The 11 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

Snoop Dogg is scheduled to perform on Friday, March 15, at Pot of Gold Music Festival 2019.EXPAND
Snoop Dogg is scheduled to perform on Friday, March 15, at Pot of Gold Music Festival 2019.
Jim Louvau
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Get ready for one helluva busy weekend in the Valley. St. Patrick’s Day is on Sunday, and there are going to be a voluminous amount of events taking place across town both leading up to the occasion and on the big day itself. Add in the three-day hip-hop hullabaloo of the Pot of Gold Festival and a slew of other outdoor events and you’ve got yourself plenty of things to do.

There will also be a ton of concerts both big and small happening from Friday, March 15, to Sunday, March 17, ranging from Nanami Ozone’s parking lot show at Gracie’s Tax Bar to the Zac Brown Band kicking off Ak-Chin Pavillion’s outdoor concert season. Other highlights of this weekend’s concert calendar include gigs by Watsky, Mom Jeans, River Whyless, Nils Frahm, Lonesome Shack, and Gordon Lightfoot.

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

Local indie rock band Nanami Ozone in concert earlier this year.EXPAND
Local indie rock band Nanami Ozone in concert earlier this year.
Benjamin Leatherman

Nanami Ozone (Album Release Show)
Friday, March 15
Gracie's Tax Bar

No, this is not taking place inside the actual bar or in the patio where Gracie’s usually hosts DJs. Nanami Ozone’s album release show for their upcoming album, NO, will instead be hosted in the bar’s parking lot. Call it a block party if you want. The Phoenix alternative rockers have been serving up all sorts of guitar fuzz and heartbreaking melodies for the last few years and have become local favorites in the process. This is the first show to ever be hosted at Gracie’s. It remains to be seen what kind of performance setup the bar will provide, but for this scene-favorite hangout to open up its space for the band is a good sign of a special night to come. Julian Hernandez

The Zac Brown Band will kick off Ak-Chin Pavillion's concert season on Friday.EXPAND
The Zac Brown Band will kick off Ak-Chin Pavillion's concert season on Friday.
Courtesy of Atlantic Records

Zac Brown Band
Friday, March 15
Ak-Chin Pavilion

Zac Brown has a story fit for a country ballad. The 11th of 12 children, Brown was singing before he could talk. The "Chicken Fried" singer was raised in a music-loving family, and by age 7, he was plucking a classical guitar. The three-time Grammy-winning Zac Brown Band, which combine bluegrass with a hint of reggae soul, are the culmination of a lifetime of practice. Critics say their lyrics sound forced on repeat listens, but fans like the Zac Brown Band’s music all the same, as evidenced by all the times they've topped the Billboard charts. The band are gearing up to release their eighth studio album later this year and have dropped a single, 2018’s “Someone I Used to Know” that’s likely to appear on the yet-to-be-titled effort. They will perform at Ak-Chin Pavillion this weekend. Moon Taxi opens. Nicholas Bostick

Lil Wayne will perform at Pot of Gold 2019 on Saturday, March 16.EXPAND
Lil Wayne will perform at Pot of Gold 2019 on Saturday, March 16.
Jim Louvau

Pot of Gold Music Festival 2019
Friday, March 15, to Sunday, March 17
Steele Indian School Park

The three-day event returns to prove once again that there's more to St. Patty's Day weekend than throwing up green beer. This year, the festival, which will take place March 15 to 17, has switched venues from the familiar raver stomping grounds of Rawhide Western Town to the much more lush Steele Indian School Park in central Phoenix — makes sense to have more green around, doesn't it?

They've also traded up in terms of the lineup: While last year's headliners included slightly embarrassing artists like Russ and Sturgill Simpson, this year's will be almost exclusively hip-hop. Lil Wayne and Post Malone are listed as headliners on Saturday, March 16, and Sunday, March 17, respectively, while support acts include Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, Young Thug, Lil Pump, Jhené Aiko, Ski Mask The Slump God, Lil Baby, Tinashe, and more. (Latin trap/reggaetone artist Ozuna headlines on Friday, March 15.) Arizona has been lacking a pure hip-hop festival until now, and we're excited Pot of Gold has stepped up to provide one. Douglas Markowitz

Saturday, March 16
The Pressroom

Watsky is a San Franciscan poet/rapper, now based in Los Angeles, who first gained recognition as a slam poet. As a performer, he's about as diverse as they come: serious, silly, cocky, and heartfelt — sometimes all at once. His cross-genre appeal is demonstrated by his impressively varied resumé: winner of the Brave New Voices National Poetry Slam in 2006, a poet at Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry in 2007, and a performer at the Just for Laughs comedy festival. Amazingly, considering his lack of any sort of street cred and his uncanny resemblance to the goofy Michael Cera, but in true testament to his rare talent, he is well-respected by rap authorities, having even earned features in XXL. The best thing about Watsky is his honesty; "Seizure Boy," in which he discusses having a seizure in gym class, is a standout in that regard, and the rapper is so confident that he's able to joke about it and put his audience at ease. He's not afraid to be human and vulnerable, which is the mark of a true artist. Noah Hubbell

Club '90s: Backstreet Boys vs. NSYNC
Saturday, March 16
The Van Buren

Where did your late-’90s teen-pop loyalties lie? The battle between Justin and Nick rages on at Backstreet Boys vs. NSYNC, presented by Club ’90s. Get on the floor and dance to the vocal teen pop that played nonstop on your Discman two decades ago. The battle continues inside the photo booths, so be sure to show your allegiance to the group you love the most. Who will win? Is it going to be NSYNC or do you have Backstreet’s back? You want it that way at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 16, at The Van Buren. Tickets to this 21-and-over event are $15. Jason Keil

