Against Me! is scheduled to perform on Sunday, September 17, at The Van Buren.
Against Me! is scheduled to perform on Sunday, September 17, at The Van Buren.
Casey Curry

The 13 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

It’s going to be a busy weekend in Phoenix when it comes to concerts. And by that we mean even busier than normal.

Big-name acts like Against Me!, The Stone Foxes, and Future Islands all have gigs taking place during the next few nights at local music venues .

Meanwhile, SunSquabi will be at Shady Park in Tempe on Friday, electronic/noise artist Perturbator is headed for Club Red in Mesa on Saturday, and experimental act GoGo Penguin will be at the MIM on Sunday. Add in an Alice in Wonderland-themed rave, visits from rapper Bishop Lamont and alt-rockers Toad the Wet Sprocket, and you’ve got yourself a packed weekend full of shows.

Read on for more details or hit up our online concert calendar for even more music events this weekend.

Josh Fairman (left), Kevin Donohue (center), and Chris Anderson of SunSquabiEXPAND
Josh Fairman (left), Kevin Donohue (center), and Chris Anderson of SunSquabi
Amanda Piela

Friday, September 15
Shady Park in Tempe

It shouldn’t seem surprising a band with SunSquabi’s pedigree would come from Boulder, Colorado. Even the band’s name has a kind of stoner mountain vibe to it. Yet, SunSquabi is not exactly stoner rock, at least not in the sense of bands (Fu Manchu, Kyuss, Eagles of Death Metal, etc.) typically labeled with that moniker. Why? Because the music is a trippy blend of jazz, funk, cosmic disco, classic rock, and hip-hop fused together with looping technology, live improvisation, and a willingness to take chances.

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Boulder has long been a hotbed for musical improvisation, a place where String Cheese Incident, Leftover Salmon, and Big Head Todd and the Monsters all rose to national prominence. Like those bands, SunSquabi harnesses an improvisational/jamming approach that allows the band to follow any whim or sudden directional shift within set song structures. What sets SunSquabi apart is working off a live looping platform that offers bassist/synth player Josh Fairman and guitarist/keyboard player Kevin Donohue the ability to switch instruments midstream, adding musical layers on the fly. Glenn BurnSilver

Toad the Wet Sprocket is back.EXPAND
Toad the Wet Sprocket is back.
Courtesy of the artist

Toad the Wet Sprocket
Friday, September 15
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Formed in 1986 by high school chums Glenn Phillips – the group's designated singer, songwriter, and guitarist – drummer Randy Guss, guitarist Glen Todd Nichols, and bassist Dean Dinning, Toad the Wet Sprocket borrowed their unusual name from a fictional band profiled in a Monty Python comedy sketch. It was clear from the start, however, that they took their music seriously, and with their third album Fear, they scored a pair of certifiable hits "All I Want" and "Walk on the Ocean," kicking off a chart trajectory.

Soundtrack appearances on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and So I Married an Axe Murderer raised their profile, culminating in their fourth album, Dulcinea, which included another series of successful songs — "Fall Down" and "Something's Always Wrong" chief among them. In Light Syrup, a collection of B sides and rarities, and their initial swan song, 1997's Coil, followed, but a year later the band opted to call it a day. Sporadic one-off reunions took place in the first decade of the new millennium, eventually creating the momentum for an official full-scale regrouping in 2009. Lee Zimmerman

Maurizio Colella, better known as EDX.
Maurizio Colella, better known as EDX.
Courtesy of Sirup Artist Agency

Friday, September 15
Maya Day & Nightclub in Scottsdale

There are many ways for dance-music artists to make a name for themselves, such as blowing up dance floors as a globe-trotting DJ, crafting original tracks as a production wizard or fixing and remixing others' material into new forms. Italian-born EDX carved out his niche with that last option. He's built a reputation as a "genius" (according to Mixmag) by taking good tracks and remixing them into greatness. His style is a high-gloss, club-smashing take on progressive house that incorporates the best elements of trance without undue indulgence in its excesses. You've heard his stamp on work by a diverse range or artists including Dubfire, Deadmau5, Mary J. Blige, Armand van Helden, Steve Angello, Roger Sanchez, Laidback Luke, Armin van Buuren, Kool & the Gang, Kaskade and Lauryn Hill. He's not just a whiz at remixing; he can also work a crowd pretty well live in a club. Hear for yourself when he plays Maya in Scottsdale on Friday. Cory Casciato

The members of Future Islands.EXPAND
The members of Future Islands.
Tom Hines/Billions

Future Islands
Saturday, September 16
The Van Buren

The music of Baltimore-based synthpop trio Future Islands is meant to be experienced live. The group’s interactive shows are bursting with energy, as frontman Sam Herring has a background in performance art and draws inspiration from the likes of Elvis Presley, Ian Curtis, and James Brown. Herring’s improvisational style — ranging from almost uncomfortable eye contact with audience members to weird interpretive dancing and growling — has gone viral and even landed him in the hospital a few times.

