The 10 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

RubberDoll is scheduled to perform on Saturday, September 1, at Club Red during Fetish Ball 2018.EXPAND
RubberDoll is scheduled to perform on Saturday, September 1, at Club Red during Fetish Ball 2018.
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Labor Day weekend is here and it's going to be three days of activity and fun. There are loads of pool parties and club events, of course, as well as tons of concerts.

To wit: Over the next few nights, you can check out shows by Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite, prog-rock legends Yes, British-born soul singer Sam Smith, EDM act Bingo Players, and death metal fiends Gravespawn.

There's also a "$3 Shit Show," a summertime package tour featuring '90s alt-rock favorites, and even a fetish ball.

Details about each of these gigs can be found below. And for even more live music happening around the Valley this weekend, hit up Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar.

Sam Smith arrives at Gila River Arena on August 30.EXPAND
Sam Smith arrives at Gila River Arena on August 30.
Ruven Afanador

Sam Smith
Friday, August 31
Gila River Arena in Glendale

Sam Smith is one of those celebrities who seems to be always caught with his foot in his mouth. The latest instance of him speaking before thinking occurred several weeks ago, when former American Idol contestant Adam Lambert posted a video of the emotive vocalist expressing his dislike of Michael Jackson. Naturally, the internet came to the defense of the King of Pop by calling the “Stay With Me” singer the most insulting thing you can call an artist in the music industry: a one-hit wonder.

But with multiple Grammys and an Oscar on his mantlepiece, the backlash he has received from the anonymous masses probably isn’t keeping him up at night. His true weapon is his transcendent soulful voice, which he used to great effect on his latest album, the confessional The Thrill of It All. With over 2 million copies sold worldwide, it may prove that Smith has more staying power than his detractors would believe. Jason Keil

Ben Harper (left) and Charlie Musselwhite.EXPAND
Ben Harper (left) and Charlie Musselwhite.
Dan Monick

Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite
Friday, August 31
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Charlie Musselwhite got a lot of mileage (and glowing reviews) out of 2012's Get Up! with contemporary bluesman Ben Harper. Although Musselwhite's stellar harmonica work defines the album's rough-and-tumble sound, it's mostly Harper's project. Whenever Musselwhite takes to the stage, either alongside Harper or out on tour with his own band, he typically showcases his vocal prowess and guitar work too, dipping into an eclectic catalog that just begins with Delta blues.

Strongly influenced by the likes of Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson, Musselwhite began playing in Memphis with icons like Furry Lewis, then went to Chicago, where he was an integral part of a thriving '60s blues scene, played with legends like Big Joe Williams, and formed his own bands. Rick Mason

Bingo Players
Friday, August 31
Maya Day & Nightclub in Scottsdale

When Paul Baümer and Maarten Hoogstraten began making music together at the Bingo Players in the Netherlands in 2006, they built up a respectable following in Europe on the backs of their underground tech-house. But it wasn't until around 2010, when dance music exploded in the U.S., that they really broke through into mainstream success with their massive hits “Devotion,” “Cry (Just A Little),” and “Rattle.”

Sadly, despite the band's name, the Bingo Players has been the solo project of Hoogstraten ever since Baümer died of cancer in 2013. It was Baümer’s wish that Maarten continue the Bingo Players project under the same name, to keep the dream alive, and to release all the music they were working on but hadn’t finished yet.

Hoogstraten is still putting out some incredible music. His latest singles follow the same formula that always worked for them in the past: repurposing old vocal samples and building catchy tunes that sound just as good on the radio as they do in the club. This is no easy feat. If you like to “rage,” this should be a wild night. Expect to jump. Expect to get sweaty. And, given Bingo Players’ popularity on the festival circuit, expect to a few club kids in their neon raver gear. Adam Foster

Chromeo at the McDowell Mountain Music Festival in early March.EXPAND
Chromeo at the McDowell Mountain Music Festival in early March.
Jim Louvau

Friday, August 31
The Pressroom

If you want to know what a Chromeo DJ set is like, there are a couple of routes you can take. You can live vicariously through others who have seen these makers of electro-funk and synth-y dance music rock a venue as turntable masters. You could go down a Reddit-hole and get lost in a mishmash of conflicting comments that range from, “The best night I ever had,” to “Not even close to enough funky vibes.” Or, you just go have a damn real-life experience and check them out for yourself.

Despite some shade thrown on internet forums about the levels of groove the night might reach, expect things to get funky — it’s a part of what this twosome does. Chromeo is David Macklovitch and Patrick Gemayel, known respectively as Dave 1 and P-Thugg, who met while attending the same college in the '90s. In 2002, the friends began making music together and have since been layering amped-up beats with funk, rock, and soul sounds geared to inspire long, sweaty nights of dancing. Let these freaky, nu-disco dudes provide your Friday night soundtrack. Amy Young

The Rick Wakeman/Jon Anderson/Trevor Rabin version of Yes.
The Rick Wakeman/Jon Anderson/Trevor Rabin version of Yes.
Deborah Anderson Creative

Friday, August 31
Celebrity Theatre

“Yes were once as welcome as pornography in the Vatican,” legendary keyboardist Rick Wakeman muses. Times have certainly changed for the English prog-rock behemoth. After punk exploded on both sides of the Atlantic in the late '70s, bands such as Yes, King Crimson, and Emerson, Lake & Palmer seemed as antiquated as Tin Pan Alley, their tendency for lengthy, challenging albums with titles as catchy as Tales of Topographic Oceans reviled by critics as show-off polymetric twaddle, at odds with the lean, angry primacy of punk and New Wave.

