The 13 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

Bishop Briggs is scheduled to perform on Friday, March 23, during the inaugural Innings Festival.
Bishop Briggs is scheduled to perform on Friday, March 23, during the inaugural Innings Festival. Jabari Jacobs
It's officially spring, which means an overabundance of festivals, pool parties, and live music showcases are taking place across the Valley.

That's what you'll find in our rundown of the best concerts in the Phoenix area this weekend.

The first-ever Innings Festival will fill Tempe Beach Park with three days of performances from 36 different indie and alternative bands, as well as thousands of both music and baseball fans.

Meanwhile, Scottsdale music venue Pho Cao will celebrate its sixth anniversary, and this year's International Pop Overthrow will take place at Cactus Jack's. Each will offer sets from scores of local acts.

And a few of the Valley's biggest musical exports and expats are returning to their old stomping grounds, including Z-Trip, Futuristic, and Markus Schulz.

Details about each of these gigs can be found below in our rundown of the best concerts in the Valley this weekend. And for even more music happening around town, check out Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar.

Fishbone drops by BLK Live in Scottsdale this weekend. - STEADY JENNY
Fishbone drops by BLK Live in Scottsdale this weekend.
Steady Jenny
Friday, March 23
BLK Live in Scottsdale

With seemingly every alternative rock band of note reunited to dolefully tour the classics, Los Angeles band Fishbone remains a vital exception to the "play the hits" rule. For more than three decades, the group has experimented and evolved, incorporating influences including ska, punk, hardcore, psychedelic rock, soul, funk, reggae, and jazz into a varied and uncompromisingly diverse discography.

The band hasn't released solely flawless records, but it's never failed to issue interesting ones. "That's part of the legacy of the band," bassist and founding member John Norwood Fisher explains. "The minute we stagnate and become a band that just goes over where we've been ... maybe that's okay at some point, but I'm just not there yet. I'm trying to figure out: What haven't we done? What can keep the vibe fresh?"

Fishbone's most recent album, 2014's Intrinsically Intertwined EP, opens with "Unstuck," a song that ranks among the group's best. Under soulful vocals by Angelo "Dr. Madd Vibe" Moore, the band churns a progressive, knotty reggae groove with touches of jazz fusion, funky time changes, and double-bass drum work. Moore sings of the "phone that rings within," employing beautifully anachronistic gospel idiom. "Unstuck" represents the best of Fishbone; more than three decades in, they're still exploring new sounds. Jason P. Woodbury

click to enlarge Markus Schulz returns to Scottsdale this weekend. - COURTESY OF STARK PROFILES PR
Markus Schulz returns to Scottsdale this weekend.
Courtesy of Stark Profiles PR
Markus Schulz
Friday, March 23
Maya Day & Nightclub

The Valley’s nightlife scene has produced its fair share of superstar DJs over the years. Besides old-school cats like Z-Trip and Eddie Amador, both of whom were staples of local clubs back in the ’90s, there are more recent success stories like Mija, Bijou, and Ghastly.

Markus Schulz, however, tops ‘em all. Long before the trance mixmaster became one of the highest-paid DJs in the world and a regular at high-profile festivals like Electric Daisy Carnival and Ultra, he was honing his craft at raves and club gigs around town (including a residency at the old Scottsdale nightspot The Works).

On Friday, March 23, Schulz returns to the Valley for a gig at Maya Day & Nightclub in support of his latest album, Dakota: The Nine Skies. Doors open at 10 p.m. and local DJs Danny Stephen and Munition will open. Admission is $10. Benjamin Leatherman

click to enlarge The musicians of Sorority Noise. - KYLE THRASH
The musicians of Sorority Noise.
Kyle Thrash
Sorority Noise
Friday, March 23
Nile Theater in Mesa

To quote Lennie James’ character Morgan from The Walking Dead, everything gets a return. Crazy fashions come back into vogue, beloved movies get remade, and even once-maligned musical subgenres get a chance at redemption. Case in point: the emo revival.

