The 13 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

TOKiMONSTA is scheduled to perform on Friday, May 11, at Shady Park in Tempe.EXPAND
TOKiMONSTA is scheduled to perform on Friday, May 11, at Shady Park in Tempe.
Nikko Lamere
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It's going to be a busy weekend for live music in the Phoenix area. No joke.

Famous names from a variety of genres have concerts scheduled for this weekend at Valley music venues, including TOKiMONSTA, Khalid, Andrew McMahon, Franz Ferdinand, and King Lil G, just to name a few.

Other highlights of this weekend’s concert calendar include the Phoenix '90s Block Party taking over Comerica Theatre on Saturday and classical crossover act Apocalyptica covering the hits of Metallica, Pantera, and other metal acts in symphonic fashion.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Valley residents will travel an hour north of the Valley to attend this year’s FORM Arcosanti. As with its first two editions, the event promises three straight days and nights of unique performances and art, not to mention an enormous lineup.

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.

Khalid cruises into town this weekend.
Khalid cruises into town this weekend.
Kacie Tomita

Friday, May 11
Rawhide Event Center

At 20 years old, not a lot of folks are necessarily having thriving careers. But R&B singer-songwriter Khalid certainly does. In fact, the Texas native started his at age 17 and has collaborated with Logic and Calvin Harris, among others. It's a feat that he certainly can be proud about.

Khalid’s singles, "Location" and "Young Dumb & Broke,” both off his 2017 album American Teen, have gotten a combined 649 million views on YouTube and earned him the spots on the Billboard Hot 100. That sure beats trying to figure out the whole paying for college thing. Diamond Victoria

Peruvian-born vocalist Eva Ayllon.EXPAND
Peruvian-born vocalist Eva Ayllon.
Valeria Figallo

Eva Ayllon
Friday, May 11
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

If you hear similarities between the Afro-Peruvian music performed by New Jersey resident Eva Ayllon and the rhythms brought from Cuba by the late Celia Cruz and Tito Puente, you’re definitely on the right track. Peruvians have borrowed a lot from Africans taken to South America as slaves during the 17th century, and many tunes from the country made their way to the Caribbean. For instance, Cruz had an enormous hit with "El Toro Mata," a composition by Peruvian-born Chabuca Granda that Ayllon also regularly performs during her live sets.

The 62-year-old Ayllon began singing early on. At age 14 she was already pursuing a professional career, and by the mid-'70s she became lead singer of Los Kipus, a local vocal group that would give Ayllon her first big break in the business. At the dawn of the '80s, she embarked on her much-acclaimed solo career. In her many decades as a performer, Ayllon has reached superstar status in her native Peru, where she routinely plays to sold-out stadiums. But her work was not fully recognized in the States until 2004, when she released Leyenda Peruana, and began her first major U.S. tour.

Ayllon's voice is passionate and firm, not unlike a younger Mercedes Sosa. Her live show features a tight backing band and several dancers who help bring to life the lovely melodies of her homeland. Experience it for yourself when Ayllon visits the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts on Friday night. Ernest Barteldes

Joey DeFrancesco: have organ, will travel.EXPAND
Joey DeFrancesco: have organ, will travel.
Jay Gilbert

Joey DeFrancesco
Friday, May 11
The Nash

The jazz organ? It wasn’t very popular until Joey DeFrancesco began pumping the keys of his vintage B3 Hammond a few decades back. The 47-year-old got his first record contract at age 16 and has been performing and recording ever since. DeFrancesco and his backing act The People will play two shows at The Nash on Friday, May 11, featuring songs from his Grammy-nominated CD release Project Freedom.