Future Islands’ songs pair heartbreaking, earnest lyrics with bouncy beats, so be prepared to move and be moved. Their fifth and most recent album, The Far Field, is propelled by dynamic bass lines, sparkling synths, and pure emotion. The upbeat tracks ease listeners into somber stories of lonely mountain drives, breakups, and unshakeable anxieties. Meagan Mastriani

James Kent of Perturbator.EXPAND
James Kent of Perturbator.
David Fitt

Saturday, September 16
Club Red in Mesa

Paris musician James Kent is at the forefront of a recent movement of electronic music artists that have developed followings among heavy metal fans. Performing under the name Perturbator, Kent puts together aggressive synth-wave compositions that aesthetically evoke a world where the characters of Blade Runner down a bunch of energy drinks and hold an Ultimate Fighting tournament.

Initially self-releasing his music through Bandcamp and SoundCloud, Kent’s haunting songcraft positions him as a next-generation cyberpunk Giorgio Moroder, but the layout and buildup of his best tracks also match the power and atmosphere of contemporary heavy metal. Kent genre-hops even more than that on his latest effort, as he seamlessly puts together instrumental odes inspired by ’70s disco, ’80s film scores and ’90s industrial. Jason Roche

Cigarettes After Sex want to know if it was good for you.EXPAND
Cigarettes After Sex want to know if it was good for you.
Ebru Yildiz

Cigarettes After Sex
Saturday, September 16,
Crescent Ballroom

Not many band names are self-explanatory. You might dig Modest Mouse, The Smashing Pumpkins, and The Arctic Monkeys, but their monikers don’t exactly capture what those bands are about. It’s different for Cigarettes After Sex. The El Paso band’s ambient pop sound is as cool and relaxing as a post-coital smoke.

Front man and songwriter Greg Gonzalez’s dreamy vocals pair off with a simple lineup of delayed lead guitar, ambient reverb, and barely-there bass lines. Although the majority of the songs are about love, they aren’t always rosy. “We had made love earlier that day with no strings attached / But I could tell that something had changed how you looked at me then,” Gonzalez sings on one track. “Well I know full well that you are the patron saint of sucking cock,” he intones on another.

The band has mastered a balance of sweet romance reminiscent of old-school love songs offset with the inescapable realities of modern-day dating, like nude iPhone videos, casual hookups that become something more, and black lipstick. Lindsay Roberts

Emo/post-hardcore act Touché Amoré.
Emo/post-hardcore act Touché Amoré.
Courtesy of Epitaph Records

Touché Amoré
Saturday, September 16
The Underground in Mesa

Touché Amoré has been one of the shining stars of the emo/post-hardcore scene over the last few years. Their style sits comfortably alongside the genre's mainstream forerunners from the past decade like Thursday, but just as easily places them among heavier, more aggressive counterparts like Converge. Sitting on that middle ground has led the the L.A. band to underground acclaim as well as crossover success.

Their 2013 record, Is Survived By, hit No. 85 on the Billboard 200, which is a pretty damn impressive showing for a band that credits little-known screamo acts like Ampere as inspirations. "It's all kind of overwhelming," says front man Jeremy Bolm. "When the band started, I never thought it would be anything outside of playing house shows ... it's pretty crazy." That is where Touché Amoré started, but the band has quickly evolved into something much bigger. They've upgraded from house shows to playing mid-level venues. Perhaps some of their success can be attributed to their lyrics, which Bolm writes with a stunning emotional honesty that truly resonates with fans. Corey Deiterman

Read on for even more great concerts this weekend, including Against Me!, Bishop Lamont, and The Stone Foxes.

Glowver will be in the mix at Alice's Wonderland II this weekend.
Glowver will be in the mix at Alice's Wonderland II this weekend.

Alice's Wonderland II: Gone Mad
Saturday, September 16
Location TBA

Electronic dance music is something that’s typically best enjoyed loud. There’s something about the beats and booms of EDM that just sounds better when its playing at higher volumes. Only problem is, it tends to annoy neighbors or anyone else caught within the blast radius who isn’t into cranking things up to 11. The DJs and attendees of this weekend’s Alice's Wonderland II: Gone Mad won’t have to worry about such things, considering the underground dance party will be taking places far away from civilization in the desert outskirts of the Valley.

As you may have guessed from it’s name, the all-night event on Saturday, September 16, will feature an Alice in Wonderland theme, including a people wearing costumes, a sunrise Mad Tea Party, and “totally bonkers vibes.” Local DJs will spin EDM underneath the stars for 10 straight hours while attendees venture down the rabbit hole into a dance wonderland. The lineup will include sets by Desert Shamans, Dark Mark, Grund, Soulece, Detcord, RWDY, Six Un Deux, W4VY, Xochique, and Tempus. Event co-promoter Glowver will also be in the mix and will be celebrating her birthday that night. The party goes from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. Admission is $15 in advance, $20 at the door. The location will be revealed on the night of event via Facebook. Benjamin Leatherman

West Coast rapper Bishop Lamont.EXPAND
West Coast rapper Bishop Lamont.
Courtesy of Coolin' Out

Bishop Lamont
Saturday, September 16
The Rebel Lounge

A veteran of the hip-hop game for 20-plus, Bishop Lamont’s lengthy career as a rapper has been through a few phases. A former protege of Dr. Dre in the mid-aughts, Lamont made a big splash under the tutelage of the hip-hop legend, appeared on several soundtracks, and put out a few notable mixtapes and albums (including collaborating with the Fat Beats-signed, Motown-based, Black Milk on 2009’s Caltroit).

