Phoenix Concerts August 2017: Metallica, The Van Buren, Bryson Tiller | Phoenix New Times

The 30 Best Concerts in Phoenix This August

Including Metallica and the first shows at the Van Buren.
Metallica is scheduled to perform on Friday, August 4, at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
Metallica is scheduled to perform on Friday, August 4, at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. Herring Herring

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August’s concert calendar is going to be absolutely jam-packed with big shows.

Seriously, the coming weeks are going to be wall to wall with great concerts.

Arguably the biggest of the bunch is Metallica's takeover of University of Phoenix on Friday, August 4, which will likely draw in metalheads from throughout the Valley for an evening of headbanging and hook’em horns.

And the rest of the month is going to be just as lively.

Living legends from a multitude of genres will also be in town in August, including such names as Neil Diamond, JD Souther, Diana Krall, George Clinton, Deep Purple, and Mary J. Blige. Primus is also headed our way, as are hip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces, country star Sam Hunt, rapper Bryson Tiller, alt-metal band Incubus, the bass fiends of Knife Party, and singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran (no Game of Thrones jokes, please).

A few homegrown talents also have shows scheduled, such as Z-Trip, Dierks Bentley, Alice Cooper, and Jimmy Eat World.

And, lest we forget, the debut opening of the much-anticipated downtown Phoenix music venue, The Van Buren, will also happen in August. As you’d expect, its first few weeks will offer a slew of concerts, including Cold War Kids, Sylvan Esso, Lord Huron, and Thundercat.

In short, it's going to be a busy month for live music fans in the Valley. So busy, in fact, that we had to limit the following list to only 30 shows. (And if you'd like to see everything else that's happening, peep our online concert calendar.)

Here's a rundown of the best concerts in August in Phoenix.

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Legendary singer-songwriter JD Souther.
Courtesy of the MIM
JD Souther
Tuesday, August 1, and Wednesday, Aug. 2
Musical Instrument Museum
The fact that many folks probably only learned about the great songwriter J.D. Souther due to his stint on the ABC prime-time drama Nashville is as unfortunate as his character's name, Watty White. His role as a revered Music Row insider on the hit show is only his second most interesting television appearance of late: In Showtime's documentary The History of The Eagles, Souther's artful contributions are well-detailed, as he's responsible for many of the wildly popular but polarizing California country-rock band's best-known hits. His work includes the driving "How Long" — the only listenable song on the Eagles' last album, The Road Out of Eden. In the early 1970s, Souther was a part of the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band. Along with his bandmates at the time, Chris Hillman (The Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers) and Richie Furay (Buffalo Springfield), Souther helped define what is now known as alt-country by mixing sweet harmonies and arrangements that could waltz along or rock about. Indeed, Souther's music is what makes him worth knowing about — not the fact that he's on a show with the cheerleader from Heroes. Kelly Dearmore

Wednesday, August 2
The Rebel Lounge

Rooney was formed in Los Angeles by Robert Schwartzman. (Yes, those Schwartzmans — Jason is his brother.) The band attracted a lot of attention for their British Invasion-influenced sound leading up to and following the 2003 release of their eponymous debut. That album featured songs such as “I’m Shakin’” and “Blueside.” (The latter was on the soundtrack to The Princess Diaries, in which Schwartzman also starred as Anne Hathaway’s love interest.) Its popularity led to tours with other early ’00s acts such as Weezer and The Strokes. Over the next decade Rooney released two more albums, Calling the World in 2007 and Eureka in 2010, but in that time buzz was much quieter. Now, it’s picking up again, thanks to a complete overhaul to the lineup. Schwartzman is the only member left standing in the second coming of Rooney, which sees the band move away from its throwback sound and toward more current, alternative rock. We expect the new Rooney lineup will play tracks from their first effort as a band, last year’s Washed Away, during their gig at The Rebel Lounge on Wednesday, August 2. But we’re confident they’ll save some time for the dreamy pop songs that first won the hearts of teen girls in the early aughts. Caroline North

