Things to Do

Lizzo, Red Hot Chili Peppers and the best concerts in Phoenix in May

Lizzo is scheduled to perform on Wednesday, May 24, at Footprint Center.
Lizzo is scheduled to perform on Wednesday, May 24, at Footprint Center. Atlantic Records
This month has already seen some big concerts in Valley, including performances by George Strait, Pixies, Lewis Capaldi, and T.I.

If you missed out on any of these shows, the good news is that even more legendary artists and acts are headed our way. In the days and weeks ahead, big names like Lizzo, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Shania Twain, The Cure, Snow Tha Product, L7, Lil Wayne, and Kali Uchis are scheduled to perform in the Phoenix area.

Many of these shows are sold out (as is the norm for many blockbuster shows these days), but you can still score tickets through resellers. All the other details you’ll need to know about these can’t-miss concerts can be found below.

For more live music around town in May, be sure to check out Phoenix New Timesconcert listings.
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Rap star Lil Wayne.
Ramona Rosales

Lil Wayne

Tuesday, May 9
The Van Buren, 401 West Van Buren Street
Lil Wayne has a bit of a dodgy history with Arizona. Back in 2008, the rap star (born Dwayne Michael Carter Jr.) was busted by the U.S. Border Patrol at a checkpoint 78 miles east of Yuma after marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine, and a .40-caliber handgun were discovered on his tour bus. The experience, which earned Lil Wayne 36 months of probation, didn’t sour the hip-hop icon on our state, as he’s returned to the Valley multiple times to put on memorable shows. Weezy’s latest visit comes this week when he brings his Welcome to Tha Carter tour to downtown Phoenix. Widely considered to be one of the greatest rappers in the game (according to no less a source than a list published by Billboard and VIBE earlier this year), the tour sees Lil Wayne perform a 39-song retrospective of his 28-year career, including multiple hits from Tha Carter album series and one-off singles from his lesser-known albums and mixtapes. Weezy might be a bit late hitting the stage (as he’s notorious wont to do), but he’ll make up for it with an epic performance. 8 p.m., tickets are available on the secondary market. Benjamin Leatherman

Crowded House

Wednesday, May 10
Mesa Arts Center, 1 East Main Street, Mesa
If Australian rock has an elder statesman, Neil Finn is best suited for the job. Not as wild as Nick Cave nor as arch and obscure as The Go-Betweens’ Robert Forster, Finn is nevertheless one of the continent’s most prolific and skilled songsmiths. From his early work as part of New Zealand’s Split Enz to fronting Crowded House, Finn’s facility for sticky pop hooks and witty lyrics is almost without peer. For anyone whose familiarity with Finn’s work begins and ends with inescapable ’80s hits like “Don’t Dream It’s Over” and “Something So Strong,” they’re missing out: there’s a lot of gold in those Crowded House hills. While Finn remains the band’s center, Crowded House are in many respects a family affair. His brother Tim was a key collaborator for much of the band’s life, and Neil’s sons Liam and Ellroy would also become members. Despite lineup changes and a few breakups and reformations, the band's core sound remains intact: a smooth blend of jangling guitar pop, new wave lushness, Irish folk, indigenous Maori music, and Finn's yearning, expressive voice. 7:30 p.m., $50-$128 via Ashley Naftule
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Stefan Olsdal (left) and Brian Molko (right) of Placebo.
Mads Perch


Wednesday, May 10
Marquee Theatre, 730 North Mill Avenue, Tempe
Placebo's best-known song in the U.S. is the 1998 single "Pure Morning," and the iconic opening line "A friend in need's a friend indeed/A friend with weed is better." However, Placebo's significance extends far beyond this particular late-’90s single. Cited as a major influence by emo icons My Chemical Romance and Panic! at the Disco, Placebo maintained a rabid cult following in the States due in large part to the lyrical themes of depression, isolation, and addiction. A collaboration between Brian Molko and Stefan Olsdal since its inception in 1994, Placebo released its eighth studio album and first album in nearly a decade, Never Let Me Go, last year to positive reviews and have since been on a massive world tour. With Poppy Jean Crawford, 8 p.m., $37-$57 via Benjamin Leatherman