However, prog is back and Yes is on tour, two incarnations in fact. This weekend, the crowd at Celebrity Theatre will see the version that includes vocalist Jon Anderson, guitarist Trevor Rabin, and prog titan Wakeman. Expect walls of modular synths, gloriously epic guitar solos, and Anderson’s choirboy-on-acid vocals all turned to 11. It will be bombastic, it will be breathtaking, and it will be brilliant. Steve Brennan

Friday, August 31
Yucca Tap Room in Tempe

Though these Lucifer-lovers take Nordic black metal as their launch point, lately they're hinting at incorporating wafts of woodsy pagan folk and hair-flailing old-school thrash. Bizarrely begun in a U.S. Army barracks in Korea a few years back, Gravespawn somehow shut out the L.A. sunshine to produce a frosty, hopeless din. Whether by accident or design, a few elements set this increasingly competent quintet apart: actual discernable lyrics within Lord Malkuth's malevolent croak; bulbous, adventurous, and audible bass-playing; and a snare drum sufficiently dominant to give proceedings a welcome hardcore heft. The frantic chops, furious tempos and eye-bulging hatred are all in place, but Gravespawn's personality is so far only peeping through their corpse paint. Paul Rogers

DJ Zander (left) and Bella Lune will both perform at this year's Fetish Ball.EXPAND
DJ Zander (left) and Bella Lune will both perform at this year's Fetish Ball.
Benjamin Leatherman

Arizona Fetish Ball 2018
Saturday, September 1
Club Red in Mesa

Got kinks? Almost everybody does these days (not that we’re judging you or anything). Hence the reason why it’s likely to be a packed house at Club Red in Mesa, on Saturday, September 1, during Fetish Ball 2018. Attendees can let their freak flags fly at the event — which is put on by the Arizona Fetish Society — while indulging in such pansexual pursuits as rope and violet wand demos, public bondage, latex dressing scenes, and flogging. Plus, there will also be several vendors selling all manner of naughty wares.

Meanwhile, a variety of fetish performance artists like Rubberdoll, Anya Graves, and Little J Sinclair will grace the stage in the main room with their sexy antics in between sets by hard rock bands like electro-punk act Caustic, dark electro group Statiqbloom, and experimental electronica artist Lana Del Rabies. Several local DJs will also be in the mix all evening, spinning such genres as goth, industrial, dark wave, post-punk, and witch house. The lineup will include DJ Zander, Bella Lune, Xam Renn, Aaron Coldblood, and DJ Tristan/Iseult of Lilith and Häxan fame.

Take a walk on the wild side from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Admission to the 18-and-over event is $27.59. Be sure to “dress to impress,” as you won’t get away with wearing jeans, T-shirts, or jerseys. Nipple clamps and rubber tentacles, however, are totally okey-dokey. Benjamin Leatherman

The boys of Playboy Manbaby.
The boys of Playboy Manbaby.
Jim Louvau

A $3 Shit Show
Saturday, September 1
The Van Buren

Leave it to the folks behind laidback and low-brow spot Gracie's Tax Bar to put on a gig like this weekend’s “$3 Shit Show” at The Van Buren, which will live up to its name by boasting a three-buck price for those who purchase admission in advance. However, we’re willing to wager that particular sum that the event will be anything but a shit show, at least when it comes to the talents hitting the stage at the VB. The lineup includes weirdo punk/funk act Playboy Manbaby, indie rockers Snake Burner, and surf rock band The Apaches. True to form, Gracie’s will offer some low-brow thrills, like a “drunk tank,” Jell-O shots, kiddie pools, and, um, hammocks. Doors open at 3 p.m. Benjamin Leatherman

The members of Bad Bad Hats.EXPAND
The members of Bad Bad Hats.
Afternoon Records

Bad Bad Hats
Sunday, September 2
Valley Bar

Bad Bad Hats, who open for the Mynabirds, is a pop trio from Minneapolis that draws inspiration from late-’90s alternative rock: Singer Kerry Alexander cites Letters to Cleo’s Kay Hanley and Alanis Morissette as influences. When Alexander moved to Minneapolis from Tampa, she connected with like-minded musicians Noah Boswell and Chris Hoge and formed Bad Bad Hats.

The band’s 2013 EP, It Hurts, showed a promise that has developed over the past several years. The songwriting and execution on follow-up albums like 2015’s Psychic Reader and this year’s Lightning Round suggest a depth and complexity of emotional expression that somehow doesn’t weigh down the buoyant melodies. The contrast confirms that a well-crafted pop song can efficiently convey the essence of an experience. Tom Murphy

Alt-rock radio favorites Bush.
Alt-rock radio favorites Bush.
Joseph Llanes

Revolution 3 Tour
Sunday, September 2
Ak-Chin Pavilion

If you ever wanted to sing along to “She Sells Sanctuary,” “Glycerine,” and “Vasoline” on the same night, you’re in luck. A package tour is hitting town this weekend that’s just for you. The Cult, Bush, and Stone Temple Pilots have teamed up for a summertime tour called “Revolution 3.” Each band will play a full headlining set and the order in which each band appears will change from show to show.

While the lineups for both Bush and The Cult will be familiar to longtime fans, STP will be fronted by a new singer since the passing of original Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland in 2015. Jeff Gutt, a former X-Factor competitor and singer for nu-metal group Dry Cell, joined the band as the new lead singer in 2017.

Although two out of the three groups came to fame in the 1990s, all three feel like they're cut from the same cloth. Bush, The Cult, and Stone Temple Pilots are old-school rock and roll throwbacks to an era when a crunchy guitar riff was worth its weight in gold and pretending to be Jim Morrison was still kinda cool. It's almost shocking that they haven't pooled their efforts and hit the road together sooner. Ashley Naftule

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