The 12 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

Thirty Seconds to Mars touches down in the Valley this weekend.
Thirty Seconds to Mars touches down in the Valley this weekend. Ticketmaster
We're officially in the dog days of summer, folks. It's brutally hot with tons of humidity to spare, we've got months and months to go until things get more tolerable, and there isn't much you can do but suffer (or strap yourself to an AC vent).

On a more positive note, the live music scene is as busy as ever, and a multitude of memorable shows are happening nightly. Such is the case this weekend, as several big tours and “can't-miss” concerts will be happening.

That includes performances by Thirty Seconds to Mars, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Jeff Beck, Wye Oak, Stephen Malkmus, Gorgon City, and Treasure Fingers.

The annual Desert Splash pool party and will feature a day filled with DJs and hip-hop artists, followed by an after-dark pajama party.

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

Bun B
Friday, July 20
Club Red in Mesa
Catching a performance by influential Grammy-nominated rapper Bun B in such an intimate space as Club Red promises to be a memorable evening pulsing with the energy of early UGK and solo Bun B shows. Bun B rose to fame in the influential rap duo UGK, short for Underground Kingz, formed in ’87 with the late Pimp C. Bun dropped his debut full-length solo album in 2005.

On June 10, Bun B unveiled the cover art for his fifth solo record, Return of the Trill, on his Instagram account, saying the release is slated for August 31. It’s his first full-length release since 2013’s Trill OG: The Epilogue. With Optimystical, Kollateral, Thrice Authentic, Zelly Vibes, and Gramm Thomas as openers, expect the show to be a memorable night of hip-hop. Daniel Rodrigue

click to enlarge Sean Carey, better known as S. Carey. - COURTESY OF GROUND CONTROL TOURING
Sean Carey, better known as S. Carey.
Courtesy of Ground Control Touring
S. Carey
Friday, July 20
Crescent Ballroom

As S. Carey, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Sean Carey's solo material is definitely in line with the work he did as a part of a part of Bon Iver's backup band – and his voice is also a sweet but resilient focal point of a soothing Midwestern sound. But beyond the voice, the five albums in his discography (including this year's Hundred Acres) showcase Carey's classically-trained musicianship and knack for intricate compositions.

Whether Carey's singing from behind the piano, guitar, xylophone, or the varying wind and percussive instruments with which he's familiar, the gentle performer channels Brian Wilson, James Taylor, and Iron & Wine with comforting ease. Catch him at the Crescent on Friday night. H.C. McEntire will open. Bree Davies

click to enlarge Kye Gibbon and Matt Robson-Scott of Gorgon City. - COURTESY OF MELT BOOKING
Kye Gibbon and Matt Robson-Scott of Gorgon City.
Courtesy of Melt Booking
Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
Friday, July 20
Talking Stick Resort Arena

The coupling of Tim McGraw and Faith Hill has been the #RelationshipGoals of the country-music world for 20 years. No, seriously. They’ve lived together and loved together for years, and in 2017, this pair of mega-stars released their first-ever duets album, and they're backing it up with the Soul2Soul World Tour, which is now stretching into its second year.

The country prom king and queen, who have collectively sold a bajillion records, will be at the Gila River Arena in Glendale this weekend for an evening of country-pop and crooning. Cowboy hats and Wranglers are optional. Tom Murphy

Gorgon City
Friday, July 20
The Pressroom

Before joining creative forces as Gorgon City, Kye Gibbon and Matt Robson-Scott were already celebrated DJ-producers in their own right. Going by Foamo and RackNRuin, respectively, the two came up as part of London's beloved Black Butter artist collective and label, which also spawned the likes of Rudimental and international chart-topping quartet Clean Bandit.

Of course, the common musical denominator for Gibbon and Robson-Scott – as for most London-bred electronic dance music artists – is the U.K. bass that's in their DNA.

Innovating is certainly the operative word, especially if you consider the ways in which Gibbon and Robson-Scott have challenged the limits of pop with their explorations of electronic music history. Their albums and tracks are slices of exuberant bass-infused dance-pop that steadfastly refuses to temper its gritty warehouse rave vibe in favor of overly polished production. Sean Levisman

click to enlarge Guitar rock guru Jeff Beck. - COURTESY OF DANNY ZELISKO PRESENTS
Guitar rock guru Jeff Beck.
Courtesy of Danny Zelisko Presents
Jeff Beck
Saturday, July 21
Celebrity Theatre
There is no shortage of articles or opinions lauding the superb guitar playing skills of Jeff Beck. And deservedly so: He's part of what one might call the Divine Three (along with fellow guitar gods Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton). But Beck is the lone member of that league who never quite grasped the gold ring of wide commercial adoration.

