Concerts

The 30 Best Concerts in Phoenix This September

U2 are scheduled to perform on Tuesday, September 19, at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
U2 are scheduled to perform on Tuesday, September 19, at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. Anton Corbijn
It’s finally the time of year most of us have looked forward to experiencing.

The end of another long, hot, grueling summer is in sight, things are starting to perk back up around the Valley, and a wide variety of much-anticipated events will be taking place.

And that most definitely includes all the big concerts happening in Phoenix, particularly during the month of September.

Over the next 30 days, venues around the Valley both big and small will be graced by any number of memorable shows and major concerts, not to mention fall tours, blockbuster acts, and music legends. And some of the big names headed our way this month include U2, Imagine Dragons, Depeche Mode, Janet Jackson, Idina Menzel, Death Cab for Cutie, Melvins, Ben Folds, and Fleet Foxes.

Whew.

We’ll even get a visit from Luis Fonsi, the Latin pop star behind the song of the summer, “Despacito.”

Here’s a look at all of the aforementioned shows, as well as many more, that will be happening in Phoenix in September. (And for even more shows taking place this month, check our our online concert calendar.)

click to enlarge Oh Sees in concert. - THOMAS GIRARD
Oh Sees in concert.
Thomas Girard
Oh Sees
Friday, September 1
Crescent Ballroom

San Francisco psychedelic rock band Oh Sees released their new album, Orc, last month on Castle Face Records, a label co-owned by the band’s primary songwriter John Dwyer. This marks the band’s 19th album since the project was founded in 1997. Those 20 years have seen many changes, with 2017 ushering in their latest phase and shortened moniker. The band had been known as Thee Oh Sees since 2008. It’s the seventh band name they’ve used while several iterations of band members have rotated around Dwyer. The name change could mark a banner year for them though, as they’ve landed on a tight foursome of Dwyer, Tim Hellman, Dan Rincon, and new drummer Paul Quattrone from !!!. The tracks on Orc are as sweeping as they are menacing, with Dwyer’s snarky vocals over muddy guitar riffs and the driving energy of the band’s dual drummers. Ashley Harris

click to enlarge The members of The Growlers. - COURTESY OF ONE BEAT PR
The members of The Growlers.
Courtesy of One Beat PR
The Growlers
Friday, September 1
The Van Buren

Listening to the music of The Growlers is a bit like listening to oldies radio before that format was taken over by music from the '80s rather than being dominated by classic pop songs from the late '50s through the mid-'60s. There's a touch of rockabilly, a hint of early psychedelic garage rock and a dash of surf guitar. It also sounds as though the band's guitarist learned a trick or ten from Lonnie Donegan. Like the Strange Boys, The Growlers sound out of time, retro in the same sense that there is a retro aesthetic to the films of David Lynch — minus the mind-warping sense of the bizarre, of course. The strangeness of the Growlers is more subtle, tuneful, and catchy, but no less eccentric. Tom Murphy

click to enlarge R&B singer Lee Fields. - COURTESY OF BIG CROWN RECORDS
R&B singer Lee Fields.
Courtesy of Big Crown Records
Lee Fields and the Expressions
Saturday, September 2
Crescent Ballroom

Must be a heavy deal having the specter of James Brown looming large over your shoulder for your entire dang 45-year career, but Elmer “Lee” Fields has taken that burden and kicked it into the stratosphere. The North Carolina born-and-bred singer can boast a gritty tone, tufftude and authentic cool that many liken to Mr. Brown’s, so much so that he was nicknamed “Little JB” at one time. But Fields deserves much praise for the deepened style and hard-earned substance he brings to the classic soul-man strut, with which he’s graced frontline gigs with R&B big shots such as Kool & the Gang, Hip Huggers, O.V. Wright, and Little Royal. And in recent years he’s been laying down badder and wiser-sounding Stax-Chess-Motown stuff on his own albums, the latest of which is titled Special Night, which dropped earlier this year. John Payne

