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

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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.