The 12 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

Lætitia Sadier and the other members of her Source Ensemble.
Lætitia Sadier and the other members of her Source Ensemble. Olia Eichenbaum
Watchu got going on this weekend? If your answer to this semi-rhetorical question involves something about killing time until Sunday’s episodes of either Rick and Morty or Game of Thrones (or both) hit your TV screens, then you really oughta get out more.

Look, we love those shows, too. A lot. But it’s really a shame if you center your entire weekend around ‘em.

There are plenty of other things to do over the next few days that don’t involve the adventures of Rick Sanchez or Jon Snow. Like maybe checking out a concert or dance music events happening around the Valley.

AJJ will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its breakthrough album, People Who Can Eat People Are the Luckiest People in the World, at the Trunk Space all weekend long. The heavy metal heroes of Slayer and Lamb of God are due in town this weekend for gigs, as are Pickwick, country star Sam Hunt, hip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces, and the Lætitia Sadier Source Ensemble.

There are also a few events honoring dearly departed music legends, including tribute nights to Glen Campbell, Sharon Jones and Dimebag Darrell.

Plus, there are a couple of EDM superstars headlining pool parties, and Cactus Jack’s in Ahwatukee will attempt to recreate Woodstock, complete with hippie jams and a giant mudslide. No joke.

Details on all of these shows and events can be found in the following list of the best concerts in Phoenix this weekend. And for even more gigs, hit up our extensive online music listings.

click to enlarge Lætitia Sadier and the other members of her Source Ensemble. - OLIA EICHENBAUM
Lætitia Sadier and the other members of her Source Ensemble.
Olia Eichenbaum
Lætitia Sadier Source Ensemble
Friday, August 18
Valley Bar

First with Stereolab, and on her own since 2010, French songwriter Lætitia Sadier has pioneered a fusion of socialist poetry and exotica, making space-age bachelor music for the kind of kids who’ve got red roses in their Twitter profiles. Driven by motorik ticks and charging psychedelia, her songs have always been as lush as they are strident, blending Brazilian tropicália and feathery lounge pop. Along the way, she’s lent her cool, high vocals to rapper like Common and Tyler, the Creator, avant-electronic acts like Mouse on Mars, and indie rocker Bradford Cox of Deerhunter’s side project Atlas Sound. On Finding Me Finding You, her first album leading the newly christened Lætitia Sadier Source Ensemble, her voice sounds immediately familiar, as does her smooth, synth-dappled sonic framework. Close your eyes during “Psychology Active (Finding You”) right after the fuzz guitar comes in, and you’d be forgiven for assuming you’re listening to a lost Emperor Tomato Ketchup B-side. But Sadier is devoted to progress in subtle ways, and the album finds her oblique polemics fashioned into warm, humanist pleas. “To feel good above all else / Is my preference,” she coos, growing more strident as she sums up the necessity of truly radical mindsets. “Status, prestige, prominence, don’t mean a thing at this time.” Jason P. Woodbury

click to enlarge Ben Gallaty (left) and Sean Bonnette of AJJ. - ERICA LAUREN
Ben Gallaty (left) and Sean Bonnette of AJJ.
Erica Lauren
Friday, August 18, to Sunday, August 20
Trunk Space

Ten years ago, AJJ released People Who Can Eat People Are the Luckiest People in the World, the Phoenix-born folk-punk band’s second recording. The band formed in 2004 with core members Sean Bonnette (vocals, guitar) and Ben Gallaty (bass, vocals). Different members have contributed since then, and the lineup currently includes Preston Bryant (guitar, keyboards, and vocals), Mark Glick (cello), and touring drummer Owen Evans.
When they kick off a fall 2017 tour in what Bonnette describes as “old-school style, with just Ben and I,” all those supporters will be out in full force. So far, four of the five shows at The Trunk Space, where the tour begins, are completely sold out. The pair will revisit music from that release and more. It’s as meaningful for Trunk Space owner Steph Carrico to have them celebrate People at the DIY venue as it is for the band, their friends, and fans. “In the early days, AJJ played to a room of less than 10 people more times than I can count, but they stuck with it and didn’t give up,” Carrico says. “They’ve put in their 10,000 hours, and I’m proud to see my friends experience such success. We are honored to get to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of People with Sean and Ben.” All of AJJ's shows this weekend are sold out, with the exception of the Sunday matinee performance starting at 3 p.m. Better grab tickets while you can, however, since that one's like to be a sellout, too. Amy Young

click to enlarge Country singer Sam Hunt ain't Conway Twitty, nor is he Luke Bryan. - COURTESY OF UMG NASHVILLE
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, his 2014 album 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

