The 12 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

Thelma and the Sleaze is scheduled to perform on Sunday, August 27, at Valley Bar.
Thelma and the Sleaze is scheduled to perform on Sunday, August 27, at Valley Bar. Courtesy of the artist
Feeling like the summer will never reach its conclusion? Yeah, us too.

The good news is that the summertime in the Valley will end … eventually. The bad news, however, is that it won’t be for another month or so. Maybe even longer.

Don’t fret, though, we’re almost there. And in the meantime, there are plenty of things happening in the Valley to distract y’all.

There are concerts going on at local venues both big and small this weekend. Post-metal band Pelican is due at the Crescent Ballroom on Friday, for instance, and the kids of local indie act Snailmate are back from their latest tour.

And then there are all the shows contained withing the following list of the best concerts in Phoenix this weekend, including performances by guitar god Marty Friedman, as well as Dierks Bentley, The Adicts, Thelma and the Sleaze, and The Fixx.

Plus, The Van Buren will have big gigs all three nights.

For even more events happening in the Valley music scene, hit up our online concert calendar. In the meantime, here are the 12 best shows happening this weekend in Phoenix.

Legendary metal axeman Marty Friedman. - TAKAAKI HENMI
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

Groove Candy's 11-Year Anniversary Party
Friday, August 25
Casablanca Lounge in Scottsdale

Back in 2006, hip-hop/neo-soul party Groove Candy started out as weekly put on by local radio personality Karlie Hustle and DJ M2 at now-defunct Tempe spot The Door. It was the place to see and be seen in the local hip-hop community and featured appearances and performances by some big names at the time. A lot’s changed with Groove Candy since those days (including bouncing around to multiple clubs and going from a weekly to an occasional one-off) but it still remains one of the more notable joints in the Valley. This weekend, the Groove Candy crew, which still includes DJ M2, will celebrate its 11th anniversary at Casablanca Lounge in Scottsdale with plenty of hip-hop, classics, and soulful grooves. Local band Ear Candy, which features Vaughn Willis, will perform a special Jay-Z tribute until 11 p.m., followed by spins from M2, Tricky T, and Sir-Plus. Local rap legend Pokafase will host. There’s no cover before 11 p.m. if you RSVP. Benjamin Leatherman

click to enlarge Jeff Montalvo, better known as Seven Lions. - COURTESY OF PRIMARY TALENT
Jeff Montalvo, better known as Seven Lions.
Courtesy of Primary Talent
Seven Lions
Friday, August 25
The Van Buren

If you’re a music fan in the Valley, it’s probably a safe bet you’ve heard about downtown Phoenix’s newest concert spot, The Van Buren. The 1,900-person-capacity venue, which is located at 401 West Van Buren Street, made its official debut this week and will feature a wide variety of musicians from several different genres during its first month of existence, including artists of the indie rock, alternative, folk, indie pop, funk, and soul variety. The sounds of electronic dance music will also pulse through the 20,000-square-foot venue, courtesy of Seven Lions. The superstar DJ/producer — renowned for his intricate and imaginative mixes of melodic dubstep, electro-house, and trance — will have the honor of being the first EDM artist to gig at The Van Buren when he visits the venue on Friday, August 25. And based on his previous performances — which are high-energy romps filled with dope grooves, killer drops, ambient melodies, and trippy imagery — we’re guessing it will be a memorable night, the first of many at The Van Buren. DJs Brett Ortiz, Highline, and J Paul will open the 18-and-over show. Benjamin Leatherman

click to enlarge Berlin will be taking people's breath away at BLK Live this weekend. - COURTESY OF BLK LIVE
Berlin will be taking people's breath away at BLK Live this weekend.
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

Blackjack x2

Friday, August 25, and Saturday, August 26
Nile Theater in Mesa
Local electronic dance music promoter Hades Entertainment is doubling down with its latest event, the two-night bass-heavy affair Blackjack. Like many Hades events, it has its roots as an under-the-radar dance party. “The first one took place as a rave back in 2010,” says Hades co-promoter Sam Groove. “It was this annual event up until 2013 when it went on hiatus for awhile.” They decided to revive Blackjack, however, albeit as a two-evening event encompassing an entire weekend (hence the “x2”).

Besides offering local EDM fans the chance to dance on back-to-back nights, Groove says it also helped resolve a minor booking issue with Blackjack’s headliners. “We had opportunities to book both Squnto and Dubloadz, but they were only available on separate dates,” he says. “So we figured instead of putting together one show with half of what we wanted, we could go with the crazy idea of having two shows over the whole weekend. And since [Blackjack] has been inactive for awhile, it's a good way to revive it.” And the soundtrack on both nights will be big on bass, with genres like dubstep, riddim, and trap music blasting from the sound system at the Nile Theater in Mesa. “This is definitely a bass music show,” Groove says. Benjamin Leatherman

click to enlarge decker. returns with a new record. - COURTESY OF DECKER.
decker. returns with a new record.
Courtesy of decker.
decker. & Paper Foxes (Dual Record Release Party)
Saturday, August 26
Crescent Ballroom

Brandon Decker wanted to accomplish three goals when he and his decker. bandmate Amber Johnson went to New York City last September: Get a booking agent, a label, and management. After playing 20 shows in 23 days, including a monthlong residency at Rockwood Music Hall, they eventually scored a professional hat trick. Personally, Decker now knew he could make it anywhere. “Being from Sedona, having a monthlong residency there seemed unlikely,” he recalls, “We hatched that plan and did it in nine months. It was a proud accomplishment for Amber and me.”

Now, Decker is set to release Into The Red, a collection of songs from his psychedelic folk band’s previous releases and two new recordings. Unlike his preceding self-released efforts, the album is being distributed nationally by the Brooklyn label The Royal Potato Family. While Into The Red is an effort to acquaint newcomers to Decker’s musical past, there is also a sense of immediacy on the record in the form of the timely protest track “Matchstick Man.” It is the first time the singer-songwriter has set out to make a political song. “I feel like when the election took place, it seemed there was no other option than to make a statement concerning our times,” he says. This weekend, Decker will perform at Crescent Ballrom during a dual release party celebrating the debut of Into The Red and Paper Foxes’ new album, Devil on My Shoulder. Jason Keil

Read on for even more great concerts this weekend, including Dierks Bentley, Lord Huron, Sylvan Esso, and Thelma and the Sleaze.
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