The Bloodfest dance party returns this weekend.EXPAND
The Bloodfest dance party returns this weekend.
Benjamin Leatherman

The 12 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

You really oughta get out of the house this weekend, folks. The weather's nice, for starters, plus there are tons of things to do.

This year's Arizona State Fair kicks off this weekend, the latest First Friday is happening, and a variety of arts and cultural events will take place throughout the Valley.

Oh yeah, there are also tons of concerts, dance parties, and music events going down as well.

The aforementioned State Fair will have two big concerts (Cake and Gary Allan) inside the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Elsewhere, the Phoenix Symphony will be celebrating the first Harry Potter flick, and local music venues both big and small will have shows going on.

And if you're into raving, Bloodfest (one of the Valley's most infamous underground dance events) will be taking place.

Details about all of these events can be found in our list of the best concerts in Phoenix this weekend. (And for even more options, check out our online concert calendar.)

David Prowse (left) and Brian King of Japandroids.EXPAND
David Prowse (left) and Brian King of Japandroids.
Leigh Righton

Friday, October 6
The Van Buren

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Has there ever been a more perfectly on-the-nose name for an album than Celebration Rock? The 2012 sophomore album by Brian King and David Prowse, the power duo behind Japandroids, is rock music that fist-pumps so hard it could punch through a ceiling. On that record, the duo’s blend of punky energy, indie rock songcraft, and Bruce Springsteen-esque romanticism percolated into a transcendent record. It’s the kind of album that begs to be played loud in a speeding car.

Japandroids were far from the first band that realized you could like both The Replacements and The Boss, but it’s hard to think of any other band that does it so unabashedly. They don’t hide their classic rock moves behind layers of clever, self-referential songwriting (like The Hold Steady) or in the twists and turns of heavy-duty concept albums (Titus Andronicus, we’re looking at you).

On the band’s latest effort, Near to the Wild Heart of Life, Japandroids have expanded their sound to encompass longer tracks like the seven-minute “Arc of Bar” and dreamier sonic textures on the jangly, shoegaze-flavored “In a Body Like a Grave.” But they haven’t lost their swooning, life-is-a-highway vibe: On songs like “No Known Drink or Drug,” the pair show they still know how to do open-hearted rock better than damn near anyone else. Ashley Naftule

Country superstar Gary Allan.EXPAND
Country superstar Gary Allan.
Courtesy of UMG Nashville

Gary Allan
Friday, October 6
Arizona State Fair

Country superstar Gary Allan has been a hit-making machine for two decades now. The 49-year-old California native has finely walked the line between stadium filler and perpetual critical favorite with little following.

Due to the tragedy surrounding the 2004 suicide of his third wife, Angela, he became an even more compelling figure. While he didn't seek out the extra attention that came from such horrific personal turmoil, the albums in the aftermath of such heartbreak took on extra meaning whether he wanted them to or not. In light of those circumstances, even the relatively schlocky "Best I Ever Had," a cover of the mom-rock group Vertical Herizon's 2001 hit song, became a powerful statement.

Darkness in some form or another has been something Allan has dealt heavily in before the loss of Angela, though. In his earliest days of recording on a large scale, Allan regularly sang with a sadness that he barely kept hidden. Sometimes the darkness was hit-you-over-the-head obvious, and while at other times much less so. Allan's even used darkness as a tool instead of a thematic feeling or vibe. He'll bring his truckload of hits to the Valley on October 6 to help kick off this year's Arizona State Fair’s concert lineup. Kelly Dearmore

Revered EDM producer, DJ, and godhead Damian Lazarus.
Revered EDM producer, DJ, and godhead Damian Lazarus.
Courtesy of Relentless Beats

Damian Lazarus
Friday, October 6
Shady Park in Tempe

DJ, producer, frontman for the Ancient Moons, label boss, and epic party organizer, Damian Lazarus is one of the most revered and respected figures not just in underground house music but in the U.K. dance scene in general. Like a Dylan Thomas poem come to life, Lazarus has built a career out of not going gently into that good night, burning and raving from sunup to sundown.

As leader of Crosstown Rebels, a gathering of like-minded artists that goes well beyond merely being a label, Lazarus has cultivated a party culture that toes the line between celebratory and spiritual. Through his globe-trotting series of pop-up parties – Rebel Rave, Day Zero, and Get Lost – Lazarus is like a mystical, dance music missionary spreading the gospel of BPM.

This weekend, Lazarus will mingle with the masses during a special show at Shady Park in Tempe, which will feature opening sets by Michelle Sparks and DJ duo Turner & Heit. Angel Melendez

Charlie MusselwhiteEXPAND
Charlie Musselwhite
Andrea Zucker

Take Me to the River Live
Friday, October 6
Mesa Arts Center

If you’re a documentary film fan with a Netflix account, you’ve likely seen 2014’s Take Me to the River pop up in your recommendations. The award-winning movie chronicles the creation of a compilation album combining the soulful sounds of decades of Memphis musicians. It also offers the viewer a look at the great rhythm and blues music from legendary labels Stax and Hi Records.