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Local DJ legend Z-Trip is headed back to Scottsdale for Wasted Grain's anniversary.
Steve Dykes
Wasted Grain's Three-Year Anniversary
Friday, August 4, to Sunday, August 6
Wasted Grain in Scottsdale

Maybe it's just us, but it seems like a number of new bars or clubs in Scottsdale’s nightlife district typically boast a lifespan of around three years or so. There are exceptions to the rule, of course, and Wasted Grain is definitely looking like it’s one of ‘em. The sprawling Stetson Drive bar and music venue, which debuted in 2014, is not only surviving the fickle Scottsdale scene but is thriving after its first three years of existence. It’s an achievement worth celebrating, which Johnson will be doing along with the venue’s regulars (and hundreds of live music fans) during Wasted Grain’s Three-Year Anniversary celebration in early August. The festivities will stretch across three straight nights with a mix of DJs and live acts each evening, as well as an extended premises, prizes, giveaways, and drink specials. Things kick off on Friday, August 4, with a gig by renowned turntablist, mashup king, and Arizona expat Z-Trip (a.k.a. Zach Sciacca) who will work the record decks in Wasted Grain’s 100 Proof Lounge alongside DJs M2 and Tricky T. Sciacca won’t be the only legend of the local scene there that weekend, as famed Valley rap-rock act Phunk Junkeez will hit the stage on Saturday, August 5. The Black Moods, Ebineezer, and Kush County will open. Rap star Too Short will wrap up the weekend with his performance in the lounge on Sunday, August 6, with support from M2 and David Anthony. Benjamin Leatherman

Neil Diamond
Friday, August 4
Talking Stick Resort Arena

At 76, Neil Diamond still plays marathon sets. Touring under the banner of his 50 Year Anniversary World Tour, he's playing many of his biggest hits as a solo artist and a songwriter, including "Song Sung Blue," "Cherry Cherry," and "I'm a Believer." But he's not afraid to touch deeper cuts like "Dry Your Eyes" and "Stones," either. He embraces the kitsch of his stage shows with his wardrobe choices and by encouraging sing-alongs to "Sweet Caroline." His voice is in fine form, and he's still got the panache that makes people want to fill an arena. He’s a legend in all kinds of ways. Eric Grubbs

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The rock gods of Metallica will grace us with their presence in August.
Herring Herring
Friday, August 4
University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale

In the '80s and early '90s, Metallica almost single-handedly brought thrash metal to pop-level relevancy. Its decline since, however, has been steep and consistent. That is until recently, when the band’s latest full-length, Hardwired ... to Self-Destruct, re-established Metallica as a force to be reckoned with. Not since 1991 has Metallica moved with such purpose, motivation and … well, fun. Diehard fans are enjoying a remarkable 2017, as this return to form coincides with the band’s first North American tour since 2009, the WorldWired Tour. Backed by heavy-metallers Avenged Sevenfold, Metallica — armed with its patented heavy riffs and hook-laden explosiveness — seek to reminds America how it changed the course of music forever. And why, several generations later, the metal world is still feeding off the table scraps it left behind some 35 years ago. Jonathan Patrick

Love him or hate him, you can't deny Ed Sheeran's talent.
Greg Williams
Ed Sheeran
Saturday, August 5
Gila River Arena in Glendale

Celebrity culture is a bit twisted, so Ed Sheeran is, unfortunately, more famous for being Taylor Swift’s best friend than he is for his impressive singing voice. If you Google him, you'll find more videos of him stumbling out of a London club than of him using his looping pedals to create an ingenious cover of Stevie Wonder’s “I Was Made to Love Her.” (Or you’ll spy reports of the recent hullabaloo over his all-too-brief appearance on Game of Thrones, which caused him to delete his Twitter.) Because he’s pictured in tabloids and played on Top 40 radio, it’s all too easy to dismiss Sheeran, to refuse to take him seriously. But you’ve never seen him live. You haven’t seen him command a crowd of 10,000 fans with his magnificent voice, getting them to clap their hands and cheer just notes into a new song they’ve never heard before. If you refuse to entertain the notion that he’s a serious musician, then maybe you should start. For someone with multiple Grammy nominations, Billboard-chart-topping songs and more A-list celebs in his contact list than one could name, Sheeran is as genuine a singer-songwriter as they come. He wouldn’t be out of place at an open-mic night or a locals' night at some small club. Isa Jones

