In the mood to see a show this weekend? You've got no shortage of can't-miss concerts available to you over three busy nights, music fans.
To wit: Mastodon will be at Comerica Theatre with the Eagles of Death Metal and Russian Circles on Friday. That same night, Say Anything will be at Marquee Theatre in Tempe with Bayside.
Saturday and Sunday are also equally packed, and include Alt AZ 93.3’s Spring Fling at Mesa Amphitheatre featuring The 1975 and Phantogram, Coolin' Out’s 13th anniversary party at The Rebel Lounge with underground rappers Kool Keith and Scarub, Little Dragon at Livewire Scottsdale, and Tacocat at Valley Bar.
Plus, a whole crop of ‘80s and ‘90s hip-hop/R&B stars performing at the Arizona Freestyle festival at Rawhide in Chandler.
In other words, it's a stacked weekend for live music in Phoenix. So, what will you be seeing? Hit up our online concert calendar for a complete survey of what’s happening or consult the following list of the biggest shows to help you in your decision.
Friday, April 21
Marquee Theatre in Tempe
Touting “I want to be like Bey” in his bio for I Don’t Think It Is, Max Bemis of Say Anything has become a musical enigma. Someone who once dedicated an entire album to the defense of the emo/pop punk genre is now playing his records for Kanye West and dropping surprise albums a la Beyoncé and Drake. But don’t expect Bemis and company to open for Kendrick Lamar anytime soon. Instead, Say Anything is co-headlining the Marquee Theatre on April 21 with Bayside — a move that’s decidedly more punk rock than hip-hop.
In a recent interview with VICE’s Noisey, Bemis says empowerment is the underlying basis of both punk rock and hip-hop, but Jay Z spouts more honesty than, say, Hayley Williams of Paramore. “There’s a mixture of self-loathing and ‘fuck the world,’ and yet, the world is beautiful,” Bemis says in the interview. “The contradictory nature of it all is something I wanted to tap into.” And just what Say Anything will tap into while on tour with Bayside remains to be seen. Will Bemis stop the concert to go on a Kanye-like rant or will he steal the hearts of reformed emo girls by crooning “I Want to Know Your Plans”? Only one way to find out. Emily Roberts
Friday, April 21
Prog-rock kings Mastodon have done it again, creating another compelling concept album in their latest release, Emperor of Sand. With depth and complexity unseen in many other American metal bands, Mastodon continues to prove that the best heavy music is intricate and sonically dynamic. While the band continually resists labels and draws from a deeper creative well than most, Emperor only reaffirms their superior talent. The strongest tracks are “Sultan’s Curse” and “Ancient Kingdom,” while other songs — “Roots Remain,” “Clandestiny,” “Steambreather” — feel like older Mastodon. In other words, they're solidly packed with percussive acrobatics, time changes and attention-grabbing arrangements. No doubt Emperor is a topically progressive and ambitious undertaking, yet to call Mastodon "progressive" isn’t really accurate or fair. They’ve continually defied or challenged whatever musical caste they’ve been assigned from the very beginning. Their earliest work, 2002's Remission, was defined as sludge or doom metal; in 2009, Rolling Stone called them “the greatest heavy-metal band of their generation”; now they’re known as “prog-rock.” Just don’t expect Mastodon to agree — as guitarist Brent Hinds told Guitar Player, “I never liked heavy metal in the first place.” He repeated the point again when he recently proclaimed Judas Priest wasn’t heavy metal. Hinds may be the choleric clown of the group, making headlines with his moony antics and irascible quotes, but there is no weak member of Mastodon. Each man brings a unique magic to the band's overall sound and imagery — including Hinds's genius guitar work, which does much to orchestrate their chaos. Kristy Loye
Friday, April 21
Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino in Chandler
