The Van Buren will celebrate its grand opening on Wednesday, August 23.EXPAND
The Van Buren will celebrate its grand opening on Wednesday, August 23.
Benjamin Leatherman

The 10 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week

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.)

Country musician Jason Eady.
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

Storied sax player Maceo Parker.EXPAND
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

Ronan Harris and Mark Jackson of VNV Nation.
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

Hip-hop legend DJ Quik.
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.

Cold War Kids will be the first band to play The Van Buren's.
Cold War Kids will be the first band to play The Van Buren's.
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 grand opening at the new music venue. Joywave opens the evening. Diamond Victoria

Reagan Youth
Wednesday, August 23
Yucca Tap Room

Arguably, the world has changed a lot since Reagan Youth was formed in 1980. But the legendary punk band’s original member Paul Bakija believes otherwise. Even though the faces and situations have changed, we're still facing the same exact mess that we were 30 years ago. The New York City where Bakija grew up has "disappeared," he says. "It's become Disney-fied." But it was in NYC in 1980 that he linked up with original Reagan Youth frontman Dave Insurgent. Bakija had been taking guitar lessons at the local music shop and Insurgent told him, "Don't go to that loser store. Get yourself some punk records and learn from them."

Tragically, Insurgent committed suicide in 1993. The band was already broken up for three years when Insurgent died, and there was no plan to reunite. That is, until a persistent street buddy told him he had booked a Reagan Youth show. Bakija asked him, "Who's going to sing? My singer's dead." The guy said he would sing and that he had a bassist and a drummer lined up. Bakija decided to play along: "You know, it was going to be my last hurrah." They had two weeks to get it together, and people started giving him shit that he was reforming the band without the original members. "I'd ask them, 'Well, who are the original members?' They go 'I don't know. But this isn't it,'" he remembers. "If it's so important, how come they don't know their names? If they would've just shut up, I would've played only that one gig. That would've been it." It wasn’t, and Reagan Youth is still alive and kicking to this day. Jose Flores

Foreigner & Cheap Trick
Thursday, August 24
Ak-Chin Pavilion

Foreigner does not hide anything about what you will see when it plays live. Advertising the biggest of their biggest hits (and there are many), Mick Jones and company will play things safe, for understandable reasons. A show without “Cold As Ice,” “Juke Box Hero” or “Say You Will” would not be a complete show, so the bulk of it will be rockers and ballads from the ’70s and ’80s. Lead guitarist (and sole original member) Jones continues to tour with a stable and entertaining lineup featuring lead vocalist Kelly Hansen (who hits with total ease the notes that Lou Gramm hit) and bassist Jeff Pilson, and it’s a big reason why the band is still a hot ticket. They'll be at Ak-Chin Pavilion this week along with fellow rock legends Cheap Trick. Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience opens the evening. Eric Grubbs

Australian Pink Floyd
Thursday, August 24
Talking Stick Resort

A Saucerful of Secrets, The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, The Wall, — Pink Floyd and its albums are so world-renowned and integrated into pop culture that even if you don't like their music you can't help but have a level of respect for it. And if you don't for some reason [talking to you, Sex Pistols fans], then you should check out the Australian Pink Floyd when they float through town this week. Because whether you're a die-hard, candy-flippin' fan or just want to know what they were talking about in Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon, this tribute band does way more than just, well, pay tribute. The Aussie Pink Floyd have sold over 3 million tickets to concerts in 35 countries, and are so good they were even asked by David Gilmour to perform at his 50th birthday party. Since 1988, this group of Floyd fans have honed in on what makes Pink Floyd's music so loved: the pure, visceral feeling behind it. Lauren Wise

Ska stalwarts The Toasters.EXPAND
Ska stalwarts The Toasters.
Courtesy of Next Big Thing PR

The Toasters
Thursday, August 24
Pub Rock Live in Scottsdale

Go to an online search engine and enter "Toasters." The first thing that comes up are numerous sales pitches for the kitchen appliance. Oh, well. Search a little harder, and The Toasters, America's first ska band (though their leader is of English descent) finally appears halfway down the page, even though the band has been playing tight, groove-laden riddims since 1981 and shaping a sound that endures today. In many ways, their relevance in your Google search epitomizes the plight of this multiracial Jamaican roots-based band. The Toasters are trapped between the late-1970s 2-Tone second-wave ska revival and today's more popular third-wave ska bands like Sublime with Rome, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and Reel Big Fish. The Toasters, says founder Robert "Bucket" Hingley, are "the missing link between the two waves." True. When Hingley immigrated in 1979, America had not yet been fully introduced to ska, though the scene across the pond was buzzing with bands like The Specials, Madness, the English Beat, and The Selector. Working off the 2-Tone blueprint, yet adding edgier guitars and a sometimes more aggressive horn section, The Toasters pioneered an original ska style right for the American palate. Thirty years later, it still tastes great. Glenn BurnSilver

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