Kellogg will hit the high notes. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 18 and Saturday, May 19 and 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 20 at Phoenix Symphony Hall. Tickets are $38-$129. Stuart Warner

Soulfly and Nile
Saturday, May 19
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

As the leader of Sepultura for over a decade, Max Cavalera helped put Brazil on the map. From the beginning, the outfit were clearly influenced by punk rock as much as by other metal bands, as evidenced by their socially conscious lyrics, grassroots efforts to get their music out into the world, and their disregard for strict genre conventions.

Shortly after the release of Sepultura's 1996 album Roots, Cavalera suffered a personal tragedy when his stepson was murdered. Cavalera, a longtime resident of the Valley, returned to music two years later with the eponymous Soulfly record – a piece of work that reflected his own search for spiritual meaning in times of great personal darkness.

Since their debut, Soulfly have been a different kind of metal band, not just in terms of lyrical content, but also for their unique use of guitar sounds and nontraditional instrumentation, an approach that Cavalera had begun on his last two Sepultura albums.

This weekend, Cavalera and Soulfly will stage a hometown show at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe with support from legendary death-metal act Nile. Tom Murphy

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The Gipsy Kings' current lineup.
Courtesy of Impact Artist Management
The Gipsy Kings
Saturday, May 19
Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino in Chandler

If nothing else, the Gipsy Kings hold the distinction of being the soundtrack to one of the great moments in comedic history. If you've never seen The Big Lebowski, you should stop what you're doing right now and change that. But those sane souls who have seen the Coen Brothers classic will remember the scene we're talking about. The immortal Jesus Quintana pulls up his purple socks, grabs a bowling ball, sensually teasing it with his reptilian tongue, then rolls a sultry strike — all in glorious slow motion. "Fuckin' Quintana," The Dude says. "That creep can roll, man."

The scene is perfect and hilarious in every way, but the glue holding the whole thing together is the Gipsy Kings' flamenco rendition of "Hotel California." Formed in the south of France in 1978, Gipsy Kings come from a Spanish Romani heritage. With 13 studio albums and a pair of live records to their name, the Gipsy Kings seek to use new technologies to distribute their old-world sounds. David Rolland
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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.
Katie Moulton
Contact: Katie Moulton
Tom Murphy
Stuart Warner was the editor of New Times from 2017 to 2019. 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.
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