Death Grips

Thursday, May 11
The Van Buren, 401 West Van Buren Street
Here's the thing about Death Grips: The experimental hip-hop/noise rock act don't need an elaborate stage show, or any KISS-style bells and whistles. Live, Death Grips — which consists of rapper-vocalist MC Ride, drummer, and producer Zach Hill, and keyboardist/programmer Andy Morin — are a force to be reckoned with, due to the intensity of their playing. And it's an intensity that's matched a hundred-fold by the audience. The incessant harsh rhythms of their music transform crowds into a wave-pool of pressed flesh and flailing arms and sweat. A Sargasso Sea of limbs wrapped up in each other, heads rebounding off shoulder blades, and legs tangled up in trips and lunges. Experience it yourself when Death Grips invade The Van Buren on Thursday night. They’re not touring behind anything new (as their most recent album is 2018’s Year of the Snitch), but the show will be memorable enough that you likely won’t care. 8 p.m., tickets are available on the secondary market. Ashley Naftule
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The members of indie rock band The Faint.

The Faint

Thursday, May 11
Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue
In the early 2000s, Omaha was a hotbed for indie rock. The hometown of Saddle Creek Records hosted emo heavyweights like Bright Eyes and Cursive along with cult groups like tapping-dance indie-pop sensation Tilly and the Wall. The synth-noodling dirtbags in The Faint were an outlier in both the local and national scene: they were going HAM on the ’80s revival beat before other bands made “going electronic” their big pivot. To The Faint’s credit, few bands have done as good a job at making something jagged and unique out of ’80s nostalgia as The Faint’s Danse Macabre. While The Faint have several strong albums to their name (including 2004's Wet from Birth and 1999's Blank-Wave Arcade), it's on 2001's Danse Macabre that Todd Fink and company came into their full glory. A demented slab of New Wave poisoned by too much PBR and nose candy, it’s the rare record that sounds both retro and futuristic: their sleazy, squealing keyboards are timeless. Every decade will produce its own brand of messy-haired, horny cokeheads, and they will dance to "Your Retro Career Melted" as awkwardly as we do now. With Secret Attraction; 8 p.m., $25-$38 via Ashley Naftule

The Crystal Method

Saturday, May 13
Walter Studios, 747 West Roosevelt Street
More than 25 years ago, the blockbuster electronica duo of Ken Johnson and Scott Kirkland (a.k.a. The Crystal Method) broke out big-time in 1997, helping to popularize the late-'90s "big beat" EDM sound. And like many acts from that era (be they in the realm of electronic dance music or otherwise), they’ve undergone some changes. After dropping a slew of albums in the 2000s and 2010s (including such releases as 2009’s Divided By Night and 2018’s The Trip Home), Johnson retired from the music biz in 2016 as Kirkland continued to perform and record as the Crystal Method. Last year, Kirkland released The Trip Out, an eight-track banger featuring guest vocals by Naz Tokio and Wenzday. You’re likely to hear cuts from the album when Kirkland brings the Crystal Method to Walter Studios in downtown Phoenix in mid-May. With Stanton Warriors, Hyper, DJ Louder, and Sam Groove; 9 p.m., $27/$30 via Benjamin Leatherman

