Metallica fans of the Valley, get ready to ride the lightning. The weekend you've been waiting for has finally arrived.
James Hetfield and company will invade University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale on Friday as part of their current “Hardwired” tour, and we fully expect a packed affair filled with tens of thousands of Metallica fans, many wearing black T-shirts. And if their recent set lists are any indication, they’ll hear plenty of favorites during the show, including "Sad but True," "Master of Puppets," and "Seek & Destroy."
All that said, there’s more to do this weekend concert-wise then heralding the arrival of legendary rock gods.
If you’re more into singing along to “Sweet Caroline” instead of “Enter Sandman,” for instance, you can check out Neil Diamond’s show on Friday night at Talking Stick Resort Arena in downtown Phoenix. Or if you’re an Ed Sheeran fan, the polarizing singer-songwriter will be at Gila River Arena in Glendale.
Meanwhile, Wasted Grain in Scottsdale will be celebrating its third anniversary with a three-day party that will include gigs by such local legends as Z-Trip and Phunk Junkeez.
Speaking of anniversaries, the folks from the Valley Fever country night will be raising a toast to the repeal of Arizona’s so-called blue laws back in 2010 during their annual Rooster Club celebration at Yucca Tap Room in Tempe on Sunday.
Details on all the aforementioned shows, plus several other big concerts, can be found below in our list of the best concerts in Phoenix this weekend. (And be sure to scope out our online music listings for even more events happening over the next few nights.)
Friday, August 4
Talking Stick Resort Arena
After five decades of doing anything, most people would be ready for a hammock and a bottomless cocktail. Not Neil Diamond. The massively popular pop crooner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee is currently on his 50th anniversary tour. And we’re not talking about a couple of one-off dates. Diamond’s traveling the world to celebrate the musical milestone. The singer has packed a ton into his long career, including 37 chart-toppers and the sale of 75 million records. He got going in the ’60s, and he hasn’t rested. Diamond has released new records throughout, his most recent in 2016. A few of the newer efforts are Christmas albums, one is a cover record, and 2008’s Home Before Dark had a country twist. This show gives fans a chance to hear a slew of favorites from his gigantic catalog of hits, like “Cherry Cherry,” “Sweet Caroline,” “Heartlight,” “Love on the Rocks,” and “America.” He might not be delivering the songs as energetically these days, or sporting those studded jumpsuits that incited swooning, but he’s still known to give a punchy two-hour show. Amy Young
Wasted Grain's Three-Year Anniversary
Friday, August 4, to Sunday, August 6
Wasted Grain in Scottsdale
Maybe it's just us, but it seems like a number of new bars or clubs in Scottsdale’s nightlife district typically have a lifespan of around three years. There are exceptions to the rule, of course, and Wasted Grain is looking like it’s one of ‘em. The sprawling Stetson Drive bar and music venue, which debuted in 2014, is not only surviving the fickle Scottsdale scene but is thriving after its first three years in business. It’s an achievement worth celebrating, which the venue’s regulars (and hundreds of live music fans) will do during Wasted Grain’s Three-Year Anniversary celebration this weekend. The festivities will stretch across three straight nights with a mix of DJs and live acts each evening, as well as an extended premises, prizes, giveaways, and drink specials. Things kickoff on Friday, August 4, with a gig by renowned turntablist, mashup king, and Arizona expat Z-Trip (a.k.a. Zach Sciacca) who will work the record decks in Wasted Grain’s 100 Proof Lounge alongside DJs M2 and Tricky T. Sciacca won’t be the only legend of the local scene at Wasted Grain this weekend, as famed Valley rap-rock act Phunk Junkeez will hit the stage on Saturday, August 5. The Black Moods, Ebineezer, and Kush County will open. Rap star Too Short will wrap things up with his appearance in the lounge on Sunday, August 6, with support from M2 and David Anthony. Benjamin Leatherman
Friday, August 4
University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale
