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The 13 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

Rhiannon Giddens is scheduled to perform on Sunday, April 30, at the Musical Instrument Museum.
Rhiannon Giddens is scheduled to perform on Sunday, April 30, at the Musical Instrument Museum.
Dan Winters

This weekend is loaded up with big events, ranging from enormous pool parties to a few mini-festivals starring a slew of local bands.

The Crescent Ballroom, for instance, will serve up the Arizona Americana Showcase on Friday night featuring a half-dozen Valley acts that are big on the genre. Meanwhile, Dinosaur Love will release its new album at the Trunk Space, and renowned turntablist DJ Craze will be at Gypsy Bar to make up his rescheduled gig that was originally set to happen earlier this month.

The rest of the weekend is going to be just as busy. On Saturday, Last Exit Live will celebrate its fourth anniversary, Valley Bar will host the first-ever Gritty City Stringfest, and both Deerhunter and Son Volt will be in town for shows.

Sunday will feature the first-ever Country Splash at Big Surf, the talented Rhiannon Giddens visiting the Musical Instrument Museum, and sibling punk rock band The Garden at The Rebel Lounge.

With everything that’s happening over the next few days, it helps to have a guide to keep all the details straight. Hence the following rundown of all the “can’t miss” concerts and events happening in the Valley this weekend. (If you somehow need even more options, check out our extensive online music listings.)

Turntablist extraordinaire DJ Craze.EXPAND
Turntablist extraordinaire DJ Craze.
Courtesy of Relentless Beats

DJ Craze
Friday, April 28
Gypsy Bar

A few years ago, comedian Daniel Tosh put the DJs of the world on blast via his famed TV show Tosh.0. And true to form, the fearlessly snarky standup comic was quite merciless: "Do you know why everyone thinks they can DJ? Because everyone can," Tosh stated. "It's easy: pat your head and rub your stomach. There, you're an amazing DJ. Ninety percent of what DJs do is [pretending] to touch stuff. Stop acting like you're so busy. You're not hacking into the mainframe of the Pentagon; you're a professional iPod controller." Ouch. All that said, however, its readily apparent that Tosh has never seen the legendary DJ Craze perform one of his signature sets, since the comedian would likely take back a few of his aforementioned barbs. The world-renowned turntablist is nothing like your ordinary club jock or button-pusher, as his gigs are filled with a flurry of activity on the ones and twos. Not only can the Miami-born selector serve up records, he can also cut, scratch, spin, and manipulate the decks to create a symphony of hip-hop, breaks, bass, and trap sounds. Its little wonder, then, that he claimed the DMC World Championships three times in the late '90s and is considered to be one of the best in the DJ biz. Benjamin Leatherman

The members of San Fermin.
The members of San Fermin.
Denny Renshaw

San Fermin
Friday, April 28 Show Rescheduled for September 24
Valley Bar

On the surface, it'd be easy to see classical and pop music as polar opposites. But the world of baroque pop is proof that there's an unexpected harmony between pop melodies and classical arrangements. Ellis Ludwig-Leone (her own name is half classical, for God's sake) uses her flexible vocals to work around an arrangement of horns and pianos while singing about timeless topics like the perils of falling in love and the fear of growing older. In keeping her lyrics broad, it helps San Fermin connect the classical and modern by reminding us that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Matt Wood

Dinosaur Love
Friday, April 28
The Trunk Space

For most people, dinosaur love is a phase they outgrow in childhood. They may spend a couple of years playing with stegosaurus figures and drawing rampaging T-rexes, but they’ll soon cast them aside for superheroes, Pokemon, or Jedi. Peter Kulikowski isn’t most people. And the name of his one-man-band project, Dinosaur Love, says it all. He wears a huge green T-rex head when he takes the stage, singing songs about meteor strikes, dinosaurs in love, and why Jurassic Park really sucks. It’s the sort of gimmick that people would dismiss as a novelty act, but they’d be wrong to do so — Dinosaur Love is no joke. Kulikowski has evolved into becoming one of Phoenix’s most prolific and versatile songwriters. In addition to playing all the instruments on his albums, he also self-produces his work. Combining guitars with garage rock organ sounds and the influence of The Beach Boys, Dinosaur Love produces songs that can sound as huge as the extinct muses that inspired them. On Friday, April 28, Dinosaur Love will release an album of “conspiracy theory rock” called The Gospel. They’ll be delivering the good word at The Trunk Space, performing a release show with Andy Warpigs, Nocturnal North, and Drunk & Horny. Come on out to hear songs about the Illuminati, reptilian shapeshifters, and dinosaur messiahs. Ashley Naftule