German composer Nils Frahm.
German composer Nils Frahm.
Alexander Schneider

Nils Frahm
March 17
The Van Buren

You might consider this an unconventional pick, but Nils Frahm is not a conventional musician, even if he's a classically trained pianist. His record Spaces, compiled from live recordings made in 2012 and '13, is a dynamic, at times thrilling record that uses spacey synths to supplement the German composer's frighteningly fast piano runs. Frahm has slowed things down on recent releases such as Solo and All Melody, but no matter the speed at which he plays, you're sure to find it fascinating. Douglas Markowitz

Mom Jeans
Sunday, March 17
Crescent Ballroom

It's hard not to tap along to Mom Jeans' punk-pop, but the music they play and the lyrics they sing are operating in two different worlds. Alternating between fast, hop-along power pop complete with twinkly guitar solos and slower, introspective punk, Mom Jeans capture the ups and downs of daily life and conflicting desires. "Wouldn't it be nice to not have to care about anything or anyone?" they sing on "Glamorous," in between vocal riffs on their favorite episodes of TV shows like The Office. Listening to Mom Jeans feels like talking on the phone with your best friend. Julian Hernandez

Folk ensemble River Whyless.EXPAND
Folk ensemble River Whyless.
Courtesy of River Whyless

River Whyless
Sunday, March 17
Musical Instrument Museum

Most bands’ goals are fairly straightforward. You want to make plenty of good songs, hope that audiences respond to them in a positive manner, and then have faith that enough folks show up when you take those songs out on the road. The four members of folk-rock quartet River Whyless have made one of the year’s most critically lauded albums and are learning that folks do, in fact, show up when the tunes resonate.

“We see some people in the crowd that we recognize, but we’re certainly seeing a lot of new faces, too, which is really great. Sometimes I think, ‘Well, how the hell did you get here?’” singer and guitarist Ryan O’Keeffe says. “I’ll ask people where they’ve heard of us because I’m genuinely curious, whether it’s our social media, our publicity folks, or it’s random pickups by NPR, which is probably the biggest. We were lucky enough to get in on that world, and the word spread to the outlets across the country.”

It also helps that the band’s most recent album, 2018’s Kindness, A Rebel, won over many fans, including several top critics. An NPR scribe wrote lavish praise for the 11 eclectically arranged tracks and has consistently championed the band’s releases over the past several years. You might join them after attending the River Whyless’ show this weekend at the MIM. Jeff Strowe

Legendary singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot.EXPAND
Legendary singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot.
Courtesy of Danny Zelisko Presents

Gordon Lightfoot
Sunday, March 17
Celebrity Theatre

There are two kinds of people in this world: Gordon Lightfoot evangelists and people who've never actually bothered to listen to him. His champions include Bob Dylan, Vincent Gallo, and the entire nation of Canada. Even his most recognizable hits, "Sundown" and "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" run rife with darkness. "10 Degrees and Getting Colder" is a tale about what are perhaps the last minutes of a hitchhiking failed country singer.

Quit the ironic snickering and head down to your local record store to raid the dollar bin ($10 will grab you most of his catalog) or head to Celebrity Theatre to check out Lightfoot’s gig on March 17. You can thank us later. Nicholas Pell

Ben Todd of Lonesome Shack.
Ben Todd of Lonesome Shack.
Courtesy of Alive Records

Lonesome Shack
Sunday, March 17
The Lunchbox

Lonesome Shack may be based in Seattle, but you'd be forgiven for mistaking the band's Alive Records debut, More Primitive, for a mid-'70s recording from Mississippi's fertile Hill Country blues scene, owing much of its elegant boogie to the droning styles of R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, and Fred McDowell. But the band's geographical obfuscation goes deeper: Guitarist and singer Ben Todd studied those Southern sounds in a tiny hand-built shack on the side of his travel trailer near the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico. "That's where I started getting into blues and boogie music heavily," Todd says. "I think just being in a rural area, where it was pretty quiet most of the time ... just being out on the land, that music felt right out there."

Eventually leaving the New Mexican wilderness, Todd found himself in Phoenix, where he attended the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery while workshopping his blues at Valley spots like Carly's Bistro, the Trunk Space, Rhythm Room, and Yucca Tap Room before heading to the Pacific Northwest, where Lonesome Shack bloomed. With bassist Luke Bergman and drummer Kristian Garrard at his side, Todd's songs forgo the bombastic indie blues currently in vogue, instead favoring sparse grooves and reverb-soaked vocals. It's raw but not rudimentary. "I wasn't thinking of [primitive] as a descriptor of the whole style," Todd says. "It's more about a desire to get to a really basic practice. Working with my hands, and simplifying things. I think that reflects in my songwriting." Jason P. Woodbury

The current lineup of Earth, Wind & Fire.EXPAND
The current lineup of Earth, Wind & Fire.
Courtesy of Ticketmaster

Earth, Wind & Fire
Sunday, March 17
Comerica Theatre

Earth, Wind & Fire are infallible. The legendary band, which have been playing beautifully crafted, soulful pop for more than four decades, can't seem to put on a bad show. And they prove it during any of the hundreds of performances they put on each year. Earth, Wind & Fire — which is currently fronted by musicians Philip Bailey, Verdine White, and Ralph Johnson after the passing of founding member Maurice White in 2016 — continue to perform energetic sets, featuring songs woven together by an expert rhythm section, a gorgeous array of horns and, of course, their trademark chorus of voices. Led by Bailey’s distinctive falsetto, the ensemble provide rousing sets filled with living funk and jazz-influenced history. And they’re still releasing albums, too — including 2013’s Now, Then & Forever and 2014’s Holiday — although most of the folks who come to their shows are eager to hear such EW&F classics as “After the Love Has Gone,” “Boogie Wonderland,” and, of course, “September.” Bree Davies

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