Game to go to a show this weekend? You’ve certainly got no shortage of options available, as the concert calendar is overloaded with big gigs by major names taking place around Phoenix.
That includes performances by rock and country legends (David Crosby, Vince Gill), burgeoning hip-hop stars (Migos), and phenomenally gifted songwriters and tunesmiths (Sean Rowe, Murder By Death). If you’re so inclined, you can also swim through a sea of bubbles with EDM kids, get your eardrums punished by the one-two punch of the Melvins and Napalm Death, or go gaga over Fall Out Boy during its latest concert in the Valley. (Plus, there’s also a wealth of other shows to be discovered in our online concert calendar.)
In essence, there’s something for everyone happening this weekend. Here are our picks of what to see.
Vince Gill's credentials are impeccable. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, has sold more than 26 million albums, and could fill a couple of golf carts with all the Grammy, ACM, and CMA trophies he’s won; plus a couple more for all his humanitarian awards. Like an earlier-generation Brad Paisley, he can trade lick for lick with the most serious session cats in Music City, and be charismatic enough to play the witty and gracious emcee of the CMA Awards, which he hosted or co-hosted from 1992 to 2003. And some of his hit songs — “Go Rest High On That Mountain,” “I Still Believe In You,” “Liza Jane,” and “When I Call Your Name,” among many others — are as good as country music gets.
These days Gill can do what he wants, so he makes records like 2013’s Bakersfield, a tribute to the rockin’ twang sound of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard; or the Time Jumpers, the old-timey hillbilly-swing outfit he started in 1998 with about a dozen of Nashville’s other top session players. (They played Stagecoach, California’s top country-music festival, last year.) In 2015 alone, he produced the most recent solo album by Ashley Monroe, a member of Miranda Lambert’s Pistol Annies, which he says is “pretty off-the-hook good”; dropped another Time Jumpers record; recorded a tune for a Roger Miller tribute album; sang on young buck David Nail’s new record; and tracked a session with jazz pianist Bob James, all in the name of “trying to stay creative.” CHRIS GRAY
Since their inception, Fall Out Boy has defied categorization, continually making music that singer Pete Wentz describes as “fun for us to do.” “It makes it feel like not so much a job,” he says by way of an explanation for their creative restlessness. Starting out as a pop-punk band, then transitioning more towards pop until 2013 comeback LP Save Rock and Roll established them as one of the hottest pop-rock bands in the game today, Fall Out Boy has definitely driven a massive wedge between fans of each era. Save Rock and Roll was the record that catapulted Fall Out Boy back into the spotlight after years of being dormant. The band separated acrimoniously in 2009, but regrouped for the reunion album three years later.
“What we have to try to do with our live show is stitch together something that, within reason, is interesting to everybody,” Wentz says. “What we usually do is we create a setlist that has some of the newer stuff, but I don't want to overload it. I always think about what I would want as a fan going out. If I was going out to see Metallica or U2 or something like that, I always think about what songs I would want them to play.” Still, Wentz admits that Fall Out Boy has no interest in pleasing everyone, repeatedly explaining that the band does what is fun for them, and only them. “Fall Out Boy has always been an idea. The next incarnation will be different, and we'll probably alienate more people as well,” he says, only half-jokingly. COREY DEITERMAN
Tesla - Friday, March 25 - Talking Stick Resort
When they formed in the early 1980s, Tesla was a pleasant anomaly, a group of regular guys from California that for some reason got lumped in with the seemingly endless array of hair metal and glam bands. Although Tesla's music always had its pop/metal side, the band members themselves seemed a lot more like your neighbors than the dudes in Poison. Tesla's heyday fizzled out as the '80s lingered on, but tracks like "Love Song" and especially "Signs" still resonate today as pleasant classic rock radio fodder. Although the band was on hiatus for six years in the '90s, the near-original cast hits the showroom at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale on Friday night. DARRYL SMYERS
Napalm Death/Melvins - Saturday, March 26 - Marquee Theatre
Napalm Death and the Melvins on the same bill? Talk about the heaviest night of your life. Both legendary bands bring a full-on assault to the senses in different ways — Napalm Death with their brand of frenetic death metal, and the Melvins with their sludge metal-meets-punk mentality. As Melvins frontman Buzz Osborne says, “Napalm Death sounds like a gorilla on LSD firing a machine gun … and I mean that in a good way.” Along with famed Japanese noise rock band Melt-Banana, this is sure to be a show that will be murder on your eardrums, and you’ll be loving every second of it. Better bring some hearing protection to be safe. LAUREN WISE
The Yellow Payges were hard-rocking, psych-pop originators from the circa-’66 “Riot-on-Sunset Strip” scene, and far more than just a Hollywood sensation. They toured for a solid year with Eric Burdon and the Animals in ’68, and were the first rock band ever to record a Jimmy Webb song, the penetrating Vietnam-era classic “Our Time is Running Out,” which Webb personally brought them. After management signed a 1970 deal with AT&T to promote telephone books, the kids perceived ’em as squares, and it all went south. Resurrected by original singer Daniel Hortter and ferocious drummer Danny Gorman, and ably augmented by brilliant guitar slingers Dave Provost and Mike Livingston, they’ve played venues across the country on a handful of tours since reforming in 2013, but each delivers scads of high rock 'n' roll adventure. JONNY WHITESIDE
