The 11 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

The Flaming Lips are scheduled to perform on Saturday, October 6, at the Arizona State Fair.EXPAND
The Flaming Lips are scheduled to perform on Saturday, October 6, at the Arizona State Fair.
George Salisbury

Looking for something to do this weekend? You’ve certainly no shortage of options, considering the wealth of events happening during the next few days or nights.

The weather’s pretty awesome right now, which is good news for anyone planning to attend outdoor events like the latest First Friday, the annual Tour de Fat in Tempe on Saturday, or the Downtown Phoenix Oktoberfest. Meanwhile, this year’s Arizona State Fair is kicking off its monthlong run. Oh yeah, tons of haunted houses will also be serving up scares.

Beyond that, there’s live music and lots of it happening around the Valley this weekend.

Besides the state fair’s concert series (which will include a can’t miss gig by the Flaming Lips on Saturday night), highlight include Best Coast performing at the newly opened Coca-Cola Sun Deck at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, the alt-rockers of Garbage taking over the Marquee, and a show by Tennis at Crescent Ballroom.

You could also check out live electronica sessions at Lost Leaf, the annual Chandler Mariachi Festival, and concerts by Chelsea Wolfe and Mat Kearney.

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.

Bobb Bruno and Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast.
Bobb Bruno and Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast.
Brilliant Corners

Best Coast
Friday, October 5
Coca-Cola Sun Deck at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe

There's an oft-used analogy in sports about how a team functions best when its “glue guys” are performing at a high level. What's a “glue guy?” He's someone who keeps the team focused when there's a bevy of distractions from the team focusing on its goal, like, say, if your lead player is dating someone famous or if the hype is getting to be too much. You need a “glue guy” in music, too, especially when you're getting a ton of hype, and your lead player dates the dude from Wavves.

That's why many consider Best Coast's Bobb Bruno the ultimate music “glue guy,” including his longtime bandmate and musical collaborator, Bethany Cosentino. That's cool because he's an integral part of the band, but he doesn't get any of the press because of music journalism's obsession with lead singers, especially female ones. So it's nice to see that Bruno's bandmate, who's frequently the focal point of the group's press, believes he's so integral. Partnerships lead to great work, and if the critics are to be believed, the partnership that's Best Coast has done just that. Jaime-Paul Falcon

Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore of Tennis.
Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore of Tennis.
Luca Venter

Friday, October 5
Crescent Ballroom

Being in the landlocked state of Colorado must be really grating for the husband-and-wife team of Patrick Riley (an Arizona native) and Alaina Moore. It’s why they so continually take to the ocean in their 30-foot sailboat, the Swift Ranger, to find musical inspiration from the waves, the wildlife, and the wind at their backs. The last time they set sail, they began in San Diego and ended up in the Sea of Cortez, and blogged about it for Urban Outfitters (which apparently doesn’t just sell overpriced, trend-hopping clothes).

“Our routines are simple and the album is starting to take on a definite sound and shape,” they wrote at the time. “The inherent limitations of working on the boat have given us a streamlined sense of focus that we don’t have on land. It’s easier to see right to the heart of a song, to know what you have and if you’re doing what’s best.” How romantic! It’s as if Hemingway were still alive and had a man-bun. As for the music, the trip resulted in Tennis’ album Yours Conditionally, which continues their fascination with retro pop. Douglas Markowitz

The Front Bottoms
Friday, October 5
The Van Buren

The Front Bottoms’ early folk-punk songs were Brian Sella’s explosions of emotion. His angsty lyrics about love and mundane matters drew crowds that cherished singing along to every diaristic word. But when the New Jersey band started 10 years ago, Sella admits, “I had no idea how to write a song.” Not that that stopped him. The results, bordering on unhinged and a bit too confessional, were powerful.

Sella’s creative energy and imperfect voice have provoked many critics to compare him and the Front Bottoms to the Mountain Goats and its frontman, John Darnielle. And like Darnielle, Sella has become more calculated and experimental over the years. Over the past decade, he’s schooled himself in the craft of songwriting and musical production, and while his songs still come off as unabashedly frank, the newer material is more self-conscious in its construction.

But the old days are still front and center in the Front Bottoms’ music, especially on the band’s newest EP, Ann. The album, which has been well received, is a balm to fans who might have been irked by 2017’s Going Grey, the Front Bottoms’ foray into a more experimental pop style, with multilayered instrumentation and high-end production. Kyle Harris

Local electronica artist E Alo keeps it real.
Local electronica artist E Alo keeps it real.
Ray Squared Productions

Live Electronic at The Lost Leaf
Saturday, October 6
The Lost Leaf

Think that all it takes to be a DJ these days is simply to press play on a laptop or sound system? You’re not the only one, since it’s a negative stereotype that has dogged the dance music industry for ages. Oh, and you’re not wrong, as a significant number of DJs, ranging from local club jocks to globe-trotting superstars, are certainly guilty of the practice. Not all DJs are that lazy, however, and actually put in some effort and artistry while working the decks, whether they’re mixing on the fly or creating live electronic music on the spot.