Arizona Americana Showcase
Friday, April 28
Crescent Ballroom

Americana has become as much of a catch-all bit of musical nomenclature as "rock 'n' roll" or "EDM," covering a wide-ranging swath of rootsy styles, artists, and acts. For proof, look no further than the range of talents that will be featured at this weekend’s Arizona Americana Showcase at the Crescent of Friday night. American Longspurs, for instance, hail from more of the alt-country/y’allternative territory. Meanwhile, Some Dark Hollow is in the hootin’ and hollerin’ vein of old-school country and indie bluegrass, Huckleberry does the post-country thing, and Lost in the Sun is more of an acoustic Americana thing. See if you can spot the differences during the event, which starts at 8 p.m. and will also feature performances by Jon Rauhouse and the Country Music Orchestra and Wheelwright, the newest project of Jared Kolesar of Jared and the Mill fame. Benjamin Leatherman

Last Exit Live's Four-Year Anniversary
Saturday, April 29
Last Exit Live

In 2013, Last Exit owner Brannon Kleinlein was looking for a location to revive his dormant bar and music venue, which had closed down a few years prior. He’d thought about bringing it back to Tempe, the former home for Last Exit, but wound up going with downtown Phoenix instead. “I definitely was considering Tempe, but what venues that are still there are kinda spread out, and there’s no longer really a scene like on Mill Avenue in the ’90s,” Kleinlein told New Times in 2015. “I just felt like there was a better opportunity for me in downtown Phoenix.” And he hasn’t regretted that decision, especially since the venue’s has been busy with shows since its return. This weekend, Kleinlein will celebrate Last Exit Live’s fourth anniversary along with many of the local bands that have gigged there in recent years, including Banana Gun, decker., Wyves, Bear Ghost, Sara Robinson, Ruca, and Japhy’s Descent. Performances will take place both inside the place and on an outdoor stage that will be set up in the parking lot. The party starts at 7 p.m. Benjamin Leatherman

Diplo is diving into this year's Wet Electric.
Diplo is diving into this year's Wet Electric.
Courtesy of Mtheory

Wet Electric
Saturday, April 29
Big Surf in Tempe

It's time to drop a little knowledge on y'all: According to the eggheads of acoustic science, sound waves tend to travel much more efficiently through water than through air. And the practical upshot of this particular factoid? If you somehow wind up underwater at this weekend's Wet Electric, either after taking a trip down a waterslide or after getting dunked in the park’s ginormous wave pool – you won't miss a single second of all the club bangers, hit tracks, or remixes being blasted by its performers. And believe us, there will be a lot of music to soak up during the daylong electronic dance music festival and pool party. More than a dozen superstar DJs and EDM artists in total and a collection of local talents are scheduled to perform at Wet Electric on two different stages, including Diplo, Borgore, Audien, Anna Lunoe, Yookie, Jimmy Edgar, Justin Jay, Kill_Frenzy, Wax Motif, Bijou, and Gerry Gonza. For more details, hit up our comprehensive guide to the event. Benjamin Leatherman

Read on for more "can't miss" concerts and music events this weekend, including Deer Hunter, Son Volt, Rhiannon Giddens, and the first-ever Country Splash.

The musicians of Deerhunter.EXPAND
The musicians of Deerhunter.
Courtesy of 4AD

Saturday, April 29
Ak-Chin Pavilion

Since 2001, Deerhunter have been consistently inconsistent. They released a slew of albums and then pumped the brakes after 2015’s Fading Frontier. They’ve cycled through band members — save for frontman Bradford Cox. And the band’s live shows have gained a reputation for being unpredictable, which is exactly the kind of mind puzzle that keeps fans of the ambient rockers coming back. Between the onstage banter, Cox’s frontman oddities, and a catalog that ranges from ethereal psychedelia and fuzzy punk to grooving pop, the promise of a Deerhunter performance is nothing short of intriguing. This time around, the band tours with Kings of Leon. Beyond what will happen when they come to Phoenix, a greater curiosity looms: When will Deerhunter release a new album, and what direction in space and time will they go next? Kayla Clancy

Jay Farrar (center) and the rest of Son Volt.EXPAND
Jay Farrar (center) and the rest of Son Volt.
Courtesy of High Road Touring

Son Volt
Saturday, April 29
Crescent Ballroom

Jay Farrar, the less experimentally-minded side of the Uncle Tupelo coin, still lives in a world where guitars are not relics, and even still kill fascists. The St. Louis native has now invested more than two decades into Son Volt, his post-Tupelo group long hailed as one of the finest rock groups under the Americana umbrella in their own right. Farrar’s songs are as Midwestern salt-of-the-earth as they come, often mingling Woody Guthrie-style populism with meat-and-potatoes riffs and drums, just the ticket for those who enjoy their songs served up with a conscience and a side of feedback. Notes of Blue (Transmit Sound), the group’s brand-new album and eighth overall, cranks up the volume a few notches over 2013’s country-tinged Honky Tonk, but the Son Volt faithful will find plenty of food for thought here as well. Chris Gray

