The 10 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

MisterWives is scheduled to perform on Friday, September 29, at The Van Buren.
MisterWives is scheduled to perform on Friday, September 29, at The Van Buren. Courtesy of Photo Finish Records
Got any big plans for the weekend? We hope so, considering there’s plenty going on.

That includes a variety of fantastic concerts and live music events happening at venues of both big and small throughout the Valley.

Highlights of this weekend include performances by notable indie acts like !!! (Chk Chk Chk) and MisterWives, a gig by up-and-coming blues-rock star Benjamin Booker, and local punk act JJCnV celebrating the release of their latest album.

Plus, partymeister extraordinaire Andrew W.K. is coming to town for what we expect will be a memorable show.

Details about each all of these events can be found in the following rundown of the best concerts in Phoenix this weekend. (And for even more shows, be sure to check our extensive online music listings.)

click to enlarge EDM artist Claptone. - COURTESY OF JACKMODE MANAGEMENT
EDM artist Claptone.
Courtesy of Jackmode Management
Friday, September 29
Shady Park in Tempe

Claptone isn’t a person – he’s an idea. Like many influential electronic dance music acts before him (most obviously, Daft Punk), Claptone wears a mask. His has a long golden beak, and his persona is meant to give a surreal sense of medieval wanderings. Claptone is the creature. His music is anything but a roar, though.

Dreamy and unobtainable, his melodies float in and out of existence, changing and evolving throughout individual tracks. He’s got ambient sound down to a science, and he laces it with pointed grooves you’d never expect.

This weekend, Claptone visits Shady Park in Tempe and will likely light up the night at the indoor/outdoor venue with his sounds. Sarah Purkrabek

click to enlarge Chk Chk Chk, or !!!, if you must. - EREZ AVISSAR
Chk Chk Chk, or !!!, if you must.
Erez Avissar
!!! (Chk Chk Chk)
Friday, September 29
Crescent Ballroom

“Dancing Is the Best Revenge,” proclaim !!! (usually pronounced Chk Chk Chk) on the band’s latest album, Shake the Shudder. If anyone would know that for certain, it’s this New York-based outfit.

In 2003, the band made a splash with the single “Me and Giuliani Down by the School Yard (A True Story),” a dance-rock jam that also served as a slam against NYC’s cabaret laws. When their full-length Louden Up Now hit a year later, they included “Pardon My Freedom,” a protest of Bush-era conservatism made for the dance floor.

With Shake the Shudder, released in May, they keep up the beat as much as the commentary, particular on the incredibly funky “Five Companies” (“Five companies, running everything I see around me”). No doubt, we need !!! as much now as we did in the early years of the 21st century. Liz Ohanesian

Melina Duterte, better known as Jay Som. - CARA ROBINS
Melina Duterte, better known as Jay Som.
Cara Robins
Jay Som
Friday, September 29
Valley Bar

When a musician says she recorded an album in her bedroom, you probably imagine plaintive acoustic songs or hushed lo-fi efforts. The kind of music that breathes softly in your ear.

Jay Som’s Melina Duterte records all her work alone in her bedroom. But her albums aren’t whispy and balladeering. They’re a dizzying swirl of genres. Duterte can switch effortlessly from warped guitar sounds and feedback-laced shoegaze in songs like “1 Billion Dogs” and “(BedHead).” But she also has sweet, slinking funk at her disposal, as evidenced on “One More Time, Please” and “Baybee” (whose wonderful music video features Duterte having a dance party inside a ski gondola). This is bedroom pop as heavily influenced by ethereal 4AD records as it is by grand orchestral pop music.

What ties all these sounds together is Duterte’s compelling voice. She sounds fragile and introverted, which makes a compelling contrast with the grandeur of her music. Her lyrics dig deep into the compromises that keep relationships alive, and they explore the self-sacrifice and patience needed to keep a good thing going. It’s music made by someone who sounds wise beyond their 20-something years. Ashley Naftule

click to enlarge MisterWives - COURTESY OF PHOTO FINISH RECORDS
Courtesy of Photo Finish Records
Friday, September 29
The Van Buren

In a music culture where the single most respected musician on the planet might well be Beyoncé, pop sensibilities are valuable currency. These are exciting times to be a fan of a well-crafted hook and an indelible melody, even if the majority of bands trying to create those things can’t manage anything truly worthwhile.