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You can party poolside with Porter Robinson in August.
Courtesy of Paradigm Talent Agency
Porter Robinson
Saturday, August 5
Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale

Porter Robinson has spent his adult life in the laser-filled limelight. Before he was 20 years old, Robinson literally crashed Beatport's servers with the release of his first EP, Spitfire, and had three chart-topping records before he turned 21. Robinson originally produced hard-hitting dubstep and moombahton beats but has softened his touch with synth-heavy house tracks. You'll probably hear both when he visits Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale on August 5 to headline one of the resort's Release pool parties. Dylan White

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George Clinton at a 2016 concert.
Levan TK
George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic
Monday, August 7
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

After 40-plus years in the business, George Clinton still knows how to put on a party. A true showman, and author of several timeless tracks, Clinton has been featured in mainstream films, sampled by a legion of hip-hop and R&B groups, and been a card-carrying member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for 20 years. At age 75, he is showing few signs of slowing down, with club shows and festival appearances dotting his calendar for much of 2017. He's also kept a steady hand on the current scene, collaborating with Outkast and, more recently, Kendrick Lamar. Although his famed Mothership now resides in the Smithsonian — it was retired from touring years ago — Clinton's shows still brim with excitement and wonder. His longtime band, Parliament Funkadelic, will be in tow for his concert at the Marquee Theatre in early August. Jeff Strowe

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The oddballs of Primus are headed our way.
Courtesy of ATO Records
Tuesday, August 8
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Whether you describe its signature sound as funk metal or you've got no idea what to call it, there's no question Primus has been rocking out ever since the three-man band debuted with 1989's Suck On This. As frontman Les Claypool's bass throttles from a deep rumble to percussive slaps and he delivers stories of the odd and absurd in his irreplaceable Southern twang, Primus is anything but just another alt band. And guitarist Larry LaLonde's unique attack, which often involves swells and sweeps and grinding noises, only adds to the chaotic, unforgettable brew. When Claypool and company last visited the Valley in 2015, they served up a sweetly surreal and imaginative spectacle inspired by Willy Wonka. This time around it'll be more of a straightforward set that's likely to feature such signature Primus hits as "Jerry Was a Race Car Driver," "My Name is Mud," and "Here Come the Bastards." And straightforward doesn't mean boring, however, as they'll probably offer up plenty of between-song gags and silly songs like "Wynona's Big Brown Beaver" and "On the Tweek Again." Christopher Lopez

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Mary Ramsey (center) and the rest of 10,000 Maniacs.
Don Hill
10,000 Maniacs
Tuesday, Aug. 8
Crescent Ballroom

It's hard to say something bad about a band that's been around for 36 years, especially one as kindly as 10,000 Maniacs. You know, they're that band that's made a career of being that band you sort of recognize on independent radio stations. Being a musician is a hard road to travel, and any band that’s been going strong for more than three decades – including 20-plus years after it lost its lead singer and biggest star, Natalie Merchant – deserves a look and a listen. So when lead singer Mary Ramsey (a.k.a. Merchant’s replacement) and the other 9,999 maniacs visit the Crescent Ballroom, try to keep quiet and watch the band play. They must be doing something right to last this long, to say the least. Jaime-Paul Falcon

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Talented songstress Diana Krall.
Mary McCartney
Diana Krall
Wednesday, August 9
Symphony Hall