The four-time Grammy nominee has toured or recorded with artists like Miles Davis, Ray Charles, Diana Krall, and George Benson. The shows start at 7 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. General admission starts at $30-$40, students can get in for $20-$25, and VIP tickets are $75-$90. More info can be found on The Nash’s website. Stuart Warner

The boys of Scottish rock band Franz Ferdinand are touring behind their latest release, Always Ascending.EXPAND
The boys of Scottish rock band Franz Ferdinand are touring behind their latest release, Always Ascending.
Courtesy of Franz Ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand
Friday, May 11
The Van Buren

It's been close to 15 years since Scottish rock group Franz Ferdinand hit the big time with their infectious single "Take Me Out." Alongside Modest Mouse's "Float On" and Arcade Fire's "Wake Up," the song was ubiquitous that year, popping up on radio dials, at house parties and even in commercials during your parents' favorite network sitcoms.

In the years since, Franz Ferdinand has remained busy. The band have released four albums' worth of tunes that mine the same dance-rock formula that initially brought success. It's a signature sound that has attracted airplay and given the group a nearly permanent spot on festival itineraries worldwide. The band are touring behind their latest release, Always Ascending, from which they will likely draw much of the setlist. Don't worry, though — the night will surely end with a rousing rendition of their biggest hit. Jeff Strowe

Legendary guitarist Sonny Landreth.EXPAND
Legendary guitarist Sonny Landreth.
Lucius Fontenot

Sonny Landreth
Friday, May 11
Musical Instrument Museum

Look in the most rarified air in the world of electric guitar, and Sonny Landreth will be right there alongside better-known names like Mark Knopfler, Mike Henderson, and Richard Thompson. While his own albums, like 1995's R.S. Field-produced South of I-10, are searing testaments to his intensity and virtuosity, it's Landreth's pedigree as a sideman that (like one of his blistering slide solos) usually causes jaws to drop.

Landreth's early career was guided by no less a Jedi than Clifton Chenier, and his style has been informed by that apprenticeship in the world's hottest zydeco band ever since. After parting with Chenier, Landreth went on to be a key link in prolific songsmith John Hiatt's comeback when he backed him on 1988's Slow Turning, an album that helped return Hiatt to the music industry's good graces and remains a popular cover source.

After several years with Hiatt, Landreth moved to even higher heights as a regular in Knopfler's traveling band, which also paired him with country guitar great Richard Bennett. Landreth's latest release is 2017's Recorded Live in Lafayette, a two-disc live album that features the guitarist's monumental licks as he performs many of his hit songs from the past four decades. But if you'd rather experience his talents live, he's scheduled to perform at the Musical Instrument Museum this weekend. William Michael Smith

Joel Williams of TV Girl.
Joel Williams of TV Girl.
Courtesy of TV Girl

TV Girl
Friday, May 11
Valley Bar

If The Jetsons were reality, it’d be easy to picture some space-age teen trying to wow Judy Jetson with a mixtape full of TV Girl songs. A Los Angeles-based trio, TV Girl makes music that sounds simultaneously futuristic and retro. They blend ’60s-style pop melodies with electro-dance vibes and samples, creating a weird kind of introspective indie dance music. Imagine Belle & Sebastian trying to follow in the footsteps of indie dance-rock acts like St. Etienne and Screamadelica-era Primal Scream.

TV Girl’s music sounds so playful and disorienting because of their deft sampling skills. Disembodied voices from yesteryear bob in and out of the mix, creating an anything-goes atmosphere that recalls classic sample-heavy albums like Paul’s Boutique and 3 Feet High and Rising.

On the band’s latest album, Who Really Cares, TV Girl use their blissful sound to subversive effect. They sing songs about safe words, lovers who fake orgasms, and heaven as a bedroom, while backed by music that sounds like it could soundtrack a kids’ TV show. Ashley Naftule

Friday, May 11
Shady Park in Tempe

Every DJ/producer in the electronic dance music game has had to overcome challenges during their careers, be they personal, professional, or even both. Some can prove to be rather daunting or even dangerous, like the situation faced by Jennifer Lee, better known as EDM superstar TOKiMONSTA.

After spending years surviving and thriving in the extremely competitive and largely male-dominated DJ scene of L.A., Lee became ensnared in a fight for both her life and her artistic soul. In 2015, Lee discovered she was afflicted with Moyamoya disease, a vascular condition that constricted the arterial blood flow in her brain. Forced to put her promising career as one of EDM’s rising stars on hold, she endured a pair of surgeries to correct the issue.

