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Best Phoenix Concerts This Week: Kid Cudi, Def Leppard, and Mötley Crüe

Kid Cudi is scheduled to perform on Thursday, August 25, at Footprint Center.
Kid Cudi is scheduled to perform on Thursday, August 25, at Footprint Center. Jim Louvau
One of the Valley’s biggest rock concerts of the year happens this week when metal legends Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe bring their co-headlining tour to Glendale’s State Farm Stadium on Thursday night.

There are other notable shows by influential artists and acts happening over the next few nights around metro Phoenix, of course, including gigs by rapper Kid Cudi, alt-metal band Incubus, English rockers Echo and the Bunnymen, and indie noise rock/industrial act HEALTH.

Details about each of these concerts are available below. And check out Phoenix New Timeslive music listings for more local shows happening from Monday, August 22, to Thursday, August 25.
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Incubus frontman Brandon Boyd.
Kelsee Becker


Monday, August 22
Ak-Chin Pavilion, 2121 North 83rd Avenue
Incubus tend to get lumped in with other nu-metal acts of the late ‘90s and early 2000s, owing to their two biggest albums (1997's S.C.I.E.N.C.E. and 1999's Make Yourself) coming out just as the genre was breaking big into the mainstream. The fact is, though, that save for a few similarities with bands like Linkin Park and Staind (such as melodic vocals and hip-hop elements), Incubus stood apart from acts of the nu-metal ilk. They had more cerebral and diverse lyricism with funkier grooves, and less of the “angry white-boy” shtick of Limp Bizkit and others. (It also helped that vocalist Brandon Boyd is more of an affable and charming frontman.) Incubus have also evolved their sound since their days of being in heavy rotation on MTV, grafting prog, art rock, and even pop influences into tunes from the mid-2000s onward. It’s been more than five years since they’ve dropped any new albums (2017’s 8 is their most recent release), but Incubus have enough material in their discography and goodwill among their fans to sustain a tour. With The Aquadolls and Sublime with Rome via; 7 p.m., $25-$109.50. Benjamin Leatherman

Echo and the Bunnymen

Tuesday, August 23
The Van Buren, 401 West Van Buren Street
The Beatles weren’t Liverpool’s only Fab Four. The city by the River Mersey has been a musical hotbed throughout the 20th century, producing not only the Beatles and the Merseybeat scene but also a healthy crop of post-punk and new wave acts with groups like The Teardrop Explodes and neo-psychedelic mope-punks Echo and the Bunnymen. Fronted by vocalist Ian McCulloch, Echo and the Bunnymen, in particular, left an indelible mark on the '80s alternative scene with one immaculate LP after another: Crocodiles, Heaven Up Here, Porcupine, and the mighty Ocean Rain. The magic of the Bunnymen lies in the interplay between McCulloch’s melodramatic voice crooning gothic slam poetry while Will Sergeant’s ringing guitar work and the band’s progressively more intricate arrangements built a musical landscape where yellow submarines and Bela Lugosi could exist side by side. The Bunnymen welcomed excess, even going so far as to bring in a 35-piece orchestra for Ocean Rain, the crown jewel in a discography littered with gems. The only thing better than belting “The Killing Moon” or “Lips Like Sugar” at karaoke is hearing McCulloch himself do the honors. So don’t miss your chance to catch Liverpool’s other Fab Four in the flesh at The Van Buren. 8 p.m., $44.50/$50 via Ashley Naftule


Wednesday, August 24
Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue
Much has been made about the comeback of “indie sleaze” as an aesthetic over the last couple of years. It’s the old VICE Magazine vibes, a return to the time where it was fashionable to snort a line of coke while listening to "Let's Make Love and Listen to Death From Above” and pretend Interpol made more than one good album. But if you want to talk about “indie sleaze” as a sound, as an attitude, Los Angeles’ HEALTH have been proudly carrying that torch like debauched Olympians for years. Mixing together rock with electronic textures, soft vocals, and dissonant noise, HEALTH creates sexy, druggy soundscapes, and you can dance or rage to them. On albums like Get Color and Death Magic, the group found a way to turn noise music into party rock. The fact that nobody’s made a cyberpunk movie yet with them as the house band at some neon Mohawk club is a criminal oversight. With Kontravoid; 8 p.m. $23/$25 via Ashley Naftule

Kid Cudi

Thursday, August 25
Footprint Center, 201 East Jefferson Street
If so much of pop music over the last 15 years sounds like it could use antidepressants, blame it on the bard of bad vibes: Kid Cudi. Few pop stars come alive during their sad boy hours as Cudi can; even fewer are the ones who can make their sadness sound as lived-in and authentic as Cleveland’s numbest son. Cudi’s anesthetized vocals and introspective lyrics create a beguiling headspace; it may not be the best club music, but when you need something to luxuriate in during the after hours when you’re alone and wondering what the point of it all is, he’s got your back. Many artists would probably rest on their laurels after making "Day 'n' Nite," and essentially drafting the sonic and thematic blueprint for Kanye's 808s & Heartbreak. But Kid Cudi has always been a restless creative spirit. Cutting solo albums that blur the line between rap, ambient electronic music, and hip-hop; collaborating with Kanye as Kids See Ghosts; and even getting into acting (with a memorable turn as a doomed porn star in Ti West’s slasher throwback X), Cudi keeps it moving. 7 p.m., $54.50-$64.50 via Ashley Naftule
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Legendary rock band Def Leppard.

Def Leppard & Mötley Crüe

Thursday, August 25
State Farm Stadium, 1 Cardinals Drive in Glendale
A few months from now, Glendale’s State Farm Stadium will host the NFL’s biggest game this season when the titans of the gridiron face off during Super Bowl LVII. It’s not the only epic event taking place at the 63,400-seat venue in the near future, though. Four legendary rock bands will put on one of the Valley’s biggest concerts of the year inside the stadium on Thursday. Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe’s blockbuster summer tour, which is reportedly drawing close to $5 million per concert, will feature headlining sets by both metal acts. If you need even more of a reason to justify the hefty ticket prices, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and sleaze-rockers Poison will perform opening sets during the 7 1/2-hour experience. Is the whole tour (which Poison frontman Bret Michaels recently described as "an unbelievable, drunken karaoke party”) just crass exploitation of nostalgia? Of course. But, hey, that’s rock ‘n’ roll for you. 4:30 p.m., $99.50-$199.50 via Benjamin Leatherman
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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