Wyatt Pearson, better known as Electric Mantis.
Wyatt Pearson, better known as Electric Mantis.
Colin Miller

The 13 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

It’s the final weekend of 2017 and, ultimately, your last chance of the year to let loose, go wild, or rock out.

If you’re game to do so, there are many different ways you can end the year with a bang instead of a whimper.

A multitude of New Year’s Eve celebrations happening across the Valley will cater to a variety of tastes, ranging from small and geeky to large and rowdy. You could hang out with the Roosevelt Row crowd at the annual Flannel Ball, party inside an art car at Crescent Ballroom and The Van Buren, or rage away with thousands of EDM fans at Decadence Arizona.

There are also concerts, too, including performances by hometown favorites Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, alt-rock gods 311, Hot Water Music front man Chuck Ragan, and gonzo McDonald's-themed metal tribute Mac Sabbath.

Details about each of these shindigs can be found below in our list of the best concerts and music events in Phoenix this weekend. (For even more options, hit up our online listings.)

It’s up to you. Just do us a favor and make it home safe and sound, all right? After all, you’ve got 2018 to look forward to.

Raise a toast with Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers this weekend.EXPAND
Raise a toast with Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers this weekend.
Cassandra Tomei

Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers
Friday, December 29
Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale

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Say what you will about Roger Clyne's talents (which are substantial): When it comes to instigating a party, the native Arizonan is skilled.

The stories surrounding the raucous Refreshments shows he was a part of back during the Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy days have been trumped by the kind of off-the-hook wingdings he hosts as frontman for the Peacemakers. The tequila-soaked "Circus Mexicus" beach blast held in Puerto Peñasco draws thousands of Peaceheads every year, for instance.

Suffice it to say, RCPM's performance in the Salt River Ballroom of Scottsdale’s Talking Stick Resort during New Year’s weekend is likely to be just as action-packed.

No opening acts are scheduled, so the band will devote the entire evening to songs from its extensive catalog, including crowd favorites “Banditos,” "Mekong," and "Nada." You’re also likely to hear the rollicking theme song to King of the Hill, which they penned back in the ‘90s. Be sure to raise your shot glass of Roger Clyne's Mexican Moonshine Tequila when that song is played, y’all. Benjamin Leatherman

Wolfgang Gartner ain't your typical DJ.EXPAND
Wolfgang Gartner ain't your typical DJ.
Chelsea Lauren

Wolfgang Gartner
Friday, December 29
Maya Day & Nightclub in Scottsdale

Wolfgang Gartner eschews onstage gimmicks typical of electronic music concerts. While there's no shortage of DJs looking to be the center of attention, Gartner prefers to let his skills do the talking, showcasing the candy-colored, sawtoothed synths, and glitchy beats that fuel his laptop alchemy.

When asked why he avoids such shtick, the electro-house guru says it helps him stand out from his desert-slinging, costume-sporting, hamster ball-surfing EDM brethren.

"I don't throw cake at people. I don't wear a suit or a mask. I don't spray champagne. I don't get on the mic and stand on a table and yell at people to get the fuck out. I play music that I think people should hear and put a lot of organic, physical energy into it without gimmicks," Gartner says. "I feel like I'm one of the few people who has any integrity left in the DJ industry these days because it's all come down to people thinking audiences are so stupid that they're trying to get them anyway that they can – by throwing stuff at them or getting them to [form a] mosh pit. It's gotten to a point where it's ridiculous, and personally, I will never buy into that."

And Gartner will live up to those statements this weekend at Maya during his shtick-free set on Friday night that will be big on beats. Nicole Pajer

Tara Gracer Photography

Friday, December 29, to Sunday, December 31
Crescent Ballroom

Spafford have had a pretty amazing year. The Prescott act toured with Umphrey’s McGee, one of the prolific elder statesmen groups of the jam band scene. The jaunt included an appearance at the Marquee Theatre back in March. Spafford have become staples of the festival circuit, complete with a community of “Spaff-nerds,” a moniker coined by die-hards who keep coming back for the group’s improvisational, electro-funk style.

“It’s been a steady grind,” says keyboardist Red Johnson. “We’ve been chipping away at a common goal for many years. It’s an exciting thing, but I can’t really say it has been a huge surprise. It’s something that we all have worked really hard for, and watching it come to fruition right before our eyes is a huge deal.”

Bassist Jordan Fairless adds, “At this point, we’re still in awe of how far we’ve come.”

