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The 11 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

Juana Molina is scheduled to perform on Saturday, September 15, at the Musical Instrument Museum.
Juana Molina is scheduled to perform on Saturday, September 15, at the Musical Instrument Museum. Alejandro Ros
Want to see a show this weekend? There certainly are plenty of 'em happening over the next three nights at venues across the Valley, as you can see for yourself by checking out the following list. And we're fairly certain that there's something for everyone, regardless of your particular tastes.

Fans of experimental music, for instance, will be interested in gigs by artists like Farther Murphy or Juana Molina, while anyone into electronic dance music will want to try to score tickets to Zhu’s gig on Sunday night at The Van Buren (better hurry, there aren’t many left).

Other highlights of this weekend’s concert offerings include the annual Indie 500 at the Trunk Space (which is the very definition of diverse), as well as shows by Minibosses, Gringo Star, Nine Inch Nails, and Slash’s side project.

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

click to enlarge The Minibosses performing at this year's Game On Expo. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
The Minibosses performing at this year's Game On Expo.
Benjamin Leatherman
Friday, September 14
The Grid in Mesa

Phoenix isn’t just an incubator for bands with odd tunes like Treasure MammaL, RPM Orchestra, and Drunk and Horny — it’s also a beacon for them. From O.G. shock rocker Alice Cooper, who migrated to the Copper State from the Motor City decades ago to Minibosses, which brought its trademark video game rock from New England to our dusty desert back in the early 2000s.

Minibosses are (of course) best known for their prog-rock renditions of the game music from the Nintendo Entertainment System’s greatest hits, including such old-school faves as Mega Man 2, Ninja Gaiden, and Metroid. Said covers will make up the bulk of the band’s headlining set this weekend at The Grid in Mesa. Fellow locals Burgandy Jurk, Ass Wipe Junkies, and Critical Miss will open. The show starts at 7 p.m. and there’s a $5 cover. Jeff Moses

click to enlarge Italian occult psychonauts Father Murphy. - COURTESY OF JOYFUL NOISE RECORDINGS
Italian occult psychonauts Father Murphy.
Courtesy of Joyful Noise Recordings
Father Murphy
Friday, September 14
The Lunchbox

Hailing from Turin, Italy, Father Murphy are an avant-folk, experimental band who write songs about faith, decaying flesh, and the horrors of existence. Releasing one heavy and adventurous album after another since 2003, they’ve put out an impressive body of work. And they’re about to lay that body to rest: Father Murphy’s current tour is the Italian band waving goodbye.

Initially a trio composed of Federico “Freddie” Zanatta, Chiara Lee, and Vittorio Demarin, the band eventually turned into a duo after Demarin left the group. Weaving together elements of chamber music, drone, choral vocals, and pummeling percussion, they came across as spiritual descendants of Swans. Like Michael Gira’s seminal noise band, they know how to gracefully switch gears from brute force to ecstatic hymnals. The relationship between the two bands was so apparent that ex-Swans chanteuse Jarboe contributed her dark, haunting vocals to a collaborative EP with Father Murphy in 2017.

Each of their records advances the story of their titular character, the doomed Father Murphy. The band’s body of work is the narrative of a life: It begins with Murphy’s embrace of faith to cope with the emptiness of existence, delves into his growing doubts and wavering beliefs, sees him choosing heresy over orthodoxy, and after going from a life of isolation to reintegrating into a society who rejects him, Murphy finally dies on the cross. Ashley Naftule

click to enlarge If you missed out on NIN's show on Thursday, you've got one more chance to catch them in concert. - CORINNE SCHIAVONNE
If you missed out on NIN's show on Thursday, you've got one more chance to catch them in concert.
Corinne Schiavonne
Nine Inch Nails
Friday, September 14
Comerica Theatre

There is a chance that, for a lot of younger music fans, the name “Trent Reznor” doesn’t make one think of Nine Inch Nails, but of Facebook. In 2010, Reznor and Atticus Ross, who joined NIN in 2016, produced the Oscar-winning score to David Fincher’s The Social Network, the Mark Zuckerberg biopic that becomes more thought-provoking with every dark fact that’s revealed about the now-massive corporation. Much of that is thanks to Reznor and Ross’ chilly, atmospheric music, and they’ve since extended their aesthetic to Fincher’s other works (Gone Girl, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) and to Ken Burns’ documentary The Vietnam War. Of course, that doesn’t mean NIN itself has been put by the wayside. Far from it: The band has released three EP-length records in the last two years, with the latest, Bad Witch, coming out in June.

Another band that readers are likely to know from the cinema? If you’ve ever seen Lost in Translation, Sofia Coppola’s superb romantic drama about two Americans stuck in Tokyo, you’ll remember its killer soundtrack, which included songs from Phoenix, Happy End, and My Bloody Valentine. You’ll also remember the very end, where Bill Murray’s bittersweet departure from the Land of the Rising Sun is set to “Just Like Honey,” by the Jesus and Mary Chain. That jangly guitar tone, those echoing, “Be My Baby” drums, those murmured vocals — it was a perfect cap to a mysterious, bewitching film. Of course, the Chain weren’t some unheard rock band plucked from obscurity. They were a major force in the U.K.’s indie scene in the late ’80s, and their album Psychocandy is a classic. They open for NIN on both Phoenix dates. Douglas Markowitz

click to enlarge A scene from last year's Indie 500. - JIM LOUVAU
A scene from last year's Indie 500.
Jim Louvau
Indie 500
Friday, September 14, to Sunday, September 16
The Trunk Space

Indianapolis isn’t the only city in America with an ambitious “500” annual event. While the Indy 500 focuses on the spectacle of watching high-speed cars circle around and around until they crash and burn or cross that final finish line, Phoenix’s Indie 500 is way more fun: You get to spend a weekend watching local musicians burn through songs instead of rubber.

Started in 2014 at the original Trunk Space on Grand Avenue, The Indie 500 is part fundraiser, part batshit-crazy musical marathon. A huge roster of local and touring acts assemble to play music across two stages, keeping a continuous flow of music going until 500 songs are played in a row.

There are currently over 88 confirmed acts playing the Indie 500, ranging from off-kilter pop wizards (Dinosaur Love, The Invisible Teal), drug-fueled freak ensembles (TOSO, Exxxtra Crispy), dance partystarters (The Doyenne, Jaime J. Soto), local legends (Treasure MammaL, Ryan Avery), and visiting hometown heroes (AJJ’s Sean Bonnette). That’s a whole lotta bang for your buck. And those bucks go to a good cause: keeping one of the Valley’s most vital all-ages spaces alive and kicking for years to come. Ashley Naftule

Guitar legend Slash. - JIM LOUVAU
Guitar legend Slash.
Jim Louvau
Slash feat. Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators
Saturday, September 15
The Van Buren

Why are there all of 12 songs on Slash’s new album? “Because that’s how many guitar solos he had written,” quipped a colleague. There may be something to that; it’s the famous top-hatted Les Paul enthusiast’s name on the album, Living the Dream, so why wouldn’t the music come first? Slash’s third album with former Alter Bridge singer Myles Kennedy holding the microphone, Dream is a mix of both vintage Iron Maiden/Dokken speed-metal and Slash’s previous, bluesier endeavors, amounting to an hour and change of satisfying, occasionally thrilling hard rock. There’s never any question about who’s steering this ship, that’s for sure. Chris Gray
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Phoenix New Times Music Writers