You’ll see singers like Bobby Bland celebrating their music with the Memphis hip-hop artists of today. If you dig what you hear in the movie, the producers of the film want to get you out of your pajamas, off your couch, and into the Piper Repertory Theater at the Mesa Arts Center to see a live performance from artists featured in the documentary.

Trailblazing musicians William Bell, who shaped the Stax sound, Charlie Musselwhite, and Grammy-winner Bobby Rush will be accompanied by the Hi Rhythm Session onstage. Joining them will be rappers Frayser Boy and Al Kapone, who has collaborated with everyone from Lil Jon to the North Mississippi Allstars. Jason Keil

Tank and the Bangas are coming to Valley Bar.EXPAND
Tank and the Bangas are coming to Valley Bar.
Courtesy of Simple Play Presents

Tank and the Bangas
Friday, October 6
Valley Bar

Tank and the Bangas were first Liberated Soul Collective and then BlackStar Bangas before settling on their current name. With vocalist Tarriona “Tank” Bell at the fore, the band merges elements of funk, soul, and hip-hop, telling stories with passion and a ferocity that contains both power and wit.

The Bangas are many in number and diverse in style. The current lineup includes Joshua Johnson (drums, musical director), Norman Spence (bass, synth), Jonathan Johnson (bass). Merell Burkett (keys), Joe Johnson (keys), Anjelika “Jelly” Joseph and Kayla Bug Gage (backing vocals), Albert Allenbeck (alto sax), and Etienne Stoffel (tenor sax).

The drummer has been playing since age 3, honing his skills at church and in school bands. Allenback was studying jazz in college when he saw bassist Spence’s flyer looking for musicians. He saw the band play one show at the legendary New Orleans club, Tipitinas, and asked to join the mix. Spence was another longtime player with roots in church performance.

Together, this small army of skillful musicians and background singers create a fusion of soulful sounds that weave through Bell’s vocals, which are all over the map. Amy Young

The first Harry Potter film will be feted by the Phoenix Symphony this weekend.
The first Harry Potter film will be feted by the Phoenix Symphony this weekend.
Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in Concert
Friday, October 6, through Sunday, October 8
Symphony Hall

Calling all wizards, witches, squibs, and muggles: The Phoenix Symphony will perform the music of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone live during a screening of the film, with two evening shows and two matinees scheduled from October 6 through 8 at Symphony Hall.

For those not up to speed with Hogwarts: A History (Hermione would be so disappointed!), this is the first movie in the beloved series, adapted from J.K. Rowling’s books and scored by the legendary composer John Williams. These iconic, whimsical sounds will surround you as you relive Harry, Hermione, and Ron’s first days at Hogwarts.

The Phoenix run of the Harry Potter Film Concert Series is one of many happening all over the world. So far, only the first three films have scheduled dates, but the last five are in the works for future performances. No matter whether you’re a Hufflepuff, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, or Slytherin, gather your galleons — er, dollars for the cinematic experience. Ashley Harris

Natalia Lafourcade
Natalia Lafourcade
Courtesy of Columbia Records

Natalia Lafourcade
Saturday, October 7
Gammage Auditorium in Tempe

In 2015, Mexican singer-songwriter Natalia Lafourcade's sixth album, Hasta la Raiz, won five Latin Grammys. Unlike some winners who let their trophies collect dust in a dark corner, Lafourcade proudly displays them.

“They are at home in the studio,” she says. “I put them on top of my piano. I gave one to my mother, and I gave one to my father. I wanted to have them in a place where I could see them and remember all the people that were with me when I was working on Hasta la Raiz. It’s something that you did, and it talks about the work and all the energy you put into a project, but it isn’t just you.”

According to Lafourcade, the placement of the little golden gramophones celebrates family, friends, co-writers, and fellow musicians. This theme of collaboration is one she expands upon in her latest record, Musas.

The result is an enchanting album that mixes some very old-school Latin American sounds with Lafourcade’s modern pop sensibilities. The combination of original material seamlessly sitting alongside covers of classic Latin American tunes brings together a collection of odes so pretty it hurts. Standouts such as “Rocío de Todos los Campos,” “Soledad y el Mar,” and “Tú Si Sabes Quererme” are gorgeous compositions that make for a nostalgic, wistful experience. Angel Melendez

Having a bloody good time at last year's Bloodfest.EXPAND
Having a bloody good time at last year's Bloodfest.
Benjamin Leatherman

Bloodfest 2017
Saturday, October 7
Location TBA

The annual Bloodfest dance party isn’t so much a rave as it’s an after-dark adventure.

Getting to the event itself, for instance, involves either being in the know or hitting up the internet for directions to its clandestine location. And once you’re there, expect to be doused with crimson-colored fake blood that rains down from above or is sprayed onto attendees using Super Soaker-like water guns. Elsewhere, you can hitched during tongue-in-cheek “blood weddings” or witness bizarre skits and equally strange performance art pieces take place while local DJs spin a hard-hitting cannonade of electronic dance music genres.

