The 11 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

Ghastly is scheduled to perform on Saturday, June 2, at The Van Buren.EXPAND
Ghastly is scheduled to perform on Saturday, June 2, at The Van Buren.
Courtesy of Circle Talent Agency
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The first weekend of June in the Valley certainly isn't lacking in big concerts.

Prominent acts and artists like Night Riots, Calexico, D.O.A., and Alex Lahey all have shows scheduled at music venues around Phoenix over the next few nights. Ditto for local standouts Playboy Manbaby and RPM Orchestra.

Meanwhile, homegrown electronic dance music superstar Ghastly will return to Phoenix for a packed gig at The Van Buren, a Talking Heads-themed dance night will happen at Valley Bar, and the latest Full Moon Festival will take over The Pressroom.

Details about each of these gigs can be found in our list of the best concerts in the Phoenix area this weekend. And for even more music events happening around town, check out Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar.

The musicians of alt rock/power pop band Night Riots.EXPAND
The musicians of alt rock/power pop band Night Riots.
Courtesy of Sumerian Records

Night Riots
Friday, June 1
Valley Bar

The band that go to middle school together, stay together. Well, that’s true at least in the case of Los Angeles based five-piece alt-rockers Night Riots. The friends learned to play music together before they started high school and still maintain that original lineup, minus a switch in drummers years ago.

Keeping a solid and straightforward rock ’n’ roll foundation, Night Riots have enhanced their sound with slight changes since they started dropping releases in 2010. At times, their blend of rock leans more toward ’80s synth, while at other times their rolling intros that launch into edgier, driving songs are reminiscent of more recent acts like The Killers.

What does thread through the band’s music is a sense of nostalgia that comes more from the lyrics, and an ever-present wistful vibe, than from sharing sounds of bands that came before them. 2013’s “Loyal Blood” from their Young Lore record examines youthful recklessness on a tune about one of those unforgettable, unplanned magical nights, “Stayed up all night long / Hellfire in our bones.”

Their most recent release, Love Gloom, goes deep into the well of love and desperation with a collection of brooding tunes that offer enough hopeful sentiments and poppy beats to keep you elevated throughout the dark journey. Amy Young

Local electronica artist E Alo.
Local electronica artist E Alo.
Ray Squared Productions

Full Moon Festival: Pink Moon
Friday, June 1
The Pressroom

One of the most important things about maintaining a solid music scene is actually caring about it. Besides attending the occasional show or buying merchandise from their favorite musician, the average listener of the average music scene doesn’t support beyond that. Without sustained support for the community, it is hard for a scene to truly showcase, and promote, the hidden talent it holds.

Locally, events like the Full Moon Festival, the increasingly popular multigenre festival, are specifically designed to shine a light on some of the amazing artists that are on the rise. Founder and cultivator 31-year-old Jonathan Luther, once a musician himself, understands the importance of movements like these and hopes his efforts will help.

“I want to do whatever it takes to serve the Phoenix artistic community,” Luther says. “Our goal is to make it the number one platform for local Phoenix artists to get their name out there.”

True to form, the latest edition of the festival, which takes place on Friday at The Pressroom, will feature performances by a slew of local musicians and DJs. The lineup will include sets by such artists and acts as E Alo, Sunset Voodoo, The Color 8, Benji Fly, Micro Future, AtreeTalking, Andy Warpigs, DeLa Preme, and many others. Doors open at 8:08 p.m. and admission is $15. Jaron Ikner

Joey Burns and John Convertino of Calexico.EXPAND
Joey Burns and John Convertino of Calexico.
Jairo Zavala

Friday, June 1
The Van Buren

For the past two decades, the Tucson desert-noir ensemble Calexico have consistently reigned as the most satisfyingly ambitious American rock band going. Guitarist-singer Joey Burns and drummer John Convertino’s sun-scorched sonic treks are a plentiful, rich catalog of alt-country–tinged tunes with burnished-gold scents and flavors that balloon outward in fascinating (and tasty) weavings of cumbia, flamenco and mariachi, gently futuristic electronic bleepery, and even avant-ish contemporary classical tonalities, all the better to serve their probing flights into the beckoning desert light and its even pricklier nights. John Payne

The boys of Playboy Manbaby.
The boys of Playboy Manbaby.
Jim Louvau

Playboy Manbaby
Friday, June 1
The Rebel Lounge

Some bands sound like the electricity that’s powering their instruments is surging into their bodies. Dayton nerd-punks Brainiac and the noisy Japanese Devo-worshippers in Polysics come to mind, but you don’t have to go as far as Osaka or Ohio to find a group that sounds as fired up with energy as Ben Franklin’s kite. Just look in your own backyard: Odds are good Arizona’s very own Playboy Manbaby are doing a set there.