Gritty City Stringfest
Saturday, April 29
Valley Bar

The schitck of this multi-band event is that each of the three acts involved in the showcase – The Haymarket Squares, Run Boy Run, and Laura and the Killed Men – incorporate stringed instruments of some sort into their performances. (The members of Run Boy Run, for example, uses a mandolin, fiddle, cello, guitar, and upright bass to accentuate their glorious sound.) But beyond that, there’s little to no schtick involved, just honest-to-goodness music with plenty of four-part harmonies, songs of sedition, and a down-home flair as performers show off their pluck throughout the evening. Benjamin Leatherman

Preston Brust (left) and Chris Lucas of LoCash.EXPAND
Preston Brust (left) and Chris Lucas of LoCash.
Courtesy of Webster PR

Country Splash
Sunday, April 30
Big Surf in Tempe

As it turns out, electronic dance music fans won’t be the only ones living it up at Big Surf in Tempe this weekend. A day after Wet Electric fills the place with beats and bass, the inaugural Country Splash music festival is scheduled to take place at the water park. And as you might’ve guessed, the focus of this combination pool party and concerts is on country and western music. Just like its sister event, Country Splash offers a day of fun in the sun, as well as no shortage of superstars in its lineup. To wit: the event will be co-headlined by Michael Ray (who’s song “Think A Little Less” has been all over the radio since its release last year) and LoCash, the country pop duo behind such blockbuster tracks as "I Know Somebody" and "Ring On Every Finger." Fellow hitmakers Drake White and the Big Fire are also scheduled to perform, as are Brooke Eden and Daniel Bonte. Gates open at 11 a.m. and the event goes until 9 p.m. Benjamin Leatherman

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Esteemed vocalist and musician Rhiannon Giddens.EXPAND
Esteemed vocalist and musician Rhiannon Giddens.
John Peets

Rhiannon Giddens
Sunday, April 30
Musical Instrument Museum

Known as the singer/violinist/banjo player for Grammy-winning outfit Carolina Chocolate Drops, classically trained Rhiannon Giddens is one of the fastest rising talents in Americana music. The Oberlin graduate caught music insiders’ attention as a solo performer in 2013 with a standout performance at a show inspired by the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis. She also appeared with the likes of Marcus Mumford, Elvis Costello, Jim James and Taylor Goldsmith as part of the lauded New Basement Tapes project. With all of her contributions to other projects, Giddens has started to garner attention for her own material; earlier this year, she released her solo debut, Tomorrow Is My Turn, produced by her Basement Tapes and Llewyn Davis collaborator T Bone Burnett. Daniel Kohn

Wyatt and Fletcher Shears of The Garden.
Wyatt and Fletcher Shears of The Garden.
Courtesy of Epitaph Records

The Garden
Sunday, April 30
The Rebel Lounge

Twin brothers Fletcher and Wyatt Shears, who comprise the two-piece Orange County-based band the Garden, deliver a delicately balanced attack while properly embracing the constraint set by being just bass, drums, and vocals, and they do it with an aplomb that belies their tender age. Shears and Shears are definitely skilled on their instruments (Wyatt plays bass and sings and Fletcher plays drums and makes faces) and truly play some of the best genre-bending music out there right now. If you had to define The Garden, you might call them post-post punk or New Post-Punk, but even then, it's not really accurate. The Garden has distinct qualities of punk, New Wave, no wave, (a dash of) glam, and fair amount of teen angst, even though the Shears boys aren’t teenagers anymore and refer to their sound as "Vada." Raised in a musically forward-thinking home (Dad Steve Shears drums for So-Cal punk heroes Shattered Faith and roadies for X), the twins seem to be extremely comfortable following any musical whim, although their talent and keen eye for fashion, irony, and sarcasm have shaped their musical output in a way that even the most jaded music reviewer would be reluctant to call their music "whimsical." Call it "Vada," we suppose, whatever the hell that means. Tom Reardon

Sunday, April 30
Maya Day and Nightclub

We’re willing to be there’s little, if any, sibling rivalry going on between sisters Miriam and Olivia Nervo. Why’s that? Probably because the Australian-born twin sisters rose to stardom in the music world together and have experienced mutual success in whatever they’ve done, whether its singing, songwriting, producing, or DJing. And it all started when they were 16, when both Liv and Mir inked a songwriting deal with Sony before going on to pen hit songs for themselves and such artists as Kesha, Ashley Tisdale, and UK pop star Rachel Stevens. In 2009, the pair helped the Grammy-winning David Guetta/Kelly Rowland hit "When Love Takes Over" before diving into the dance music world as producers. Since then, the Nervo sisters have collaborated with Afrojack, Steve Aoki, R3hab, and others, as well as dropped multiple hit tracks themselves, including the 2013’s blockbuster smash, “Hold On.” They also DJ, too, and have done so at clubs and festivals around the world. And by the way, they haven’t even hit their 30s yet. You can catch this sister act in action at Maya Day and Nightclub on Sunday, April 30, when Nervo headlines the latest Soundwave Pool Party at the Scottsdale swim spot. Benjamin Leatherman

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