The Mars Volta

Saturday, May 13
Marquee Theatre, 730 North Mill Avenue, Tempe
Forget Finnegans Wake: if you can interpret an album’s worth of Mars Volta lyrics, you have truly mastered the art of literary analysis. Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Alfredo Rodriguez-Lopez (half of At The Drive-In and the brain trust behind the Mars Volta) may play music with punkish energy and volume but they write and record like veteran prog rockers. The Mars Volta is a band that is unafraid to appear pretentious and inscrutable, releasing a string of albums full of long songs, quasi-incomprehensible lyrics, and shifting soundscapes that combine snatches of pleasing Santana-esque Latin rock with bursts of noise and enough genre-hopping to make the ghost of Frank Zappa say “chill out, guys, damn.” Aside from Tool, there is no modern band more beloved by homegrowers, guitar store employees, and people with Alex Grey posters on their walls. Their latest, 2023’s Que Dios Te Maldiga Mi Corazon, finds the group covering themselves, re-recording all the songs off of last year’s self-titled record as acoustic renditions. Hearing the manic duo stripped down and simplified is a fascinating experience, though at times one wishes for that signature Mars Volta weirdness to kick over a few things and make some noise. With Teri Gender Bendar; 8 p.m., $70-$90 via Ashley Naftule
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Snow Tha Product is scheduled to perform on Thursday, May 5, at the Van Buren.

Snow Tha Product

Saturday, May 13
The Van Buren, 401 West Van Buren Street
Snow Tha Product isn’t a household name yet, but don’t blink too long: She's been steadily climbing up for the underground since she pressed “go” on her career as a wicked MC. The Mexican-American rapper has been packing rooms for the high-energy live experience. Her YouTube videos get views into the millions. She’s outspoken about a variety of issues, including immigration, and was featured in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s "Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)" video. Born in California as Claudia Alexandra Feliciano, she’s had music on her mind since childhood. Around age 6, she started performing at school talent shows and also with her family’s mariachi band. Getting into hip-hop and rap came later, in her teens. Blending traditional roots with cultural loves, she was just setting the stage for the swagger-filled, bombastic raps she has been dropping prolifically for more than a decade It’s not just the fearless, don’t-give-a-fuck ’tude that hooks you. It’s the delivery. Snow knows how to create some clever and twisty verbiage, and then shoot it at you fast and furious. It’s like getting pummeled with a blast of pellets, the kind that sting and gets stuck in your skin. 8 p.m., $57 via Amy Young
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Red Hot Chili Peppers are headed back to the Valley.
Clara Balzary

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Sunday, May 14
State Farm Stadium, 1 East Cardinals Way, Glendale
Fast fact: Red Hot Chili Peppers’ first-ever Phoenix gig was a two-night stint in June 1985 at now-defunct rock club The Mason Jar (the current home of The Rebel Lounge). Fast forward some 38 years later and their latest Valley performance will be happening at State Farm Stadium, a venue more than 400 times larger. Credit that to the RHCP’s overwhelming success, their status as an inescapable staple of rock radio, and the dozens of hits they’ve notched over the decades. And then there’s the fact the funk-rockers are touring with their most successful lineup of vocalist Anthony Kiedis, bass guitarist Flea, guitarist John Frusciante, and drummer Chad Smith, which yielded 1989’s Mother's Milk and 1991’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik, their two most beloved and best-known albums. With The Strokes and Thundercat; 6:30 p.m., $26-$475 via Benjamin Leatherman


Monday, May 15
The Van Buren, 401 West Van Buren Street
If you only became aware of NYC-born and Florida-raised rap artist $NOT after hearing his 2019 track “Billy Boy” in the series premiere of “Euphoria,” allow us to catch you up on his career. Influenced by the likes of Xavier Wulf, Three 6 Mafia, and Tyler, the Creator, $NOT was one of the many SoundCloud rappers who made their bones on the platform within the last several years. His big break came in 2018 with the release of the single “Gosha,” which showcases his mumble-rap style and penchant for sharp and witty lyricism. The track went viral, earning him national attention and a gold record. $NOT eventually inked a deal with 300 Entertainment and released his two most recent albums on the label, including 2022’s Ethereal, which charted as high as No. 66 on the Billboard 200. With Night Lovell, DC the Don, Micro, and Eem Triplin; 8 p.m., tickets are available on the secondary market. Benjamin Leatherman