In the last couple of years, some of the strongest rock albums have come from emo revivalists like Modern Baseball, Sorority Noise, and The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die. The “nu emo” scene may be the only sector of indie rock left where guitar-wielding bands play songs that aren’t begging to be sampled or cosigned by Drake. It’s impassioned, energetic rock music that also manages to avoid the toxic masculinity and misogyny that plagued emo version 1.0 of the early aughts.

Sorority Noise have positioned themselves at the front of this new and improved class with their bold and devastating album, You’re Not As ___ As You Think. Inspired by the deaths of several close friends, it’s a moving collection of songs about grief, loss, religion, and depression. It also rocks hard enough to wake the dead. The quartet will fill in the blank when they play the Nile in Mesa this weekend. Fair warning: Bring some tissues and a pair of earplugs. Sorority Noise’s music will make your eyes water and your ears bleed. Ashley Naftule

click to enlarge Durand Jones (center) and the members of the Indications. - COURTESY OF PARADIGM TALENT AGENCY
Durand Jones (center) and the members of the Indications.
Courtesy of Paradigm Talent Agency
Durand Jones and the Indications
Friday, March 23
Valley Bar

If you like your soul music served straight-up with no chaser, then Durand Jones and the Indications is the band for you. The group gives us a fresh take on an old-school style, but they don't reinvent the R&B wheel. Instead, they perfect the genre's essential elements, creating songs that are deep but still get you dancing up on your feet.

The voice of lead singer Durand Jones is sultry and inviting like a Louisiana summer, and the brassy Indications earn their billing as "the baddest soul band in all the land." This weekend, they'll be at Valley Bar in support of their recently released self-titled debut. Jazz/funk band Spooky Cool will open. Katie Sullivan

[image-14] Pale Waves
Friday, March 23
The Rebel Lounge

If Robert Smith had a love affair with a Spice Girl, their daughter might be something like Heather Baron-Gracie, the lead singer and guitarist of Pale Waves. Baron-Gracie and her bandmates blend the black lipstick and depressive lyrics of ’80s goth music with the sparkling sounds and catchy beats of pop to make heartbreaking synth jams.

The U.K.-based Pale band seemed to burst out of nowhere in April 2017 with the single “There’s a Honey,” and they quickly gained a following, leading to them opening for The 1975 at a sold-out Madison Square Garden show. Despite the fact that the band has a relatively small catalog — just six songs released slowly over several months — they’ve already graced magazine covers and garnered hundreds of thousands of listeners.

The last time Pale Waves came to Phoenix, in December 2017, they sold out Valley Bar, so don’t miss a chance to see this act well on their way to morose pop stardom. Meagan Mastriani

click to enlarge The Head and the Heart are scheduled to perform on Saturday, March 24, at the Innings Festival. - CURTIS WAYNE MILLARD
The Head and the Heart are scheduled to perform on Saturday, March 24, at the Innings Festival.
Curtis Wayne Millard
Innings Festival 2018
Friday, March 23, to Sunday, March 25
Tempe Beach Park

Scheduled to take place March 23 through 25 at Tempe Beach Park, the inaugural Innings Festival coincides with the annual Cactus League spring training games in the Valley (hence its name). The weekend-long event will feature three stages and 36 bands over the three days.

Country wunderkind Chris Stapleton, the foot stompin' Avett Brothers, and Palm Springs rockers Queens of the Stone Age round out the top billing. QOTSA is one of two Josh Homme projects on the list, which also includes his band Eagles of Death Metal.

The rest of the lineup is a who's who of (mostly) alternative darlings, including Young the Giant, The Head and the Heart, Dispatch, Counting Crows, The Decemberists, and Cold War Kids. There's even a local music presence, with Tempe legends Gin Blossoms on the bill.

