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The 13 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

GWAR is scheduled to invade the Marquee Theatre in Tempe on Friday, October 19.
GWAR is scheduled to invade the Marquee Theatre in Tempe on Friday, October 19.
Freeman Promotions

Get ready for a weekend of wild rock 'n’ roll featuring freaks, geeks, punks, and weirdos. Bands such as GWAR, Genitorturers, Death Valley Girls, and FIDLAR will invade Valley music venues over the next couple of nights, each serving up their particular brand of rowdy rock theatrics, some of it including gonzo costumes.

Speaking of which, there’s also a Halloween-themed dance music festival on Saturday night where crazy costumes are encouraged and rowdy fun is the norm.

If those events don’t sound like your particular brand of vodka, our list of weekend concert picks includes gigs by country kings Big & Rich, jazz saxophonist Kamasi Washington, singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers, and bluegrass artist Billy Strings.

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

Friday, October 19
Club Red in Mesa

With influences ranging from '90s hardcore punk to pornographic theatrics, industrial metal act the Genitorturers helped pioneer the underground realm that bridged the fetish and music scenes. For more than 30 years, the Orlando, Florida-bred Genitorturers have been performing, becoming known for their provocative live shows, which utilize audience volunteers and are filled with outlandish antics and their unique style of music.

In fact, as the band’s frontwoman Gen told Phoenix New Times in 2014, their past shows — long before everyone could whip out their smartphones — were far more gonzo then the band's present shows, since there was more anonymity and an actual "underground" scene.

“When you have pretty crazy shows like we do, there weren't cell phones where you could take pictures,” she says. “It was more extreme in those days. It was a very different world. Now, everybody has a cell phone and can take pictures and you don't have that anonymity and that underground. It doesn't really exist anymore.”

Regardless, the band’s gigs are still wild and raucous affairs, as those who attend their performance at Club Red in Mesa will likely attest. Echo Black, The Offering, Sons of Providence, and Charonincentive will open. Lauren Wise

L.A.-born punk band FIDLAR.EXPAND
L.A.-born punk band FIDLAR.
BB Gun Press

Friday, October 19
The Van Buren

To musical purists, Los Angeles' FIDLAR isn't all that complicated. To the Urban Outfitters, vinyl-collecting teen set, FIDLAR could be seen as intimidating. To the dirty, denim-clad, skateboarding, chainsmoking neo-angst kids, FIDLAR is a voice. Acronymic for Fuck It Dog, Life's A Risk, the band, in all aspects of their approach, embody the antithesis of stereotyped Los Angeles music. They're brash, they're loud, and you'll likely leave a show bloody, covered in beer, or both — they're simply fun as hell.

Of all things, FIDLAR was formed as a viable response to the frustrations of its members: An outlet that differed from the Silver Lake and Echo Park scenes, something in line with the rise of similarly heavy acts like The Shrine and Pangea. What FIDLAR does best is fast, frenzied, and reminiscent of skate culture, even if it's not readily recognizable.

Truth has also always been a staple in FIDLAR’s arsenal of tropes. Where most heard and saw scuzzed-out party anthems fit to break drywall to, the band’s sophomore effort, Too, was almost a voyeuristic look into lead singers Carper’s previous battles with addiction, and the effects of his hard living on himself and those around him.

He’s been sober for several years now, and his sobriety is a horse that’s been beaten to death in interviews — Carper is clean and that’s all you need to know. It’s been a learning experience for Carper that might feed into his own band’s forthcoming record, next year’s Almost Free. In the meantime, they’re currently on tour and will hit The Van Buren in downtown Phoenix on Friday night. K.C. Libman

Paulina Rubio
Friday, October 19
Arizona State Fair

Following in the footsteps of Latina crossover artists like Shakira and Aterciopelados, this Mexican pop singer takes her music into directions from pop-flavored rancheras and rock to reggaeton-inspired moments. Critics may dislike this lack of focus, but that is precisely the point. Though born in Mexico, Rubio was raised in Spain and the U.S., following her mother — acclaimed film and TV actress Susana Dosamantes — wherever she was filming. Such diverse surroundings gave her the opportunity to absorb different cultures, which is clearly reflected in the music she makes. Rubio has plenty of energy in her live shows, and the language barrier fades away as she also occasionally inserts English-language versions of her tunes. Catch her in concert on Friday night at the Arizona State Fair. Ernest Barteldes

Bluegrass musician Billy Strings.EXPAND
Bluegrass musician Billy Strings.
Big Hassle

