Things to Do

The 25 Best Concerts in Phoenix in June 2019

Paul McCartney is scheduled to perform on Wednesday, June 26, at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
Paul McCartney is scheduled to perform on Wednesday, June 26, at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Jim Louvau

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click to enlarge Michael Franti makes a long-awaited return to the Valley in June. - ANTHONY THOEN
Michael Franti makes a long-awaited return to the Valley in June.
Anthony Thoen

Michael Franti and Spearhead

Friday, June 14
Mesa Amphitheatre

With his band, Spearhead, Michael Franti has spent the past quarter-century throwing big dance parties overflowing with peace 'n' love, the scent of reefer on the wind, and, of course, “The Sound of Sunshine.” These parties have been known to occur during major protests and in war zones, because fighting darkness with light is Franti's life philosophy. And he's doubling down. Despite our nation's seemingly unbridgeable gaps between races and genders and political parties, he says the real battle is the personal tug-of-war between cynicism and optimism.

Franti's new full-length documentary, Stay Human, follows his search for humanity in the face of trauma and loss. It focuses particularly on how people around the world cope with harsh everyday realities and thrive during challenging times. It also becomes clear that Franti has spent his career making hopeful music with positive messages because he personally battles depression and anxiety. Franti says he made the Stay Human film and the corresponding album of the same title because he wants them "to be part of people's medical arsenal they can go to when they need that extra inspiration." Howard Hardee

Jennifer Lopez is hitting the road again. - CHANTAL ARTUR (SUNSHINE SACHS LA)
Jennifer Lopez is hitting the road again.
Chantal Artur (Sunshine Sachs LA)

Jennifer Lopez

Sunday, June 16
Talking Stick Resort Arena

Jennifer Lopez is turning 50. That's a big deal for the chart-busting pop singer, who built her youthful reputation as Jenny From the Block. To celebrate, she's hitting the road for "It's My Party: The Live Celebration." This will be the first time in six years J-Lo will be touring North America, and Phoenix has the honor of hosting one of the first shows. Expect to hear many of her biggest hits, as well as any of the slew of singles she’s released in recent years, including “Medicine,” the track Lopez dropped in April featuring French Montana. Kyle Harris

Xavier Wulf

Wednesday, June 19
Club Red in Mesa

Once a member of the formidable Raider Klan with SpaceGhostPurrp, Denzel Curry, Chris Travis, and more, Xavier Wulf is at once a child of the gritty Memphis, Tennessee, rap scene and a pioneer of the current SoundCloud-assisted rap underground. His dark, anime-assisted visuals and Three Six-inspired flow and voice on songs like “Check It Out” mean he fits in perfectly with scene favorites like $uicideboy$ and fellow Seshollowaterboys member Bones. When this Wulf howls at Club Red alongside Beau Young Prince, Reco Havoc, and Marty Grimes, it’ll be hard to sleep on him anymore. Douglas Markowitz

click to enlarge Famed singer-songwriter John Hiatt. - DAVID MCCLISTER
Famed singer-songwriter John Hiatt.
David McClister

John Hiatt

Wednesday, June 19
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Don't worry if the name John Hiatt doesn't immediately ring a bell for you. You've no doubt heard the man's tunes, especially the ubiquitous "Have a Little Faith in Me," which has been belted by everyone from Mandy Moore to Jon Bon Jovi. Hiatt's something of a songwriter's songwriter, penning tunes that have been performed by Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Keith Urban, Chaka Khan, Three Dog Night, and more.

The lineup of artists who have (literally) sung his praises is a testament to his catholic delivery: Hiatt writes songs that transcend genre boundaries and party lines. His late-'70s and early-'80s discography shows off the same New Wave flirtations that earned Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello their hits, but like those two, he's a roots man at heart. Hiatt's songs are boldly populist, and his grasp on soul, R&B, folk, and country grooves has earned him a rep as one of the best songwriters in the biz, while his solid live performances sell him as a fine performer, too. Jason P. Woodbury

click to enlarge R&B singer Khalid. - GRACE PICKERING
R&B singer Khalid.
Grace Pickering


Thursday, June 20
Gila River Arena in Glendale

“Young Dumb & Broke” was the song that introduced Khalid to the world, but he’s assuredly no longer broke because of it. The R&B singer was a military brat whose family moved around the country before settling in El Paso, Texas, where he began his music career. Since the release of his album American Teen in 2017, he’s been on an upward trajectory thanks to collabs with Alessia Cara and Logic, Kendrick Lamar, Billie Eilish, and Shawn Mendes, to name a few. He’s currently touring behind his 2019 album, Free Spirit. Clairo, another quickly rising star (and depending on who you ask, an industry plant), will open. Douglas Markowitz

click to enlarge EDM artist and "techno mädchen" Volvox. - TAL AZULAY
EDM artist and "techno mädchen" Volvox.
Tal Azulay


Friday, June 21
One One Bar in Tempe

Ariana Paoletti, better known as Volvox, has earned a certain success and status in the electronic dance music underground over the last decade. And she’s done so with her enormous talents at conjuring mesmerizing mixes of techno, acid house, and electro beats.