The acclaim and recognition Diana Krall has received over her 24-year career is staggering. Now Mrs. Elvis Costello, she has been just as successful as fellow Canadians Celine Dion, k.d. lang, Shania Twain, and Anne Murray, although she is arguably less well-known than any of those ladies. Known not only for her husky contralto but also for her virtuoso piano skills and world-class backing ensembles, Krall’s music is warm and easily accessible without becoming formulaic. Standards like “Fly Me to the Moon” or her husband’s touching “Almost Blue” are putty in Krall’s capable hands, as she puts a personal stamp on them that is of the highest artistic order. The only artist to have eight albums debut at No. 1 on the Billboard jazz charts, Krall is touring in support of her February release Wallflower, an album of choice pop/rock covers except for Paul McCartney’s previously unrecorded “If I Take You Home Tonight.” William Michael Smith

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Death metal band The Black Dahlia Murder.
Courtesy of Metal Blade Records
Summer Slaughter Tour 2017
Thursday, August 10
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Metal is a way of life that isn’t suited for the average radio listener. It’s a genre that, more often than not, is in your face and relentlessly assaulting your eardrums from the beginning of an album to its conclusion. Metal can be rowdy with its lyrical content and in its live form, where fans use their built-up aggression. All of this is likely to be present at this year’s Summer Slaughter Festival. The annual tour markets itself as "The Most Extreme Tour of the Year," and with such a death-metal-heavy lineup, there might be some truth to that. The 2017 version of the tour, which rolls into the Marquee Theatre in Tempe on Thursday, August 10, is headlined by The Black Dahlia Murder and will include sets by Dying Fetus, The Faceless, Slaughter to Prevail, Origin, Rings of Saturn, Lorna Shore, Betraying the Martyr, and others. Austin Paetow

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Bryson Tiller, rap star on the rise.
Bryson Tiller
Friday, August 11
Rawhide Event Center in Chandler

Bryson Tiller's debut album, T R A P S O U L, sounds like it was written by an established artist in his prime. The Kentucky R&B artist's rise came seemingly out of nowhere. At first it might seem like Tiller is piggybacking on the surge in melody-driven rap in recent years (see: Fetty Wap and Travis Scott). But Tiller's vocal talent doesn't ever seem like an afterthought, and his melodies are infectious and catchy. His lyrics are petty in a fashion similar to Drake, but he maintains an undercurrent of regret and second-guessing as he sings about lavish lifestyles and the one who got away. H.E.R. and Metro Boomin will open the show at Tiller’s August 11 concert at Rawhide in Chandler. Matt Wood

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Incubus lead singer Brandon Boyd.
Jim Louvau
Saturday, August 12
Ak-Chin Pavilion

Incubus is still on the road and have a significant fan following some 22 years after they released their first album. Their fans loved 1997's S.C.I.E.N.C.E. and 1999's Make Yourself, and on the other side of the century, they'll still show up to cheer on their heroes. But it's worth noting Incubus was also a good bit smarter and more eclectic than many of the other bands that were at the top of the nu-metal heap during its glory years at the end of the 20th century. Unlike Korn, they could sound playful and lyrically diverse – Incubus often performed acoustic-based songs with pop-leaning melodies and consistently make them work (and even scored hits with them, like "Drive" and "Black Heart Inertia"). Unlike Limp Bizkit, they didn't hate most of the people walking around the planet (or at least their songs didn't reflect such an attitude), and their frontman, Brandon Boyd, could actually charm people if he felt the need. Unlike Rage Against the Machine, they had the internal focus to hold things together when stardom hit. And Incubus had the good sense to musically evolve – unlike most of their peers, the band always had threads of prog rock and art rock wound through the dirty guitars and hard rhythms, as well as a sense of dynamics that allowed them to work in loud and quiet modes. This month, they'll be at Ak-Chin Pavilion for a summertime show with special guests Jimmy Eat World and Judah and the Lion. Mark Deming

Deep Purple at a 2015 concert.
Melissa Hennings
Deep Purple & Alice Cooper
Tuesday, August 15
Ak-Chin Pavilion