In the '80s and early '90s, Metallica almost single-handedly brought thrash metal to pop-level relevancy. Its decline since, however, has been steep and consistent. That is until recently, when the band’s latest full-length, Hardwired ... To Self-Destruct, reestablished Metallica as a force to be reckoned with. Not since 1991 has Metallica moved with such purpose, motivation and … well, fun. Diehard fans are enjoying a remarkable 2017, as this return to form coincides with the band’s first North American tour since 2009, the WorldWired Tour. Backed by heavy-metallers Avenged Sevenfold and Gojira, Metallica — armed with its patented heavy riffs and hook-laden explosiveness — seek to reminds America how it changed the course of music forever. And why, several generations later, the metal world is still feeding off the table scraps it left behind some 35 years ago. Jonathan Patrick
Saturday, August 5
Gila River Arena in Glendale
Celebrity culture is a bit twisted, so Ed Sheeran is, unfortunately, more famous for being Taylor Swift’s best friend than he is for his impressive singing voice. If you Google him, you'll find more videos of him stumbling out of a London club than of him using his looping pedals to create an ingenious cover of Stevie Wonder’s “I Was Made to Love Her.” (Or you’ll spy reports of the recent hullabaloo over his all-too-brief appearance on Game of Thrones, which caused him to delete his Twitter.) Because he’s pictured in tabloids and played on Top 40 radio, it’s all too easy to dismiss Sheeran, to refuse to take him seriously. But you’ve never seen him live. You haven’t seen him command a crowd of 10,000 fans with his magnificent voice, getting them to clap their hands and cheer just notes into a new song they’ve never heard before. If you refuse to entertain the notion that he’s a serious musician, then maybe you should start. For someone with multiple Grammy nominations, Billboard-chart-topping songs and more A-list celebs in his contact list than one could name, Sheeran is as genuine a singer-songwriter as they come. He wouldn’t be out of place at an open-mike night or a locals' night at some small club. Isa Jones
Saturday, August 5
Kris Barman was one of the founding members of Innerpartysystem. Before that band split, the artist now known as Wuki had already done some programming and synthesizer work on his own. On one tour, in fact, he even gave pointers to Sonny "Skrillex" Moore, when the EDM superstar was getting his start in that style of music. No joke. It’s probably one of the many reasons why you can find his stuff on Moore’s label Owlsa. A cursory look into Barman's prolific output as Wuki reveals a multifaceted talent driven by native curiosity and creative ambition. Barman's creations are refreshingly original, filled with powerfully vivid sonics and innovative takes and twists of compositional technique, not to mention booty bass, footwork, ghettotech, funky breaks, and more into a dirty mishmash of styles that can really blow up the dance floor. And he’ll be doing just that at the Monarch Theatre this weekend. Tom Murphy
Read on for even more great concerts happening this weekend, including In the Valley Below, Wheeler Walker Jr., and the Return of the Rooster Club.
Wheeler Walker Jr.
Saturday, August 5
It may be best not to try to define Wheeler Walker Jr. beyond what you’re getting from him in the moment. In a previous incarnation, he was an edgy Hollywood sketch comedian named Ben Hoffman, who mysteriously disappeared from the public appearances. But in this moment, he is a classically influenced country and western musician, buoyed by pedal steel and songs laced with R-rated lyrics. He writes forlorn songs of heartbreak like “Fuck You Bitch” and the R-rated ditties like “Drop 'Em Out,” exhorting women to open their shirts. But no matter who you think Walker really is — country music bad boy or the Tony Clifton-esque alter ego — the real question is, does it really matter? After all, Walker's independently released album, Redneck Shit, debuted in February at No. 9 on Billboard’s country music chart (and #1 on the comedy chart, but he says he doesn’t give a damn about that one). It's an answer to what he describes as a commercial country music wasteland presented by a Nashville music machine that is only interested in formulaic pop singles. Karen Brooks Harper
In the Valley Below
Saturday, August 5
Following the success of 2014’s The Belt, In the Valley Below knew they needed to escape the noise. The married couple, Jeffrey Jacob and Angela Gail, packed up their life in Los Angeles and moved with their son to Grand Rapids, Michigan. The family settled into their new city and explored its vibrant arts scene. The change of scenery didn’t stop them from making new music. Instead, it gave them the opportunity to do so on their own terms. Their latest EP release, Elephant, was recorded in the basement studio of their 93-year-old house. It features songs with their signature dreamy buzz and gospel undertones, with lyrics inspired by this new chapter. “Hold on Tight” talks about the birth of their son, while “Break Even” reflects on how far they’ve come. There’s more travel on the horizon, as the duo hit the road this summer, playing downtown Phoenix with Flagship and MRCH. Ashley Harris