The late Darrell “Dimebag” Abbott. - COURTESY DAN MCNEW
The late Darrell “Dimebag” Abbott.
Courtesy Dan McNew
DimeFest 2017
Saturday, August 19
Joe's Grotto

It it doesn't matter if you are a fan of Pantera or not – there's no denying that the late Darrell “Dimebag” Abbott was a natural genius on the guitar. His speedy fingers, twangy blues-meets-speed metal style, and rampaging riffs. There's no doubt that his talent would've progressed much further. That's why every year around the musician's August 20 birthday, heavy metal fans all over the U.S. organize DimeFest. Here in the Valley, it’s taken place the past few years at hesher haven Joe’s Grotto. And at this year’s event, which takes place on Saturday at the venue, expect to see two stages of just about every hard-hitting local musician paying tribute to Dime by way of deep metal grooves, shred-tastic riffs, and powerful vocals. While we can always expect to see some Pantera and Damage Plan jams, I’m guessing there’s some amazing stuff in store for us this year. The lineup includes sets by Autumn’s End, Sectas, Footer, Bleed the Fifth, Sick Black Automatic, Dutch Rosenburg Theater, A Deadly Awakening, Throttlehead, and local Pantera tribute band Cowboys N Hell. Getcha pull! Lauren Wise

World-renowned DJ/producer Kaskade. - TIMOTHY NORRIS
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

click to enlarge A scene from the original Woodstock in 1969. - MARK GOFF/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
A scene from the original Woodstock in 1969.
Mark Goff/via Wikimedia Commons
Woodstock Tribute Festival
Saturday, August 19
Cactus Jack's in Ahwatukee

The original Woodstock is widely considered to be one of the most legendary and influential concert festivals in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. And local musician Billy Dutton and the other organizers behind this weekend’s Woodstock Tribute Festival at Cactus Jack’s are hoping to channel the spirit of the 1969 event. “We're doing everything we can to recreate the atmosphere of Woodstock. That's the goal,” he says. As such, the indoor and outdoor festival will feature acts like Supernatual (which pays homage to Santana) and The Whose (who cover the songs of Pete Townsend and company). Dutton’s Band The Harvest will also play Greatful Dead tunes, Nina Curri will pay tribute to Joan Baez, Jennifer Hogenson will sing the songs of Janis Joplin, and a trio of musicians will recreate Ravi Shankar’s famed sitar set from Woodstock. Someone will even pay homage to Jimi Hendrix's memorable version of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Dutton says the event will be more than just musical mimmicry. “It’s not just tribute bands,” he says. “We’re also going to have all these other aspects as well.” Like a 20-foot high mud waterslide outside of the venue, tie-dye everything, attendees in costume, and even someone jumping on the house mic to urge people not to take the brown acid. “100 percent that's going to happen,” Dutton says, laughing. “A number of things you would’ve heard at Woodstock, we're going to have someone doing that.” Benjamin Leatherman

Read on for even more great concerts and music events this weekend, including Pickwick, Shabazz Palaces, and Slayer.
The late Sharon Jones at a 2015 concert. - TIMOTHY NORRIS
The late Sharon Jones at a 2015 concert.
Timothy Norris
Cover the Crescent: A Tribute to Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
Saturday, August 19
Crescent Ballroom
The music of the late Sharon Jones, who sadly passed away in 2016, and Daptone Records will be celebrated this weekend during the latest edition of the ongoing Cover the Crescent series. Local acts and artists like Hot Birds and the Chili Sauce, Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra, NDGO Sista, and The Geibral Elisha Movement will each perform sets featuring songs from throughout Jones’ epic career, as well as selections by such Daptone Records artists as The Budos Band, Antibalas, Sugarman 3, Menahan Street Band, and others. DJ Pickster One of The Blunt Club will also spin a special Daptone session. The event will also benefit the Lustgarten Foundation Pancreatic Cancer Research and local charity The Joy Bus. Benjamin Leatherman

click to enlarge The musicians of Pickwick. - ELLIE LILLSTROM
The musicians of Pickwick.
Ellie Lillstrom
Sunday, August 20
Valley Bar

