Things to Do

The 11 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

Jazz vocalist Kandace Springs.
Jazz vocalist Kandace Springs. Courtesy Blue Note Records
It's one of the busiest concert weekends of the year, y'all. Besides the massive hip-hop and EDM extravaganza known as the Goldrush Music Festival, which happens on Saturday and Sunday at Rawhide Western Town in Chandler, there’s a slew of notable names scheduled to perform the next several nights.

The list includes such acts as Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphys, Death Cab for Cutie, DeVotchKa, Johnny Marr, Boy George, and hometown hero Dierks Bentley. Plus, reggaeton star J Balvin, jazz songstress Kandace Springs, and guitar virutoso Al Di Meola will be in town and local hip-hop impresario JustUs will be celebrating the release of his debut album.

So, yeah, like we said, it's going to be busy.

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 Jazz vocalist Kandace Springs. - COURTESY BLUE NOTE RECORDS
Jazz vocalist Kandace Springs.
Courtesy Blue Note Records
Kandace Springs
Friday, September 28
Musical Instrument Museum

It’s hard to imagine what jazz vocalist Kandace Springs’ debut full-length album, Soul Eyes, would have resembled if Prince hadn’t intervened. The Purple One saw the soulful singer cover Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” and was smitten with her undeniable talent. He invited her to perform at his Minneapolis production complex for the 30th anniversary of Purple Rain.

Springs was already working with some accomplished pop producers, but Prince suggested that she stay true to herself. She took the advice and ran with it.

Turns out, Prince was right. Released in 2016, Springs’ Blue Note debut, Soul Eyes, captures the singer’s genuine talent and passion for her craft. The title track (a cover of the Mal Waldron standard) sends chills down the spine, pairing her rich and intense vocals with the trumpet of Terence Blanchard. Jason Keil

JustUs (Album Release Party)
Friday, September 28
Monarch Theatre

Who’s the hardest working artist in Phoenix’s hip-hop scene? It's admittedly a bit of a rhetorical question, but if you’d like an answer, we’re going with Justus Samuel as our choice. The local community organizer is the impresario behind local hip-hop promotions company and record label Respect the Underground, the weekly Ikonik Fridays session at Monarch Theatre, and the annual Arizona Hip-Hop Festival. He’s also a talented MC, too – known to the local scene as JustUs – although his music career has been placed on the back burner the last several years in favor of his other ventures.

After years away from the spotlight, Samuel has returned to the mic with the release of his self-titled debut album. According to him, the 10-track effort, which came out earlier this month, was created over the course of 10 weeks and includes contributions and appearances by locals like Dann G., Trap House, Dayo G., C Leach, and Piff. Samuels will celebrate the album’s release on Friday night at the Monarch and will be performing every track from the project. Doors open at 7 p.m. and tickets are $10. Benjamin Leatherman

click to enlarge Death Cab for Cutie - ELIOT LEE HAZEL
Death Cab for Cutie
Eliot Lee Hazel
Death Cab for Cutie
Saturday, September 29
The Van Buren

After releasing nine studio albums, most bands settle into a comfortable routine. If you've been in the game for this long, the temptation to stick with what works is strong. But if there's one constant in life, it's that change will happen, and you either evolve with it or die. Faced with the biggest change in their career, Death Cab For Cutie chose to evolve.

When founding member Chris Walla left the band, he didn't just leave a guitar- and keyboards-shaped hole in their sound: He was also the group's producer, whose sonic fingerprints are all over their recordings. The remaining trio of Ben Giddard, Nicholas Harmer, and Jason McGerr rolled with the punches and added two members to their lineup: Dave Depper and Zac Rae. An injection of fresh blood in the group has fired up the indie-rock veterans, who are taking the band's new evolutionary form out on tour in support of their latest album, Thank You For Today. Ashley Naftule

click to enlarge Reggaeton artist J Balvin. - TICKETMASTER
Reggaeton artist J Balvin.
J Balvin
Saturday, September 29
Comerica Theatre

Colombian-born reggaeton artist J Balvin made a career of evading neat genre or character judgments. Whereas Luis Fonsi's and Daddy Yankee's "Despacito" was the summer darling of critics and the charts, Balvin's "Mi Gente" is round two. Both songs have been aggressively co-opted by mainstream music outlets and non-Latinx journalists who have pretended to have heard or cared about reggaeton before 2017. Last year, "Despacito" and "Mi Gente" became the first two non-English-language tracks in history to concurrently place in Billboard's Hot 100's Top Ten. With "Mi Gente" and its not-slowing-down approach, the circles critics ran around "Despacito" are settling into a pattern of shock and admiration toward Latinx musicians who, duh, continue to produce total bangers with or without American superstars. Stefanie Fernández

click to enlarge Just because it ain't St. Patrick's Day doesn't mean you can't enjoy some Flogging Molly. - RICHIE SMYTH
Just because it ain't St. Patrick's Day doesn't mean you can't enjoy some Flogging Molly.
Richie Smyth
Flogging Molly
Saturday, September 29
Mesa Amphitheatre

One might mistakenly peg Dave King as sentimental. After all, his band, Flogging Molly, has more than 20 years of successful moments on which to wax nostalgic. Lyrics in songs such as “If I Ever Leave This World Alive,” one of the group’s most popular tunes, do convey a romantic view of days gone by. And, he’s Irish, a culture that is steeped in rich, historical traditions.

But make no mistake, Dave King is a man of the times. He and the band he fronts are present and fully aware of the moment, one that is proving to be simultaneously frustrating and hopeful. That theme is strong in Life Is Good, Flogging Molly’s latest album. King and company visit Mesa Amphitheatre on Saturday night in support of the record. Fellow Celtic rock act Dropkick Murphys will open. Jesse Sendejas Jr.

click to enlarge Dierks Bentley returns home this weekend. - MELISSA FOSSUM
Dierks Bentley returns home this weekend.
Melissa Fossum
Dierks Bentley
Saturday, September 29
Ak-Chin Pavilion

Dierks Bentley’s career is a stack of relentless touring and music releases, paralleled by awards, nominations, and honors that reflect just how much fans continue to eat up his work. The prolific country singer and songwriter – and Arizona native – won in the Breakthrough Video of the Year category at the 2004 CMT Awards for “What Was I Thinkin’?” And he nabbed that same honor again in 2014, for the song “Drunk on a Plane.” Less bluegrass, the latter song is reflective of the Bentley that most people know. It’s from his certified platinum 2014 album Riser. The track maintains an upbeat tempo while telling the story of a groom-to-be who’s ditched at the altar and takes his honeymoon trip solo, leading him to bonding, via booze, with strangers on the plane. Instead of exploring the benefits of drowning sorrows in cocktails with strangers and turning the bad into a party in the sky, he lets some of the heartbreak come through, and it becomes a welcome component to the song.

But Bentley’s not always so humble. “Somewhere on a Beach,” from 2016’s Black, is slightly spiteful as a man lets his ex-girl know that he is currently somewhere on a beach with someone new who “has got it going on / We drink all day / And party all night.” Adding insult to injury, the new love interest also “has got a body / And she’s naughty / And she got me like you ain’t ever got me.” Bentley’s songs aren’t prone to extremes, and that keeps him a relatable magnet for the masses of country music fans. Bentley’s headed back to the Valley this weekend with his latest tour, and like any of his visits to the area, it’s a homecoming celebration. Amy Young

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Phoenix New Times Music Writers