Billy Strings
Friday, October 19
Musical Instrument Museum

The colorfully tattooed, Michigan-bred Billy Strings received his stage name from his aunt, who admired his uncanny ability to master a variety of plucked instruments. The 25-year-old guitar flatpicking prodigy, born William Apostol, whose influences range from Doc Watson to Black Sabbath, is rapidly scaling the bluegrass music ladder and carving his name on the venerable tree of roots music while happily making waves wherever he goes. This weekend, he’ll be going to the Musical Instrument Museum in north Phoenix for a Friday night performance inside its musical theater. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $25.50 to $38.50. Nick Hutchinson

Friday, October 19
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

With the death of vocalist and bassist Dave Brockie in March 2014, comedic thrash metal group GWAR is now left without any of its founding members. However, the often obscenely hilarious art-rock band is a beast that will scour the land devouring pop culture figures and spraying concert audiences with copious amounts of fake blood for as long as the spirit remains.

Like a car accident mashing together the talents and styles of Alice Cooper, Slayer, and Spinal Tap, GWAR are still an exotic and outlandish show to behold. It's a performance that must be experienced to truly understand what these barbaric interplanetary warriors (and clever satirists) are really all about. Angel Melendez

The musicians of Latin rock ensemble Cafe Tacvba.EXPAND
The musicians of Latin rock ensemble Cafe Tacvba.
Courtesy of Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino

Café Tacvba
Saturday, October 20
Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino in Chandler

We live in volatile, unpredictable times — and it’s exactly that kind of uncertainty that drives Jei Beibi, the latest release from Mexico’s alternative rock icons Café Tacvba. Jei Beibi, its title a Spanglish pun pronounced “Hey Baby,” is the band’s eighth full-length album and its first in five years. On it, the quartet tackle all sorts of heavy, real-life themes: fate and faith, new parenthood, and the everyday stress of the current sociopolitical climate.

Jei Beibi also deals with the very real, very poignant experience of growing old. After almost three decades together as Café Tacvba, the members of the group are in or nearing their 50s. Their self-titled debut album celebrated the 25-year milestone this past July. Aging and passing time, thus, are on the band members' minds, and it’s almost palpable on album track “El Mundo en Que Nací” (“The World I Was Born In”), a soothing lullaby Emmanuel del Real penned for his two kids.

In the ’90s, Café Tacvba helped define and popularize the rock en español scene, an international movement across the wider Latin American world that saw artists mixing rock music with traditional, regional, and folkloric elements of their homelands. Café Tacvba solidified Mexico’s role in the burgeoning genre with their seminal 1994 album Re, on which they pioneered a new sound built on experimentation and regional styles including bolero, ranchera, norteño, huapango, and banda. John Ochoa

The Death Valley Girls are out there.
The Death Valley Girls are out there.
Michael Haight

Death Valley Girls
Saturday, October 20
Yucca Tap Room in Tempe

Want to see one of L.A.’s best bands without making the six-hour drive to La La Land? Head for the Yucca Tap Room in Tempe on Saturday night for an eyeful and earful of the Death Valley Girls. This gang of misfits dabble in the strange and unusual, and deal in rowdy rock ’n’ roll. Self-described as an “acid-tripping science experiment,” the quartet takes its cues in everything from the occult to UFOs. Or as the scribes of L.A. Weekly put it, they’re a band that serves up “dark sound drenched in overdrive and mutant energy, but it’s more fun than scary, and maniacally compelling.” Local acts Strange Lot, Weird Radicals, and The Exbats will open the show, which starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12. Anthony Sandoval

The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band
Saturday, October 20
Crescent Ballroom

While Reverend Peyton is a big dude with a booming voice, his band really isn't that big in numbers. There's the Rev himself, who plays a mean slide on his resonator guitar; his wife, Washboard Breezy, who scrapes the hell out of a washboard; and Max Senteney chugging away on a stripped-down drum kit that includes a five-gallon plastic bucket. You get these three together, though, and they make some big damn music. Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band rips through backwoods Mississippi Delta blues with the fervor and the fury of the Ramones, getting crowds stomping and hollering all over the world. The trio shares the bill with the equally energetic local acts Brea Burns and the Boleros and Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold. Jon Solomon

Get ready for BOO Arizona.EXPAND
Get ready for BOO Arizona.
Benjamin Leatherman

BOO Arizona 2018
Saturday, October 20
Rawhide Event Center in Chandler

As it turns out, ghouls and ghosts won’t be the only thing going bump in the night this time of year. Case in point: Bass-heavy beats, cacophonous grinds, and other ominously intense electronic sounds will fill the air this weekend inside the Rawhide Event Center in Chandler during the latest edition of BOO Arizona.