Hailing from Long Beach, New Jersey, by way of Kirby, Texas, Clint Black is coming back to the Valley for some boot-scootin’ fun. The silk smooth baritone took his inspiration from the likes of Waylon Jennings, George Strait and Willie Nelson, so it comes as no surprise that Black was a fixture on the country music charts in the ’90s and early 2000s. Black’s style is a far cry from the bro-country pop that seems to be the choice de jour nowadays, opting to sing a more traditional brand of country filled with lonely nights, ruined relationships and the occasional beer. His most recent album, On Purpose, was a welcome surprise after a nearly decade-long gap between albums, and luckily lived up to Black’s legacy, reaching number 13 on the Billboard U.S. Top Country Albums chart. So if you’re looking to dust off your dancing boots, then this is a show guaranteed to get you and your friends two-stepping into the night. Nicholas Bostick
Alt AZ's Spring Fling feat. The 1975
Saturday, April 22
Britain’s latest attempt to conquer the hearts and minds of America’s youth comes in the form of The 1975. The quartet’s power pop '80s sound blends the look and lovelorn lyricism of New Wave pop-rock bands like the Cure or Tears for Fears, with bombastic instrumental compositions reminiscent of Michael Jackson and Huey Lewis & The News, all projected through the glazed-over eyes of a Jonas Brother. Their latest album, I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It, adds a layer of angst to the sonic grab bag. Tracks like “Change of Heart,” sound like they’d feel right at home in a John Hughes flick, but are mixed in with more ambient electronic-themed tunes like the album’s title track. While it might be hard to find your way to your seats through the throng of screaming fans this band has garnered since their debut in 2012, The 1975 is talented enough to make their hodgepodge of competing sounds compelling to say the least. This weekend, they co-headline Alt AZ 93.3's Spring Fling festival with Phantogram. Nicholas Bostick
Coolin' Out 13th Anniversary Party
Saturday, April 22
The Rebel Lounge
How do you make it in the hip-hop biz? According those who’ve done it, be they Chuck D., Jay-Z, or even KRS-One, it takes a great deal of both hustle and chutzpah, not to mention a never-say-die mentality, tons of passion, plenty of creativity, and a willingness to take risks. Your mileage may vary, of course, but most of the success stories in the hip-hop world tend to utilize many of these characteristics in some form or fashion. Just ask the cats at Coolin’ Out, who have been making it in the Valley scene for more than a decade now. The Phoenix-based events promoter, clothing company, and lifestyle brand was founded back in 2004 and has been contributing to local hip-hop culture ever since. This weekend, Coolin’ Out celebrates its 13th anniversary with a major blowout at The Rebel Lounge featuring always-bizarre and always-entertaining Kool Keith (a.k.a. Dr. Dooom, Dr. Octagon, or even Tashan Dorrsett), as well as his fellow underground rappers Scarub, and Ed O.G.,Naturally, a slew of DJs and turntablists will also be dropping needles and melting wax during the event, including Fact135, DJ Akshen, DJ Reflekshin, LES735, and Tricky T. The Blunt Club’s Adam Dumper will also perform live art. Benjamin Leatherman
The Crystal Method
Saturday, April 22
When the Crystal Method debuted, it was hard to imagine the outfit would still be going strong more nearly two decades later. Serving as America's answer to English acts like the Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim, the duo of Las Vegas natives Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland managed to cash in on the already waning big-beat vibe before the public's taste for it dissipated completely. And from there, the music evolved into the high-energy, if slightly more underground-focused, nu-skool breaks sound: a big, stompy, rock-inflected breakbeat style that packs a wallop and is accessible enough to appeal to mainstream, rock-focused audiences, which also helps account for why Crystal Method tracks have been used in scores of video games and movie soundtracks. Cory Casciato
Read on for even more concerts this weekend, including Little Dragon, Tacocat, and the Arizona Freestyle Festival.