Afterwards, Lee was temporarily unable to speak or comprehend music. Slowly but surely, however, she battled back and began creating music once more, which eventually resulted in 2017’s Lune Rouge.

The 11-song album, which has earned good reviews from Pitchfork and other outlets, is both a deeply personal and cathartic work in which Lee channels her angst and pent up emotions into dreamy and ambient tracks filled with electro and R&B elements. You’re like to hear many of ’em when Lee performs as TOKiMONSTA at Shady Park in Tempe, on Friday. Repose, Stoneypie, and Koz will open. Benjamin Leatherman

The scene at last year's FORM Arcosanti festival.
The scene at last year's FORM Arcosanti festival.
Michelle Sasonov

FORM Arcosanti 2018
Friday, May 11, to Sunday, May 13
Arcosanti in Mayer

FORM returns to Arcosanti for the fifth year this May. The highly curated, intimate festival began when Los Angeles-based band Hundred Waters came across the experimental town, which was founded on the concept of arcology — the marriage of architecture and ecology. You’ll find the band on the lineup each year, and their curation helps make FORM special in a sea of music festivals that lack identity.

There’s always a wide variety of musical stylings at FORM, and this year is no different. Rap, folk, EDM, pop, indie rock, and R&B are all represented by the festival headliners: Chance the Rapper, Fleet Foxes, Skrillex, a solo Blood Orange set, Courtney Barnet, Beach House, Charli XCX with A.G. Cook, and Daniel Caesar. Further down, the roster reveals acts that don’t always make it to Phoenix when they tour. They include the mysterious Sophie, whose industrial electronic pop sounds have discreetly penetrated the slightly less than mainstream.

While at the festival, participants have the option to camp and experience talks, panels, and programming from a variety of human rights organizations from Planned Parenthood to the ACLU. More than other festivals, FORM is about experimental art, education, and the future. Tanner Stechnij

Sam Ray of American Pleasure Club.
Sam Ray of American Pleasure Club.
Courtesy of Run For Cover Records

American Pleasure Club
Saturday, May 12
The Rebel Lounge

There’s a lot you can read into the title of American Pleasure Club’s latest album, A Whole Fucking Lifetime of This. On the one hand, it’s a statement of profound world-weariness and resignation; the sort of thing an Eeyore might say after clocking in at work. Looked at from a different angle, though, and it could be read as a wide-eyed exultation: a whole fucking lifetime of this.

It’s a dichotomy that’s most powerfully expressed in “this is heaven & id die for it.” American Pleasure Club’s Sam Ray sings “the body aches when you tell it to quit / but this is heaven & I’d die for it” over peals of feedback and crunchy guitars. A song about the pleasures of getting high, it also catalogs the brutal grind of a junkie’s life — how something can wear you down until you feel like an exposed nerve and yet still gives you just enough fleeting joy to welcome that rawness.

One is struck by the stylistic diversity of Ray’s work as American Pleasure Club. A Whole Fucking Lifetime of This jumps from confessional songwriting to indie rock-guitar heroics to meditative, sample-based soundscapes that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Burial record. Hazy and woozy, it’s an album that oscillates between sounding blissed-out and numb.

American Pleasure Club used to be a different band: From 2009 until 2017, they were called Teen Suicide. The band made a name for themselves with their noise-pop sound, but internal strife, drugs, and other issues led to the group undergoing several lineup changes. Through the years, Teen Suicide/American Pleasure Club’s Sam Ray has been the band’s north star and creative center. Ashley Naftule

Ginuwine in concert in 2014.EXPAND
Ginuwine in concert in 2014.

Phoenix '90s Block Party
Saturday, May 12
Comerica Theatre

R&B musicians and groups of the ’90s made a whole generation of people want to dance, party, get romantic or jam out in their car.