Too $hort
Saturday, September 2
The Van Buren

It's undoubtedly for the better that pimp culture has taken a backseat to personal independence in the rap vernacular, but that doesn't mean we can't reminisce with one of the iciest players to ever turn a ho out on record (we're using technical terminology here). At 51, Too $hort is a veteran, having been one of the first Bay Area rappers to rise to prominence after dropping his first cassette in 1985. It was titled Don't Stop Rappin', which turned out to be fitting since he's released 20 albums to date, including 2012’s No Trespassing and this year’s The Pimp Tape, both independent releases that still managed to raise some big stars for the occasion: 50 Cent, G-Eazy, T.I., Juicy J, Snoop Dogg and, of course, E-40. All of that speaks to $hort Dog's commitment to craft, which in this case involves lacing strip-club beats with timeless braggadocio. Chris Martins

click to enlarge Ultra-talented vocalist Idina Menzel. - MAX VADUKUL
Ultra-talented vocalist Idina Menzel.
Max Vadukul
Idina Menzel
Sunday, September 3
Comerica Theatre

She stole our bohemian hearts in Rent, and she left us all humming the tunes of Frozen for months. Now Idina Menzel (or is it Adele Dazeem?) is taking her Tony Award-winning pipes on the road, and making a stop in the Valley in early September to grace us with her gilded vocal cords. Dubbed “the Streisand of her generation,” she has captivated audiences around the world with her irresistible charm, wit and unparalleled vocal prowess. Throughout the tour, Menzel will lead audiences through a special journey of songs from classic pop, musical-theater favorites and her own catalog. This is one Wicked experience that will fill the crowds with Glee, so don’t “Let It Go” and miss this chance to see a living legend in concert. Sam Byrd

The sludge rockets of Melvins. - CHRIS CASELLA
The sludge rockets of Melvins.
Chris Casella
Melvins
Tuesday, September 5
Crescent Ballroom

Though the Melvins have seen a lot of changes in their lineup, original members Buzz Osborne (vocals, guitar) and Dale Crover (drums) are still mainstays, holding it down and serving up hefty doses of the noise rock they’ve been playing for decades. When the band formed back in 1983, they did what a lot of new bands do — jammed out on covers of classic rock tunes by bands like Cream. They moved on to hardcore punk for a couple of years and then began to develop their signature sound, which keeps their brash punk rock roots alive through a slower, heavier, and sludgier sound that helped inspire the attention-grabbing grunge scene that started gaining attention in the late ’80s and blew up in the early ’90s. The Melvins were mixing it up with plenty of those folks from the jump. Drummer Dale Crover played on early Nirvana tracks, and Osborne, who is also known as King Buzzo, is the one who hooked Dave Grohl up with Cobain and crew. Last year saw the release of The Colossus of Destiny, a documentary about the band. And the band released a double album called A Walk with Love & Death. It includes Steven McDonald from Redd Kross on bass and other guests, like Teri Gender Bender from Le Bucherettes. Amy Young

Seu Jorge's The Life Aquatic: A Tribute to David Bowie
Tuesday, September 5
The Van Buren

Wes Anderson's 2004 flick The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou was a film full of memorable performances, but perhaps no one in the movie was a more effective scene-stealer than Brazilian musician Seu Jorge. Jorge appears throughout the film as the dutiful and soft-spoken sailor Pelé dos Santos. On several occasions, with an acoustic guitar in his arms, he belts out gorgeous Portuguese covers of David Bowie classics like "Rebel Rebel" and "Life on Mars?" In the liner notes to Jorge's accompanying album, The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions Featuring Seu Jorge, Bowie himself said, "Had Seu Jorge not recorded my songs in Portuguese, I would never have heard this new level of beauty which he has imbued them with." Jorge’s touring tribute serves as an homage to Bowie and a celebration of the film that made Jorge's covers an international success. The stage will be decorated like the set of The Life Aquatic, and screens onstage will flash images from the film as Jorge sings. For Bowie fans, it'll be a special evening. For Wes Anderson buffs, it'll be a nostalgic stroll through a classic. For both Bowie and Anderson fans (a venn diagram that surely overlaps), it's a can't-miss event. Ryan Pfeffer