The quartet is saying goodbye to 2017 the best way they know how: a three-night get-down to bring in the New Year. The show on Sunday, December 31 is sold out, but tickets are still available for the performances on Friday, December 29, and Saturday, December 30. Jason Keil

DJ Blossom
DJ Blossom
Samuel Tooker

Full Moon Festival: Wolf Moon
Friday, December 29, to Sunday, December 31
Various Locations

Full Moon Festival’s organizers are changing things up for the latest edition of the popular monthly music and art extravaganza. This time, the festival will take place across three nights at a variety of spots around downtown Phoenix.

Everything else about the FMF remains the same, however, including its mix of DJs, musicians, artists, vendors, and culture vultures. Each night will have it’s own theme, as well as multiple stages of entertainment.

Club DWNTWN will host the first night on Friday, December 29, which will feature a “Royal” theme and performances by such DJs and acts as Blossom, Dungeon Destroyah, Stoneypie, Tokyo Not Japan, Occultus, Djentrification, Benji Fly, Aztech, Mic Maven, Swag Kingz, and Andy Warpigs. Doors are at 8 p.m. and admission is $19.

The festival will then move to The Icehouse art space for its second night on Saturday, December 30, and offer a “Raw” theme and sets from M-Q, Nasty Humanz, WOLFZiE, Cormac, Pidgeon Royal, Nu Groov, Keenan Mathias, Seafoam Sound, local DJ crew Techno Snobs, and others. Local producers will also battle for the chance to perform at next month’s Gem & Jam Festival in Tucson. The event runs from 8:08 p.m. to 3:33 a.m. Tickets are $20.

Finally, night three will coincide with the New Year’s Eve Block Party 2018 on Sunday, December 31, at Crescent Ballroom and The Van Buren. See below for more info about that particular event. Benjamin Leatherman

DJ Tristan/Iseult
DJ Tristan/Iseult
Benjamin Leatherman

Häxan v Warlock
Saturday, December 30
The Rebel Lounge

The word “disco” typically conjures images of shimmery ’70s fashion and jerky, embarrassing dance moves. If that sounds terrible to you, don’t worry, you won’t find any of that at the Haxan v Warlock, A Doomed Disco-tech dance party. This event will bring the glorious gloom.

From the tunes to the vibe, you can feed your goth-y soul. The party will combine Haxan, a local dance night, with Warlock, a similar event that happens in Los Angeles. Which means that California DJ Xian Vox will lay down the dark wave sounds alongside Phoenix DJ Tristan Iseult.

Guests are encouraged to “dress to raise the dead” for this shadowy soiree that starts at 9 p.m. on Saturday, December 30, at The Rebel Lounge. Admission is $5. Amy Young

Ring in the new year with EDM action at Decadence Arizona.EXPAND
Ring in the new year with EDM action at Decadence Arizona.
Benjamin Leatherman

Decadence Arizona 2017
Saturday, December 30, and Sunday, December 31
Rawhide Event Center in Chandler

Got anything scheduled for New Year's Eve just yet? If you’re an electronic dance music fiend, regular clubgoer, or kandi kid, your evening may have just gotten planned. Ditto for the night before.

Local EDM event promoter Relentless Beats has announced the first wave of DJs for this year’s Decadence Arizona, the two-night EDM festival and New Year’s Eve party that takes place during the final two evenings of the year.

As such, the 2017 version of Decadence Arizona will happen on Saturday, December 30, and Sunday, December 31, at Rawhide in Chandler. And according to Relentless Beats, which co-produces Decadence along with Colorado-based EDM promoter Global Dance, the 2017 lineup currently includes French house/nu-disco duo Justice, legendary trance DJ/producer Armin van Buuren, and masked electro/dubstep trio Black Tiger Sex Machine.

Others scheduled to perform include Steve Aoki, Destructo, TOKiMONSTA, Borgore, Boys Noize, Galantis, Crywolf, Madeon, Oliver Heldens, Party Favor, Sluggo, Snails, Zedd, and dozens more. Benjamin Leatherman

Wyatt Pearson, better known as Electric Mantis.
Wyatt Pearson, better known as Electric Mantis.
Colin Miller

Electric Mantis
Sunday, December 31
Shady Park in Tempe

A lot of Wyatt Pearson’s success in the dance music world as Electric Mantis has come from his prodigious skills as an EDM artist and DJ, not to mention a simple twist of fate.

