The next seven nights in the Valley will be filled with concerts both surreal and sublime.
From the former, there are gigs by such over-the-top bands as GWAR and Captured! By Robots, both of which are perfect fits for the Halloween season. (Plus, a collection of local musicians will recreate a circa-1980s Hall & Oates rehearsal session that's being interrupted by David Bowie, Prince, and other celebrities.)
Meanwhile, the latter category will include shows by talented indie artists like Frank Turner, Andrew Bird, Devendra Banhart, Lucy Dacus, and Bishop Briggs.
Other concert highlights happening from Friday, October 25, to Thursday, October 31, include performances by Hozier, Gatecreeper, and MC Hammer.
Details about each of these shows can be found below. And for even more live music happening around the Valley, hit up Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar.
Hammer’s House PartyFriday, October 25
Arizona State Fair
If NWA made hip-hop scandalous in 1988 with “Fuck Tha Police,” MC Hammer saved the genre in the early ’90s for middle American Walmart shoppers looking for kid-friendly music. His hits “U Can’t Touch This” and “2 Legit 2 Quit” blasted from boomboxes nationwide, bringing rap into the mainstream alongside DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince and their predecessors the Beastie Boys. Elementary-school kids imitated Hammer’s dance moves (coveting those baggy pants he wore) and knew every word to his songs. Somewhere along the way, he disappeared from public consciousness. Still, MC Hammer makes occasional public appearances, including his Hammer’s House Party throwback show he’s bringing to Arizona State Fair on Friday night, featuring C&C Music Factory with Freedom Williams. The house party starts at 7 p.m. It’s free with regular fair admission, $40-$60 for reserved seating. Kyle Harris
Joe BonamassaFriday, October 25
Growing a reputation as "one of the world's greatest guitar players" seems like an impossible task with guitar legends like Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani, and Eric Clapton still thriving in the future. But it's a challenge this former child prodigy is willing to accept. Since accepting it, Joe Bonamassa has won a number of awards and honors, including Guitar International's Guitarist of the Year (2011) and Billboard's Blues Artist of 2010. He was also ranked No. 48 in Guitar World's 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Bonamassa is scheduled to perform at 8 p.m. on Friday at Comerica Theatre. Tickets are $62.50-$202.50. Christian McPhate
Punk Rock Halloween BashFriday, October 25, and Saturday, October 26
Yucca Tap Room in Tempe
Horror and punk rock go together like PB&J, or whatever the weirdest condiments happen to be. Celebrate this most ghastly union with the eighth annual Punk Rock Halloween Bash and Monster Midway on Friday and Saturday night. A slew of local/regional bands celebrate Halloween with covers of iconic punk bands (spooky or otherwise).
Across the two-night event, witness Ham transform into The Ramones, Sanitation Squad channel Bad Religion, Fascist Pigs become Suicidal Tendencies, and other once-in-a-lifetime musical marriages. It’s an event so promising it’s practically terrifying. The free bash runs from roughly 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday, October 25 and Saturday, October 26 at Yucca Tap Room in Tempe. There’s also a costume contest, Triple Dot food truck, and heaps of vendors with merch and other goodies. Chris Coplan
GatecreeperSaturday, October 26
There’s a long history of great metal coming out of Arizona, and one must consider adding Gatecreeper to that list. To be honest, they are already the best death metal band to ever come from our state. Strong words, sure, but give the Phoenix/Tucson band’s last three releases on Relapse Records a listen (including the recently released Deserted) and try to tell yourself there’s a better metal band in, or from, Arizona right now. Sure, death metal isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but Gatecreeper can transcend genre limitations because of two things. The songwriting is just that good. And they’ve taken their influences and combined them into something that both pays tribute to the past and pushes American death metal to new heights. They’re scheduled to perform a hometown show on Saturday night at the Crescent Ballroom. Kommand and Röntgen share the bill for the 8 p.m. show. Tickets are $15. Tom Reardon
Andrew BirdSaturday, October 26
The Van Buren
For the restless music machine that is Chicago native Andrew Bird, each song is an enthralling puzzle with no real resolve. He’s in it for the adventure of it all. The virtuosic violinist and whistler has been yarning out his cerebral tunes for audiences for more than 20 years, unearthing innovative ways to bring new life to his compositions.