Local artist Erica Lynne, who performs as E Alo, falls into the latter category; she crafts impromptu soundscapes of ambient grooves and downtempo electronica at her gigs, and nary a note is prerecorded. “Because there is little to no awareness and appreciation for people making original electronic music and actually performing it live, most people think I am DJing when I perform; I explain the difference, and they’re usually intrigued,” Lynne says. “I think DJs are just super-familiar to people nowadays, and this is a whole new thing to them. It’s a whole different thing to create something from scratch and then figure out a way to perform it live and then to execute it in an enjoyable way in front of folks.”

This weekend, you can catch Lynne and several other local DJs and artists serving up similar sets during Live Electronic at The Lost Leaf on Saturday, October 6. The event will feature performances by such names as Atreetalking, Ed Kennedy, Schux Famicom, and Majestic Dubs, all of whom will be laying it down live inside The Lost Leaf. Local drummer Spencer Ferrarin will also provide an accompaniment of live percussion to Lynne’s set.

The night will also include a live mix from by Djentrification, who will present his usually intoxicating blend of world sounds and obscure cuts using a combo of record decks, used vinyl, and various gear. “He is hands-down the most unique vinyl DJ I have experienced, and I have the utmost respect for him and his creativity,” Lynne says. The event runs from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Admission is free. Benjamin Leatherman

The Goddamn Gallows
Saturday, October 6
Yucca Tap Room in Tempe

The Goddamn Gallows knows you, Phoenix. But, they don't really know you. The self-proclaimed “hobocore” band formed in 2004 and has played its share of squats, basements, and dives. Over the years, they've built a following on incessant touring, insanely energetic live shows, and a half-dozen albums. Their latest, The Trial, dropped earlier this year. They would be pleased to truly make your acquaintance. If the feeling is mutual, they invite you to come fraternize while they throw down their own brand of "gutterbilly" punk rock on Saturday night at the Yucca Tap Room.

The divey Tempe venue should prove rather accommodating the band, which consists frontman Fishgutzzz and his bandmates: Joe Perreze, Mikey Classic, Baby Genius, Jayke Orvis, and TV's Avery. There is some fucked-up stuff out there and any band that tours as much as the Goddamn Gallows is bound to come across it. It's the sort of world that leads a band to write a song like, "Y'all Motherfuckers Need Jesus," from the band's 2011 effort, 7 Devils. You’re likely to hear the song during their show on Saturday, which will feature opening sets by Gutter Demons, The Strikers, and Whiskey and the Barrels. Jesse Sendejas Jr.

Mariachi Angeles de Pepe Martinez Jr.EXPAND
Mariachi Angeles de Pepe Martinez Jr.
Courtesy of Chandler Center For the Arts

Chandler Mariachi & Folklorico Festival
Saturday, October 6
Chandler Center For the Arts

I wonder what it’s like to be in a mariachi band. You get up, you put on an immaculate, tastefully-embroidered suit and ascot, maybe a wide-brimmed sombrero, comb your mustache and slick back your hair, then grab your guitar, or horn, or violin and join your amigos in playing a musical genre that usually gets played for laughs on TV.

Really, mariachi is an incredibly underrated genre that has defined the sound of Mexican music for decades. That’s why we should all be excited for the 19th Annual Mariachi and Folklorico Festival happening at the Chandler Center for the Arts. It’s a chance to explore the many variations on this traditional form of songcraft and hear from some of its most skillful practitioners, including Angeles de Pepe Martinez Jr., Sandra Guevara, and many more. Some of the performers will be coming directly from Guadalajara. Tickets are expected to sell out. Douglas Markowitz

The Flaming Lips return to the Arizona State Fair this weekend.EXPAND
The Flaming Lips return to the Arizona State Fair this weekend.
Jim Louvau

The Flaming Lips
Saturday, October 6
Arizona State Fair

The Flaming Lips will take the stage at Arizona State Fair on October 6, knowing that many attendees are familiar with the band only because of the song "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1," a cult classic about a Japanese girl training in kung fu to fight an army of colorful robo-warriors. The band has been touring and recording steadily since 1983, though, and most recently released its 14th studio album, Oczy Mlody. In other words, these musicians have a vast catalog of music outside of "Yoshimi."