The ’90s Block Party tour on Saturday, May 12, will bring a little taste of ’90s to the Valley with R&B, hip-hop, and soul group Guy, best known for “I Like,” “Round and Round (Merry Go ‘Round of Love),” “Teddy’s Jam” and “Groove Me.” The concert also has 112 of “Peaches and Cream” and “It’s Over Now” fame; “Pony” and “In Those Jeans” singer Ginuwine; “Where the Party At” and “He Can’t Love U” group Jagged Edge; and Next of “Too Close” and “Butta Lova” fame.

The concert takes place on Saturday at Comerica Theatre starting at 7 p.m. Tickets are $59.50-$89.50. Laura Latzko

Andrew McMahon has been through his share of personal drama.
Andrew McMahon has been through his share of personal drama.
Brendan Walter

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
Saturday, May 12
The Van Buren

It’s a beautiful day in Andrew McMahon’s neighborhood. The singer-songwriter of Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness recently embarked on The Pen and The Piano Tour — a series of intimate shows inspired by Mr. Rogers. Aside from sharing a love of cardigans (something that McMahon sports during every show, apparently), he also shares something else with Mr. Rogers: a love of storytelling. And McMahon has plenty of stories to tell.

In 1998, McMahon and a few of his friends formed the “piano rock” group Something Corporate. Finding success in the pop-punk scene, Something Corporate released three studio albums and toured the world. Arguably their biggest success happened to be a 10-minute song called “Konstantine,” which quickly became a fan favorite and an anthem for the brokenhearted. “Konstantine” details McMahon’s tortured relationship with a girl named Krystal and spotlights his songwriting and storytelling talent.

After Something Corporate, McMahon went on to form Jack’s Mannequin in 2004. Everything in Transit, the band’s debut album, describes the transition following another heartbreak. The day McMahon finished recording the album – June 1, 2005 – was the same day he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Over the next few months, McMahon received numerous medical treatments, including a stem cell transplant from his sister, which took place on August 23, 2005 — the same day Everything in Transit was released.

Throughout his battle with leukemia, McMahon continued to document and tell his story by the way of music and a documentary called Dear Jack.

Today, McMahon is celebrating more than 10 years in remission. And he has a new story to tell: one where he gets the girl and starts a family. McMahon married his longtime love, Kelly and they now have a daughter named Cecilia. His most recent albums with his new band, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, outline his journey as a husband and a father. Emily Roberts

Sunday, May 13
Chandler Center for the Arts

If heavy metal cello group Apocalyptica is any indication, whatever’s in the water in Finland makes for a pretty heavy tonic. The band takes classical music instruments and sets them to epic renditions of metal songs, or melds them into their own booming, bottom-heavy compositions.

While the group (consisting of four cellists and a drummer) initially started as a Metallica cover band, they expanded their repertoire to include classical takes on songs by bands like Pantera and Faith No More. But since 2000, Apocalyptica’s been releasing albums of original material, like Cult (which saw the band using more effects and distortion), and Reflections (which was the band’s first album to feature drums). Niki D'Andrea

L.A.-born rapper King Lil G.
L.A.-born rapper King Lil G.
Karin Catt

King Lil G
Sunday, May 13
Club Red in Mesa

In a genre that often slants toward extremes, rapper King Lil G seeks moderation. He’s a moralist without being self-righteous, an ex-gangbanger and dope dealer raised by a single mom, attempting to steer people away from the traps that once ensnared him. He gets high but not too high. The songs feel real in the stories and people that they portray. They’re filled with temptation, regret, and pain, as well as celebration, brown pride, and joy.

2Pac famously said it “wouldn’t be L.A. without Mexicans.” Lil G is the grown-up kid who heeded his call, determined to be a voice for those whom the system failed. His biography is embedded in the music. Listen to his most popular song, 2014’s “Hopeless Boy” (8 million YouTube views and counting): “Fuck rapping and bragging about the way you balling / Spray cans in my backpack and I was starving / In middle school with a trey five seven revolver / My family said I wasn’t going to make it / Now I’m grinding harder.” Jeff Weiss

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