Standing still at a Playboy Manbaby show seems to be an impossibility for both the audience and the band themselves. The band merges the party-happy vibe of ska with punk fury, yelping B-52-esque vocals, and thoughtful, smart-assy lyrics. PM’s Robbie Pfeiffer remains one of the Valley’s most memorable frontmen: His vocals twitch and bounce and leap all over their records and live shows, as malleable and rubbery as a cartoon character that’s been hit with an anvil.

While their live shows are essential, records like Lobotomobile and Don’t Let It Be show that the band has the songwriting smarts and studio chops that they could pull an XTC tomorrow, retire from performing live, and still be a group worth following. Ashley Naftule

Ghastly returns to The Van Buren this weekend.EXPAND
Ghastly returns to The Van Buren this weekend.
Benjamin Leatherman

Saturday, June 2
The Van Buren

Like any electronic dance music artist who’s skyrocketed to fame, there are plenty of wild rumors and curious stories associated with bass music producer Ghastly. Some are actually true. Like, for instance, the fact he was raised on a goat farm over in Buckeye and started crafting beats at the age of 16 before moving to LA and living out of his van while attempting to break into the EDM biz.

Here’s another fact: Ghastly, whose real name is David Crow, has spent most of the last decade building an impressive catalog of bass-heavy tracks, including many he’s created for Skrillex’s OWSLA label and in collaboration with such artists as Getter, Brillz, and Zomboy.

This weekend, Ghastly will return to the Valley for a hometown gig at The Van Buren. The last time he performed at the venue, it was a near sellout and promoters are expecting the same for his show on Saturday. In other words, you'd better get tickets while you still can. And that's a fact. Benjamin Leatherman

Iconic punk band D.O.A.EXPAND
Iconic punk band D.O.A.
Mike Duddy

D.O.A. & MDC
Saturday, June 2
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Seething, agitated and anarchistic, D.O.A. continues to unleash tuneful and frenzied songs, proving they are far from retired. For 40 years now, the band has unleashed rock 'n' roll tethered to lumberjack toughness and 'green' environmental issues. They balance flannel-shirt, beer-smeared, hockey-drenched jukebox drunkenness with punk savagery, aggressive politics and worldly wisdom deploring both corporate madness and lazy public attitudes.

At the helm, singer/guitarist Joey "Shithead" Keithley has always stared down power by culling the hefty history of leftism. He's not Bruce Springsteen waxing sentimental about rivers and steel towns; instead, he exposes fault lines of religion, police brutality, and economic woes. And he’s truly one of punk rock’s more notable icons.

This weekend, D.O.A. and the equally iconic punk act MDC invade the Marquee Theatre in Tempe. Krovak, The Linecutters, FOL, and Ass Wipe Junkies will open. David Ensminger

Diamanté Anthony Blackmon, better known as Carnage.EXPAND
Diamanté Anthony Blackmon, better known as Carnage.
Courtesy of Paradigm Agency

Saturday, June 2
Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale

Summer in the Valley means pool parties and lots of ’em. And many of these swim soirees boast a mix of DJs, dance music, and drinks. Take the weekly Release Pool Party at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, for instance. The afternoon-long affair typically features hundreds of patrons in bikinis and bathing suits partying both in and out of the resort’s pool, while superstar mixmasters lay down beats aplenty.

That will certainly be the scene at the latest edition of Release on Saturday, June 2, which will include a spin session from DJ Carnage. Food and drinks will be served at the pool area’s two bars. Cabana and daybed rentals are also available. The 21-and-over party runs from noon until 6 p.m. Admission is $20 per person. Benjamin Leatherman

Enter Alice in Wonderland's world with Phoenix band RPM Orchestra at FilmBar.EXPAND
Enter Alice in Wonderland's world with Phoenix band RPM Orchestra at FilmBar.
Courtesy of RPM Orchestra

RPM Orchestra's Alice in Wonderland Silent Film Score
Saturday, June 2

Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has inspired several film adaptations, including Walt Disney’s Technicolor, musical cartoon version in 1951, and the 2010 film directed by Tim Burton. But the first film version was released in 1915, on multiple film reels. You can see the early film take on Alice at FilmBar at 10 p.m. on Saturday, June 2. It’s a dark, silent 52-minute fantasy film called Alice in Wonderland. Tickets are $12.

