Like it or not, Cinco de Mayo weekend is here. And it’s arguably one of the biggest occasions of the year to get out, go drinking, and maybe even go HAM.
But, as we’ve noted, it ain’t necessarily for everyone.
And if you happen to hate the holiday, the good news is that there are other things to do over the next few days and nights besides drinking the city dry of Dos Equis. A full slate of concerts are scheduled to take place this weekend, including the one of the more unique music events of the year: the Indie 500.
The Trunk Space will stage the Indie 500, its annual marathon concert, over the course of Saturday and Sunday with several dozen artists and acts performing, including indie songstress Kimya Dawson and Phoenix expat Stephen Steinbrink.
Other highlights of this weekend’s concert lineup include the PunkForefront Fund-Rager benefit on Friday at Tempe’s Yucca Tap Room featuring The Bombpops, the equally fierce Rock Like A Grrl show at Last Exit Live, the first-ever Bassrush Massive Arizona festival at Rawhide, and visits from Bob Schneider and Sondre Lerche.
For even more shows, hit up our extensive online music listings. In the meantime, here are the 10 best concerts happening in Phoenix this weekend.
Friday, May 5
Who is Bob Schneider? It's not an easy question to answer. Though Schneider has carved out his own unique niche as an artist, he's always been difficult to define, straddling genres, finding a bit of mainstream success that didn't necessarily play to his strengths, and possessing a songwriting style that's equally comfortable being cheesy or thoughtful. Regardless, it's fair to say that as both a songwriter and a performer, Schneider is a restless artist who keeps finding new corners to turn in his work. A beat-of-his-own-drummer type, Schneider had some success with two albums on Universal — Lonelyland (2001) and I'm Good Now (2004) — but is better represented by his own Shockorama Records. In turn, Schneider is a good representative for (Keep) Austin (Weird), often holding down a weekly residencies in his hometown and collecting two dozen Austin Music Awards over the years. Schneider's current tour comes on the heels of Lovely Creatures (2009), A Perfect Day (2011), and Burden of Proof (2013), three albums that combine elements of funk, country, and soul with his mellow folk-rock, creating varied arrangements and a lush and layered sound. Eric Swedlund
Friday, May 5
Yucca Tap Room in Tempe
There are band names that mean basically nothing, and then there are those that describe the music perfectly. Essentially, for every Smashing Pumpkins, there’s a Bombpops. The moniker is absolutely appropriate: The music of the pop-punk crew is abrasive and gloriously obnoxious, and also sugary sweet, blessed with the most infectious melodies. It’s like fiberglass in your cotton candy. Push-pins in your strawberry ice cream. Drano in your chocolate milk. You get the point. It’s been a journey. Co-guitarists and vocalists Jen Razavi and Poli van Dam formed the band a decade ago, but finding a rhythm section took time. Three drummers and six bassists have passed through the ranks, though the current pairing of Josh Lewis and Neil Wayne seems to have finally filled the role. The Bombpops released three EPs between 2010 and 2015, but their debut full-length album, Fear of Missing Out, only came out this April, on Fat Wreck Chords. Brett Callwood
Saturday, May 6
So, what’s it like to be a man in rock? For Sondre Lerche, this question feels less goading and more like an opportunity for reflection on gender — both in himself and in society. “It’s something I’ve tried to express in my music before but haven’t really found an outlet,” Lerche says of his new album, Pleasure. “In that sense, it is an important record to me … it’s about coming to terms with both your own masculinity and your own lack of masculinity.” Though the Norwegian songwriter is best known for his work lacing jazz aesthetics into addictingly charming pop songs for the past decade-plus, his work on his 2017 release expresses a lot of change. “It’s very hard for me to relate to ‘that Norwegian charm.’ I don’t know what that is,” he says. “I’m Norwegian and sometimes I can be charming … for me, it’s just my life.” With a career beginning in his teens and spanning into his 30s, Lerche has grown more contemplative over the years. He says his lyrics have become more personal, a freeing haven to hash out his own thoughts, emotions, ambitions, and curiosities. “This album sort of comes out of a restless urge to move and to use and inhabit your body,” he says. “I needed things to be groovy.” Heather Hoch
Bassrush Massive Arizona
Saturday, May 6
Rawhide Event Center in Chandler
Bass music has a funny effect on certain people. Not only does it have a tendency to get hearts pounding, fists pumping, and (of course) eardrums quaking, electronic dance tracks that are heavy on booming bass and subharmonic sounds have a way of making bodies move harder, faster, and stronger. Heck, a scientific study from a few years back even determined that bass-heavy music makes listeners feel more powerful. (No joke. Look it up.) And then there are those who just dig it, period, and will hit up EDM gigs where the speakers and subwoofers are rattling with dubstep, drum ‘n’ bass, or genres of that ilk. For instance, the inaugural Bassrush Massive Arizona this weekend at Rawhide. As its name implies, the festival – which takes place on Saturday, May 6 – focuses on bass-oriented sounds like d'n'b, trap, future bass, the multiple flavors of dubstep, and similar genres. Naturally, all of artists and DJs schduled to perform at the event – including Adventure Club, Flux Pavilion, NGHTMRE, Andy C, Herobust, SayMyName, Phiso, and Tisoki – are big into the wub wub in some form or fashion. Benjamin Leatherman
Rock Like A Grrl
Saturday, May 6
Last Exit Live
"Girls to the front!” Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill would shout at shows during the early 1990s Riot Grrl feminist punk movement. That’s the energy you can expect when The Venomous Pinks and The Darts join forces for the first time at the upcoming Rock Like A Grrl show in a high-energy, dual headliner at Last Exit Live on Saturday, May 6. By now, we all know women rocking is not an equation that needs to be proved. Rather, this grrl show is designed to celebrate two ferocious all-women bands with ties to the Valley. It’s the brainchild of promoter Fun Bobby and Darts front woman Nicole Laurenne. “If I’m sticking out my scrawny neck, I better fucking dig it,” Fun Bobby says of putting the show together. “It’s got to be exciting, not just some mopey hipsters staring at their shoes.” Duly noted. Part of the excitement is seeing these all these badass women on the same bill. On doubling up, Venomous Pinks drummer Jukie says, “We’re pretty stoked!” Expect a purposefully rough around the edges, sweaty, punk rock, garage-psych-rock grrl mashup that delivers explosive rock ’n’roll by seasoned musicians. Sativa Peterson
Read on for even more "can't miss" music events this weekend, including the Indie 500 and Dada Life.