Saturday, April 22
Tech N9ne's record label is called Strange Music, a name that fits like a glove. From his beats to his lyrical style to his appearance, the Kansas City-based hip-hop artist is simply an unusual guy. He’s also unusual enough to be a superhero, with his powers being a trademark lightning-quick delivery of his lyrics or his uncanny ability to get a show poppin'. Given his reputation for raucous shows, there is no reason to think Tech N9ne will do anything less than captivate during his performance at the Marquee in Tempe this weekend. The Valley may not be known for fanatical hip-hop fans, but Tech N9ne is one of the acts that captures the attention of a wide range of music fans, from rap to horrorcore to metal. Even Juggalos get down in the "Thug Pit" when Tech N9ne is in town. That's not to say his brand of strange music doesn't resonate with more traditional hip-hop heads, but Tech just makes a particular sound that touches a certain type of freak, making the crowd at his shows one of the most eclectic collections of music fans around. Jeff Moses
Saturday, April 22, and Sunday, April 23
Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale
The Mavericks have never been the kind of band that readily fits one simple and convenient niche. “We never got picked up by the mainstream country market,” singer/songwriter/guitarist Raul Malo says. “Of course, you can argue that we never were part of it. The crowd that listens to country isn’t going to listen to us. We’re making music with no guidelines, no parameters. But it’s a lot of fun. It’s been the story of my life from the beginning.” Indeed, that outcast status has haunted the band from the start, dating back to its first run from 1989 to 2004. A country band originating in Miami with a Cuban front man is hardly a formula that guarantees success. Lately, though, the group's fortunes seem to have changed, particularly since The Mavericks reunited in 2012 after a lengthy hiatus. In 2015, the Americana Music Association gave them the award for Best Duo or Group of the Year, followed by a couple of Grammy nominations for its most recent album, Mono, in 2016. Indeed, Mono has won universal praise from even the most discriminating critics. The Mavericks' reunion in 2012 has brought the band the belated love that eluded it the first time around. The group – Malo, drummer Paul Deakin, guitarist Eddie Perez, and keyboardist Jerry Dale McFadden – has seen both its postreunion album – 2013‘s In Time – and the chart-topping Mono, heralded as the best efforts of its career. Lee Zimmerman
Sunday, April 23
Livewire in Scottsdale
Little Dragon's sound coolly marries spacey electronicized eclectica to classic R&B, soul, and dancehall — a sound somehow appropriate for our dystopian times. The Gothenburg, Sweden, band's hefty album sales and ballooning fanbase were aided immeasurably when fan David Sitek of TV on the Radio invited the band to open shows on his 2009 U.S. dates (getting the track "Twice" played on Grey's Anatomy didn't hurt, either). Little Dragon's tireless roadwork over the last several years has included an appearance at countless festival, most prominently at Coachella in 2010 with Gorillaz, and their seventh album, Season High, dropped earlier this month. Sure, you can dance to their hypno-beat cut-n-pasted with singer Yukimi Nagano's soulfire croon and mildly eccentric stabs at nu-style dance music. But dig deep into these dark, dense textures — now that's what we call a headspace. John Payne
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Sunday, April 23
Even when Tacocat take on a serious issue, such as not being able to walk down the street without being harassed by strangers (“Hey Girl,” from their 2014 album, NVM), they always manage to do so with the saving grace of humor, combined with catchy pop-punk hooks. On the quartet’s latest record, Lost Time, lead singer Emily Nokes weighs in on other important topics, such as worrying about her hometown being destroyed by natural disasters (“I Love Seattle”), romance as work (“You Can’t Fire Me, I Quit”), unasked-for advice (“Men Explain Things to Me”) and her favorite FBI agent (“Dana Katherine Scully”). Local rock/punk acts The Rebel Set and Strange Lot open Tacocat's 16-and-over show at Valley Bar this weekend. Falling James
Arizona Freestyle Festival
Sunday, April 23
Rawhide in Chandler
At the Arizona Freestyle Festival at Rawhide Western Town, all your old favorite hip-hop and freestyle artists from the ’80s and ’90s, including Montell Jordan, Naughty By Nature, Bell Biv Devoe, Lisa Lisa, Stevie B, House of Pain, and Arrested Development are scheduled to perform. The concert offers a casual listening experience, as attendees can bring lawn chairs and blankets to lounge on while the many artists take turns onstage. The event runs from 2 to 10 p.m. on Sunday, April 23. Tickets are $40 for general admission, $100 for VIP table seating, $175 for backstage VIP tickets, and $2,000 for eight-person cabanas. Parking costs $5, and gates open at 1 p.m. For more information, visit the event's website. Laura Latzko