RPM Orchestra, a Phoenix-based quartet that plays proto-industrial Americana music, will perform its original score for the film that night seated near the screen. It’s one of 12 film scores written by RPM Orchestra. The instrument lineup includes banjo, flute, percussion, and shortwave radio. “We want to capture the mood of the film and draw people into it,” says RPM founder Pete Petrisko. “It’s a surreal, dreamy film score.” Lynn Trimble

David Byrne and Talking Heads will be feted this weekend at Valley Bar.EXPAND
David Byrne and Talking Heads will be feted this weekend at Valley Bar.
Catalina Kulczar

Making Flippy Floppy - A Talking Heads Dance Nite
Saturday, June 2
Valley Bar

Still jonesing for a David Byrne fix since his epic Valley performance in April? If so, you’re not the only one. Local DJ and dance night promoter A Claire Slattery is still going through withdrawals after experiencing the emotional high of the show, which has been heralded as one of the best concerts in the Valley this year. “It was incredible. I feel like that show changed my entire perspective of what seeing a band could be,” Slattery says. “I always appreciate when artists add production [or] performance elements to their sets, but this was just beyond.”

It’s one of the reasons why she decided to put on Making Flippy Floppy, a dance night on Saturday, June 2, at Valley Bar, which celebrates Byrne’s best-known act Talking Heads. Slattery was also inspired by a recent David Bowie tribute night that friend and fellow DJ Xam Renn put on recently. “I was thinking about how much Talking Heads has influenced me as an artist and a person,” Slattery says. “Coming off of a really cool night that [Xam Renn] put together celebrating the life of David Bowie, who is one of his favorites, I thought it would be fun to pay homage to one of mine.”

Slattery and Xam Renn will both spin a mix of mostly Talking Heads songs during the party, as well as tracks from Byrne’s solo albums. You’ll also hear jams by Tom Tom Club, the early ’80s New Wave band featuring Talking Heads members Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz. Slattery says she’ll also project the Byrne-centric flicks Stop Making Sense and True Stories on the wall during the event, which starts at 10 p.m. Admission is free. Benjamin Leatherman

Australian-born singer-songwriter Alex Lahey.EXPAND
Australian-born singer-songwriter Alex Lahey.
Giulia McGauran

Alex Lahey
Sunday, June 3
The Rebel Lounge

Imagine if Hayley Williams had ditched the dudes in Paramore and struck out as a solo songwriter, developing a surf-rock sound with soaring pop choruses and specific-as-hell lyrics. Well, then, she would sound a lot like Alex Lahey.

Lahey is a 20-something Aussie whose 2017 full-length, I Love You Like a Brother, was largely underappreciated in this hemisphere, though it’s chock-full of gems. Lahey’s persona is scrappy, with the clever self-deprecation of Courtney Barnett (she wrote a song called “Perth Traumatic Stress Disorder”), but she’s also got an undeniably tight grip on blast-off pop hooks.

She looks up to Dolly Parton and Bruce Springsteen, and like those idols, she has a way with metaphor: On “Backpack,” for instance, Lahey clings to a lover who she knows is unavailable, singing, “It’s hard for me to put my arms around you / When your backpack’s on.” Katie Moulton

Kansas (from left): Richard Williams, Billy Greer, Zak Rizvi, Phil Ehart, Ronnie Platt, David Manion, and David Ragsdale.
Kansas (from left): Richard Williams, Billy Greer, Zak Rizvi, Phil Ehart, Ronnie Platt, David Manion, and David Ragsdale.
Michie Turpin

Sunday, June 3
Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale

Kansas could have called it quits when legendary singer and keyboardist Steve Walsh departed in the not-so-distant past. Instead, the veteran rockers carried on with only two original members remaining – guitarist Rich Williams and drummer Phil Ehart – and put out The Prelude Implicit, their first new studio album in 16 years. Released in 2016, the 10-song disc shows the septet in fine form, with the musical aptitude and impressive chops fans have come to expect, proving that rock isn’t always a young man’s game.

Currently, Kansas is on tour performing a combination of their radio and fan favorites (including their tireless hard rock hit “Carry On Wayward Son”) along with material from The Prelude Implicit. It’s a show that should meet the cravings of hungry crowds with a musically intricate output. Chris Callaway

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