Things to Do

The 10 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

The Nuke Brothers are scheduled to perform on Saturday, December 22, at The Rogue Bar in Scottsdale.
The Nuke Brothers are scheduled to perform on Saturday, December 22, at The Rogue Bar in Scottsdale. Andy Hartmark
It might be the weekend before Christmas but there’s plenty of live music and nightlife to be had. Performances by Jason Mraz, Manhattan Transfer, and Escape the Fate will be happening, as will gigs by Drumline Live and local Latin folklorico ensemble Las Chollas Peligrosas.

It being the holidays, there are also a ton of parties happening, including those featuring local DJs and bands. The annual Mary XX Mas dance event and Yule Ball will take place this weekend, not to mention post-apocalyptic party Fallout.Shelter and maybe event an ugly sweater party or two.

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

click to enlarge Jason Mraz (and his hat) will be in town this weekend. - JUSTIN BETTMAN
Jason Mraz (and his hat) will be in town this weekend.
Justin Bettman
Jason Mraz and Toca Rivera
Friday, December 21
Mesa Arts Center


Renowned singer/songwriter/heartthrob Jason Mraz will be in the Valley just a few days shy of Christmas. Joined by longtime percussionist Toca Rivera for an acoustic-centric set at Mesa Arts Center, the pair will have the opener Gregory Page with them. Mraz, a multi-Grammy winner, might be best known for his tune "I'm Yours" in 2009, but he's released a number of records since then. His latest, Know, came out this year. He might never be cool with the hipster crowd who can't stand his gentle voice and acoustic-driven songs, but he's still enough of a draw with the pop and folk crowds. Eric Grubbs

click to enlarge Drumline Live marches into Chandler Center for the Arts on Friday. - COURTESY OF CHANDLER CENTER FOR THE ARTS
Drumline Live marches into Chandler Center for the Arts on Friday.
Courtesy of Chandler Center for the Arts
Drumline Live Holiday Spectacular
Friday, December 21
Chandler Center for the Arts


The phenomenon of drumline mania visits the Valley this weekend, just in time for the holidays. The musicians and artists of Drumline Live – a thumping, bumping tour de force featuring a roster of the South’s finest college-age percussionists, many of whom are students at historically black colleges and universities – bring their holiday spectacular showcase to Chandler Center for the Arts on Friday night.

A full marching band featuring performers from the likes of Florida A&M, Tennessee State, South Carolina State, Morris Brown College, and the University of Georgia will belt out a variety of holiday classics ranging from Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” to “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” while accompanied by vocalists, steppers, and dancers. It's definitely a show-stopping and attention-grabbing performance. Julia Ramey

Escape the Fate
Friday, December 21
Club Red in Mesa


The funny thing about the music of Escape the Fate is that it's basically pure pop that's been gussied up with hard rock and emo trappings. Songs like "Issues" and "Gorgeous Nightmare" could easily be hits for Lady Gaga — or even Britney Spears, for that matter. Although loud and punctuated with screams and various other metal accouterments, the songs of Escape the Fate are catchy, almost danceable little ditties that most soccer moms would not have trouble humming while transporting their kiddos to the next match.

That being said, Escape the Fate should be lauded for not succumbing to the standard emo agenda. These are just four fairly normal young men who write catchy songs and then decide to play them as loudly as possible. For the most part, it works wonderfully, as Craig Mabbitt leads the band with a manner that belies the typical "fuck everything" mantra that is so common in emo circles. Darryl Smyers

click to enlarge Attendees of last year's Mary X Mas party. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Attendees of last year's Mary X Mas party.
Benjamin Leatherman
Mary XX Mas
Friday, December 21
Location TBA


Like many of y’all, local rave promoter Matt Dunn is planning a big get-together this weekend for some of nearest and dearest. Thing is, his affair will be a bit more rowdier and more cacophonous than your cheery gift exchange or ugly sweater soiree. That’s because Dunn’s shindig happens to be the annual Mary XX Mas, one of the Valley’s more notorious dance parties

This year’s version is particularly notable, considering its the 20th edition of the event. Back in 1999, Dunn put on the inaugural Mary XX Mas out in the desert along with hundreds of people. A lot may have changed with the rave scene over the past two decades but Mary XX Mas has stuck around. The 20th edition of the party, fittingly dubbed Mary XX Mas, will take place on Friday, December 21, and – true to form – it will be happening at a secret location.

This year’s lineup will be headlined by DJ Inertia and will feature sets from a variety of local DJs throughout the evening in far into the wee hours of the morning. As always, there will be festive decorations and a snowball fight. Better dress warmly. The event starts at 9 p.m. Admission is $15. Visit squadupevents.com on the night of the event for location info and more. Benjamin Leatherman

click to enlarge The members of Manhattan Transfer. - JOHN ABBOTT PHOTOGRAPHY
The members of Manhattan Transfer.
John Abbott Photography
The Manhattan Transfer
Friday, December 21, and Saturday, December 22
Musical Instrument Museum

Vocal quartet The Manhattan Transfer has the distinction of receiving the most Grammy Award nominations for any one album. The group’s 1985 release Vocalese earned a record-breaking 12 nominations. It wasn’t a surprise for Transfer fans; in 1981, the group had already become the first ever to win Grammy Awards in both the jazz and pop category with two separate tunes from its Mecca for Moderns release. Awards continued to pour in over the years, with more Grammys and nods from a slew of music critics as the quartet has circled the globe for sold-out concerts. Known for their innovative interpretation of tunes from the great American songbook, The Manhattan Transfer have carved out a singular reputation. Local fans of the ensemble have two chances to catch the group during their two-night stint at the Musical Instrument Museum this weekend. Olivia Flores Alvarez
KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Phoenix New Times Music Writers