First evident in 2016’s Are You Serious, Bird’s role as a husband and father led him to feel more at ease with opening up about his personal life in his lyrics. And his newest album, My Finest Work Yet, seems like it will stay true to this newfound writing style. He’s currently touring in support of the project and comes to The Van Buren on Saturday night. Madison Cunningham opens the 8 p.m. show. Tickets are $40-$44. Patricia Cárdenas
Devendra BanhartSunday, October 27
Devendra Banhart has had quite a journey. Raised in Venezuela, he takes his first name from a Hindu god and his middle name from Obi-Wan Kenobi. He was discovered by Michael Gira of Swans, worked on Antony and the Johnsons' I Am a Bird Now, and once opened for Gilberto Gil at the Hollywood Bowl. He even dated Natalie Portman — like, actually dated her, as opposed to certain musicians. His dreamy style of indie-folk is as ever-shifting as he is charismatic. He also released his latest album, Ma, last month. Banhart is scheduled to perform on Sunday at the Crescent Ballroom with support from Rogov. Tickets for the 8 p.m. show are $30. Douglas Markowitz
Sage ArmstrongSaturday, October 26
Shady Park in Tempe
L.A.-based house producer and DJ Sage Armstrong has always incorporated elements of hip-hop into his music, from rapping in a down-tuned robot voice to mixing in the occasional bass-heavy instrumental break. As a teenager, he fell in love with the music of Gucci Mane and Lil Wayne, right around the time he began making his own house and breakbeat tracks. After he relocated to California, Armstrong signed to Claude VonStroke's San Francisco-based electronic music label, Dirtybird Records.
You’re likely to hear elements of hip-hop in Armstrong’s mixes when he performs a back-to-back set with fellow producer (and recent collaborator) Bruno Furlan at Shady Park in Tempe on Saturday night. Local DJs Alaska and Avitas, and Elwer and Chris Tiano will also get in on the b2b action. The music gets going at 9 p.m. Tickets are $20. Howard Hardee
GWARSunday, October 27
Marquee Theatre in Tempe
The last song on GWAR’s most recent album, The Blood of Gods, is a cover of AC/DC’s “If You Want Blood (You Got It),” which could have also been the band’s slogan for the past three decades. There are insane amounts of fake blood that spew from the outrageous costumes of these barbaric intergalactic scumdogs, who claim to hail from deep in the ice of Antarctica.
Experience the madness for yourself when GWAR invade the Marquee Theatre on Sunday night. Sacred Reich, Toxic Holocaust, and Against the Grain will open the 7:30 p.m. show. Tickets are $22.50-$52.50. Jon Solomon
Bishop BriggsTuesday, October 29
The Van Buren
Born in Britain but raised in Japan and Hong Kong, Bishop Briggs got an old-fashioned big break when she was discovered in a Los Angeles hole-in-the-wall. What follows is an undeniable success story. Her debut single, the folksy-guitar-meets-EDM "Wild Horses," garnered serious heat on Spotify, and her first album, 2018’s Church of Scars, hit No. 5 on Billboard’s rock and alternative charts. Opening slots for alt-J, Bleachers, and Kaleo would follow. A pop singer with serious singing chops and a fundamental understanding of hip-hop, acoustic folk, bass drops, and early 2010s synth-pop, Briggs makes music that defies obvious or easy categorization. We’re guessing that’s part of the plan. See her live at The Van Buren on Tuesday, October 29. Miya Folick and Jax Anderson will open the 8 p.m. gig. Admission is $27.50-$29.50. Elle Carroll
HozierTuesday, October 29
You know the words: "Take me to church/I'll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies." Deep stuff from a Hozier classic. After the 2013 single "Take Me to Church" propelled the Irish singer-songwriter to international fame, he's been touring up a storm and dropping new tunes, primarily in the form of EPs. His second LP, Wasteland, Baby!, was released earlier this year, so be sure to get familiar with it before his concert at Comerica Theater on Tuesday, October 29, which starts at 8 p.m. Freya Ridings opens. Tickets are $35-$59. Jesse Scott