Expect all of these scenes to unfold at the latest edition of Bloodfest, which takes place on Saturday, October 7, at a currently unspecified spot somewhere in the Valley. This year’s lineup will include sets by Skwalien, IAmStranger, Koliri, Butters, Mangled, and Atom Energy. Things get going at 10 p.m. and will go well into the wee hours. Admission is $15. Check the Facebook event page on the night of the event for location info and directions. Benjamin Leatherman

Local rapper Dann G.EXPAND
Local rapper Dann G.
Nick Gallegos Jr.

Saturday, October 7
Arizona State Fair

"Just another one hit wonder," mused music critics when Sacramento, California, alternative pop act Cake first came onto the scene in the mid-'90s, with its pervasive hit "The Distance." Led by singer John McCrea's disaffected speak-sing style, its deep baselines, and heavy funk grooves, the song smothered commercial radio, catching fire as a frat party anthem and an arena rock-ready rally cry.

But Cake weathered such criticism and has persevered past over the past two decades, to say the least. Six LPs, two EPs, and a pretty well-received live album (2014’s Live from the Crystal Palace) later, they’re still doing their thing, even though Cake’s only original member left at this point is McCrea.

And while it’s going on six years since their last studio release (2011’s Showroom of Compassion), Cake has more than enough hit singles in their arsenal to keep fans entertained and singing along during show. Alex Rendon

Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope of Insane Clown Posse.EXPAND
Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope of Insane Clown Posse.
Melissa Fossum

Dann G. (Album Release Party)
Saturday, October 7
Club Cloud N9ne

If you haven’t heard hip-hop artist Dann G. before, you probably will soon. That’s because the Valley resident has been doing plenty of hustling lately to get his name out in the local scene. And he’s been opening for some major names, including such artists as King Lil G, Morgan Page, and Sincerely Collins. Later this month, he’ll head to Denver to appear at an electronic dance music and hip-hop event along with Alesso, Carnage, and Ferry Corsten.

In the meantime, Dann G. will celebrate the release of his new album, Jesús, over at west side nightclub Club Cloud N9ne during its weekly 18-and-over dance night. Local DJs Eighty M. and Dario will also perform. Doors open at 10 p.m. and admission is $10. Benjamin Leatherman

Scorpions & Megadeth
Sunday, October 8
Talking Stick Resort Arena

Germany’s Scorpions had their biggest commercial success during the '80s; videos for "Rock You Like a Hurricane," "Bad Boys Running Wild" "Big City Nights" and power ballad "Still Loving You" from 1984 album Love at First Sting were huge on radio and in heavy MTV rotation during that time.

The band actually started way back in 1965, and many hardcore fans (as well as some music critics) believe that Scorpions' music from the '70s and early '80s is superior to the more popular, commercial material. Acclaimed guitarists Uli Roth and Michael Schenker played with the band before moving on, while Michael’s brother Rudolf, vocalist Klaus Meine and lead guitarist Matthias Jabs are longtime members still recording and touring with the band.

Scorpions' biggest hit single was actually the 1990 ballad “Wind of Change," which reflects on the political and social changes that took place in Eastern Europe and elsewhere at the end of the Cold War.

This weekend, Scorpions invade Talking Stick Resort Arena in downtown Phoenix along with fellow metal icons Megadeath for what’s certain to be heaven for heshers. David Rozycki

Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope of Insane Clown Posse.EXPAND
Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope of Insane Clown Posse.
Melissa Fossum

Insane Clown Posse
Sunday, October 8
Club Red

More than most of this country's musical groups, Insane Clown Posse has an American-dream backstory — but not the kind that makes for typical Hollywood movie material. Joseph Bruce had been involved with gangs; to get out, he became a professional wrestler. Disillusioned with the nonsense of that world, Bruce ultimately teamed up with Joseph Utsler to make hip-hop.

From there, ICP grew into arguably the most successful DIY band of all time, and one of the few to have a massive cult following, attracting disaffected youth from the largely forgotten poverty-stricken segment of American society.

Addressing social issues that impact the poor while also writing cartoonish horror raps, ICP has never forgotten its roots — and always delivers an unforgettable spectacle of a show, especially after they break out the Faygo. Tom Murphy

Have some Cake to go along with all the fried food at this year's Arizona State Fair.
Have some Cake to go along with all the fried food at this year's Arizona State Fair.
Robert Knight

Loudon Wainwright III
Sunday, October 8
Musical Instrument Museum

For 50 very odd years, Loudon Wainwright III's lacerating wit, unflinching candor, and impish glee have combined to skewer everything in sight, from the near and dear to the feared — which, as it now turns out, is the Grim Reaper.

LW3's favorite protagonist has always been himself, and he's made self-deprecation a highly twisted art form. His 2012 album, Older Than My Old Man Now, is a morbid laugh riot about "death 'n' decay," physical infirmities, geriatric medication, fractured families, regrets, confusion and fleeting time, and was apparently triggered by the 71-year-old III lapping II, who died at 63.

Wainwright is cheerfully sardonic throughout his performances, cleverly peppering the tunes with wry humor. But there's also inevitable poignancy at work, bittersweet and haunting, as he pokes at a lifetime of uncomfortable truths. Rick Mason

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