The 10 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week

The Van Buren will celebrate its grand opening on Wednesday, August 23.
The Van Buren will celebrate its grand opening on Wednesday, August 23. Benjamin Leatherman
Phoenix is in for a big week – and not just because there’s a solar eclipse and all the hullabaloo and tumult of a visit from the President of the United States.

In case you haven’t heard (which is sort of doubtful), one of downtown Phoenix’s most-anticipated music venues, The Van Buren, will stage its grand opening on Wednesday, August 23, with a performance by Cold War Kids.

Other highlights of this week’s slate of concerts includes performances by such legendary artists and acts as DJ Quik, Foreigner, Cheap Trick, The Toasters, and Reagan Youth. Plus, Dropkick Murphys and Rancid will provide a one-two punch of punk at Rawhide Event Center.

But enough of our jibber-jabber. Here’s a rundown of the biggest concerts happening in the Valley this week. (And for even more gigs, check out our online music listings.)

click to enlarge Country musician Jason Eady. - ANTHONY BARLICH
Country musician Jason Eady.
Anthony Barlich
Jason Eady
Tuesday, August 22
Rhythm Room

Jason Eady grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, where he learned how to play country music as well as gospel and blues before joining the Air Force and then moving to Texas. In his late 20s, he began playing open mics and even gave a 9-to-5job a shot at one point. It didn't suit him well. “Turning 30 is what did it,” Eady, now 42. “I quit my job the year I turned 30.” And he became a full-time country crooner and has released six albums since, including a 10-song self-titled effort that came out in April. Eady’s sound carries a hint of gospel influence that he says he picked up as a kid while playing music in a Pentecostal Assemblies of God church. Add to that the bluegrass festivals he routinely attended with his stepdad, and a Steve Earle concert he went to while stationed in England. “Finding Steve Earle was kind of a big turning point for me,” he says. Through that, Eady was also able to discover Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt. However, he says Merle Haggard was probably his greatest influence. Karen Gavis

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

click to enlarge Storied sax player Maceo Parker. - COURTESY OF THE MUSICAL INSTRUMENT MUSEUM
Storied sax player Maceo Parker.
Courtesy of the Musical Instrument Museum
Maceo Parker
Tuesday, August 22
Musical Instrument Museum

With long stints in James Brown’s band as well as George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic, Maceo Parker is one of the most storied and respected saxophonists in the country. After thousands of gigs and a mind-boggling list of recording collaborations as well as his own records, the 74-year old North Carolina native still sounds like he can’t wait to get in the van and do it all again. An originator of the infectious musical form we call funk, Parker perfected a style frequently described as percussive rather than melodic. According to Parker, Brown’s abilities as a dancer drove the band to develop the driving sound that began to be called funk. “James was such a great dancer that he needed a sound that accentuated that aspect of his talent,” Parker says. “James needed songs to dance to and we just kept tightening up our sound, hitting hard on the down beat. We just developed our own sound, you know.” As far as his own influences, Parker has a quick answer: “Everybody.” William Michael Smith

click to enlarge Ronan Harris and Mark Jackson of VNV Nation. - COURTESY OF ANACHRON RECORDS
Ronan Harris and Mark Jackson of VNV Nation.
Courtesy of Anachron Records
VNV Nation
Wednesday, August 23
Crescent Ballroom

How long has VNV Nation been making synth-pop music? Longer than it took you to grow your hair, shave it into a mohawk, and slick back the remains into a tiny ponytail that allows you to bop around the dance floor devoid of annoying flyaway locks. So, since 1990, actually. The English/Irish electro group, initially based in Essex and Dublin, comprises Ronan Harris and Mark Jackson. Now, the duo’s based in Germany, and they have released nine full-lengths, along with some singles and tracks on compilations throughout their nearly 30-year career. Though beats-driven, synthy dance sounds are at the base of what they do, the band has incorporated other styles in its sound. In 2002, they softened things up just a bit, adding some elements of trance and utilizing some neoclassical instrumentals to the release Futureperfect. A few years ago, they used one of two nights at a European music festival to perform accompanied by a full symphony orchestra. That led to the release of an orchestral album, Resonance: Music for Orchestra Vol. 1, the band’s latest, in 2015. VNV Nation are currently touring to show off bits from their loaded history. Oh, and the VNV part? That stands for “Victory Not Vengeance,” if you didn’t already know. Amy Young

click to enlarge Hip-hop legend DJ Quik. - KENYA FRANK
Hip-hop legend DJ Quik.
Kenya Frank
DJ Quik
Wednesday, August 23
The Pressroom

No one could ever question DJ Quik’s authenticity. Twenty-five years ago, Quik was the Piru Blooded G-Funk pioneer: a Jheri-curled, Compton-hatted, gangsta rap Apollo. He called himself "America'z Most Complete Artist" and had the chops to prove it. He produced, engineered, rapped, and played guitar and keyboards. Swagger like Superfly, funk like Roger Troutman, the fearless adrenaline of Eazy-E. In January 1991, he dropped his official debut, Quik Is the Name. The influential album emerged during a transitional period between the first wave of gangsta rap and the ascension of G-funk. Every label relentlessly trawled Compton and South Central for the next would-be superstar. A quarter-century later, Quik Is the Name remains an indelible coming-of-age rap album, filled with raunchy tales and silky refinement. Already a production sorcerer, Quik chopped loops from Kleeer and Cameo, Betty Wright and Blowfly, adding scratched hooks and nimble cadences. It’s the gangsta-rap iteration of every teenager’s dreams: awash in easy money, Givenchy sweatsuits, beautiful women, and all the illicit substances you can imbibe. Jeff Weiss

Read on for more big concerts around the Valley this week, including The Toasters, Cheap Trick, and the grand opening of The Van Buren.
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