Frank TurnerTuesday, October 29
Mesa Arts Center
Frank Turner doesn't hide his feelings — and that makes some people uncomfortable. Over the course of his prolific solo career, launched after a memorable stint as lead vocalist for the incendiary act Million Dead, Turner has established himself as a singer-songwriter with rare melodic gifts, an exuberant stage presence, and a willingness to speak his mind without trafficking in trendiness or hiding behind a fusillade of snark. These qualities have earned him a growing and enthusiastic following, despite (or perhaps because of) the doubts expressed by reviewers more accustomed to cynicism than sincerity. Turner will return to the Valley on Tuesday, October 29, for a performance at Mesa Arts Center. Kayleigh Goldsworthy opens the 7 p.m. inside the Ikeda Theater. Tickets are $39.50-$69.50. Michael Roberts
Lucy DacusTuesday, October 29
Most probably know Lucy Dacus best from her blockbuster (in indie terms) side-project boygenius. Consisting of only a single, self-titled EP released last year, the collaboration with Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers gained favor from critics and fans alike. But Dacus was already a formidable force as a soloist. When she debuted in 2015 with the song "I Don't Want to Be Funny Anymore," labels clamored to sign her. Eventually, she settled with Matador, which dropped her latest album, Historian, last year alongside the boygenius EP. She plays Crescent Ballroom on Tuesday, October 29, with Liza Anne and Sun June sharing the bill. Tickets are $17 for the 8 p.m. concert. Douglas Markowitz
Halloween & OatesWednesday, October 30
As you can probably guess from its name, this unique Halloween weekend affair will riff on the iconic pop-rock duo of Daryl Hall and John Oates. But from what the folks behind the event tell us, it will be unlike your typical theme party or tribute night.
Here’s the setup: Valley Bar will become Hall & Oates’ practice space in the midst of a rehearsal that’s being continuously interrupted by famous visitors, including David Bowie, Björk, and Prince. Local musicians will portray these “celebrities,” who will be dressed in costume and sing along as Hall & Oates cover their songs (Jerusafunk's Chris Del Favero, for example, plays David Bowie as the band performs “Ashes to Ashes,” for example).
“We'll be splitting the night into three acts, each complete with some light improv comedy, followed by five cover songs by the ensemble cast of local musicians,” says promoter Ark Calkins. “Think of it like a Peewee's Playhouse Halloween special combined with a local music scene celebration.” As we said, it’s going to be unique. There will also be a costume contest, a photo booth, DJs spinning between the acts at the party, which starts at 7 p.m. Benjamin Leatherman
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Captured! By RobotsThursday, October 31
Yucca Tap Room
Hate to break it to you, fellow carbon-based lifeforms, but we’re slowly but surely being replaced by automatons. That creeping sense of existential dread you get watching those videos of AI-powered ’bots awkwardly walking is completely justified, considering it’s a harbinger of our impending obsolescence as machines learn to do our jobs better than we can. Heck, the demonic droids of Captured! By Robots have already proven they can rock harder than any human.
The grindcore act, which features audio automatons GTRBOT666 and DRMBOT0110, creates efficiently terrorizing and viciously unrelenting thrash rock featuring the torturous screams of their human slave/creator JBOT (a.k.a. musician Jay Vance) singing about mankind’s folly. Witness the robot revolution unfold on Halloween night at the Yucca Tap Room in Tempe when C!BR invades the local rock dive. The takeover begins at 8 p.m. and Predatory Instinct and Robocophole will open. Admission is free. Benjamin Leatherman