Back in 2013, Pearson was doing the bedroom producer thing when he posted his track “Flips And Flops, Drips And Drops” to Reddit along with a shout out to Djemba Djemba as an influence. It got noticed by the prominent DJ/record producer, who gave Pearson his seal of approval, and became a front page post on Reddit. And the track blew up as a result.

All these factors helped push Electric Mantis into the spotlight. And his talents at creating intoxicating and atmospheric future bass and future funk soundscapes have kept him there. In the last four years, he’s remixed such artists as Porter Robinson and Gramatik, released the well-received EP Braincase, and brought it at festivals like Nocturnal Wonderland and Lightning in a Bottle.

Electric Mantis will spend his New Year’s Eve at Shady Park in Tempe where he’ll light up its outdoor bar park with intriguing beats, trippy sounds, and mind-bending mixes. Denver-based electronica duo LYFTD and local dance music artist Bardz will also perform. Benjamin Leatherman

Chuck Ragan in concert.
Chuck Ragan in concert.
Melissa Fossum

Chuck Ragan
Sunday, December 31
The Rebel Lounge

Gainesville, Florida's Chuck Ragan is one of those dudes who just can't go wrong. His 15-plus years with the still-revered punk act Hot Water Music is often cited by younger punk bands as a key motivator for their own punk-ish endeavors. In the more recent past, as well as the present, the rootsier, folk side of Ragan's sonic palette is getting the bulk of his and his many listeners' attention too.

His 2009 solo album, Gold Country, was a rough-hewn gem of an album that impeccably brought out the storyteller in Ragan perhaps more than any of his previous work. That level was met, if not exceeded, with the release of follow-ups like 2011’s Covering Ground and 2014’s Till Midnight. Fire-and-brimstone singing mixed with fiddling that would be suitable for any front porch stompin' session, along with raw acoustic guitar and the occasional harmonica rip, made for albums that dare you to skip a song, not that you'll even consider it over the course of both records.

On Sunday night, Ragan will visit The Rebel Lounge for a New Year’s Eve performance. And if recent set lists are any indication, fans will hear material from his solo albums (including “Meet You in the Middle,” “California Burrito,” "Revved," and “Nothing Left to Prove”) as well as a Hot Water Music song or two, and maybe even covers of Brian Fallon and Rocky Votolato. Local punkgrass act The Haymarket Squares and Americana-influenced duo Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold will open. Kelly Dearmore

Geek out this weekend at The Grid with Mega Ran.EXPAND
Geek out this weekend at The Grid with Mega Ran.
Andrew Doench

Nerdy New Year
Sunday, December 31
The Grid in Mesa

Throw your Power Gloves in the air like you just don’t care, because the fine folks at The Grid: Games and Growlers in Mesa are putting on an 8-bit bacchanal for New Year’s. At The Grid’s Nerdy New Year, titans of video game music and nerd culture will rock the crowd and show 2017 the door.

Instrumental heroes Minibosses will shred epic game music covers, and nerdcore rapper Mega Ran will spit rhymes and drop beats as big as the Times Square New Year’s ball. Local chiptune weirdo Kawaii Robot Shark will also be there to help usher us into 2018 with some additional acts that have yet to be announced.

The festivities kick off at 7 p.m. on Sunday, December 31. Tickets are $10 at the door for this 21-and-over show. There will be a free champagne toast at midnight; all other beverages will be available for an additional cost. Ashley Naftule

Walter the Bus will be one of many over-the-top art cars at the New Year's Eve Block Party.EXPAND
Walter the Bus will be one of many over-the-top art cars at the New Year's Eve Block Party.
Benjamin Leatherman

New Year’s Eve 2018 Block Party
Sunday, December 31
The Van Buren/Crescent Ballroom

Want to do it up big for New Year’s Eve this year? Join five or six thousand other party people at the 2018 Block Party on Third Avenue and Van Buren Street in downtown Phoenix. One ticket grants admission to shows at The Van Buren and Crescent Ballroom, as well as access to an outdoor “festival area” with food trucks, heated tents, and other entertainment. Jessica Hill of The Van Buren shared details and some tips with Phoenix New Times via email about attending the upcoming bash.

First and foremost, be sure to wear dancing shoes, as The Van Buren will transform into a nightclub called “Studio 18,” bumping new and classic disco tunes well through midnight, courtesy of local funk lovers DJ Dana, Stoneypie, and the Hi-Dreams DJ Collective.