The Halloween-themed electronic dance music event, which is equal parts music festival and costume party, features EDM treats aplenty and hordes of people dressed up for the occasion. Anyone who digs dubstep, trap music or electro sounds is likely to dig the event, especially when it comes to the lineup. This year’s BOO Arizona will include sets by wub-wub fiends and bass-happy DJs like 1788-L, Arius, Blunts and Blondes, Boogie T, Habstrakt, Kayzo, Lick, and Tynan.

As you might have guessed given the event's Halloween bent, costumes are very much encouraged. Things kick off at 6 p.m. and go until 2 a.m. Tickets are $55 for general admission, $75 for VIP. Benjamin Leatherman

Superstar country music duo Big & Rich.EXPAND
Superstar country music duo Big & Rich.
Kristin Barlowe

Big & Rich
Saturday, October 20
Arizona State Fair

Talk to Kenneth Alpin of country duo Big & Rich about his influences, and you’ll be surprised. Alphin’s got an eclectic taste in music, and as he rattles off recent songs that he finds either inspirational or just downright intriguing, there might not be a country song to be found. Among his choices are AWOLNATION’s “Sail,” Alex Clare’s “Too Close,” Bastille’s “Pompeii,” and Avicii’s collaboration with Aloe Blacc. It’s a left-of-field list that calls to mind what made Big & Rich so popular in the first place. On Horse of a Different Color, the duo’s 2004 debut record, Alphin and John Rich brought together rapping, spoken word, and full-out cock rock on an album that shook the foundation of radio country. The duo swings through the Arizona State Fair this weekend for their third time performing at the annual event. K.C. Libman

Jean-Philip Grobler and Patti Beranek of St. Lucia.EXPAND
Jean-Philip Grobler and Patti Beranek of St. Lucia.
Shervin Lainez

St. Lucia
Sunday, October 21
Crescent Ballroom

Pop music can indulge the lunacies of first love, serve as a catharsis for a broken heart, or, at its most basic, be a mindless escape from the world. More often than not, it's the latter — an amped-up blend of celebratory sounds and stress-free melodies. St. Lucia, a synth-obsessed outfit born in South Africa, unapologetically encompasses all the brightest fireworks that pop has to offer — both on record and in real life.

Founded by vocalist, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Jean-Philip Grobler, St. Lucia emerged in 2012 with a self-titled EP that landed them a touring spot with Ellie Goulding. Their 2013 debut LP, When the Night, was a vision of glittering, euphoric, '80s-adoring dance rock. Nearly every song was a blissful, joyous, and completely heartfelt mixture that seemed to combine the best elements of artists like Simply Red, Rick Astley, and Fine Young Cannibals while filtering their sounds through the fingertips of a European nightclub DJ. The album has a distinct island flavor that extends beyond the tropical cover art, similar to when Paul Simon discovered world beat music. Imagine a disco ball illuminating the shadows of a remote jungle while M83 plays in the background. Angel Melendez

Check out Maggie Rogers at The Van Buren this weekend.EXPAND
Check out Maggie Rogers at The Van Buren this weekend.
Olivia Bee

Maggie Rogers
Sunday, October 21
The Van Buren

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Singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers has been on quite the hot streak this year. She's graduated from New York University and performed with The National. In case you’re not familiar with her backstory, Rogers rose to fame in 2016 after she impressed the heck out of Pharrell Williams with her vibrant and cathartic pop song, “Alaska,” which she reportedly wrote in about 15 minutes. It went viral, earning millions of listens in the process, and thrust her into the spotlight. Since its release, she’s put out two full-length albums, a hit EP, and participated in a few different tours. She's currently on the road in support of her debut LP and will make her first-ever appearance at The Van Buren in October. Benjamin Leatherman

Phenomenally talented jazz saxaphonist Kamasi Washington.EXPAND
Phenomenally talented jazz saxaphonist Kamasi Washington.
Sacks & Co.

Kamasi Washington
Sunday, October 21
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Arguably the most ambitious traditional jazz musician in recent memory, Kamasi Washington gained fame as part of the recording ensemble for Kendrick Lamar’s landmark To Pimp a Butterfly. That’s his tenor saxophone you hear at the beginning of “For Free? (Interlude).” Washington’s own solo work is perhaps even more ambitious than Kendrick’s: His debut album The Epic was a three-hour magnum opus. His latest album, Heaven and Earth, is also daring, mixing genres and incorporating a two-sided structure about the sacred and profane worlds. Douglas Markowitz

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