The Valley’s concert calendar in August is loaded up with bands and artists who are legen – wait for it – dary. From the Rolling Stones, ZZ Top, and Ringo Starr to Mary J. Blige and George Clinton, music venues large and small across metro Phoenix will host performances by renowned and iconic figures from the music world this month.
Other living legends that will grace us mortals with their presence in August include “Weird Al” Yankovic, Joan Jett, The B-52s, Cheap Trick, Korn, Alice in Chains, and BJ Thomas.
Nostalgia trips and brushes with greatness aren’t the only things that this month’s concert lineup has to offer, however. Notable names such as Carly Rae Jepsen, Frank Iero, Mogwai, Boris, Grace VanderWaal, Young the Giant, and Kacey Musgraves also have gigs around town over the next few weeks.
Details about each of these shows can be found below. And for even more live music happening around the Valley in August, head over to Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar.
President Gator 18-Year Anniversary Show
Friday, August 2
Jeremiah Gratza is one busy dude. Besides his roles as director of operations for local concert promoter Stateside Presents and co-owner of the ultra-hip Thunderbird Lounge, he’s also owned and operated local indie record label President Gator for the past 18 years. Dating back to the early aughts, the project has taken Gratza from promoting shows at such spots like Modified Arts to curating releases by well-known indie artists. Several of the same acts will perform during President Gator’s anniversary show this weekend, including Bogan Via and ROAR. Local bands Snake! Snake! Snakes!, Gospel Claws, and Fine China, all of whom were either defunct or on an extended hiatus, are reforming just for the show. Benjamin Leatherman
“Weird Al” Yankovic
Saturday, August 3
“Weird Al” Yankovic is likely to play a similar set at Comerica Theatre as the last few times he’s brought his regular tour through the Valley. This time, however, he’ll be backed by a full symphony orchestra as part of his Strings Attached Tour. Expect to hear classic “Weird Al” style and song parodies like “Smells Like Nirvana,” “Amish Paradise,” and “Dare to Be Stupid,” albeit with orchestral accompaniment.
Yankovic took home his fifth Grammy Award this year for his box set Squeeze Box: The Complete Works of “Weird Al” Yankovic. The satirist’s first comedy song was aired in 1976. Seven years later, he put out his debut album “Weird Al” Yankovic. The years seemingly have had no effect on the singer-songwriter. His latest songs from the 2014 album Mandatory Fun are as funny and lively as the ones he released decades ago. Jacob Vaughn
Saturday, August 3
Marquee Theatre in Tempe
A young band, plagued by small club numbers and a lack of radio play, claw and fight their way to some modicum of success. The reason this sounds cliché is that it's a reality for thousands. Even after years of working on side projects in addition to their main band, the members of X Ambassadors were still nearly destitute — and that was after signing with Interscope Records, thanks to a chance discovery by Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds.
The quartet finally found success with the release of their major-label debut LP, VHS, and in particular with the platinum-selling single, "Renegades," which was released in 2015 and had a commercial tie-in with the Jeep Renegade. (Yes, the one that was played endlessly on alt-rock radio stations.)
Since then, the four-piece — brothers Sam (vocals) and Casey (keyboards) Harris, guitarist Noah Feldshuh, and drummer Adam Levin — have been busy steadily touring and sharing their brand of indie, which combines the energy of punk, the harmonies of R&B and soul, and the swagger of hip-hop. On August 3, they'll perform for the masses at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe. Angel Melendez
Knotfest Roadshow feat. Slipknot
Sunday, August 4
Yes, Slipknot. You may be flashing back to your Hot Topic-lurking middle school edgelord days as you read this, but look, they wouldn't be playing Ak-Chin Pavilion in 2019 if they didn't still have some kind of appeal. Is it singer Corey Taylor's guttural, furious vocals? Is it their bizarre, creepy masks and the many members that wear them? Is it the way they channeled the angst, misanthropy, and self-hatred of a generation of suburban teens in the midst of the Bush-era, or the dark, unexpressed id of middle America? (They're from Iowa.) Hell if we know, but that song they had on Guitar Hero III was pretty good! Also, Rihanna likes them, apparently?