The Hooten Hallers
Wednesday, September 6
The Rebel Lounge

In explaining The Hooten Hallers, it's best to begin with what this three-piece is not. The band, despite frequent media references to the contrary, is not a hillbilly band. It is from Missouri, not Appalachia. "You know, I don't know," says drummer Andy Rehm. "We are from a section of rural America, but I don't think any of us really identifies with the term hillbilly all that much. It's not a shameful term, but we were not raised in a traditional rural setting. More specifically, in an Appalachian setting, which is where the term, I think, comes from. The hillbilly word is strangely used." If anything, The Hooten Hallers' sound begins with Delta blues and builds upon that foundation, adding elements of everything from folk, country, and rock to soul, jazz, and marches to create a distinctly flamboyant sound. The music can be dark and lonely, wild and raucous, or just as easily breezy and carefree. "Really, the roots of the music we play come from that rural culture, that African-American culture in the South," Rehm says. Glenn BurnSilver

click to enlarge Working class country crooner Whitey Morgan. - MARC NADER
Working class country crooner Whitey Morgan.
Marc Nader
Whitey Morgan
Wednesday, September 6
Crescent Ballroom

If Waylon Jennings didn't exist, then Whitey Morgan wouldn't either. The same could be said for Johnny Paycheck and Johnny Cash, not to mention Buicks, twin fiddles, and class struggle. The mold should have been broken with the passing of honky-tonk's golden age, but, somehow, against all the corn pone that still fuels much of the revivalist scene, Morgan is absolutely in that mold. With a rich baritone that stands up to Dale Watson and a hard-as-forged-steel band that stands up to pure shuffles and trucker stomps, Morgan is a heavyweight, hard-country hitter. Tom Murphy

The musicians of Greensky Bluegrass. - DYLAN LANGILLE
The musicians of Greensky Bluegrass.
Dylan Langille
Lifehouse & Switchfoot
Thursday, September 7
The Van Buren

There was a time when baby-faced white boys with husky voices seemed to rule the airwaves, whether they wielded rebellious, sneering attitudes, or softboi crooner vibes. Lifehouse's “Hanging by a Moment” is practically the epitome of the latter, while Switchfoot skirts the love songs for inspirational nice-guy fare. These bands share much more than names that combine two seemingly unrelated worlds, so if you're into the mellow rock of sensitive dudes with longing looks, bring an extra pair of panties to throw at the stage for this show. Taylor Estape

Jessica Hernandez - DOUG COOMBE
Jessica Hernandez
Doug Coombe
Jessica Hernandez and The Deltas
Friday, September 8
The Rebel Lounge

On their Instant Records debut, Secret Evil, Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas shuffle together rockabilly and punk with a side of trombone for a distinctly modern take on the well-worn genres. But there's more promise in the ingredients than the results. There's no standout, torch-bearing track here, and the album can feel mired in overproduction. Still, Hernandez's vocals are strong, showing flashes of both Wanda Jackson and Amy Winehouse. And the sonic thumbprint the band has etched for itself deserves developing. It's easy to believe that the best is yet to come. Chris Kornelis

click to enlarge The current lineup of Death Cab for Cutie. - COURTESY OF ATLANTIC RECORDS
The current lineup of Death Cab for Cutie.
Courtesy of Atlantic Records