After close to 50 years of making music, you'd think Deep Purple would get a little more respect. This was the band that crafted one of the most indelible riffs in the entire rock 'n' roll idiom in the form of "Smoke on the Water." It is required learning for any budding guitarist. It's the band whose string of '70s albums – In Rock, Fireball, Machine Head, Who Do We Think We Are, and Burn in particular — placed them on a tier alongside Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Nazareth, and Uriah Heep as the foremost champions of the emerging form that would come to be called heavy metal. Still, Purple's trajectory was erratic at best. In the midst of their '70s heyday, personnel problems began plaguing the band, resulting in an ongoing series of shifts in membership that continued well into the new millennium. Following the first incarnation of the band in the late '60s, a core group – guitarist Richie Blackmore, vocalist Ian Gillian, drummer Ian Paice, keyboardist Jon Lord, and bassist Roger Glover – established themselves as Purple's most indelible lineup. Regardless, even as they were reaching new peaks of popular success, personal squabbles found practically all the participants departing at one time or another, leaving Paice as the only constant member. These days, Glover and Gillian are firmly back in the fold, joined by guitarist Steve Morse, who's been on the roster for 20 years, and Don Airey, who took over keyboards from the late Jon Lord in 2002. This summer they’re touring the country along with fellow rock icon Alice Cooper and will play Ak-Chin Pavilion on August 15. Lee Zimmerman

Read on for more big concerts happening during August, including Shabazz Palaces, Mary J. Blige, and the first concerts at The Van Buren.
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Country singer Sam Hunt ain't Conway Twitty, nor is he Luke Bryan.
Courtesy of UMG Nashville
Sam Hunt
Saturday, August 19
Ak-Chin Pavilion

Sam Hunt is good-looking. Like, 6-foot-4 and incredibly good looking; think Tom Brady before he got on that weird diet. He’s even got the all-American backstory: grew up in Georgia, played college football (quarterback, of course), even got invited to an NFL training camp. Hunt picked up music after high school. It was viewed as nothing more than a hobby, a way of passing idle time while pursuing a professional football career. Roughly a decade later, his football career a distant memory, Hunt is a platinum-selling artist and one of the most popular acts in country music. So, yeah, Sam Hunt is unquestionably successful. But is he actually good? To answer that question, we must first clarify one thing. Hunt, contrary to popular opinion, is not a “bro country” type. Whereas artists like Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, and Cole Swindell have found success with tracks about tailgates, tan lines, and Dixie cups, Hunt’s class of country doesn’t really fit into that particular sphere. Unlike the aforementioned Bryan, the unquestioned king of the country bros, Hunt’s brand of country is fairly diverse. While Bryan has made a living alternating between uptempo party tracks and catchy-as-all-hell love ballads, Hunt’s debut features traces of hip-hop, EDM and R&B. Hell, Montevallo features drum machines and turntables. Dude even followed up Montevallo with a mixtape, 2015's Between the Pines. Conway Twitty, Hunt is not. Clint Hale

World-renowned DJ/producer Kaskade.
Timothy Norris
Saturday, August 19
Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale

After Kaskade teamed up with Deadmau5 to release "I Remember," electronic music was never the same. The song became one of the hottest progressive-house/trance tracks of the last decade. With it, Kaskade – who’s known in his home state of Illinois as Ryan Raddon – anchored his name on the marquees of famous dance clubs around the world. Being twice voted the United States' best DJ and receiving five Grammy nominations has not distracted Kaskade from dropping hit after hit. His last album, Automatic, is approaching its two-year anniversary. Automatic was a more bass-influenced album, but still features the airy female vocals that recall Kaskade's trance roots. And in mid-August, Kaskade’s travels will bring him to Scottsdale, where he’ll headline the Release pool party at Talking Stick Resort on August 19. Dylan White