Slipknot will release WE ARE NOT YOUR KIND, their sixth studio album, later this month. Joining them on tour is a murderer's row of metal excellence. First, you'll get the Gdansk, Poland, blackened death metal group Behemoth. Next, the French progressive death metal act Gojira will continue the rampage. Finally, Copenhagen-based rockabilly/heavy metal outfit Volbeat, who may or may not be named after a Pokémon, will pummel the audience before Slippy comes out to deliver the final blow. Douglas Markowitz
The Bacon Brothers
Sunday, August 4
Musical Instrument Museum
It isn’t too often that you’ll find a Hollywood A-lister spending about 40 nights per year on the road, hard at work as a touring musician. Then again, Kevin Bacon has always marched to his own beat.
Since beginning his acting career in the late '70s, he has consistently followed his muse, playing everyone from the iconic Ren McCormack in Footloose to the villainous Sebastian Shaw in X-Men: First Class to, more recently, the brooding and mysterious art dealer Dick in the Amazon series I Love Dick. This summer finds Bacon crisscrossing the country with his older brother Michael, his co-lead in the long-running country/folk-rock band The Bacon Brothers.
Since forming the band in 1995, the brothers have stayed invested in the music-making process, recording eight albums of material, touring the globe, and working closely with an ace four-person backing band that have been with them since the beginning. Jeff Strowe
Blink-182 & Lil Wayne
Monday, August 5
When blink-182 and Lil Wayne announced a co-headlining tour, both of their fan bases let out a collective, "...What?" Both acts were chart-toppers in their heyday, but the former went through a pretty drastic lineup change that left fans choosing sides while the latter's career has been mired in controversy and infighting with his label, Cash Money Records. Nonetheless, this is a lineup for the ages. Iconic pop-punk and lyrical acrobatics will be on display on August 5 at Ak-Chin Pavilion. Matthew Keever
Frank Iero and the Future Violents
Tuesday, August 6
Frank Iero is a man of many names. Band names, that is. The former My Chemical Romance guitarist has always dabbled in side projects, even in the band's heyday. But since the emo icons went their separate ways in 2013, Iero has been going at it alone.
Plot twist, though: Each time Iero is ready to write a new record, he wipes the slate clean and forms an entirely new band with new musicians, a new sound, and a new name. First was Frank Iero and the Cellabration, then came Frank Iero and the Patience (which was actually the same lineup, just a new name and aesthetic). Now, it’s Frank Iero and the Future Violents.
Iero says this process keeps him on his toes and allows his music to feel fresh. “I get to reinvent myself every time,” he says. “To stay creative on the road as well as in the studio is all I’ve ever wanted, and I’ve found a way to be able to do it.” He’s currently touring in support of his latest album, Barriers, and will perform at Crescent Ballroom on August 6 along with the Future Violents. Chelsey Norris
Carly Rae Jepsen
Tuesday, August 6
The Van Buren
Carly Rae Jepsen is not what she seems. No matter your conception of the Canadian pop star, there is a high likelihood you have both undersold and underestimated her. While Jepsen scored an untouchable win with 2012’s “Call Me Maybe,” her journey forward leaves the diamond-certified hit in the rearview. 2015’s E•MO•TION showed off Jepsen’s aptitude, not just for writing a catchy hook, but curating an unforgettable pop landscape. Fast-forward to the present, and one can’t begin to grasp how much of an understatement Dedicated is as a descriptor until you start to peel the layers back yourself.