Bubble Bobble 8 – Saturday, March 26 - Club Red
It's pretty much inevitable: If you go to a big electronic dance music event, you're going to wind up wading through a sea of ravers, kandi kids, and other colorfully dressed people in attendance. Fact. And if you happen to attend Bubble Bobble 8 on Saturday, March 26, you're also going to be swimming through super-sized swells of soapy foam as well. That's because the infamous annual foam party and EDM extravaganza, which riffs on the famed video game franchise of the same name, will feature an enormous froth of millions of bubbles filling one of the theaters at Club Red in Mesa. Attendees will be covered from head to toe in foam as they bust a move (see what we did there) to variety of dance music being laid down by more than a dozen different DJs, including headliners and special guests like Darren Styles, Flapjack, and Mighty Mike Saga. Its a messy and madcap affair that's also loads of soapy fun for local EDM fans. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Migos - Saturday, March 26 - Pressroom
Offset, Takeoff, and Quavo of Atlanta-based hip-hop group Migos may be a far cry from the Partridge Family, but the three Southern emcees are a family band nonetheless, and a wild family bunch at that. Judging by their behavior at Georgia Southern University in the spring 2015, they may make as much sense on the Maury show together as they will headlining the Pressroom on March 26, and considering the impressive charges Offset was able to amass while still jailed following the GSU show — including inciting a riot in a penal facility — their Saturday night show will be definitely be one of the wildest in town.
None of this is to say that the trio is not one of the most talented hip-hop groups out there, because there's no denying that. It’s more to say that Migos are one of those rarities in the contemporary rap game where the raucous and debaucherous lyrics are backed up by the group's offstage actions. But bad behavior aside, Migos' mixtape Y.R.N. was one of the most universally well-received albums of 2013, and it wasn’t even an official album, while their single “Versace” made its way onto just about every single year-end list possible. Their most recent release, Young Rich Nation, is being lauded in similar fashion, and as any fan of Gucci Mane can attest, when big attitude and big antics meet big talent truly great — and sometimes shocking — things always ensue. JEFF MOSES
David Crosby - Saturday, March 26 - Talking Stick Resort
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Looking back on the past 50 years, there are many indelible iconic images of David Crosby that come to mind. There’s the beaming young man in a cape with the mischievous look in his eyes who gazed with a kind of beatific innocence from the covers of those early Byrds albums; the fearless rebel in his signature fur hat who raged onstage at Monterrey, insisting there was a hidden conspiracy that killed President Kennedy; and the lion-maned man in the fringed buckskin jacket sharing an abandoned coach for the album art of the first Crosby, Stills & Nash album.
There's the defiant druggie clenching a joint wrapped in rolling papers resembling an American flag; the emaciated-looking man, ruined by the ravages of drugs, who pleaded from the pages of People magazine: if you ever loved him or his music, please come to his rescue; the immobile, glassy-eyed singer onstage with partners Crosby and Nash; the newly shorn individual beaming on his release from prison; and the snowy-haired troubadour with eyes closed, wholly immersed in harmony. And then, there’s the steely-eyed elder statesman of rock, who can now afford a knowing smile, that will appear at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale this weekend, eager to entertain. LEE ZIMMERMAN
Sean Rowe - Sunday, March 27 - Musical Instrument Museum
Something in indie-folk singer Sean Rowe's confident, deep baritone suggests that he's a deep thinker. And it's true: As a self-described "modern hunter/gatherer" who periodically retreats from his home in upstate New York to live off the land, he's given himself the precious time to contemplate his craft, leading him to write some heartbreakingly poignant words. These lyrics, on his first nationally distributed album, Magic, are at times autobiographical ("While everybody is thinking themselves to death, I just use my hands" on "The Walker") and at times sarcastic ("The Kingdom of Heaven is down at the mall" on "American"), but they're always interesting. KORY GROW
Murder By Death - Sunday, March 27 - Crescent Ballroom
It's really a pity that Murder by Death never soundtracked the HBO cult gem Deadwood, because the moody quintet would have been perfect for the job — and not just because their songs sound like bar ballads co-written by Jesse James and Snidely Whiplash. Throughout the Indiana group's 16-year, seven-album history, Murder by Death have crafted a theatrical career out of singer Adam Turla's Wild West bark, an insightful lyrical bite, and the bittersweet aftertaste of their dark, orchestral melodies. Both sinners and saints come to life in the band's full-bodied, sing-along stories, and recurring topics like alcohol, betrayal, the devil inside and the actual horns-and-hell devil himself have grown more evocative as the band matures. If their 2012 album, Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon, is any indication, Murder by Death's good-versus-evil battles long ago transcended black-and-white simplicity, instead delving headfirst into the murky intrigue that exists in the gray area. KELSEY WHIPPLE