So what’s the plan for this weekend? There’s a good chance it involves heading out to a concert, because there will be tons of ‘em happening around the Valley.
As we’re sure you’re aware by now, the long-awaited and much-anticipated M3F is taking place at Hance Park. And it's arguably the biggest live music event of the weekend. And rightly so, as it will feature an enormous lineup of big names across three days of performances.
It’s not the only gig in town, however.
For proof, look no further than our list of the 11 best concerts in Phoenix this weekend. It includes shows by big names (like Demi Lovato and K. Michelle) and a few big parties (Electronic Holi, Rogue Bar’s 11-year anniversary) over the next 72 hours.
Read on for more info or check out Phoenix New Times’ concert calendar for even more options.
Friday, March 2, to Sunday, March 4
Margaret T. Hance Park
The McDowell Mountain Music Festival is back with a new lineup and a new name: M3F. But the abbreviated moniker is the only place you’ll find cutbacks at the 15th annual edition of this jam-packed party.
The event’s 2018 lineup is as loaded as ever. M3F promises three days of good tunes blasting from booming sound systems, drum circles, food trucks, and plenty of vendors over the first weekend of March. A dozen Phoenix-area acts are scheduled to take the stage at downtown Phoenix’s Hance Park between sets from visiting performers and headliners like Nick Murphy (the artist formerly known as Chet Faker), Dr. Dog, O.A.R., Anderson East, and Father John Misty.
Local bands are, of course, jazzed to be included in the mix, including Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra, Wyves, The Lonesome Wilderness, Jerusafunk, Treasurefruit, Spark Jack Daddy, and Jane N’ the Jungle. Amy Young
The Psychedelic Furs
Friday, March 2
Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale
Few bands can evoke an entire era in just a few notes, but listen to a snippet of any Psychedelic Furs song and you’ll find yourself smack-dab back in the ’80s. Whether it’s the triumphant guitars of “Pretty In Pink” or the xylophone-esque melodies of “Love My Way,” something about the music feels as anchored to that time period as Ms. Pac-Man machines. It’s no wonder Stranger Things, this decade’s most reliable time machine, used the Furs’ “The Ghost In You” as part of its soundtrack.
While the Furs used keyboards and synths as ably as their ’80s contemporaries, Richard Butler’s vocals set them apart. Raspy and worn, his burnt-out croon would sound more at home fronting a Tom Waits-ian bar band than a New Wave outfit. It’s what gives the Furs’ music a timeless quality, While the melodies and instruments will forever date them, Butler’s nicotine-stained vocals makes them sound like they could have existed in any era. That kind of rumpled, weary grace never goes out of style. Ashley Naftule
Rogue Bar 11-Year Anniversary Show
Friday, March 2
Rogue Bar in Scottsdale
It’s tough running a music venue in this day and age. There a million things to deal with – changing trends, money issue, fickle customers, and even more fickle musicians, just to name a few – all while trying to stay afloat and stay relevant. So it seems all the more remarkable when a local venue survives and thrives for years, just like Rogue Bar has done for more than a decade.
The famed Scottsdale rock bar will be celebrating the 11th anniversary of current owner Manny Tripodis taking over the spot with a big blowout on Friday night. Local bands scheduled to perform include Colour TV, Sunset Voodoo, Twin Ponies, The Elegy Machine, and Terra Fractal. Feel free to raise a toast to to the institution, its employees, and its owner, or you can just rock out. Benjamin Leatherman
Friday, March 2
Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino
One group that often misses out on props for both their longevity and iconic status is The Commodores, originally formed when the members met at Tuskegee University and began playing the local club and college circuit. That was 1968. A year later, the band’s drummer and current singer, Walter “Clyde” Orange, was invited to join by the group’s original bassist, Michael Gilbert.
Orange penned two of the band’s biggest hits: one of their first, “Brick House,” and their last, the Grammy-garnering “Night Shift.” In between, he’s seen the band grow and prosper, even despite a seemingly steady shift in their personnel roster, the most significant of which was the loss of singer/songwriter Lionel Richie.
These days, the band (which consists of Orange, William "WAK" King, and J.D. Nicholas) continues to perform around 60 dates a year, filling their sets with the many hits that once dominated on pop, soul, and even country music playlists for much of the ‘70s and ‘80s. This weekend, they'll be at Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino in Chandler for a performance inside the Ovations Showroom. Lee Zimmerman
Full Moon Festival: Worm Moon
Friday, March 2
When it comes to the first Friday of the month, the festivities along Roosevelt Row aren’t the only art-filled action happening in Phoenix that night. There’s also the Full Moon Festival, which also offers a mix of art, music, and social rites, albeit with more of an underground feel.
This month’s edition of the festival takes place on Friday, March 2, and celebrates the coming of the worm moon. The eight-hour event will fill District 8 with local artists, live performances, and vendors. The band lineup will include gigs by Fairy Bones and Jeremiah Christo while the DJ lineup will offer sets by Korey Wade, Nasty Humanz, Grackle Beats, and Uncanny Valley.
The festival runs from 8:08 p.m. until 3:33 a.m. Costumes reflecting the “magic and majesty of the moon” are encouraged, and the event is for the 18-and-over crowd only. Admission is $15. See the festival's Facebook page for more details. Benjamin Leatherman
Friday, March 2
In military slang, a “soft kill” means an attack that leaves an enemy disabled instead of dead. It’s an apt name for the post-punk sound conjured by Portland, Oregon, singer-guitarist Tobias Sinclair and his cohorts. As Soft Kill, they smother and numb listeners with layers of hazy sound.