After leaving an indelible mark on '60s British Invasion psychedelic rock with The Yardbirds on fuzz-addled songs like "Over Under Sideways Down," Beck set up shop as the solo artist he remains to this day. Tiring of vocal-driven rock songs (and probably vocalists, having unleashed Rod Stewart on the world), Beck set aside rock for jazz fusion and instrumental rock, the field he still plows today. Doug Davis

click to enlarge Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack of Wye Oak. - SHERVIN LAINEZ
Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack of Wye Oak.
Shervin Lainez
Wye Oak
Saturday, July 21
Crescent Ballroom

There’s a density to Wye Oak sonorities that extend far beyond what the two-person membership would imply. Lead vocalist, guitarist, and bassist Jenn Wasner surely has her work cut out for her as a multi-instrumentalist, but Andy Stack overachieves. Affording his right hand for kit drumming, Stack uses his left hand to simultaneously tickle the electronic ivory keys. Please, hold off on the Def Leppard jokes — he’s heard them all.

Their career has spanned six records and 12 years. Since the band’s early days, they’ve always married indie rock with hints of folk and dream pop. On their most recent album, The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs, which was released earlier this year, they’ve maintained that sound, although there’s a fair amount of experimentation sprinkled throughout the music. Some cuts are folkier than others, like the quick, upbeat “Over and Over.” Some even take notes from shoegaze, namely “Lifer.” But Wye Oak’s tracks are generally a lot of things, rather than a definable certainty, which is what makes them an exciting voice in the too-often oversaturated indie rock field.

For Wasner and Stack, The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs is a bit like a homecoming. The duo recorded it in their hometown of Baltimore, which comes across in the confident, grounded, yet intimate songs presented throughout the record. Tanner Stechnij
click to enlarge Stephen Malkmus rides into town this weekend. - GIOVANNI DUCA
Stephen Malkmus rides into town this weekend.
Giovanni Duca
Christopher Cross
Saturday, July 21
Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale

What was with all the flamingo imagery on Christopher Cross's albums, and just what the hell was between the moon and New York City that made us want to fall in love? The San Antonio native (and tight bro with Michael McDonald) was one of the 1980s' greatest soft-rock success stories, but was undone by the increasingly image-hungry landscape that came with the rise of MTV. Cross was a bigger guy, sort of a cross between Meat Loaf and the Minutemen's D. Boon, with the voice of an angel.

His 1979 self-titled album came preloaded with three schmaltzy but catchy hit singles in "Sailing," "Ride Like the Wind," and "Never Be the Same." Co-written by Cross, Burt Bacharach, and two others, "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)," from the 1981 film starring Dudley Moore, won an Oscar for Best Song and remains Cross's most enduring hit. His 1983 follow-up album, Another Page, only birthed one single in "Think of Laura." Cross has never quite had the success of those first five years, but continues touring to this day. Craig Hlavaty

click to enlarge A scene from last year's Desert Splash pool party. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
A scene from last year's Desert Splash pool party.
Benjamin Leatherman
Desert Splash
Saturday, July 21
Four Points by Sheraton Hotel

We’ve officially reached peak pool party season, y’all. On any weekend in the Valley, there’s any number of swank or dank swim celebrations happening, any of which are likely to suit your particular music tastes. Case in point: this weekend’s Desert Splash at the Four Points by Sheraton hotel in south Phoenix, which is aimed at fans of hip-hop, trap, and R&B sounds — and anyone who wants to party hard for 12 hours strong.

The stylish event on Saturday, July 21, will be a round-the-clock rager that will consist of a “Miami-style” pool party called Wet and Wild that takes place during the day, followed by the Grown and Sexy pajama and lingerie affair at night. The poolside partying kicks off at 2 p.m. with spins from DJ Pest and DJ Klassic. Dallas-born rapper Dorrough Music will also perform, and separate swimsuit and male hardbody contests for cash prizes will take place. Food, drinks, games, giveaways, hookah, and vendors are also planned. Keyke On Pointe will host.

The pajama and lingerie party starts at 9 p.m., will be hosted by Charmaine Johnise of Black Ink Crew: Chicago, and will feature DJ NC Slim in the mix. General admission is $40, which covers both parties. VIP tables for Grown and Sexy are $150 and VIP pool cabanas at Wet and Wild are $200. Call 602-428-1037 for more info. Benjamin Leatherman

Thirty Seconds to Mars
Sunday, July 22
Ak-Chin Pavilion
People dismiss Thirty Seconds to Mars simply because of what frontman Jared Leto does away from a microphone. Whether it's his method acting, his serious earnestness, or fame because of his acting career, one can easily minimize a band that continues to have a huge audience.