Lamont wound up walking away from Dre’s Aftermath label in 2010 and pursuing his own path, including dropping the his long-promised album The Reformation, originally announced as far back as 2009 was finally released last year under the title The Reformation: G.D.N.I.A.F.T. (We’ll allow you to seek out the meaning of that particular acronym. Known for their nimble wordplay and uncompromising attitude, which should make for an exciting, unpredictable night on Saturday when Lamont performs at The Rebel Lounge. Lord Kash and ZeeDubb of The Stakes will open and DJs Blesd1 and Les735 will be in the mix. Andy Hermann

Against Me!EXPAND
Against Me!
Jason Thrasher

Against Me! & Bleached
Sunday, September 17
The Van Buren

Laura Jane Grace inspired people far beyond the sometimes-insular world of punk rock when the Against Me! vocalist announced she was transgender in 2012. Even with all the support she received as the leader of a popular band, Grace still had to struggle with the negative reactions she received from some friends, fans and family members, which was nothing compared to the crippling self-doubt she revealed about the difficult process in her 2016 memoir, Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout.

Grace’s saving grace has always been her wicked wit on such proudly defiant tracks as “Delicate, Petite & Other Things I’ll Never Be,” from the 2016 album, Shape Shift With Me. Opening act Bleached are a seemingly poppy contrast with Against Me!’s rage, but Jennifer Clavin’s sugary melodies are couched with sly observations and soaring power chords. Falling James

Courtesy of the artist

Sunday, September 17
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Epica is not to be taken lightly. Yes, the Dutch symphonic metal band features string instrumentals and choral scores juxtaposed with mad-crazy guitar licks and death grunts. Yes, angel-voiced front woman Simone Simmons is fucking hot. Yes, she's featured prominently (and occasionally somewhat nekkid) on several of Epica's album covers. But despite all these less-than-brutal facts, Epica rocks — hardcore, balls-out. Because you know what's really brutal, and truly blacker than the blackest black, times infinity? I'll tell you: real-world evil. Emotion. The human condition. Lacuna Coil is also on the bill. Tara Nieuwesteeg

The members of blues roch/hard rock band The Stone Foxes.EXPAND
The members of blues roch/hard rock band The Stone Foxes.
Mike Rosati

The Stone Foxes
Sunday, September 17
Crescent Ballroom

The Stone Foxes have been anything but conventional since the rock band formed over a decade ago. For starters, the San Francisco-based outfit opted to self-release their albums, while supplementing with placements on TV shows like Shameless and commercials for Jack Daniels.

That’s given The Stone Foxes the freedom to explore new ideas, like the time they recorded 12 songs in a breakneck 12 days. They released their most recent album, 2015’s Twelve Spells, over the course of several weeks, dropping a new song every Friday. Then, the band released all the tracks together with live versions, bonus tracks, and photos. The group’s also had their hand in philanthropy, starting the Goodnight Moon Project to raise awareness of homelessness through music. They collected donations at their shows and wrote music with shelter patrons. They released a new song called “Fight” in July and will kick off their Fall Gigantour with the release of a new EP called Visalia on September 15. Ashley Harris

GoGo Penguin is a whirlwind of experimental sounds.
GoGo Penguin is a whirlwind of experimental sounds.
Courtesy of Blue Note Records

GoGo Penguin
Sunday, September 17
Musical Instrument Museum

The forward-thinking Manchester, England-based trio GoGo Penguin is a squarely acoustic act with a piano, an upright bass and a drum kit, but the group's songs are interpretations of electronic-music projects the act first builds on a computer using software like Logic or Ableton.

Take “Initiate,” from last year’s Blue Note album Man Made Object. When drummer Rob Turner brought an electronic-music project he had built to pianist Chris Illingworth and bassist Nick Blacka, it had African and tribal samples and wild percussion, but no drum kit or piano. “It had really weird synth sounds and then just loads and loads of really sine-wave sub-y kinds of bass,” Illingworth says. “I remember just thinking, ‘I can do that.' I was saying to Rob, ‘Give me that tune. I’ll go out and do some work with it.’”

Even when the songs are reinterpreted on acoustic instruments, they sometimes sound like electronica songs thanks to Turner’s inventive drumming and percussion. The music evokes Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Orbital and Massive Attack, all bands the musicians admire. Jon Solomon

Editor's note: The original version of this list incorrectly identified the current lineup of SunSquabi. It has since been corrected. New Times sincerely regrets the error.

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