Saturday, May 6
The Pool at Talking Stick Resort
Dada Life has successfully built an EDM kingdom of their own, which could only be called Dada World, where the beats are massive and the preferred currency is bananas. As such, the nominally Swedish duo supplies a hefty dose of whimsy within a scene forever on the verge of taking itself too seriously, for which their fans have rewarded them handsomely. But all the ape masks, banana costumes and oversize champagne bottles would all be so much mush if Dada didn’t deliver where it counts, namely with plush electro jams tricked out to the gills with billowing synths and their patented “sausage fat” bass. Dada Life enjoys nothing more than partying like it’s the end of the world, hence their visit to Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale on Saturday, May 6, for its latest Release pool party. Chris Gray
Saturday, May 6, to Sunday, May 7
How long does it take to play 500 consecutive songs? Turns out, just under two full days. That’s been the case at past editions of the Indie 500: A Race Through 500 Songs music event. Trunk Space, a downtown Phoenix multi-arts space, hosts the fourth annual Indie 500, which also serves to celebrate T-Space’s 13th birthday. The fun starts at 8 a.m. on Saturday and concludes when the 500th song comes crashing to an end. That’s usually somewhere around 8 p.m. on Sunday evening. Don’t worry, one performer or band isn’t taking on the 500-song task. The schedule is loaded with local and touring solo acts and bands, each performing five songs. The stage is set up so acts can transition quickly, and the tunes can flow steadily. This year, some of the performers include area faves Stephen Steinbrink, Dadadoh, Terminal 11, Treasure Mammal, Drunk and Horny, Andy Warpigs, Diners, and Sugar Skull Explosion, who rock out with one of the best 10-year-old drummers ever. Longtime Trunk Space supporter and singer/songwriter Kimya Dawson of Moldy Peaches fame is coming to town to take on a double slot of songs — 181 through 190. (We’ll leave it to you to figure out the time.) For those who don’t see bands ’cause of the often-late-night time slots, it’s your chance to get your rock on at the crack of dawn. Amy Young
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Sunday, May 7
Maya Day & Nightclub in Scottsdale
Anton Zaslavski isn't what you'd call an ordinary DJ. Far from it. Yes, the Russian-German beatsmith is a gifted producer and maestro of the mixers who has rocked unforgettable sets inside numerous nightclubs and at many of the world's top festivals (including Ultra, Nocturnal, and Electric Zoo). But during his musical career, the artist known as Zedd has followed a somewhat curious journey. Zaslavski was classically trained on both the piano and drums as a lad, spent time as a percussionist in a post-hardcore/metal band, and has drawn inspiration from everything from electronic acts like Justice to chamber music when creating his punchy EDM soundscapes. This weekend, his journey brings him to Maya Day & Nightclub in Scottsdale, where he'll headline the latest Soundwave Pool Party during Cinco de Mayo weekend. Benjamin Leatherman
Cinco de Mayo Phoenix Festival
Sunday, May 7
Washington Street & First Avenue in Downtown Phoenix
Legendary funk band War, R&B act Tierra, and soulful singer Brenton Wood will headline this annual block party and mega-fiesta in downtown Phoenix on Sunday, May 7, which will also include live entertainment from local bands, mariachi groups, traditional musicians, and folklorico dancers. Food and drink vendors, arts and crafts demonstrations, boxing exhibitions, lucha libre wrestling, and a variety of games and distractions are also planned. The festival runs from noon until 10 p.m. General admission is $5 and VIP seating for the concerts is $25-$35. Kids 12 and under get in free. Benjamin Leatherman