100 Gecs

Tuesday, May 16
The Van Buren, 401 West Van Buren Street
“Put emojis on my grave,” 100 gecs vocalist Laura Les sings on “Dumbest Girl Alive,” the bracing opening track to their sophomore album 10,000 gecs. Following the critical and commercial success of 2019’s 1000 gecs, their latest record finds Les and Dylan Brady twisting their volatile hyperpop sound into strange new shapes. A dizzying blend of samples, booming drums, emo vocals, crackling electronic textures, nu-metal guitar riffs, and lyrics that could pass as dril tweets, 100 gecs are masters of an experimental pop sound that sounds like it crawled out of a pool of radioactive shitposts. In one of the album's most surprising left turns, 100 gecs go full-on ska on "Frog On the Floor," playing a horn-heavy nerdy jam that wouldn't sound out of place on an album of Weird Al originals. They also take a page out of the Red Hot Chili Peppers playbook with the elastic slap bass on “Doritos and Fritos,” a song that sounds like Les Claypool trying to write an anime theme song. It’s not even the third weirdest song on this stunning record. 8 p.m., tickets are available on the secondary market. Ashley Naftule

The Cure

Thursday, May 18
Desert Diamond Arena, 9400 West Maryland Avenue
For all his reputation as a sad sack purveyor of musical misery, has the ’80s produced a better writer of love songs than Robert Smith? While The Cure frontman has penned numerous miserablist classics (few artists can boast a bummer body of work more sublime than the man who wrote Faith, Pornography, and Disintegration), he’s also a master at crafting brilliant pop songs full of romance and irresistible melodies. Who wouldn’t sell their soul to the nearest devil in exchange for writing songs as good as “Just Like Heaven,” “Friday, I’m In Love,” “In Between Days,” and “Lovesong”? Aside from his commitment to his messy aesthetic (age be damned: he’ll live to 100 and still have those red lips and finger-in-an-electric-socket hairstyle), Smith’s other major admirable quality is his willingness to stick it to Ticketmaster. He's one of the few modern big-name touring acts who has repeatedly pushed back hard against the company’s monopolistic business practices and advocated on behalf of his fans to not get price-gouged at the box office. Smith may be a lover but he’s also a fighter. With The Twilight Sad; 7:30 p.m., tickets are available on the secondary market. Ashley Naftule

Molchat Doma

Friday, May 19
The Van Buren, 401 West Van Buren Street
Listen to the music of Minsk’s Molchat Doma without any context and it wouldn’t be hard to think that you’re listening to some lost band from the '80s. The Belarusian post-punk trio make cold wave music: spectral, vaporous synth-pop that sounds like it’s being beamed across space and time from a distant source. The band sounds like they could have toured with Joy Division, and not just because singer Egor Shkutko sounds like a dead ringer for the late Ian Curtis. Molchat Doma shares Joy Division’s knack for atmospherics and drama, creating compositions suffused with glacial dread and propulsive rhythms. Embarking on a long-delayed U.S. tour (thanks, COVID!) Molchat Doma are bringing the sounds of their most recent album Monument to our shores. Propelled by synths, drum machines, and Shkutko’s mordant yet soulful vocals, Monument is a gloomy treat. Who knows? Maybe if it did come out in the '80s it could have ended the Cold War even sooner. Never underestimate the power of goth solidarity. 8 p.m., $27.50 via Ashley Naftule

Dead & Company

Tuesday, May 23
Talking Stick Resort Amphitheatre, 2121 North 83rd Avenue
Since the Grateful Dead formed in the ’60s, the music of Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, and countless other contributors has gained a true cult status. Even after Garcia’s death in 1995, the band kept on truckin’. And the music hasn’t stopped. A few years after the band’s 50th-anniversary Fare Thee Well Tour in 2015, the group began touring as Dead and Company. The lineup includes John Mayer alongside original members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann. Oteil Burbridge and Jeff Chimenti are also in the mix. Mayer’s strong blues background aids in the faithful delivery of wavy riffs from the days of Garcia. Dead & Company is scheduled to visit the Valley on its final tour. 7 p.m., $61.50 via Kayla Clancy