A self-taught artist and DJ who gorged herself on industrial and EBM music as a teen, Paoletti spent her college years becoming entrenched in Boston’s underground scene (including stints at famed goth joint Manray). Moving to Brooklyn in 2011, she’s held down residencies at influential nightspot Bossa Nova Civic Club and events like the popular UNTER parties, becoming what Sleek Magazine calls "a spearhead of [NYC’s] underground techno scene." A self-described “techno mädchen,” Paoletti’s also appeared at influential festivals like POP Montreal, opened for the likes of The Black Madonna and Legowelt, and performed sets in Australia and Europe.

Local EDM collective Techno Snobs is bringing her to the Valley on June 21 for a gig at One One Bar in Tempe. Shelby Athouguia and Court will open the night, which gets going at 9 p.m. Tickets are $25. Benjamin Leatherman


Saturday, June 22
Ak-Chin Pavilion

Carlos Santana is a man at peace with his place in the musical universe. The guitarist and bandleader has been performing for more than 50 years — since the mid-1960s — including a legendary breakout performance at Woodstock. And he’s played alongside such legends as Miles Davis, Alice Coltrane, Tito Puente, B.B. King, and Stevie Ray Vaughan over the years. During this time, Santana, who has crossed musical idioms from jazz to blues, Latin rock to Indian ragas, soul to funk, tracks such as "Evil Ways," "Oye Como Va," and "Black Magic Woman" have become classic rock radio hits, while later-period songs "Smooth" featuring Matchbox Twenty's Rob Thomas on vocals and "Maria, Maria" (both from 1999's Supernatural) serve to cement Santana's long-standing appeal and legacy. Glenn BurnSilver

click to enlarge Beatles legend Paul McCartney. - TIMOTHY NORRIS
Beatles legend Paul McCartney.
Timothy Norris

Paul McCartney

Wednesday, June 26
Talking Stick Resort Arena

What is there to say? It’s Paul McCartney. The once-and-forever Beatle seemingly never stops touring, and any one of his shows is bound to feature classic Fab Four hits, classics from Macca’s solo career, and some more contemporary tunes. Granted, Paul’s recent work hasn’t exactly been celebrated — absolutely no one asked for his awful geriatric love-jam “Fuh You” — but his rendition of the Kanye and Rihanna collab “Four Five Seconds” is a treat, as is his explosive treatment of “Live And Let Die.” The crowd is likely to skew older, but really, everyone should see Paul McCartney at least once before they die (or before he beats us to it). Douglas Markowitz

click to enlarge The legendary Todd Rundgren. - LYNN GOLDSMITH
The legendary Todd Rundgren.
Lynn Goldsmith

Todd Rundgren

Wednesday, June 26
Celebrity Theatre

Todd Rundgren's breakthrough album, Something/Anything?, was a winding double-LP on which he wrote, produced, and performed nearly everything himself. That says a lot about 1972, but it says even more about Rundgren, who's been seen as something of a pop-rock prodigy ever since. If it seems he's never been quite as famous or iconic as he should have been to a broader audience, you might be looking at his career the wrong way.

The better question: How was he ever famous at all? The moment his career took off, he began indulging his prog-rockier tendencies, and aside from the fluky "Bang the Drum All Day," which came out on an album he actually called The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect, he never did much allowing for those fans who came for the hooks. That basically is the ever-popular tortured artist effect: When you're the only one banging on the drums and producing the albums and designing and coding the website, nobody's left to say, "Hey, I don't think Casey Kasem is going to play this." It didn't make for a ton of hits, but Todd Rundgren's need for control has produced a fascinating career. Dan Moore

click to enlarge British singer-songwriter David Gray. - PRESS HERE TALENT
British singer-songwriter David Gray.
Press Here Talent

David Gray

Saturday, June 29
Mesa Arts Center

It would be a shame and a mistake to dismiss England's David Gray as a one-hit wonder, although his career path has been one of false starts and periods of regrouping. He is known on these shores mostly for his haunting chart-topper "Babylon" and the album that birthed it, White Ladder. But Gray launched his career several years earlier, as the first outside signing to David Matthews's ATO label in 2000. Before and since, he's released a number of mesmerizing LPs, all of which showcase his solitary yet seductive stance and a textured yet supple delivery. Lee Zimmerman

click to enlarge Coheed and Cambria - JIMMY FONTAINE
Coheed and Cambria
Jimmy Fontaine

Coheed and Cambria, Mastodon, and Every Time I Die

Sunday, June 30
Comerica Theatre

Here's one show where the headliner might not be the main attraction. Not to diss Coheed and Cambria, but their taste in openers might have gotten the better of them on this tour. In one corner, Atlanta heavy metal masterminds Mastodon will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of their LP Crack the Skye by playing the record in full. In the other corner, the excellent Buffalo, New York, post-hardcore band Every Time I Die, fronted by former English teacher, occasional Twitch streamer, and all-around cool dude Keith Buckley, will be laying down their literary, soul-searching brand of punk. Douglas Markowitz
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Phoenix New Times Music Writers