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Tendai Maraire and Ishmael Butler of Shabazz Palaces.
Victoria Kovios
Shabazz Palaces
Sunday, August 20
Crescent Ballroom

In the first half of the '90s, Ishmael Butler went by the moniker "Butterfly" as part of the rap trio Digable Planets. After the outfit's 1995 split, the group performed one-off shows here and there, but since 2009, Butler has released music with Tendai Maraire under the name Shabazz Palaces. Instead of completely ditching the jazz proclivities of the Planets, Butler and Maraire have combined that style with a broad sonic palette that includes samples, traditional African rhythms, dub, and electronic melodies and textures. It doesn't hurt that Maraire is the son of Dumisani Maraire, best known for bringing the music of Zimbabwe to North America. In fusing exotic sounds and inventive collage composition, Shabazz Palaces has created an electro-organic dance music steeped in an alchemy of the traditional and the postmodern. Tom Murphy

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The bass fiends of Knife Party.
Knife Party
Sunday, August 20
Maya Day & Nightclub in Scottsdale

Seizure music, death electro, and derpstep. Those are the extreme EDM genres Knife Party's Rob Swire and Gareth McGrillen use to describe their music, which reveals a couple of things about these Australian dudes: (1) they don't take themselves too seriously, and (2) they dig dangerous fun. After bum-rushing the scene in late 2011, this duo seized the dubstep world by the throat with a pair of EPs titled 100% No Modern Talking and Rage Valley. Initially, no one knew the true makeup of Knife Party's membership. It was soon revealed, though, that Swire and McGrillen, two members of popular drum 'n' bass group Pendulum, were behind the buzz. Kat Bein

Dropkick Murphys & Rancid
Tuesday, August 22
Rawhide Event Center in Chandler

Like many other seminal punk bands, Celtic-punk icons Dropkick Murphys haven’t grown older in a soft, quiet manner. Similar to fellow stout-flavored screamers Flogging Molly and legendary punk act Rancid (their current tour mates during a 24-city summertime jaunt across the country),the Dropkick Murphys have stayed grizzled, menacing, and rather ferocious over the years. Few active bands identify with not only their home region but the working-class ethos the way the pro-labor, politically active group has for so long now. For Boston sports fans, supporting Dropkick Murphys is as automatic as supporting the Sox or the Celtics. Similar to how many New York-based artists repped their hometown after the 9/11 attacks, the Murphys' music and charitable relief efforts were vital to thousands of Bostonians troubled by the marathon bombings of 2013. As much as any other band hitting the roads these days, the Murphys take the beating heart of its hometown to every gig, no matter where it is. That includes their upcoming Valley concert with Rancid, which will invade Rawhide in Chandler on August 22. Kelly Dearmore

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Cold War Kids get to bust The Van Buren's cherry.
Courtesy of One Beat PR
Cold War Kids
Wednesday, August 23
The Van Buren

It's been a decade since Cold War Kids hopped onto the indie rock scene. But with a new lineup and musical direction, they've reinvented themselves entirely. In 2006, they released Robbers and Cowards and from it came the hits including "Hang Me Up to Dry" and "We Used to Vacation." But with their latest album released in 2015, Hold My Home, the band, whose original members only include lead singer Nathan Willett and bassist Jonnie Russell, has stepped away from the roosty, bluesy sound they became known for and into something a little more polished. And on August 23, Cold War Kids will have the honor of breaking in The Van Buren when they headline the first-ever concert at the new music venue. Joywave opens the evening. Diamond Victoria

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Ronan Harris and Mark Jackson of VNV Nation.
Courtesy of Anachron Records
VNV Nation
Wednesday, August 23
Crescent Ballroom