For her latest opus, she amassed somewhere in the realm of 200 songs before trimming it down to the clean 15 we are presented with. She is a master songwriter, gifted with a heart three sizes too big, yet cursed by earthly notions of time and space. Her work on Dedicated is the result of an arduous four years of building and rebuilding again. Gerrit Feenstra
Mary J. Blige and Nas
Friday, August 9
If you plan to see Mary J. Blige and Nas on The Royalty Tour, don't be late. There isn't going to be an opening act. The ‘90s legends won't have separate sets either, so don't bother asking who goes on first. Rather, they will tag-team each other throughout the evening to perform their solo hits and share the stage for their joint work. What makes this onstage pairing particularly noteworthy is both Blige and Nas are celebrating the 25th anniversaries of their landmark albums My Life and Illmatic, respectively. The two performers aren't holding back either. Media outlets have reported that the duo has a setlist that is over 40 songs long, including the hits "No More Drama" and "The World is Yours." This isn't a co-headlining tour. It’s a night of collaboration. Jason Keil
Devin the Dude
Friday, August 9
Despite being a critically-acclaimed rapper, Devin the Dude has not experienced much mainstream success. His peculiar flow has landed him guest appearances alongside the likes of Ice Cube, Too $hort, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Jay-Z, but the respect of his peers just hasn't resulted in album sales. That's unfortunate for the Michigan-born transplant, but the silver lining – for fans, anyway – is that Devin remains an approachable figure in the hip-hop world. He’ll perform at Aura Nightclub in Tempe on August 9 and fans of lyrically driven hip hop should celebrate the opportunity to see and hear this oddball up close and personal. Matthew Keever
Saturday, August 10
Marquee Theatre in Tempe
Brooklyn hip-hop artist and social activist Talib Kweli has built a career on incisive, intelligent lyrics with his thought-provoking rap. Surrounded by a family of university educators, Kweli came to the public's attention in 1996 when he appeared on the album Doom by Cincinnati group Mood. It was in 2002, with the release of his debut solo album Quality, that he saw his reputation blossom nationally. He put out the Train of Thought: Lost Lyrics, Rare Releases & Beautiful B-Sides Vol. 1 and Fuck the Money albums in 2015, and the Awful People Are Great at Parties collaboration with Javotti Media in 206. It’s been a couple of years since Kweli’s last release, 2017’s The Seven, but he’s certainly got plenty of material in his catalog to draw from when he performs at the Marquee Theatre on August 10. Brett Callwood
311 and Dirty Heads
Saturday, August 10
Let's all feel old here: 311 have been rocking for more than 30 years. The Nebraska-bred band are still going strong. The band's latest release, Voyager, dropped in June, so get ready for new nuggets, too. The openers are strong for this concert, including Dirty Heads, The Interrupters, and Bikini Trill. Get there early and show everyone some love. Jose D. Duran
Young the Giant and Fitz and the Tantrums
Sunday, August 11
Young the Giant have joined forces with Fitz and the Tantrums to bring a heavy dose of indie-pop and neo-soul to Comerica Theatre in mid-August. While The Tantrums haven't released a proper album since their 2016 self-titled outing, which received mixed reviews, a steady stream of singles has fans clamoring for their next record. Young the Giant, meanwhile, is still on tour in support of last year's Mirror Master, a personal endeavor following the politically driven Home of the Strange. Despite some recent missteps, both outfits remain beloved in the indie scene, and their performances should be chock-full of well-known hits, including "Cough Syrup" and "Moneygrabber." Valley native and burgeoning pop singer UPSAHL will open. Matthew Keever
The B-52s Wednesday, August 14
Veteran rock band The B-52s will return to the Valley in middle of August for a performance at Comerica Theatre. It's the band's 40th anniversary tour, so expect a lot of the hits – including such longtime crowd-pleasers as “Love Shack,” “Rock Lobster,” “Private Idaho,” and “Planet Claire” – to be played loudly and enthusiastically. Fellow ‘80s favorites OMD (a.k.a. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark) and Berlin will open the show. Jeff Strowe
Saturday, August 17
The longtime frontman of Parliament-Funkadelic has done so much during his 64-year career, working from everyone from Snoop Dogg and Kendrick Lamar to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He is the ultimate icon of funk music, that incredibly distinctive fusion of black-originated genres like jazz and R&B with psychedelic rock. He's also 77 years old, and he seems to be aware that his own days on Mother Earth are numbered.