That’s because we occasionally wind up with a band like New York’s MisterWives: a trio equally capable of bombast and precision, one that earns its clap-along choruses with inventive, soul-inflected grooves and unexpected rhythms.

The act released their EP Reflections in early 2014 to hype from many a media outlet, and have followed up with performances around the country. Their latest album, Connect the Dots, dropped in May to plenty of fanfare. Kiernan Maletsky

click to enlarge Blues-rock guitarist Benjamin Booker. - JAMIE LEWIS
Blues-rock guitarist Benjamin Booker.
Jamie Lewis
Benjamin Booker
Saturday, September 30
Crescent Ballroom

Presumably born out of a velvety haze of smoke, grit and Southern charm comes 20-something Benjamin Booker. The NOLA-based blues-rocker has been charming the socks off of everyone from Alabama Shakes producer Andrija Tokic to Jack White; he even opened for White on the Lazaretto tour a few years ago.

Booker's music is the type of hip-shaking rock 'n' roll that mother's used to warn their children about. His voice is timeless, too, much like local soul phenom Leon Bridges and at 25 it just seems to be getting better with age. With all the hype surrounding this emerging artist, Booker’s show at the Crescent Ballroom this weekend is you definitely don't want to miss. She Keeps Bees opens. Molly Mollotova
The members of Reel Big Fish. - JONATHAN THORPE
The members of Reel Big Fish.
Jonathan Thorpe
SanTan Brewing's Oktoberfest
Saturday, September 30
Dr. AJ Chandler Park in Chandler

With the coming of October inevitably comes the onslaught of Oktoberfest events and parties across the Valley. This particular celebration, which is being put on by the local beer barons at SanTan Brewing, has the honor of being the first one. It also boasts an impressive lineup of live music acts, which runs the gamut from rock and pop to country and even ska.

Speaking of the the Jamaican-born genre, alt-radio favorites Reel Big Fish, which broke through into the mainstream during the mid-’90s ska boom, will co-headline the event along with local rock stars Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers. Other bands, local or otherwise, that are scheduled to perform at the affair include Ken Levine's Funkhaus Brass Band, Good Rust, Clint Stevens Band, Moment of Ruin, Darkness Dear Boy. Gates open at 3 p.m. General admission is $12-$15, veterans get in for $7, and VIP admission is $100. Benjamin Leatherman

click to enlarge Pete Hinz, Jeff Barthold, and Dana Stern of JJCnV. - FRANK C PHOTOGRAPHY
Pete Hinz, Jeff Barthold, and Dana Stern of JJCnV.
Frank C Photography
Saturday, September 30
Palo Verde Lounge in Tempe

Early on, Phoenix punk band JJCnV had to succumb to “the man.” When they formed around 2005, the trio were called Janis Joplin Crap N Vomit, but they were served a cease-and-desist letter by the Joplin estate.

Without skipping a beat, they simply abbreviated the name to JJCnV and let fans decide what they thought it meant (“Juggling Juicy Coconuts Never Vexes,” or “Just Jungle Curry, No Vitamins,” were among the favorites in our 2008 profile of the band).

That minor corporate run-in was just a blip in more than a decade of creative freedom, with the band releasing six albums on their own Flab Fjord label. When it came to recording their seventh, they appreciated being in charge of the timeline. “We took a bit longer recording this time around, and added a horn section called The Blowhards,” says drummer Jeff Barthold. “We really tapped into our younger selves, then took the diaries related to this experience and put them in a time capsule.”