Wednesday, May 24
Footprint Center, 201 East Jefferson Steet
If you could bottle up whatever fuel energizes Lizzo, you’d have an energy drink so potent it could make hearts explode. The female rapper/singer/actress has inspired one insipid round of discourse after another over her zaftig frame and boundless body positivity. This hand-wringing is made all the more ridiculous by her Herculean displays of athleticism in concert. How many of her haters could dance nonstop, sing, and play the goddamn flute while leading a band through a dozen or so songs? Beyond her mind-boggling stamina, Lizzo’s most impressive quality is her easy command of pop styles. From “Juice” to “Truth Hurts” and “Good as Hell,” Lizzo’s smash hits show off her savvy instincts for combining modern lyrical sensibilities and a fresh attitude with classic ’80s and ’90s sounds. Imagine every song you’ve ever heard at a mall food court given a shiny coat of paint and a catchier hook thrown on top of it and you’ve got yourself a Lizzo album. Her influences may not be particularly original but the ways in which she invests her powerful personality into her songs and turns them into uplifting anthems is unique and 100 percent Lizzo. The haters can stay hungry; Lizzo and her fans will be eating good for years to come. With Latto; 8 p.m., $94.50 via Ashley Naftule

Tove Lo

Wednesday, May 24
The Van Buren, 401 West Van Buren Street
Tove Lo has often been called “the saddest girl in Sweden” but one could make the argument that she’s in the running for the honor of being the horniest girl in Sweden too. The singer-songwriter is frank about her desires in ways that most pop singers (especially Americans) can only hint at. Whether it’s singing casually about taking in the performance at a sex club in “Habits (Stay High),” rhapsodizing about the feel of a lover's skin on "Talking Body," or titling an album Lady Wood, Tove Lo sings anthems for the freaks; prudes need not apply. Part of what makes her music so memorable and arresting is the darker undercurrents in her work. While Tove Lo sings convincingly of the pleasures of debauchery (be it through sex or drugs), she also talks about the loneliness and disconnection that can come sometimes from living on the wild side. She sings about the highs and lows, which gives her music a weight and reality that makes it more believable and interesting than most other try-hard, aren’t-I-naughty pop songs. Even if she’s making some (or most) of this up, she sells it like she’s Meryl Streep with a Swedish accent. With Slayyyter; 8 p.m., $80 via Ashley Naftule

Shania Twain

Tuesday, May 30
Talking Stick Resort Amphitheatre, 2121 North 83rd Avenue
Country pop superstar and five-time Grammy Award winner Shania Twain is making a long-awaited return to the Valley in May. Thanks to a string of hits she racked up in the ‘90s — including “If You’re Not in It for Love (I’m Outta Here)," “That Don’t Impress Me Much," “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under," and “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” — the Canadian-born singer and songwriter will forever be held up among the likes of other past queens of country music, such as Kitty Wells, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Reba McEntire. She’s sold more than 100 million records, making her the top-selling female country recording artist of all time and the best-selling female artist of all time in the U.S. period. She’s currently touring in support of her most recent album, 2023’s Queen of Me. True to form, it ranked No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, allowing Twain to score top 10 albums ‘90s, 2000s, ’10s, and ’20s, a feat only equaled by Madonna. With Hailey Whitters; 7:30 p.m., $70.09 via Benjamin Leatherman

The Sisters of Mercy

Wednesday, May 24
Marquee Theatre, 730 North Mill Avenue, Tempe
Break out your fishnets and grab your black lipstick: the godfathers of goth rock are coming to town. When it comes to the gloomy genre, few musicians take themselves as deathly seriously as Andrew Eldritch, the perpetually sunglass-rocking leader of the magisterial Sisters. It’s a seriousness that’s justified: The Sisters make widescreen goth epics. You can practically see the smoke machines working overtime when you hit play on Floodland and Vision Thing. They are monumental works, the edifices from which an entire subculture of leather and lace continues to squat in and build out from. While their philosophies as singers couldn’t be more different, it’s hard not to listen to Eldritch’s work with the Sisters and not think of the high drama of Meat Loaf’s work with Jim Steinem. The Sisters’ albums feels like a photo negative of Bat Out Of Hell: that same sense of operatic drama and grand scope, but with a reptilian reserve in place of Meat Loaf’s sweat-drenched emoting. Like a gorgon, you never see Eldritch’s eyes: he’s too busy using his music to turn you to stone. 8 p.m., $57-$80 via Ashley Naftule