“Even though I feel like I’m just getting started, the reality is the group needs to go ahead and keep it going," Clinton told Rolling Stone. "We’ve got a new vibe in the band, and they’ve been carrying it for the last three years. I’ve been up there representing for people, but they’ve actually been turning the place out. And we’ve been selling out for the last five years, every night.” Hopefully, they'll keep selling out on their next tour, which will be Clinton's last with the group. It includes one date in Phoenix in mid-August with support from Fishbone, Dumpstamphunk, and Miss Velvet and the Blue Wolf. Douglas Markowitz
Monday, August 19
Scottish post-rock heroes Mogwai are the band most instrumental rock groups that have started in the past decade want to be when they grow up. Beginning with 1997's epic Young Team and continuing with the release of the group's ninth studio LP, 2017’s Every Country's Sun, Stuart Braithwaite, Dominic Aitchison, Martin Bulloch, and Barry Burns have found inventive ways to avoid the sonic monotony that many guitar-driven instrumental rock acts eventually suffer from. Loud, quiet, loud, and back again is great, but Mogwai push the formula with each record, whether it is a proper studio album or a film score.
While lyrics in Mogwai numbers are really rare, the band still find ways to convey a rather sharp, sometimes perplexing, sense of humor. The song titles are often employed as vehicles to simply give the band a giggle, and nothing more, though so many titles are thought-provoking, especially the many songs bearing titles with seemingly religious connotations, such as "You Don't Know Jesus," "Devil Rides," and "Mogwai Fear Satan.” Kelly Dearmore
Tuesday, August 20
Like most things, the best metal comes from Japan. Named after a Melvins song, the trio of Atsuo, Takeshi, and Wata have been putting out incredible records since 1992, varying their style from awesome sludge anthems (Pink) to full-length ambient metal works (Flood) to collabs with harsh noise god Merzbow. They'll swing by Valley Bar in August in support of their new double album, LOVE & EVOL. It's their first release with Jack White's Third Man Records, which will also reissue their classic LPs Feedbacker and Akuma no Uta later this year. Douglas Markowitz
Wednesday, August 21
The Van Buren
After winning the 11th season of America’s Got Talent, the career of singer-songwriter wunderkind Grace VanderWaal skyrocketed, with Simon Cowell going so far as to label her “the next Taylor Swift.” VanderWaal’s impassioned lyrics showcase a maturity far beyond her years; she tackles complicated issues with aplomb as her raspy, warbling voice undulates around each syllable.
Her 2017 album, Just the Beginning, is a big improvement over VanderWaal’s monotonous 2016 EP Perfectly Imperfect. Just the Beginning sounds like a complete product, and while it’s not entirely acoustic, it has a stripped-down feel to it. The hip-hop-infused track “So Much More Than This” has a simple beat, but it explodes with sound when the chorus hits. The entire album keeps VanderWaal front and center, a place she’s likely to stay for some time. Nicholas Bostick
Saturday, August 24
Talking Stick Resort
The music world’s first taste of B.J. Thomas came with his cover of Hank Williams Sr.'s "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" in his original band, The Triumphs. He'd go on to the bright lights of the recording industry within a decade, teaming with pop maestro Burt Bacharach for "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head," the musical calling card of Paul Newman and Robert Redford's classic buddy flick Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Later on, hits like "Hooked on a Feeling," "I Just Can't Help Believing" and "(Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song" installed Thomas in the pantheon of grinning, nice-guy singer-songwriters. By the early '80s, he was juggling fans of his countrypolitan, rock, and gospel output, after a more spiritual calling saw him praising the Lord and leaving behind the nightlife. The man can turn out a helluva — we mean heckuva — version of "Amazing Grace." Chris Gray
Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band Monday, August 26
Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band bring together music icons of the '60s and '70s and the fans who adore them. If we're being honest, Starr is probably our favorite Beatle, and he's toured with 12 variations of the band since 1989. He plays a bit of his solo material as well as some Beatles songs, and the rest of the touring band members follow suit with their own music. The current lineup includes Toto's Steve Lukather, Santana's Gregg Rolie, Men at Work's Colin Hay, multi-instrumentalist Warren Ham, drummer Gregg Bissonette, and Hamish Stuart. Diamond Rodrigue
The Rolling Stones
Monday, August 26
State Farm Stadium in Glendale
It's difficult now to picture The Rolling Stones as a threat to corruptible youth, but when they first became a cultural phenomenon five decades ago that was exactly how they were perceived. While The Beatles were their innocuous altar boy counterpoints, the Stones did everything they could to reinforce their bad-boy reputations, through lineup changes, deaths, overdoses, arrests, and an entourage of supermodel wives and daughters.