And plan to spend some time outdoors as well, Hill says. The streets will be shut down, and instead of the usual traffic, the “art car” and roving stage Kalliope will rule the road — along with its companions such as Walter, a massive VW bus, and Heathen, a fire-breathing truck.

This phantasmagorical procession started with just one vehicle, intended to be an installation for Burning Man, and has since morphed into a caravan incorporating DJ sets, flashing light shows, and pyrotechnics. Kalliope and the Walter Show have made appearances at Phoenix Pride, Peace Pi, and Bonnaroo.

Finally, ridesharing and public transportation use is highly encouraged. You can take the light rail to either the First Avenue and Van Buren or the Central Avenue and Van Buren station. Each is within walking distance from the event entrance. For those who have a designated driver, bring some extra money for pay lots or metered parking in the area. Meagan Mastriani

Slayer McCheeze, Ronald Osbourne, The Cat Burglar, and Grimalice of Mac Sabbath.EXPAND
Slayer McCheeze, Ronald Osbourne, The Cat Burglar, and Grimalice of Mac Sabbath.
Paul Koudounaris

Mac Sabbath
Sunday, December 31
Club Red in Mesa

Heavy music, like heavy food, is best consumed voraciously and without much thought. But the McGenius behind Mac Sabbath is that they obviously put a lot of thought and skill into their quirky musical cookery, which roasts greasy fast-food corporations as much as it pays tribute to the pummeling rock of Ozzy and Sabbath.

Like many gimmick-driven grinders, the members shroud themselves in secret sauce. Mike Odd of local costumed rock legends Rosemary's Billygoat is involved, which explains Mac's ferocious metallic flavor and demented props.

From their elaborate, super-sized costumes (Grimalice, the Catburglar and Slayer McCheeze back up creepy clown crooner Ronald Osbourne) to their clever, freak-fried takes on Sabbath's lyrics ("Pair-a-Buns" to the tune of "Paranoid," "Frying Pan" to the tune of "Iron Man"), these happy-meal menaces sizzle live, and always serve up much more than the empty calories of most cover bands.

Mac Sabbath will be at Club Red in Mesa on New Year’s Eve along with punk legends Dwarves and local act BroLoaf during what's likely to be a memorable send-off to 2017. Lina Lecaro

The members of 311.EXPAND
The members of 311.
Marcello Ambriz

Sunday, December 31
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Things are coming full circle for 311. Phoenix was one of the first cities that really clicked with the band’s vibe, frontman and guitarist Nick Hexum says.

“I remember doing a radio show in Phoenix where there was this massive pit, and it was our first time to the city, and we were like, ‘Well okay! There’s something going on here,’” Hexum says. “And it’s been great ever since.’”

So 30 years into their career, the multiplatinum rockers — who have sold more than 9 million albums in the U.S. — will return to the Valley for a one-off New Year’s Eve concert at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe. (Reggae legends The Original Wailers and locals Phunk Junkeez and Black Bottom Lighters are also on the bill.)

And 311 are going back to their musical roots, too, as Hexum, singer and DJ S.A. Martinez, drummer Chad Sexton, bassist P-Nut, and guitarist Tim Mahoney re-embrace the band’s Jamaican influences on 311’s new album, MOSAIC.

“The album is the best representation of that ... but it also shows a step of creativity, a bigger step than we’ve been taking lately. More innovation, more open-mindedness when it came to production, vocal style, groove style … we really let our creativity run wild,” Hexum says. “I think that’s why people have been reacting the way that they have been to it. It’s been a nice shot in the arm to have that type of excitement.” Lauren Wise

Patrons of the Flannel Ball in 2015.
Patrons of the Flannel Ball in 2015.
Melissa Fossum

Flannel Ball 2017
Sunday, December 31
Roosevelt Row

Sure, you could waste a ton of cash to fly to New York City to see the ball drop in the super-crowded Times Square for New Year’s Eve. Or, you could go to the Roosevelt Row equivalent, the annual Flannel Ball.

Like any good kickback, the celebration – which will located along Second Street north of Roosevelt – will have live music by Snailmate and Exxxtra Crispy, as well as art, food trucks, beer, and, of course, flannels.

Party on from 9 p.m. until 2 a.m. on Sunday, December 31. Tickets are $20 in advance online or $25 the day of the event. Lindsay Roberts

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