Sounding like a mix between U2, Coldplay, and Nine Inch Nails, Jared and his brother Shannon are promoting their latest release, America. Pared down to the brothers with hired help (longtime guitarist Tomo Milicevic left the band this year), the band keeps putting out music that confounds people who don't buy tickets while speaking directly to those who buy them.

Since its release in April, America, which hit No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and yielded three singles thus far ("Walk on Water," "Dangerous Night," and "Rescue Me"). As you'd expect, their current tour is in support of the album. It rolls through the Valley this weekend featuring Walk the Moon, K.Flay, and Welshly Arms as openers. Eric Grubbs

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks
Sunday, July 22
Crescent Ballroom

If you had to sum up Stephen Malkmus’ music with one expression, “whatever’s clever” would be right on the money. The singer and songwriter, currently on tour with his band the Jicks, has been known for his genius wordsmithing for years. He’s been skillfully turning sharp and funny phrases he started the band Pavement back in the late 1980s. It was in 1992 when that band released their debut Slanted and Enchanted and Malkmus’ sardonic wit was cemented as one with the ability to slay. Pavement was also instrumental in the lo-fi indie rock boom of that decade.

The Jicks got going in 2000, around a year after Pavement threw in the towel. Going strong ever since, the band released their seventh album earlier this year, Sparkle Hard. A dynamic group of tracks, it glows with hooky appeal. The poppy nature of songs like “Bike Lane,” however, can’t lighten the subject matter. In that case, the tune is about the 2015 murder of Freddie Gray by Baltimore police. True to the group’s history, catchy and steadfast tracks often transcend between mild, plodding rock and more aggressive riffs. Amy Young

click to enlarge The boys of Ballyhoo! - COURTESY OF BALLYHOO!
The boys of Ballyhoo!
Courtesy of Ballyhoo!
Sunday, July 22
Pub Rock Live in Scottsdale

The all-knowing internet defines "ballyhoo" as "a buildup, hoopla, fanfare." And no title more aptly describes the musical output produced by the Aberdeen, Maryland, reggae/rock/punk fusion quartet known by that handle. Add an exclamation point to the end – Ballyhoo! – and one can already imagine the level of merriment set forth by this lively troupe before even pressing play.

The group has been on the grind since 1995 but only recently started making inroads in the music business. A successful jaunt across the country during the Vans Warped Tour in 2012 and an impressive showing on the Billboard charts for its self-released album, Pineapple Grenade, in 2013 helped them gain real traction. It's been a long time coming for Ballyhoo!'s lead singer, Howi Spangler, who, as a Green Day- and Goldfinger-obsessed teenager, began writing his own pop-punk and ska creations. He hoped to separate himself from the hip-hop and mainstream rock environment that dominated his suburban Baltimore confines.

Spangler and company toured constantly after high school, performing at house parties and high school gyms. The four-piece, slowly but surely, began earning a reputation as a fun-loving, party-starting type of band and roping in scores of fans. Alex Rendon

click to enlarge Ashley Jones, better known as Treasure Fingers. - COURTESY OF FOUR80MUSIC
Ashley Jones, better known as Treasure Fingers.
Courtesy of Four80music
Treasure Fingers
Sunday, July 22
Shady Park in Tempe

Treasure Fingers is a moniker that belongs to Ashley Jones, a man who's already had a fair amount of success as part of Evol Intent, one of the jungle scene's premier production outfits in the U.S. Not content to rest on his laurels, Jones has opened up the playbook for his turn as Treasure Fingers.

There may be a hint of his drum-and-bass roots, but Fingers' aesthetic absorbs everything and spits out a mind-fucking mélange of a mix, a dance-floor diversion that destroys the lines among wildly divergent styles. Everything and anything is fair game, from Daft Punk and Justice to Architecture in Helsinki and Squarepusher. It's an approach that might make dance-music purists sneer, but goddamn if it isn't a stupid amount of grin-inducing, butt-shaking fun.

This weekend, Treasure Fingers will get faces grinning and rumps shaking at Shady Park in Tempe during the latest TreeHouse Sunday session. GAWP, Devon James, and Austin Feldman will open. The music starts at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15-$20. Britt Chester
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Phoenix New Times Music Writers