Death Cab for Cutie
Friday, September 8
The Van Buren

After releasing eight studio albums, most bands settle into a comfortable routine. If you've been in the game for this long, the temptation to stick with what works is strong. But if there's one constant in life, it's that change will happen, and you either evolve with it or die. Faced with the biggest change in their career, Death Cab For Cutie chose to evolve. When founding member Chris Walla left the band, he didn't just leave a guitar- and keyboards-shaped hole in their sound: He was also the group's producer, whose sonic fingerprints are all over their recordings. The remaining trio of Ben Giddard, Nicholas Harmer, and Jason McGerr rolled with the punches and added two members to their lineup: Dave Depper and Zac Rae. An injection of fresh blood in the group has fired up the indie-rock veterans, who are taking the band's new evolutionary form out on tour as they prepare to work on their ninth studio album. Ashley Naftule

Luis Fonsi
Sunday, September 10
Comerica Theatre

By the time Miami resident Luis Fonsi visits the Valley in September, his hit single, “Despacito,” might finally have been knocked off the top of the charts by a new challenger. However, it would take a monumental push, seeing as the track is entering its 15th consecutive week of dominating the Billboard Hot 100, is the most streamed song ever, and is accompanied by the first music video to reach 3 billion views on YouTube. Regardless, the ubiquitous, undeniable, inescapable song of summer 2017 has left an indelible mark on pop culture. Everyone wants a piece of it, from the Justin Bieber remix to the Sesame Street parody. The “Despacito” phenomenon, however, unlike the English-language translation of its title, did not happen slowly; it first appeared this past January, and the assault on the charts of all kinds was swift, achieving what many tracks never get close to in a fraction of the time. And you can bet it will get the crowd jumping during Fonsi’s gig at Comerica Theatre on September 10. Angel Melendez

click to enlarge The current lineup of Manchester Orchestra. - COURTESY OF STATESIDE PRESENTS
The current lineup of Manchester Orchestra.
Courtesy of Stateside Presents
Manchester Orchestra
Tuesday, September 12
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Born and bred in Atlanta (excepting a seven-year stint in Ontario), musician Andy Hull formed Manchester Orchestra as a solo endeavor that would include a revolving door of co-conspirators. The concept was titled, as the story goes, after the town whose sound he found most dreary. That would be Manchester, U.K., natch, home of morose outfit The Smiths, among others. After turning Northern England's joyful desperation into inspiration, Hull wrote and recorded his first full-length, recruited teenaged bandmate Chris Freeman, and set about the task of taking over the world one stage at a time. More than a decade on and the bright idea has become a bona fide blast of heated white light that has illuminated every crack, crevice, and cavern in the whole wild world. It's no secret that Manchester Orchestra's global shine is due to Hull and company's deeply set need to rock as loudly as possible, wherever and whenever permitted. That the glow shows no sign of lessening, either in strength or impact, is nothing more than a fact. John Hood

Greensky Bluegrass
Wednesday, September 13
The Van Buren

Greensky Bluegrass was formed in 2000 when Michael Bont, Dave Bruzza, and Paul Hoffman decided to learn to play the mandolin, banjo, and acoustic guitar together. "The band started out as people having fun playing music. All these years later, we're still having fun playing music," says member Anders Beck. "[My bandmates] got into bluegrass backdoor. They liked the Grateful Dead, and then they learned Jerry Garcia played bluegrass. All of a sudden that gets you into Bill Monroe, and the next thing you know the only thing you're listening to is Ralph Stanley." Beck joined the band a few years into its formation, adding his expertise with the dobro, a wood-bodied resonator guitar that he stumbled upon at a workshop at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. "I'd heard the instrument on lots of songs but didn't realize ... that was the sound I wanted to play. The dobro is the electric guitar of acoustic music. It has a little bit of horsepower." Though Greensky Bluegrass plays an old-timey brand of music, the band found a way to attract modern listeners. "Cover songs are a way for us to connect with the audience. You can lure in an audience when there's common ground. You like Prince or Michael Jackson? So do we. Then those new fans will listen to your original music." David Rolland

Read on for even more big concerts happening in September in Phoenix, including U2, Janet Jackson, Imagine Dragons, and Ben Folds.
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