Now septuagenarians, the Stones are still standing — mostly without difficulty. That's because the group are as indestructible as guitarist Keith Richards, adapting their genre to changing times, from the early pristine simplicity of "As Tears Go By" to the disco-inspired "Miss You." Between that, their mystique, their debauchery, and their moves like Jagger (well, they are Jagger's), the Stones have not only become rock 'n' roll deities but also inspired a multiplying breed of imitators. Eva Raggio
Tuesday, August 27
In taking home four Grammy Awards back in March, including the prized Album of the Year honor for Golden Hour, Kacey Musgraves has established herself as an unadulterated pop star. It's been a whirlwind couple of years for the country artist and Texas native. Moving up on the Austin scene about a decade ago, Musgraves' stature rose steadily with 2012's standout track "Merry Go Round," putting her talent on notice. From there, it's been full-steam ahead. Her 2015 album Pageant Material led to frequent TV appearances, headline slots on festival tours, and a bevy of Grammy and CMA nominations. This last year has taken things to a whole other level as her sound has achieved a full-blown crossover standard that has captivated industry voters and the more general public. Jeff Strowe
Heart and Joan Jett
Wednesday, August 28
Not a lot of shows taking place outside in August are worth dealing with the Arizona heat. After all, it's triple digits out there right now, and brushing up against sticky, sweaty concertgoers is more than a little off-putting. And while Joan Jett and Heart have toured together in recent years, the chance to see rock ‘n’ roll royalty in concert make it safe to say a little perspiration never hurt anyone. Diamond Rodrigue
ZZ Top and Cheap Trick
Thursday, August 29
If you have trace memories of immortal blues-rock combo ZZ Top, it's probably of two bears with long beards spinning guitars, a drummer without a beard (named Beard), and legs ("she's got ... 'em"). A few years before that, though, just before punk broke, Circus Magazine described the band as "blue-collar nihilistic" and "cornered animals gone nasty.”
This was the period when Lemmy started Mötorhead by playing a lot of ZZ Top covers, recalling the brutal, lysergic roots of the psychedelic trio's origins and most of its formative years. Tres Hombres is easily one of the top albums of 1973, its road-tested swelter-boogie featuring a balls-out tribute to a bordello (first hit, "La Grange"), along with garage-gospel ("Precious & Grace") and the origins of cowpunk ("Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers").
Inspired by greats like John Lee Hooker and the Stones, Billy Gibbons (vocals, guitar), Dusty Hill (bass, backing vocals), and Frank Beard (those oh-so-tight drums) spent several '70s LPs being as soulful and organically powerful as peyote and barbecue. That's right up till 1979's Degüello, when the robot-rock set into their video-ready rhythms and they became ubiquitous on MTV three years later.
Everything they did was as infectious as venom, but real riff fans grit their teeth at those stupid jokes these days about facial hair and synthesizers, knowing deep in their hearts that ZZ Top was as important as AC/DC and Sonic Youth, and sounded like both, often at the same time. They’re scheduled to perform at Comerica Theatre on August 29 along with fellow rock ‘n’ roll legends Cheap Trick. Chris Estey
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Korn and Alice in Chains
Saturday, August 31
With their low-end rumble, volatile emotions, and raw, barbed-wire energy, both Korn and Alice in Chains were fixtures of the alternative scene that dominated rock radio in the ’90s. Alice in Chains were one of the seminal if less acclaimed grunge acts when that genre was still a thing, while Korn found a middle between nu-metal and rap-rock, with lead singer Jonathan Davis snarling in his notoriously high-end caterwaul about everything from societal mistrust to personal abuse.
A quick Spotify search reveals both bands’ most popular tracks (Korn’s “Freak on a Leash” and Chains’ “Would?”) have a combined age of 48 years — and here we are in 2019 and both acts are still filling 20,000-person concert venues. If you chalk it up to nostalgia, you’re probably mostly right, but is there something else to their infectious if garishly unsubtle art? Something that strikes at the benefit of pure expression unfettered by heady encumbrances? Maybe, maybe not. But either way, their best tracks still slap. Jonathan Patrick