Things to Do

The 10 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

Bishop Briggs is scheduled to perform on Sunday, September 9, at The Van Buren.
Bishop Briggs is scheduled to perform on Sunday, September 9, at The Van Buren. Jabari Jacobs
This weekend’s concert calendar offers the chance to jet off to a variety of destinations, all without leaving the Valley. You can go down the rabbit hole at an Alice in Wonderland-themed dance party, for example, or rocket off into outer space with The Phenomenauts, or book a one-night stay at the Hotel California with The Eagles.

Other live music options worth checking out in Phoenix this weekend include a chance to hang out with Bishop Briggs at The Van Buren, rock out with Def Leppard and Journey at Ak-Chin Pavilion, or travel back to the '90s with local jangle-pop heroes Gin Blossoms.

Details about each of these gigs can be found below. And for even more live music happening around the Valley this weekend, hit up Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar.

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Go back to the retro-future with The Phenomenauts this weekend.
Courtesy of The Phenomenauts
The Phenomenauts
Friday, September 7
Yucca Tap Room in Tempe

There's nothing deceptive about The Phenomenauts – what you see is what you get. And what you get is a shtick-filled, hard-rocking punk band that dresses in retro-futuristic space gear, writes songs called "Rocket Roll," "Giant Asteroid," "All Go For Launch," and calls its fans "cadets." Not only do The Phenomenauts shows have a rep for high entertainment value, the music backs up the band's image – they're a tight, groove-happy punk rock 'n' roll machine, and this show should be entertaining as they come. David Accomazzo

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Stray Jazzcat Strut: Running From Bears cookin' onstage.
Bill Goodman
Running From Bears
Friday, September 7
The Nash

Imagine a ferocious Kodiak bear is running after you. How would you soundtrack this terrifying (and possibly final) moment in your life? A giant furry engine of death slathering at your heels, looking at you like you’re salmon on legs. Heavy metal seems like it would be the go-to score, but for the sextet of dudes in Running From Bears, jazz is the preferred form of chase music.

Coming together in 2009, Running From Bears has been an active player in the downtown jazz scene. Composed of Eric Rasmussen (alto sax), Adam Roberts (tenor/soprano sax), Keith Kelly (tenor/baritone sax), Jeff Libman (guitar), Ben Hedquist (bass), and Ryan Anthony (drums), the Bears have been playing monthly shows at spots like The Lost Leaf and The Nash for years. They integrate elements of rock and funk into their jazz, creating a sound that’s playful and driving.

They also have a wry sense of humor, as exhibited by the title and artwork of their 2017 Edgetone Records album Maul of America. Sure, Branford Marsalis can play his ass off, but we bet his pun game isn’t on Running From Bears’ level. Ashley Naftule

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Benjamin Leatherman
Alice’s Wonderland III: The Red Queen’s Revenge
Friday, September 7
Aura Nightclub in Tempe

When underground dance party Alice’s Wonderland II took place last September, it was arguably one of the biggest local EDM events of the fall. Hundreds of kandi kids, ravers, and party monsters attended the clandestine affair, which took place out in the desert wilderness and featured dozens of DJs. That’s not to say it went off without a hitch, however, as the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office wound up busting the party after only a few hours. With this debacle in mind, promoters Glowver and Sean Liberty decided to do things a bit differently for this year’s event. As such, Alice’s Wonderland III: The Red Queen’s Revenge this weekend will be taking place a legal venue, specifically, Aura Nightclub in Tempe.

Expect just as much colorful fun as last year’s event and tons of DJs. According to Liberty, the event – which takes place on Friday, September 7 – will feature sets by such locals as AZTech, Chris Tiano, Elwer, Daxxin, Alexander Galavizion, Hunter GR, Ivan Purple, Snaqs, Aisle 5, Still Trill, Swift Money, Tryb, Micro Future, and others. Go down the rabbit hole from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Benjamin Leatherman

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Def Leppard in concert in 2014.
Jim Louvau
Def Leppard and Journey
Friday, September 7
Talking Stick Resort Arena

Def Leppard and Journey are halfway through a massive North American tour. Co-headlining each night, both acts are leaning heavy on the hits. If you want the most familiar, you'll not come away disappointed. You'll hear "Hysteria," "Pour Some Sugar on Me" and "Rocket" from the Lep while you'll hear "Don't Stop Believin'," "Separate Ways" and "Only the Young" with the Journey guys. It is a good pairing, as both of these bands headlined arenas in the 1980s. You know exactly what you're getting, and given how the songs have remained in the public's favor, it should be a good show. Eric Grubbs

I See Stars
Friday, September 7
Pub Rock Live in Scottsdale

I See Stars is a sextet from Warren, Michigan, that mixes the seemingly disparate genres of electronica and screamo metal (hence their rather specific subgenre of electronicore). The band’s debut album, 3D, came out going on a decade ago and is a wildly entertaining set of songs that highlight its deafening dichotomy. Since then, ISS has released an additional three full-length albums, a pair of EPs, and a few remix albums.

Devin Oliver handles the vocal duties on the (relatively) mellow numbers while Chris Moore does the screaming material. Somehow, this mixture works more often than not. You might even say that I See Stars creates music best suited for a mental institution, which, I'm fairly certain, is exactly how the band wants it. Darryl Smyers
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Phoenix New Times Music Writers