VNV Nation started as a kind of bedroom project for the band's singer and co-programmer, Ronan Harris. By 1995, he had developed his music to the point that it was becoming part of the next wave of underground electronic pop. Some may dismiss the music as being part of the late-wave EBM that seemed to water down music that would have fit under the umbrella term "goth" at some point. But, in fact, Harris and his bandmate, Mark Jackson, had been inspired by the full range of electronic pop music and experimental and indie music from the '70s forward. The duo plugged this knowledge directly into making what they called "futurepop." "Futurepop" was perhaps a clever marketing term, but it's also as good a genre stamp as anything else that could fit a band whose influences come from multiple directions. Over the last decade, VNV Nation has become one of the most popular and influential acts that emerged from the creative ferment of the late '80s and the '90s, when industrial music was merging with the dance music coming out of underground clubs and raves. Tom Murphy

Legendary metal axeman Marty Friedman.
Takaaki Henmi
Marty Friedman
Friday, August 25
The Rebel Lounge

Heavy-metal guitarist Marty Friedman is now many years removed from the 1990s Megadeth albums that made him a household name among headbangers of the era. These days, Friedman mostly plies his trade in his adopted homeland of Japan. He has spent the last decade-plus ingratiating himself within the Japanese music scene as a go-to heavy hitter when J-pop groups like Momoiro Clover Z need a shredding guitar solo to spruce up a track. His star still shines brightly on solo albums that blend the more eclectic pop influences of his Japanese surroundings with the guitar histrionics that helped propel Megadeth on classic albums such as 1990’s Rust in Peace. His most recent effort, 2017’s Inferno, features guest appearances from Shiv Mehra of Deafheaven fame and Jinxx from Black Veil Brides. This month, Friedman will visit The Rebel Lounge for an evening of metal. Jason Roche

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See Berlin in Scottsdale on August 25.
Courtesy of BLK Live
Friday, August 25
BLK Live in Scottsdale

Berlin was one of the first synth-pop bands in the history of the genre, gigging around Los Angeles in the mid-‘80s during a time when its music was out of step with the dominant forms of the underground. “People were like, 'What the fuck is that?'" recalls Berlin singer Terri Nunn. “What was happening at the time was skinny ties and power pop and punk. We were neither one, and it took a while.” Berlin's biggest hit came along in 1986, when the band recorded the Giorgio Moroder-Tom Whitlock-penned “Take My Breath Away” for the soundtrack of the film Top Gun. But tensions within the band resulted in a 1987 split following what was then its final album, Count Three and Pray. Nunn moved on to a solo career and had an unlikely pairing with one of the most popular dark post-punk bands of the '80s, Sisters of Mercy. Berlin reunited briefly for the VH1 program Bands Reunited in 2004, but Nunn has since kept Berlin together without the original lineup and has embraced newer electronic music including EDM, which informed the sound of the 2013 album Animal. Tom Murphy

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The musicians of Lord Huron.
Josh Sanseri
Lord Huron
Saturday, August 26
The Van Buren

The L.A.-based, Michigan-bred folk quartet Lord Huron is the brainchild of its frontman and lead singer, Ben Schneider. Naming the group after the Great Lake where he spent his formative years, Schneider has so far crafted a catalog of music that’s simultaneously very traditional and yet modern enough to capture our darting attention spans. Lord Huron encompasses the jangling pop of the Head and the Heart; the slower, more reflective moods of Ray LaMontagne; and the rural twang of Trampled by Turtles. The band's most recent record, 2015’s Strange Trails, fully embraces the role of traveling storyteller, of the troubadour, with song titles that read like chapters in a novel, including the record’s singles “Fool for Love,” “The Night We Met,” and the eerie, haunting, '50s rockabilly/surf rock-inspired tune, “The World Ender.” Angel Melendez

Dierks Bentley
Saturday, August 26
Talking Stick Resort Arena

This past decade's crop of mainstream male country singers isn't so much made up of outlaws and drunks as pop singers who happen to have a twang in their step. It was a logical progression, and it's hella easier to cross over to Top 40 in a pair of ripped jeans and T-shirt than nut-hugging Wranglers and a starched pearl-snap. Since 2001, Dierks Bentley, along with guys like Kenny Chesney and Darius Rucker, has been on the forefront of nice-guy country, singing the kind of tunes that John Mayer wouldn't kick out of bed. The Arizona native has gone multi-platinum three times and released his first greatest-hits compilation in 2008 only four albums into his career. It probably doesn't hurt his chances that he poses with babies and puppies on the regular. Bentley’s headed back to the Valley in August for a hometown show with support from Cole Swindell and Jon Pardi at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Craig Hlavaty

