Things to Do

Best Phoenix Concerts This Weekend: The Shins, Counting Crows, Darius Rucker

James Mercer of The Shins.
James Mercer of The Shins. Marisa Kula Mercer
Dog days of summer got you down? Consider taking a break from moping (or regretting your choice of living in Arizona this time of year) and head out to see a concert this weekend.

Big-name tours stopping in the Valley from Friday, July 22, to Sunday, July 24, include indie rockers The Shins, ‘90s alt-radio favorites Counting Crows, country artist Darius Rucker, reggae-rock act Dirty Heads, and metalcore band Memphis May Fire. If you’d rather support local artists instead, Afghan-American rabab player and Valley resident Qais Essar is scheduled to perform at Mesa Arts Center while seven female-fronted Arizona bands will join forces for the Gynomite! benefit show at Tempe’s Yucca Tap Room.

Read on for more details about these gigs and others in the Valley this weekend. For even more live music around town, check out Phoenix New Timesconcert listings.
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Adam Duritz of Counting Crows.
Mark Seliger

Counting Crows

Friday, July 22
Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino, 15406 North Maricopa Road, Maricopa
In 2021, Counting Crows released new music for the first time in seven years. The EP Butter Miracle, Suite One came out last spring, and when Suite Two comes out eventually, the two will comprise a complete LP. But before that, the Crows will take the stage this weekend at Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino in Maricopa where attendees will undoubtedly hear tracks from Butter Miracle, the iconic August and Everything After, and everything in between. Americana/folk-rock artist Stephen Kellogg will be the opening act. 8 p.m., $54-$114 via ticketmaster.com. Jennifer Goldberg

Strawberry Milk Cult

Friday, July 22
The Trunk Space, 1124 North Third Street
When asked what inspired their unusual moniker, the members of Strawberry Milk Cult pinned the blame on a random name generator. Regardless of its random provenance, the name suits this trio of Texas indie-rockers. Their low-key, guitar-propelled songs are hammered out of pop culture trash. Whether singing a song named after the biggest loser in The Office (“Toby Flenderson”) or tearing through a Hanna-Barbera garage rock vamp that sounds like it was beamed from a radio inside the Scott Pilgrim universe (“Zoinks!”), Strawberry Milk Cult sounds like music made by people who spent their childhood plastered in front of screens sipping their namesake through crazy straws. There’s beauty, though, in-between the sugar rushes. “It’s a long walk on the way to the top,” they sing nonchalantly on “Mustard.” If they can keep writing songs that are these good, that walk might not be so long. With Deniz Love, 8 p.m., $15/$18 via thetrunkspace.com. Ashley Naftule
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Singer-songwriter Darius Rucker.
David McClister

Darius Rucker

Friday, July 22
Arizona Financial Theatre, 400 West Washington Street
For those who came of age in the ‘90s, Darius Rucker will forever be known as the dude who fronted Hootie and the Blowfish during their heyday as a radio-friendly rock act. In the decades since, though, Rucker has redefined himself by fashioning a solo career as a country artist, racking up Billboard-charting singles, releasing hit albums, and winning a Grammy Award. His latest tour rolls into the Valley this weekend and will feature country music singer-songwriter Caylee Hammack. 8 p.m., $36-$79 via livenation.com. Benjamin Leatherman

Dirty Heads

Friday, July 22
Mesa Amphitheatre, 263 North Center Street
Depending on whom you ask, the sound of reggae is either one of spiritual enlightenment or the soundtrack to an awesome kegger. Rastafari might consider the music sacred, but others simply want to party to it. The tunes created by SoCal-based band Dirty Heads fall into the latter category, fusing punk, hip-hop, and reggae in a style not unlike legendary stoner band Sublime. Formed in 1996, Dirty Heads have built a steady following by endlessly touring. Their 2008 debut, Any Port in Storm, was a hit and was followed by six more studio albums (a seventh release, California Island, has been in the works for years). They’ve also put out a wealth of singles, including a recently released reggae-rock cover of Joe Walsh’s “Life’s Been Good,” which sets the tone for their laidback summer tour with SOJA, Tribal Seeds, and The Elovaters. 5 p.m., $55 via mesaamp.com. Lauren Wise
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Qais Essar
Obaid Hofiani Photography