Over the years, the band has always balanced free artistic expression with the demands of pleasing various crowds. But the fact is, state fair patrons don't have to be familiar with the Flaming Lips’ music to be entertained by their stage show. Coyne and company typically incorporate any number of absurd props, costumes, and video displays, such as dancing Teletubbies, unicorns, and naked people. Coyne often makes grand entrances via a descending UFO, and at virtually every show he climbs into a plastic "space bubble" and rolls offstage like a hamster in a ball, relying on hands in the crowd to keep him moving. Enjoy the show, which will rival the state fair’s famed midway for sheer vibrancy. Howard Hardee

Curtis Allan Jones, better known as Green Velvet.
Curtis Allan Jones, better known as Green Velvet.
Courtesy of Paradigm Talent Agency

Green Velvet
Saturday, October 6
The Pressroom

The science world’s loss is electronic dance music’s gain when it comes to the renowned career of Green Velvet. Back at the dawn of the ’90s, he was just Curtis Allan Jones, a chemical engineering student who gave up his beakers and test tubes in favor of a keyboard and a drum machine. After earning his bachelor’s degree, he eschewed further study, moved to Chicago, embedded himself in the city’s now-legendary DJ scene, and devoted all his time and energy to creating house music. And things took off from there.

As Cajmere, his first moniker, he created such infectious tracks as “Coffee Pot (It’s Time for the Percolator)” and the super-catchy 1994 collaboration with Dajae “Brighter Days,” which became an international sensation and a Billboard hit. A few years later, he transformed into his ultra-flamboyant, David Bowie-inspired alter ego, Green Velvet, developed a Kraftwerk-influenced blend of hard-hitting techno, and released a string of hits — including “Preacher Man,” “Answering Machine, and “Flash” — that earned him fame and fortune. You’re likely to hear many of these tracks, as well as material from such aughts-era albums as Whatever and Walk in Love, during Green Velvet’s gig this weekend at The Pressroom. Benjamin Leatherman

Mat Kearney
Saturday, October 6
The Van Buren

Mat Kearney is a crossover human. He's had one foot in pop music (see 2006 pop hit "Nothing Left To Lose”), and another in hip-hop while also dabbling in the fringe of the Christian music world and the mainstream. It's a difficult balancing act, one that often sees artists retreat back to the safety of the insular Christian music industry. Kearney, however, says he's always operated in both worlds and doesn't care who likes his music. After all, there is nothing overtly "Christian" about his songs. It's just good pop, and he's delving deeper into narrative songwriting with each album. Daniel Hopkins

Garbage revisits Version 2.0 at the Marquee Theatre this SundayEXPAND
Garbage revisits Version 2.0 at the Marquee Theatre this Sunday
Joseph Cultice

Sunday, October 7
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

The mid-’90s was a period of transition for rock music. The grunge subgenre that exploded at the beginning of the decade was in decline after its reluctant leader, Kurt Cobain, died. Left in its wake was the post-grunge and alternative movements that seemed to lump in any acts that weren’t classic rock. Bands such as Bush and Candlebox came to dominate the charts, but they never quite captured the raw energy of the original grunge movement.

Garbage were different, though. Helmed by three studio wizards – Steve Marker, Duke Erikson, and Butch Vig (the last being responsible for producing landmark albums such as Nirvana’s Nevermind and Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream) – and led by the charismatic Scottish frontwoman Shirley Manson, the band seemed to pick and choose all the best parts of the alternative genre. It created a polished, hook-laden sound. If you think Garbage’s musical output died after the turn of the millennium, you couldn’t be more wrong. Sure, their 1995 self-titled debut and follow-up, Version 2.0, represents the band’s peak of popularity. However, since then, the quartet have released four albums, from the misunderstood BeautifulGarbage to their latest, 2016’s Strange Little Birds, which is being heralded as a return to form for the band. Jose D. Duran

Chelsea Wolfe's heavier than ever.
Chelsea Wolfe's heavier than ever.
Bill Crisafi

Chelsea Wolfe
Sunday, October 7
Crescent Ballroom

"Grow old and let your hair grow,” Chelsea Wolfe sings on “Color of Blood.” Her voice drifts through a throbbing lattice of bass and guitar fuzz that overlays the song, and it sounds like it could be swallowed up by the noise at any moment.

The track encapsulates the thrill of listening to Wolfe’s music: Her voice is like the little bird that flies into the mouths of crocodiles to clean their teeth. You listen, in part, because you’re waiting to see if the fanged jaws are going to clamp shut and swallow her whole. While the push-pull of beautiful vocals and heavy sounds on her previous full-length, Abyss, foreshadow the direction the singer has taken on her latest album, Hiss Spun, that line about letting your hair grow out also serves as a bit of foreshadowing.

Throughout most of her career, Wolfe has played with elements of extreme music. She’s the rare singer-songwriter who can weave the atmospherics of black metal or the bottom-heavy pulse of doom into her folk music and have it sound perfectly natural. Ashley Naftule

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