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Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn of Sylvan Esso.
DL Anderson
Sylvan Esso
Sunday, August 27
The Van Buren

Though they formed only in 2013, Raleigh-based outfit Sylvan Esso have rocketed into the psyche of indie-rock fans. But the group almost never happened. Amelia Meath, of Appalachian folk trio Mountain Man, and Nick Sanborn joined forces after Meath asked the producer also known as Made of Oak to remix a song of hers, to which he added a few more parts. The singer was impressed enough with the result that they put aside their solo endeavors to work on their own, electronic-based project. The group's self-titled album landed at No. 39 on the Billboard 200 and has been praised by numerous outlets, proving the decision to leave their solo careers behind, at least for the time being, was a prudent one. Daniel Kohn

Bryce Avary of The Rocket Summer.
Courtesy of High Road Touring
The Rocket Summer
Tuesday, August 29
Crescent Ballroom

Indie rock/pop-rock act The Rocket Summer visits the Crescent Ballroom on August 29 and it will be playing all 13 tracks from its 2007 album Do You Feel as a part of the band's nationwide 10-year anniversary tour. “It’s going to be a celebration,” says Bryce Avary, the band's multi-instrumentalist frontman and only official member. Do You Feel is The Rocket Summer’s third studio album, and the anniversary tour works to highlight the sentiment Avary felt a decade ago. “I think at the time I felt my spirit had a real sense of wanting a call to action," he says. "But all I knew is that I wanted to write something that made people question and [made] people go, ‘Why am I not doing something?’ You know, that can look like so many different things. But for me, it was just wanting to stand up and make a difference, essentially, as hokey as that sounds. That kind of fueled a lot of the songs on Do You Feel. It’s not entirely about that, but it was just something I could sink my teeth into the magic and what I was feeling in 2007.” John McClanahan

Mary J. Blige in concert in 2016.
Jack Gorman
Mary J. Blige
Wednesday, August 30
Comerica Theatre

Mary J. Blige is no slouch. Over the last 20 or so years, the R&B songstress has released 13 chart-topping albums, along with numerous compilations and features, but she’s done so with an over-the-top flair that the others in the genre can't possibly hope to compete with. Ironically, for an artist whose biggest hit to date is “No More Drama,” Blige has made a career out of singing about the pains and heartache of love in a way that empowers.This veteran of the stage is guaranteed to deliver a powerful, balanced display of R&B greatness. Also, her legendary dance moves are not to be missed. Mikel Galicia

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Thundercat on Arcosanti's stage during this year's FORM festival.
Michelle Sasonov
Thursday, August 31
The Van Buren

Bass guitarist Thundercat came into the public spotlight with his contribution to Kendrick Lamar’s most recent albums, 2015’s To Pimp a Butterfly and 2016’s Untitled Unmastered. But long before that, Thundercat had an under-the-radar distinguished music career. For starters, he joined Suicidal Tendencies at age 16. Later, he launched into high-profile collaborations with other artists, starting in 2008 with Erykah Badu and her New Amerykah albums. During his work with Flying Lotus on the latter’s 2010 opus, Cosmogramma, the two artists found that they had a fruitful creative partnership; they’ve been contributing to each other’s albums ever since. Thundercat’s 2017 solo effort, Drunk, is a futuristic blend of space funk, jazz fusion, and panoramic electronic soundscapes. On that record, Lamar, Pharrell Williams, Wiz Khalifa, FlyLo, and jazz phenom Kamasi Washington add their own magic to Thundercat’s sonic wizardry. Tom Murphy
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