Other artists scheduled to perform include Sylvan Esso, Phosphorescent, Craig Finn and the Uptown Controller, Luke Combs, Citizen Cope, Bishop Briggs, J. Roddy Walston and the Business, The White Buffalo, Lord Huron, and Local Natives. (For a complete rundown of what's happening at the festival, check out our extensive guide to the event). Ashley Harris
click to enlarge Japhy’s Descent - JIM LOUVAU
Japhy’s Descent
Jim Louvau
Pho Cao's Six-Year Anniversary
Friday, March 23, and Saturday, March 24
Pho Cao in Scottsdale

It may not be immediately apparent, given its high-profile status as a nightclub Mecca, but Scottsdale is arguably a hub for local music, given the popularity of several venues that regularly host bands and performers from around the Valley. That includes Pho Cao, the family-owned Vietnamese eatery along East McDowell Road that's become a haven for local sounds over the past six years.

Many a local musician has sung the praises of the spot and its owner, Victor Cao, and will do so again this weekend during the two-night celebration marking Pho Cao's sixth anniversary. Naturally, it will feature sets from a variety of artists and acts on both evenings. The lineups will include The Redemptions, Japhy's Descent, Banana Gun, and The Woodworks on Friday and Marc Norman, Dirt Moon, Vintage Wednesday, Sunset Voodoo, and Jaime Cortez on Saturday. The music starts at 7 p.m. either night. Admission is $10 for Friday or Saturday only, and $16 for both. Benjamin Leatherman

click to enlarge Futuristic during last year's Warped Tour. - JIM LOUVAU
Futuristic during last year's Warped Tour.
Jim Louvau
Saturday, March 24
The Van Buren

Futuristic is through with internet stunts. The rapper and friend of Phoenix Suns’ guard Devin Booker told the music website Complex that his single “Epiphany,” a collaboration with the rapper NF, is about the moment he realized that he didn’t have to put on glasses and lean into a nerd schtick. On the track, Futuristic says that his 2016 album As Seen On The Internet “was garbage.”

The do-it-yourself artist, formerly based in Tempe, documents some of the hard lessons he learned living in Los Angeles on his latest album Blessings, which was released last year on Christmas Day. He found himself focused on the wrong things, and decided to make music and be around people that lift him up as an artist. Besides his “Epiphany” collaborator, Blessings features guest contributions from Devvon Terrell and speed-rapper Tech N9ne. Expect to hear all about it when Futuristic performs for a hometown crowd on his What More Could You Ask For Tour. Jason Keil

click to enlarge The one, the only Z-Trip. - STEVE DYKES
The one, the only Z-Trip.
Steve Dykes
Saturday, March 24
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Whatchu know 'bout Z-Trip? In all seriousness, if you asked this question to any of your local peers, we're willing to bet that nine out of 10 will know the ubiquitous DJ name, eight out of 10 will know him personally, or claim to know him personally, from that one time at (insert DJ night or music festival name here) as of current or from way back in the Phoenix day.

We're also willing to bet that every single one of the people familiar with Z-Trip (or Zach Sciacca) will have nothing but words of praise, worship, or just downright respect for this "hometown hero" who has undoubtedly been a forefather of the art of mashups and turntablism.

This weekend, Z-Trip will be at Marquee Theatre in Tempe to headline the “Saturday Night Special,” which will also feature sets by DJ Soulman on Phunk Junkeez, PLS & TY, DJ Mercy, and Kyle Casaccio. Doors are at 7:30 p.m. and tickets start at $15 to $20. Nicole Smith

click to enlarge Sleepwar is scheduled to participate in this year's International Pop Overthrow. - DON FITZSIMMONS
Sleepwar is scheduled to participate in this year's International Pop Overthrow.
International Pop Overthrow 2018
Saturday, March 24
Cactus Jack's in Ahwatukee

The International Pop Overthrow remains one of the top showcases for global bands in the mode of Badfinger, Big Star, the Raspberries, and Cheap Trick. Credit for its continued presence on the underground scene goes mainly to David Bash, the Los Angeles-based one-man operation who conceived IPO and continues to oversee its tiniest details without a trace of corporate sponsorship.