Thursday, May 25
Marquee Theatre, 730 North Mill Avenue, Tempe
Grunge often gets depicted as a (very) smelly boy’s club but some of its most vital and enduring acts were fronted by women. Hole’s Live Through This is a better album than anything Pearl Jam or Soundgarden ever made, and few bands were as mean or rocked as hard as Los Angeles’ L7. The fearsome four turned heads and broke necks with Donita Sparks and Suzi Gardner’s twin guitar attack. They weren’t a riot grrl band: they were a riot. With 1990's Smell the Magic, 1992's Bricks Are Heavy, and 1994's Hungry for Stink, the berzerker babes of L7 established a body of work that could stand toe to toe with their contemporaries. Their music combined the snotty attitude of punk with sludge metal and hints of swaggering blues music. Listening to an L7 album is like being lowered into a tar pit; it burns and envelopes you, letting no light inside. It’s only fitting their biggest hit was called “Pretend We’re Dead” when they play like they’re trying to bury you alive. 7:30 p.m., $34-$54 via Ashley Naftule

Kali Uchis

Tuesday, May 30
Arizona Financial Theatre, 400 West Washington Street
“I wish you roses while you can still smell them,” Kali Uchis purrs on “I Wish You Roses,” one of the standout tracks on 2023's Red Moon In Venus. The song is a microcosm of the album as a whole: a sultry slow jam with hints of psychedelia on its edges. It’s a warm, inviting sound, with Uchis’ sweet voice a come-hither finger beckoning you to enter the album’s lush musical landscape. This is pillowy music, the kind you can sink into and leave your troubles standing on their feet. Kali Uchis has been steeped in neo-soul and R&B influences from an early age. Garnering attention with Drunken Babble, a self-released mixtape in 2012, Uchis went on to tour with Lana Del Rey, appear on tracks with Tyler, the Creator and funk legend Bootsy Collins, and guest on tracks with future TikTok star Steve Lacy. It’s on her own albums, tho, that Uchis’ talents as a singer-songwriter are on full display. She draws heavy influence from the neo-soul scene but finds a way to make it her own. Her music has a stoned, languid quality that’s charming and disarming in equal measure. 8 p.m., tickets are available on the secondary market. Ashley Naftule

Bebe Rexha

Wednesday, May 31
The Van Buren, 401 West Van Buren Street
You can’t possess an ounce of shame if you want to be a pop star. Case in point: Bebe Rexha’s “I’m Good (Blue),” a collaboration with David Guetta that lazily files the serial numbers off Eiffel 65's irritating Eurodance pop classic "Blue (Da Ba Dee)" to make a forgettable pop song whose only saving grace is reminding you that another, slightly better song exists. It’s a shame because Rexha’s own songs are much better than this. Getting her start as a songwriter for Selena Gomez, Nick Jonas, and even Eminem, the diva has songwriting chops and a vocal fire that smolders when she’s given a chance to let it burn. 2023's Bebe brings the heat with collaborations with Snoop Dogg and Dolly Parton. She even draws influence from Fleetwood Mac, adding a touch of Laurel Canyon folkiness to an album dominated by glossy, hard-edged pop sounds. Here’s hoping she does more of this kind of thing and spends less time listening to “Now That’s What I Call Eurodance” compilations looking for recyclable hooks. With Zolita; 7:30 p.m., tickets are available on the secondary market. Ashley Naftule
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.
Ashley Naftule
Amy Young is an arts and culture writer who also spends time curating arts-related exhibits and events, and playing drums in local bands French Girls and Sturdy Ladies.
Contact: Amy Young

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