That time capsule is the album Mono or Mono, which will drop on September 30, with a release show that night featuring Scorpion vs. Tarantula and The 16 Eyes at Palo Verde Lounge in Tempe. The eight-song album is a continuation of JJCnV’s unconventional style of punk, juxtaposing linear surf riffs and bombastic vocals with quirky song titles like “Bones Make Good Coals” and “Happyning” and “Abracadaver.” Ashley Harris

click to enlarge Michael Kaeshammer - COURTESY OF THE MIM
Michael Kaeshammer
Courtesy of the MIM
Michael Kaeshammer
Saturday, September 30
Musical Instrument Museum

For those not familiar with pianist Michael Kaeshammer's work, the 40-year-old German-born, Canadian-raised singer-songwriter who’s virtuosic piano playing, pristine vocals, glistening persona, and Fats Waller-inspired chops have made him famous.

No stranger to the lively and animated take on the blues, the debonair musician has been tickling the ivories in true New Orleans' boogie-woogie fashion since the age of 13. When asked how, as a pre-pubescent pianist, he stumbled upon the boozy bluesy sounds of New Orleans' Jazz, Kaeshammer attributes this to a youthful fascination with his dad's vinyl. Thumbing through Fats Waller, Clarence "Pine Top" Smith, and Meade "Lux" Lewis albums, a young Kaeshammer forged a childhood love affair with the Crescent City. This budding romance came to a head when, as a grown man, Kaeshammer decided to vacation in New Orleans.

He didn't go on a Bourbon Street bender like many before him, rather, he unexpectedly landed a residency at a Bourbon Street blues hotspot performing alongside R&B chanteuse "Marvelous" Marva Wright, somewhat of a local blues icon at the time. Kaeshammer says these sweaty and lively five-hour-long Bourbon Street jam sessions "shaped" him into the performer he is today. Alex Rendon

click to enlarge Electronic dance music artist and onetime Valley resident Ghastly. - COURTESY OF CIRCLE TALENT AGENCY
Electronic dance music artist and onetime Valley resident Ghastly.
Courtesy of Circle Talent Agency
Goldrush Expeditions
Saturday, September 30
The Van Buren

The waiting, as Tom Petty once sang, is the hardest part, particularly when it’s something you’re really looking forward to experiencing. And given all the hype surrounding the inaugural Goldrush Music Festival, the upcoming two-day electronic dance music and hip-hop extravaganza being put on by Relentless Beats, it’s safe to say that a lot of locals are eager to attend the event.

Problem is, it ain’t until mid-November, and we’re willing to guess that would-be attendees want the time to go by much faster. Hence this weekend’s Goldrush Expeditions event on Saturday, September 30, at The Van Buren. It’s the first in a series of Goldrush pre-parties that will help hype up the festival even further and allow EDM fans to sample the sort of sounds that will be featured at the event. And the first expedition will include sets by electro-house DJ/producers Ghastly and Fight Clvb, as well as electronica/dubstep artist K?D. Benjamin Leatherman

Andrew W.K.
Sunday, October 1
Crescent Ballroom

If there’s one thing we know about Andrew W.K., it is that he likes to party. Hard and often. We didn’t have to strain to get to that conclusion; he’s been telling us as much since the early 2000s, when his music career blew up with the hit “Party Hard.” Other songs like “We Want Fun,” “Long Live the Party,” and the goal-oriented “Party ‘til You Puke” further emphasize his message.

W.K.’s encouragement to party goes far beyond the one-dimensional message it might imply. It’s not just a missive to get wasted and act the fool, unless that’s what you want to do. And that’s precisely it — the “party” can be anything you want it to be, he’s just encouraging you to explore it, embrace it, and dive into it like a champ. It’s the “Whip It” of the 21st century.

In some ways, he’s more of a one-man mobile cognitive behavioral therapy unit than a musician, using psychotherapy's technique of creating change through replacing staid thoughts with different, positive ones. He is continuously fostering the power of positive thinking via his encouragement to party. And this weekend, he’ll be doing just that during his latest performance in the Valley, which will take place at the Crescent Ballroom. Amy Young
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