Following the success of their 2013 debut LP Can’t Talk Medicine, Seattle’s Pickwick ran full-speed ahead through festival gigs and opening slots with Neko Case, Black Joe Lewis, and more. Fueled by that momentum, they jumped back into the studio, writing a staggering 40 new songs toward a new album. Then, they hit a wall. Originally a folk outfit, the band shifted focus to dreamy soul and R&B. By album two, some bands might double down on their sound, but Pickwick couldn’t agree on where they were headed with the new material. Things got so tense that percussionist and producer Kory Kruckenberg left altogether. However, Kruckenberg’s departure was the reset button the band needed. They scrapped songs and found a new producer in Erik Blood (Shabazz Palaces, Tacocat). They stopped overthinking and learned to enjoy the process. Their sophomore album, Lovejoys, was released last month. Phoenix will mark the fifth stop on a headlining tour, and Cataldo will open the show at Valley Bar on August 20. Ashley Harris

click to enlarge Tendai Maraire and Ishmael Butler of Shabazz Palaces. - VICTORIA KOVIOS
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

click to enlarge Slayer's bringing the relentless metal. - ANDREW STUART
Slayer's bringing the relentless metal.
Andrew Stuart
Slayer & Lamb of God
Sunday, August 20
Comerica Theatre

Now 30-some years removed from their 1986 thrash-metal classic Reign in Blood, Slayer are settling well into their status as extreme-metal elder statesmen. Regrouping with new band members in the wake of the 2013 death of guitarist and founding member Jeff Hanneman, bassist-vocalist Tom Araya and guitarist Kerry King unleashed 2015’s Repentless and showed that there is still plenty of anger and aggression left in Slayer’s tank. Lamb of God are one of the bigger names still standing from the early 2000s’ new wave of American heavy metal. Albums such as 2015’s VII: Sturm und Drang showcase the Virginia act’s blend of punishing metal fury and power-groove riffs cribbed from Pantera’s playbook, which has made them an heir to that long-defunct band’s throne as champions of meat-and-potatoes, riff-driven metal. Opening the evening will be extreme metal act Behemoth. Jason Roche

click to enlarge The bass fiends of Knife Party. - RUKES
The bass fiends of Knife Party.
Knife Party
Sunday, August 20
Maya Day & Nightclub in Scottsdale

Triple-degree temperatures won’t be the only thing melting faces at Maya Day & Nightclub in Scottsdale this weekend. Rob Swire and Gareth McGrillen, better known as electronic dance music duo Knife Party, will be blasting their bombastic concoctions of electro, trap, and (of course) dubstep during the latest Soundwave pool party on Sunday, August 20, at Maya. You can expect the same sort of bass-heavy and insidious-sounding dance music that helped propel Knife Party into the EDM stratosphere in 2012 with such tracks as “Internet Friends,” “Bonfire,” and “Centipede.” You’re likely to hear all three during their performance, as well as more recent efforst as “PLUR Police,” the 2015 song from the Trigger Warning EP that pokes fun at EDM culture, and last year’s “Battle Sirens,” their collaboration with guitarist Tom Morello. Benjamin Leatherman

Tribute to Glen Campbell
Sunday, August 20
Rhythm Room
The singer behind “Rhinestone Cowboy” and other notable hits sadly rode into the sunset earlier this month, leaving behind an enormous musical legacy and expansive catalog of songs that helped define country music for decades. You’ll hear a variety of these tunes, including those of the big hit and deep cut variety, during an evening-long tribute to Glen Campbell and his music on Sunday at the Rhythm Room. Local country, Americana, folk, and rockabilly artists are scheduled to perform, including the the Mike Eldred Trio, Brea Burns, Pat Roberts, Laura Walsh, Matthew Reveles, Jim Bachmann, Mario Moreno, Elgin, Andy Gonzales, and Hank Topless. Doors open at 5 p.m. and admission is free. Benjamin Leatherman
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.