Saturday, August 5
Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale
Porter Robinson has spent his adult life in the laser-filled limelight. Before he was 20 years old, Robinson literally crashed Beatport's servers with the release of his first EP, Spitfire, and had three chart-topping records before he turned 21. Porter originally produced hard-hitting dubstep and moombahton beats but has softened his touch with synth-heavy house tracks. You'll probably hear both when he visits Talking Stick in Scottsdale on August 5 to headline one of the resort's Release pool parties. Dylan White
Downtown Chamber Series
Saturday, August 5
Phoenix Art Museum's Great Hall
Think the summertime is a dead period for classical music? Try telling that to the musicians of the Downtown Chamber Series. While it’s certainly true that most local orchestras and chamber ensembles generally take a hiatus from performing during the hottest months of the year, the folks who perform with the DCS, which is made up of a rotating lineup of locals, stage concerts even when it’s boiling outside. And such shows typically take place inside urban galleries and art spaces around downtown Phoenix. Hence this weekend’s concert, which will happen in the Great Hall at the Phoenix Art Museum and feature such selections as Mozart’s Quintet in E-flat, K407, Dohnanyi’s Serenade, various solo selections by Bach, and Night Storm by Dan Coleman. The musicians performing include horn player Johanna Lundy, violinist Ellen Chamberlain, cellist Robert Chamberlain, and viola players Sarrah Toy and Mark Dix. (And if you can’t make it out to this weekend’s show, the performance will be repeated on Wednesday, August 9.) Benjamin Leatherman
Sunday, August 6
BLK Live in Scottsdale
Don Dokken has always had a reputation for being temperamental, but he seems to have taken that crankiness to a whole new level recently. Insulting local opening bands, chastising sound people — is Don losing the plot or is he simply turning into a grumpy old man? Either way, with or without guitar maestro George Lynch, when Dokken (the band) hit their stride, songs like “The Hunter” and “Into the Fire” still sound magnificent live. The classic lineup that includes Lynch has reformed occasionally in recent years, but this isn’t it. Still, former Warlock/Doro man Jon Levin is an excellent player, more than capable of shredding through a tune like the Freddy Krueger-approved “Dream Warriors.” As for Don himself, the frontman can wail with the best of them. There hasn’t been any new material in a while, so expect a killer greatest-hits set. Brett Callwood
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Valley Fever's Rooster Club
Sunday, August 6
Yucca Tap Room
As regressive and arbitrary as the Arizona State Legislature can be, however, it achieved a moment of clarity in 2010 when it repealed Arizona’s blue laws, which allowed liquor sales on Sundays before 10 o’clock in the morning. You can celebrate the seventh anniversary of this victory for both Arizona’s name and good sense at 6 a.m. on Sunday, August 6, at Yucca Tap Room in Tempe during the annual Rooster Club hootenanny. The promoters behind long-running country music night Valley Fever put on the event and this year’s lineup includes performances by Barefoot & Pregnant, Flathead, and Junction 10. There’s also a Bloody Mary bar, breakfasts specials, and no cover.
Blue laws, also referred to as Sunday laws, date back to colonial times. The idea was that immoral activities such as gambling, alcohol sales, and pagan sacrifices should not be permitted on Sundays, for obvious religious reasons. And when the bue laws came off the books, Valley Fever founder and DJ Dana Armstrong celebrated the repeal with friends — the "original" Rooster Club. It was a haphazard affair. "We met [at Yucca Tap Room] the first year it was repealed," Armstrong says, "but it was just a small group of us. ... It was almost kind of a dare — we kind of went out of curiosity, just to see if anybody else would be there. It was just 15 of us. We set our alarms and met there ... and it was crazy because when we got there, it was like a full-blown Saturday night." She and Monicque Faber (of Barefoot & Pregnant) came up with the idea for an official event full of drinks, music, and the strict door time of 6 a.m. "I’m treating it like it’s 6 p.m., because when you go in [Yucca Tap] and the doors close, it’s like a time warp. When the doors are closed and it’s daytime, it could be any time." Except the distant, sobering time of the blue laws, that is. Stephanie Chen