Before founding Soft Kill, Sinclair was a part of the goth band Blessure Grave. Those dark roots are evident in Soft Kill’s music and the way they thread moments of gauzy melodic beauty through spiky, doom-y instrumentals. Sinclair’s cavernous vocals sound like they’re echoing from the bottom of a canyon.
On albums like 2016’s Choke, Soft Kill manage to sound fresh and contemporary while also paying homage to their post-punk ancestors. You can hear the influence of groups like Magazine, 154-era Wire, and The Chameleons. They make their debt to the chiming and atmospheric guitar sounds of The Chameleons even more explicit by featuring that band’s frontman, Mark Burgess, on Choke cut “On The Inside.” Two generations of post-punk musicians with decades of experience between them, Burgess and Soft Kill sound like they’ve been playing together for years. Ashley Naftule
Saturday, March 3
Having toured with the likes of Cake, the Avett Brothers, The Violent Femmes, Lucero, Drive-By Truckers, and The Low Anthem, singer/songwriter Langhorne Slim (born Sean Scolnick) is very much a road warrior. And his latest jaunt, which also feature folk act Twain, will pass through the Valley this weekend.
Blending folk rock with alt-country, Slim's music displays both brokenhearted lyricism and an overall feel of everything's-gonna-be-all-right. True musicians and lyricists will appreciate Slim's originality, while those who prefer their music a little more catchy and poppy will enjoy his singalong-style choruses. Matthew Keever
Saturday, March 3
The electronic dance music scene can be a pretty vibrant place, what with all the lights, rainbow-colored fashion, and LED overload. And this weekend, local DJ and promoter Srija Serineni will be amping things up even further at her outdoor dance party and cultural event, Electronic Holi.
The all-night affair — which takes place on Saturday, March 3, at a desert location outside of the Valley — is inspired by the annual Hindu spring festival that’s famous for its use of color. “It’s celebrated by throwing vibrant gulal powder at people, which is why people start the day wearing all white so the color shows up as bright as possible,” says Serineni, who performs as DJ FAIRYDVST. “I’ve never actually been able to celebrate this with my family in India since I was always in the [U.S.] for school. So I figured the next best thing would be to celebrate it with my rave family.”
And the members of her fam, as well as anyone else who attends, should expect to get drenched with colored powder throughout the evening. (As such, all-white attire is encouraged.) Electronic Holi will also offer performances by an all-female lineup of DJs from around Arizona, including Serineni, Lyzz-E Warden, Palmtr33, Xochique, Strawberry, Tina Marie, and Lavander. “As I continue in this scene, I keep discovering some awesome female talent that inspires me, and I thought this would be a great event to showcase that,” Serineni says.
The party kicks off at 9 p.m. and goes until 6 a.m. Admission is $15 (with a $3 discount if
you’re wearing white). Call 602-625-3306 on the night of the event for directions and more info. Benjamin Leatherman
Sunday, March 4
Gothenburg-based electronic group Little Dragon has left Sweden for a U.S. tour, and they’ll soon take the stage at Crescent Ballroom. Fans who have seen the Grammy-nominated band play live know that their concerts usually morph into groovy dance parties. Frontwoman Yukimi Nagano is known for her fluorescent outfits, high energy, and eccentric moves. (Fun fact: The band’s name originated from a nickname given to Nagano because of her hot temper during their early recording sessions.) Nagano’s style and theatrics are often compared to Bjork, although her vocals and Little Dragon’s sound are influenced by hip-hop and pop artists like De La Soul, Janet Jackson, and A Tribe Called Quest.
If that sounds like a good time, put on some comfortable shoes and maybe do some light stretching. Little Dragon’s most recent album, Season High, released in April 2017, is full of luxurious, mid-tempo smooth jams. The opener, “Celebrate,” is reminiscent of Prince with its sultry melodies and spastic guitar solo, and standout track “Sweet” lights up with arcade sounds and a catchy beat. Expect to hear hits from previous records like their 2011 breakout Ritual Union and 2014 follow-up Nabuma Rubberband. Meagan Mastriani
Demi Lovato & DJ Khaled
Sunday, March 4
Talking Stick Resort Arena
Demi Lovato returns to the Valley in March, and this time it’s with DJ Khaled for a show at Talking Stick Resort Arena. As you’d expect, Lovato’s performance will focus on her newest album, Tell Me You Love Me, which was released last September. It’s gotten good reviews from critics and has been described as running the gamut from “churchy soul to seductive slow-burners to showstopping ballads designed to showcase every single one of Lovato's diva moves.” And you’re pretty much guaranteed to see those moves in concert during her upcoming Valley show.
DJ Khaled will likely show off a few moves of his own while opening for Lovato, be it on the mic while rapping, acting as his own hype man, or working the mixers. Don’t let his now-infamous performance at last year’s EDC (where he was booed offstage after technical problems and other snafus caused his set to become a clusterfuck), the dude’s got major skills as a performer. Benjamin Leatherman
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Sunday, March 4
The Van Buren
K. Michelle has made herself a star in two of the toughest, most fickle industries by staying true to herself. When she made her R&B debut in 2009, her music immediately resonated with listeners, thanks to its positive messaging and honesty, earning her a loyal fan base.
She was offered a reality TV spot on Love and Hip-Hop Atlanta in 2012 and quickly became a favorite on the show, so much so that she was asked to join the Love and Hip-Hop New York edition to boost its ratings. The series is known for its many dramatic moments, but Michelle tried to keep the focus on her music.
She ultimately walked away, saying the show is scripted and dishonest, preferring instead to focus on her music. Last year, she released her fourth studio album, Kimberly: The People I Used to Know. This year, she’s hit the road to support it, including a stop this weekend at The Van Buren in downtown Phoenix. Mikel Galicia