Things to Do

The 10 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

NJOMZA is scheduled to perform on Saturday, February 23, at The Rebel Lounge.
NJOMZA is scheduled to perform on Saturday, February 23, at The Rebel Lounge. Courtesy of Ticketfly
It's the final weekend of February and the Valley’s concert calendar couldn’t be busier. The 72-hour span from Friday, February 22, to Sunday, February 24, is filled with festivals, big gigs, DJ sessions, and memorable shows aplenty, including the following 10 music events worth checking out.

Buzz-worthy rap artists such as Vic Mensa, Trippie Redd, Noname, and hip-hop artists Injury Reserve are all scheduled to perform this weekend, as will up-and-coming pop star NJOMZA, psychedelic cumbia band Tropica Magica, and popular EDM act Manic Focus.

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.

click to enlarge New Orleans roots-rock group The Subdudes. - COURTESY OF THE ROOTS AGENCY
New Orleans roots-rock group The Subdudes.
Courtesy of The Roots Agency
The Subdudes
Friday, February 22
The Rhythm Room

The Subdudes may not be among the New Orleans musical legends the average Joe could immediately name. But examine the band's track record, which stretches back three decades, and its seamless blend of riveting rock ‘n’ roll, nimble rhythms, and sinewy roots. It's clear the Subdudes have earned their standing as one of the Crescent City's best and brightest. For starters, it takes a certain amount of panache to take a scenario as awful as Hurricane Katrina and translate it into the most basic human terms. On the band's 2007 album, Street Symphony — their first after that devastating debacle — the Subdudes did just that, employing their uniquely Southern style and smooth grooves to convey vivid tales filled with resilience and determination. The result was a series of insightful yet engaging narratives that spun tragedy into triumph. Yet for all that reflection, the Subdudes' sound still conveys an innate sense of celebration. And that's the main reason the Subdudes remain the cool dudes they are. Lee Zimmerman

click to enlarge Fatimah Nyeema Warner, better known as Noname. - CHANTAL ANDERSON
Fatimah Nyeema Warner, better known as Noname.
Chantal Anderson
Friday, February 22
The Van Buren

When Chicago rapper Noname dropped her mixtape Telefone in 2016, the response to her stream-of-consciousness raps was immediate. Many were first exposed to her in 2013 when she featured on the track “lost” off Chance the Rapper’s acclaimed mixtape Acid Rap. Last year, her debut album, Room 25, displayed her changing world for all to see. The quick-witted, rapid-fire verses from Telefone remain, but Room 25 adds more introspection laced atop jazzy percussion and soulful strings. she’s also touring and releasing music without the backing of a label, remaining an independent artist. Julian Hernandez

Trippie Redd
Friday, February 22
The Pressroom

Sad-boy rap is here to stay. When Trippie Redd dropped his single “Love Scars” in 2016, the emo rap movement was just starting to climb out from SoundCloud bedroom plays and into the mainstream. In 2018, after gracing the cover of the XXL Freshman Class issue, he released his debut studio album, Life’s A Trip. On “How You Feel,” he pours his heart out over a guitar sample from the 1978 Eddie Money rock ballad “Baby Hold On.” Trippie Redd has visited Phoenix many times in the last year, but this will be the first show where he’ll be headlining. Julian Hernandez

Vic Mensa and Injury Reserve
Friday, February 22
Coca-Cola Sun Deck at Sun Devil Stadium

Few things in modern music are more satisfying than a good come-up story. The mixture of luck and skill that empower the rise to glory out of monotony, tragedy, or circumstance is a powerful aphrodisiac. And on February 22, the ASU 365 Community Union draws our attention to two particularly enticing cases on stage at the Sun Devil Stadium: Chicago MC Vic Mensa and the Arizona-born Injury Reserve.

Mensa’s releases on Roc Nation have proved the young artist’s ability and willingness to take the city on his shoulders apart from his endorsements. “16 Shots” reflected on the death of Laquan McDonald at the hands of the Chicago police in October 2014. “Rage” is an inspiring track reflecting on the universally dark times of doubt we live in with Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gently” mantra in tow. Even before the memoir format of his full-length debut, The Autobiography, Mensa proved himself to be a thoughtful and introspective commentator on the difficult, thorny plot of progress.

Joining Mensa on stage will be a group with a very different struggle to the spotlight. Getting their start in Tempe back in 2014, Injury Reserve lived in a city that did little to reciprocate their vision. On 2015 debut mixtape Live at the Dentist’s Office, tracks like “Friday Night” and “Washed Up” paint a bleak portrait of a city offering hardly anything in terms of inspiration or opportunity. But a strong critical endorsement put the album on many a radar outside the city. Gerrit Feenstra

click to enlarge John “JmaC” McCarten of Manic Focus. - COURTESY OF MANIC FOCUS
John “JmaC” McCarten of Manic Focus.
Courtesy of Manic Focus
Manic Focus
Saturday, February 23
Shady Park in Tempe

John “JmaC” McCarten has had an enviable career as a DJ thus far. Under the banner of his popular electronica act Manic Focus, he’s created intoxicating and utterly listenable electronica that features live instrumentation and a pastiche of funk, hip-hop, and bass sounds, as well as plenty of grooves and verve. It’s earned McCarten plenty of praise in recent years, not to mention scores of fans and support from such high-profile artists as Pretty Lights, Gramatik, and Zeds Dead. He’s also collaborated with cats like Big Gigantic and released an album (2014’s Cerebral Eclipse) on GRiZ’s label.

Besides helping propel Manic Focus into the EDM stratosphere, McCarten’s music has also played a more important role: helping him deal with being bipolar. As he told Forbes last year, crafting tracks has been a cathartic experience of sorts. “My music and the community surrounding it has been an outlet of expression, love and support as well,” McCarten says. And whenever he gets behind the mixers, like he’ll do this weekend at Tempe’s Shady Park, it can sometimes be an experience wrought with emotion, ranging from exhilaration to anxiousness.

“Onstage depression, for me, often turns into horrible anxiety,” McCarten told Forbes. “I pray that my fans recognize what I’m going through while I try to bring them joy with my music, and I think for the most part they do. I try to lead by example that no matter how intense things gets, it is possible to power through moments of challenging mental tribulations. When this does happen, I usually feel better once I’m off stage.” So when McCarten brings Manic Focus to Shady Park, on Saturday, February 23, it’s likely to be an epic and emotion-filled journey.

The gig will feature support from two equally talented EDM acts, electro-funk and future rock producer Marvel Years and ethnomusicologist/electronica artist Balkan Bump, both of whom utilize live instrumentation and have earned rock star status in the dance music scene in recent years. Performances start at 9 p.m. Tickets are $25. Benjamin Leatherman
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Phoenix New Times Music Writers