Qais Essar

Saturday, July 23
Mesa Arts Center, 1 East Main Street
In 2017, Phoenix New Times declared Qais Essar as "unlike anyone else in the Phoenix music scene." And other people have come around to this rabab player who blurs the lines of psych and world music. He's played big-time national festivals, won a Canadian Screen Award for Best Original Song, and continued to regularly release music, including last year’s On Solitude EP. This weekend, Essar is scheduled to perform at the Piper Repertory Theater inside Mesa Arts Center. 7:30 p.m., $11 via mesaartscenter.com. Chris Coplan
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Local rock band The Woodworks.
Amy Aranyosi

Gynomite!

Saturday, July 23
Yucca Tap Room, 29 West Southern Avenue, Tempe
Girl power will be in full effect at the Yucca Tap in Tempe during this “femme-fronted fest” and charity rock show on Saturday night, which will benefit local nonprofit Homeward Bound. Seven female-fronted bands from around the Arizona music scene are scheduled to perform, including Tucson’s Standard Deviance and local acts Louis on Tour, Wallace Hound, The Woodworks, and Joan of Arkansas. There’s no cover, but organizers will gladly accept donations of new school supplies and cash. 8 p.m., free. Benjamin Leatherman

The Shins

Sunday, July 24
Marquee Theatre, 730 North Mill Avenue, Tempe
Saying a song will change their life is a lot of pressure to put on a song. Listening to The Shins’ “New Slang,” the track Natalie Portman gushes that praise upon in 2004’s Garden State, it’s hard to imagine with the hindsight of time it saved anyone’s life. It doesn’t need to, though. It’s a beautiful, gentle ballad and the perfect song to listen to while walking on top of a trail of crunchy autumn leaves, your mind chasing after passing clouds. A similar thing could be said of The Shins; they were never a band that defined any zeitgeists. They don’t need to be anything but what they are: a group that can craft multifaceted gems like “Kissing the Lipless,” “Caring is Creepy,” and “Phantom Limb.” James Mercer’s soft voice may not save your life, but it will make your things little more lovely and comfortable if you let it. The Shins are celebrating the 21st anniversary of 2001’s Oh, Inverted World on their current tour and will perform every song from the album, including “New Slang.” 8 p.m., $49.50-$59.50 via ticketweb.com. Ashley Naftule
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Metalcore band Memphis May Fire.
Atom Splitter PR

Memphis May Fire

Sunday, July 24
Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue
The Mountain Goats once sang about "the best ever death metal band in Denton;" had John Darnielle decided instead to sing about Denton’s best metalcore band he’d probably be singing about Memphis May Fire. The Texas band got off to an inauspicious start: their original vocalist left the group as they were putting together their debut album Sleepwalking in 2009. As the saying goes: in crisis there's opportunity. The addition of frontman Matty Mullins was the secret sauce to give the band their heat. Combining aggressive yet melodic guitars with Texan swagger and Mullins’ powerful vocals, they’ve been burning their brand on metalcore’s hide for years. Their guitars have an orchestral majesty to them that neatly complements Mullins’ operatic vocals. And with the release of their seventh album, 2022's Remade In Misery, the band sounds as polished and hungry as a chrome wolf. From Ashes to New, Rain City Drive, and Wolves at the Gate will open. 8 p.m., tickets are available on the secondary market. Ashley Naftule
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Chris Coplan has been a professional writer since the 2010s, having started his professional career at Consequence of Sound. Since then, he's also been published with TIME, Complex, and other outlets. He lives in Central Phoenix with his fiancee, a dumb but lovable dog, and two bossy cats.
Contact: Chris Coplan
Jennifer Goldberg is the culture editor and Best of Phoenix editor for Phoenix New Times.
Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.
Ashley Naftule
Lauren Wise has worked as a rock/heavy metal journalist for 15 years. She contributes to Noisey and LA Weekly, edits books, and drinks whiskey.
Contact: Lauren Wise