By the early '90s, with the onset of alternative rock and grunge, few if any bands dared label themselves “pop” any longer. By the mid-'90s, a number of vintage music styles — lounge, swing, surf music, alt-country — had taken root in the alternative imagination. Mod was everywhere in England. In the U.S., bands like Olivia Tremor Control, Apples in Stereo, and the Flaming Lips were cutting psychedelic pop albums in the Brian Wilson mode. While dining with a lawyer friend in Sherman Oaks in December 1997, Bash had an epiphany. “I said to my friend,” he recalls, “'I should do a worldwide pop festival as a way of getting all these disparate acts under one umbrella.'” IPO launched that summer and has taken place annually for the past 20 years, including in cities like Portland, NYC, London, Vancouver, Chicago, Toronto, and even Phoenix.

The 2018 edition of the Valley’s version of the IPO takes place on Saturday at Cactus Jack’s in Ahwatukee and will include sets from Sundai, Aimless Ambition, The Glides, Cheap Hotels, Sleepwar, Cait Brennan, New Chums, Fuqua, and Brian Jones Was Murdered. Performances start at 3 p.m. and admission is $10. Brian Chidester

click to enlarge The metalheads of The Sword. - COURTESY OF RAZOR & TIE PUBLICITY
The metalheads of The Sword.
Courtesy of Razor & Tie Publicity
The Sword
Saturday, March 24
The Rebel Lounge

Upon their emergence from the very loudest corners of the music scene in Austin, Texas, more than a decade ago, the Sword were decried by quite a few around the country as a gimmick band, merely aping the monolithic riffage of Black Sabbath and Thin Lizzy.

The conventional wisdom was that the nostalgia couldn’t last. Five albums later, the Sword has put that sort of thinking to rest. Now a stalwart of American heavy metal, the group has helped inspire a new wave of interest in throwback guitar thunder. And whenever they play Phoenix, their fans turn out in earnest. Nathan Smith

click to enlarge Wyclef Jean will perform in the Valley in March. - WEB SUMMIT/CC BY 2.0/VIA FLICKR
Wyclef Jean will perform in the Valley in March.
Web Summit/CC BY 2.0/via Flickr
Wyclef Jean
Sunday, March 25
BLK Live in Scottsdale

Wyclef Jean is a true Renaissance man. His career started with the Fugees. Think about that fact – one of the most original, distinct collective voices in hip-hop was only the beginning for this Haitian rapper, producer, and politician.

After the trio's second and final album, The Score, went multiplatinum in 1996, the Fugees pretty much imploded. The influential group served as a launching pad for its members, including spawning the illustrious and still-relevant solo careers of Jean and Lauryn Hill.

To date, Wyclef has released a dozen different solo albums since then. He’s also won a few Grammy Awards, served as a visiting fellow in the Department of Africana Studies at Brown University, and tried to run for the Haitian presidency in 2010. Last year, Jean released two albums, a full-length effort entitled Carnival III: The Fall and Rise of a Refugee and a separate EP J'ouvert. Expect to hear songs from both during his concert at BLK Live in Scottsdale on March 25. Matt Preira

click to enlarge DJ, producer, and remix artist Robin Schulz. - MAXIMILIAN KOENIG
DJ, producer, and remix artist Robin Schulz.
Maximilian Koenig
Robin Schulz
Sunday, March 25
Maya Day & Nightclub

Robin Schulz is best known for his groovy deep house remix of Mr. Probz’s hit track “Waves,” but his talent for ambient, soulful beats extends beyond his remixes. Schulz produces some of the sleekest deep house around, with a distinctly European vibe (it helps that the vocals on his popular original tracks are in German, his native language).

Music is second nature to him, as his father was a DJ spinning in the '80s, and so Schulz has no problem making his tunes sound ethereal and unforced. For any fan of deep house or chill beats, Schulz is coming to Maya Day & Nightclub in Scottsdale for the latest Soundwave pool party on Sunday to lighten your mood and leave you floating. Sarah Purkrabek
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.