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The 15 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week

Babymetal are scheduled to perform on on Tuesday, October 1, at Marquee Theatre in Tempe.
Babymetal are scheduled to perform on on Tuesday, October 1, at Marquee Theatre in Tempe. MSO PR

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Lil Nas X will headline the inaugural Sandbox Music Festival.
Columbia Records

Sandbox Music Festival

Sunday, September 29
Scarizona Scaregrounds in Mesa

Update: The show goes on, but Lil Nas X has canceled. Details are here.

Time to take your horse down to the east side of the Valley, because Lil Nas X will be performing in Mesa this weekend. The artist behind the genre-defying "Old Town Road," the longest-running No. 1 hit in the history of Billboard's Hot 100, will be whipping his Porsche to the Scarizona Scaregrounds on Sunday, September 29. He will be the headlining artist at the inaugural Sandbox Music Festival.

Big Murph, Seckond Chaynce, Katie Noel, Who TF is Justin Time, and more than a dozen other hip-hop artists will be joining the rapper with the Gucci cowboy hat on the lineup. Local bands like Whiskey’s Quicker and Travis Bond and the Rebel Souls are also scheduled to perform. The gates for this all-ages event will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and will include food, drinks, shopping, carnival rides, and a mechanical bull (so get that Wrangler on your booty). General admission is $50 and VIP tickets are $75 and include perks like access to a preferred stage viewing area and a private bar. See the festival website for the full lineup and full details. Jason Keil

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Flogging Molly in concert.
Jim Louvau

Flogging Molly & Social Distortion

Sunday, September 29
Mesa Amphitheatre

Eight years removed from the release of their last proper record, Social Distortion have teamed up with Flogging Molly for a North American tour spanning 33 cities, pairing their bluesy cowpunk with a Celtic folk-punk outfit for quite the one-two punch. Flogging Molly haven't teased any new material since 2017's Life Is Good, but as Social D's Mike Ness recently told our sister publication Houston Press, he plans to promote the band's upcoming (and as yet unrecorded) record during this tour. Expect to hear plenty of hits from both bands' expansive catalogs at Mesa Amphitheatre on Sunday night. The Devil Makes Three and Le Butcherettes provide support. The show starts at 6 p.m. Tickets are $49.50. Matthew Keever

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Don't fear the reaper.
Courtesy of Blue Oyster Cult

Blue Öyster Cult

Sunday, September 29
The Van Buren

Blue Öyster Cult are probably best known to casual fans for their hit singles “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper,” “Godzilla,” and “Burnin’ for You,” which remain in heavy rotation on classic-rock radio today. Historically they’ve been labeled a metal band, yet their music encompasses so much more, with elements of progressive and psychedelic rock mixed in with the hard stuff.

Their sound is unique and not easily categorized. Many songs are downright strange and weird, in a good way. Founding members lead guitarist Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser and lead vocalist Eric Bloom just keep on trucking after numerous lineup changes. In a just world, BÖC would be playing sold-out arenas and record an album of new material as their musical peers Black Sabbath did before retirement. Then again, it is nice for BÖC fans to see the band play venues like The Van Buren, where they’re scheduled to stop on Sunday night, on their current tour and not have to pay an arm and a leg for the pleasure. Michael Nitro will open the evening, which gets going at 7 p.m. Tickets are $42 to $82. David Rozycki

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Jenny Lewis brings her shimmering On the Line tour to the Van Buren.
Autumn de Wilde

Jenny Lewis

Monday, September 30
The Van Buren

More than two decades into her groundbreaking music career, Jenny Lewis has become one of the leading voices of her generation. From Rilo Kiley, The Postal Service, Jenny and Johnny, and Nice as Fuck to her solo work, every iteration of her music has been a vital soundtrack in our tangled headphones and influenced independent artists who've come after her. The critically acclaimed singer-songwriter is touring in support of her latest solo release, On the Line, and she'll play a show at The Van Buren in downtown Phoenix on Monday, September 30. Erin Rae opens. Tickets are $30 to $34. Jessica Gibbs

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Prepare yourself, the Game of Thrones live concert experience is coming.

Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience

Tuesday, October 1
Comerica Theatre

If there’s anything that brings emotion to a TV show, it’s the music. The Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience is returning to Phoenix to give fans the chance to experience one of the highest-rated TV shows in a completely different way. A live orchestra and choir perform as footage from the show plays on a giant screen above, allowing viewers to relive all the gory glory one final time. This unique concert experience has been redeveloped by Emmy-winning composer Ramin Djawadi to include scenes and music from the show’s finale. Hopefully, the additions from the much-maligned eighth season won’t cause the audience will head to the parking lot before the concert is through. The journey to Westeros starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $39.50-$99.50. Sara Edwards

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Starset is scheduled to perform on Wednesday, March 7, at Marquee Theatre in Tempe.
Courtesy of Lucky Man Concerts


Tuesday, October 1
The Pressroom

Symphonic metal and space rock are not yet deep-rooted genres in music. But 2019 is surely part of a generation that’s redefining musical norms and planting the seeds for music to come. Starset are one of these musical endeavors that can be described with the aforementioned musical styles.

The band, which formed in 2013 and released their debut album, Transmissions, the following year, are fronted by a bona fide doctor in electrical engineering. Dustin Bates also completed research for the U.S. Air Force and taught at International Space University (yep, it’s a real institution of learning). So it’s no wonder he wanted his music to have astronomic themes.

Starset even have a backstory (which involves their creation by a secretive society with the aim of promoting science and alerting mankind to mysterious messages being received from outer space) and a comic book. You can get a copy for yourself when the band touch down at The Pressroom on Tuesday, October 1, in Tempe. Palisades, Hyde, and A Brilliant Lie open the 7 p.m. show. Tickets are $25. Diamond Victoria


Tuesday, October 1
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

For those of you still without YouTube access, Babymetal are an act from Japan that overlays a teenage J-pop girl band on top of a heavy metal base. If everything in life has its opposite, then this is about as divergent as it gets. Both the group and the performance are manufactured, choreographed, and rehearsed. For some metalheads, this brands the band as a fake.

In May, after Rob Zombie posted a photo with the band on his Facebook page, his fans weren't pleased and left comments the like of: “Babymetal is a shameful embarrassment to anything metal. Their (alleged) music make [sic] me want to kill things.” To which Zombie replied: “Hey, they are nice kids out on the road touring. What are you doing besides being a grumpy old fuck?" Thank you, Rob, that captures it perfectly.

You can (and probably will) argue over their bona fide metal-ness for hours, but one thing is clear: Babymetal are entertainment of the highest order. At their concerts, a masked backing band of professional session players rip through the music with precision. There was no slop, no power stance solos, no showy changes in meter. Theirs is metal built as dance music.

Babymetal will be at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe on Tuesday, October 1. Avatar will open the 8 p.m. show. Tickets are $49 to $300 and grumpy old fucks need not attend. Mike Brooks


Thursday, October 3
The Pressroom

Rakim is among the most universally revered MCs. Growing up in Long Island, the self-described microphone fiend teamed up with Eric Barrier to form Eric B & Rakim, one of the most formidable duos in hip-hop history. In 1987, the group dropped the timeless Paid in Full. Rakim's flow demanded respect as he showed that he could rock the party and tell a captivating story. His lyrics revealed a writer developing his craft. After Paid in Full — an essential record for any hip-hop fan — Eric B & Rakim created some classic tracks, but eventually, the relationship went south, and Rakim went off on his own. His current tour brings him to the Valley for a show on at 8 p.m. on Thursday, October 3, at The Pressroom. Tickets are $20. James Mayo
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Phoenix New Times Music Writers