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The 10 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week

Wiz Khalifa performing at 2016 concert.
Wiz Khalifa performing at 2016 concert. Jim Louvau
August brought a ton of memorable concerts to the PHX, including shows by a slew of high-profile artists. Before it wraps up, however, its still got a few more big gigs to offer.

Over the next few nights, you can catch such folks as Wiz Khalifa, Rae Sremmurd, Jack Johnson, and Lindsey Stirling in concert, as well as bands like AWOLNATION or Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit.

If you’re into nostalgia, the Lost '80s Live will also swing through the Valley with a collection of Reagan-era acts like A Flock of Seagulls and Animotion.

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

click to enlarge Jack Johnson in concert earlier this year. - ERIC SAUSEDA
Jack Johnson in concert earlier this year.
Eric Sauseda
Jack Johnson
Tuesday, August 28
Ak-Chin Pavilion

One night, as I was at dinner with a friend of mine who grew up in Hawaii, the subject of Jack Johnson came up (don't ask me how). He mentioned that while he respected Jack Johnson as a fellow Hawaiian and surfer, he thought his music was “boring as fuck.” It was clear that it was a little painful for him to say — there truly was obvious respect there, but the fact remains that Johnson’s music is very, very safe and mellow. What my friend was trying to express, I think, while it’s great that a fellow surfer and Hawaiian to be so popular and put out so many lovely records, couldn’t he be a tiny bit more rockin’? There is music for everyone out there, taste is subjective, and some people don’t want to be challenged by a riff or clever lyrics. That’s fine. There is nothing challenging about Jack Johnson, and that is okay. I’m fine with it. Really. Tom Reardon

click to enlarge Jason Isbell (center) with his backing band, The 400 Unit. - DANNY CLINCH
Jason Isbell (center) with his backing band, The 400 Unit.
Danny Clinch
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Tuesday, August 28
Phoenix Symphony Hall

He might be a former member of the Drive-By Truckers and a solo artist for a decade with six highly rated albums under his belt, but the past couple of years have undeniably seen Jason Isbell’s stock rise. The buzz has practically become deafening as people first fell in love with his contemporary take on alt-country and Southern rock and then went back to delve into his previous work. Now, similar-minded musicians such as Samantha Fish are citing Isbell as an influence. Last year’s The Nashville Sound album saw his band, the 400 Unit, get top billing alongside the man himself, and that’s carried over into the tour. It’s significant, too: As the Drive-By Truckers days prove, Isbell produces some of his best work when collaborating. Brett Callwood

Combo Chimbita
Tuesday, August 28
Valley Bar

“Frio Severo” is a song you could, and should, lose your head to. It’s a carnival of eclectic sounds and rhythms that exemplifies why people often call music hypnotic. Its power is tripled when Carolina Oliveros starts singing. Part of Combo Chimbita’s magic is their ability to pull you inside the song. As that aforementioned track continues, you go where it leads. It’s a parade you hope won’t end too soon. This New York band’s sound comes from a fusion African, Latin American, and Caribbean styles. The band refers to their music as “tropical futurism,” and that’s accurate. Diverse rhythms and funky beats are the heartbeat for the sometimes breezy, other times psychedelic and experimental melodies that sweep through their tunes. Amy Young

click to enlarge Guitar virtuoso Ottmar Liebert. - MATT CALLAHAN
Guitar virtuoso Ottmar Liebert.
Matt Callahan
Ottmar Liebert
Wednesday, August 29
Musical Instrument Museum

Born in Germany to a Chinese-German father and a Hungarian mother, Ottmar Liebert began his love affair with the guitar at the tender age of 11. By the time he was 18, he was educated as to the many ethnicities of music, and he began traveling as a musician throughout Europe and Asia before settling in the United States in the 1980s. His tastes always veered toward the erudite and artistic, but it wasn't until forming the funky, folk-jazz ensemble Luna Negra in 1988 that he finally found a venue for his discerning craftsmanship. Liebert is an eternal student, always seeking musical enlightenment through the honing of his skills. His expansive discography includes close to 30 different albums, including this year's The Complete Santa Fe Sessions. His current tour brings him to (where else?) the Musical Instrument Museum on Thursday. Abel Folgar

click to enlarge Amy Lee of Evanescence. - BRANDON MARSHALL
Amy Lee of Evanescence.
Brandon Marshall
Lindsey Stirling and Evanescence
Wednesday, August 29
Ak-Chin Pavilion

There is a story about the time when Evanescence got started, sometime around 1995, where the band was sitting around getting blazed and somebody said, “Why don’t we go for a sound somewhere between Portishead and Limp Bizkit?” No one said a word, but the seed was planted. Now, this story may or may not be true, but what really matters is that a spark grew into a flame and a flame grew into a burning fire that illuminated the sky for, at very least, one billionth of a percentage point of human history and Evanescence was relevant.

Fast-forward to 2018, and it is quite possible that some people still care and perhaps are even reading this now thinking, “Fuck this guy, this dumb writer, for mocking the band that changed my life, the band that I listen to when the world takes a big dump on my soul.” Sorry, but Evanescence still sucks. Apologies to Portishead for even including them in this mockery. Local violin phenom Lindsay Stirling will also be on the bill, so there are some redeeming qualities to the show, at least. Tom Reardon
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Phoenix New Times Music Writers