JoJo is scheduled to perform on Friday, May 19, at Livewire in Scottsdale.EXPAND
JoJo is scheduled to perform on Friday, May 19, at Livewire in Scottsdale.
Brooke Nipar/Atlantic Records

The 13 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

Savor the great weather while it lasts, folks, because you-know-what is right around the corner. Things are even better after dark, thanks to the cooler climes, frequent breezes, and starry skies.

It will make for an enjoyable setting for the outdoor concerts and music events happening around the Valley this weekend, like Chris Stapleton’s show over at Ak-Chin Pavilion on Friday or Dirty Disco down at Rawhide in Chandler on Saturday.

Oh yeah, and the indoor shows happening over the next few nights will be rad as well. There are plenty of notable ones happening, including Rebel Lounge’s second annivesary, The Orbiting Circus (of the Air) at Trunk Space, The Damned's long-awaited return, and JoJo’s performance at Livewire in Scottsdale.

All of the aforementioned events and many others are included in the following list of the 13 best concerts happening in Phoenix this weekend. (For even more shows, hit up our online music listings.)

Chris Stapleton: country music's New Age outlaw.EXPAND
Chris Stapleton: country music's New Age outlaw.
Becky Fluke

Chris Stapleton
Friday, May 19
Ak-Chin Pavilion

Established Nashville songwriter Chris Stapleton — the pen behind such massive country-pop hits as Kenny Chesney’s “Never Wanted Nothing More,” Josh Turner’s “Your Man” and Luke Bryan’s “Drink a Beer” — has stepped into the spotlight himself. In 2015, Stapleton’s solo debut, Traveller, won the Country Music Association Award for Album of the Year and the Grammy for Best Country Album. The long-haired, heavy-bearded singer-songwriter has now become known for soulful yet understated performances of classically constructed country songs — but his powers aren’t limited to the country genre. Recently, the Kentucky native has been paying tribute to fallen heroes at his live shows, and his rendition of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” in Berkeley went viral. Katie Moulton

Mickey Avalon & Dirt Nasty
Friday, May 19
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

A little less than a decade ago, ’90s MTV VJ heartthrob, model, actor, and onetime porn star Simon Rex smartly reinvented himself for a new generation as the gnarly musical persona Dirt Nasty. A protégé of fellow filthy Hollywood rapper Mickey Avalon (who also appears on this bill), Nasty was able to move fluidly into the role of cokehound and sex machine, making his way across MySpace and onto the stage with songs like “1980” and “Cracker Ass Fantastic.” The Nasty name and joke persevered, and in 2011 he made Nasty As I Wanna Be, a record filled with contributions from famous friends like LMFAO, Ke$ha, Warren G, and Too $hort. Bree Davies

Pop/R&B singer JoJo.EXPAND
Pop/R&B singer JoJo.
Brooke Nipar/Atlantic Records

Friday, May 19
Livewire in Scottsdale

The 2004 hit song “Leave (Get Out)” triggered singer JoJo’s big break, as she became the youngest artist to have a single to top the Billboard Hot 100 charts and one of her music videos found a home on the MTV show Total Request Live, garnering her even more fans. JoJo soon found herself silenced by a bad recording contract — but in late 2016, with her legal battles behind her, she resurfaced with Mad Love, her first album in a decade. The East Coaster’s strong, soulful style hasn’t faded, and she’s taken full control of her career again. She’s been collaborating with the likes of Alessia Cara, Remy Ma, and Wiz Khalifa, proving herself as a pop-culture force. Rightfully joining the ranks of contemporaries like Ariana Grande and Tov Lo, JoJo and her unique throwback R&B are saturating the mainstream once again. Bree Davies

Members of The Linecutters perform.
Members of The Linecutters perform.
Jett Smith

The Linecutters (Album Release Show)
Saturday, May 20
Nile Theater in Mesa

Every band goes through periods of emotional strife and now and again. It’s pretty much a fact of life for musicians. Sometimes it results in a few fights, rampant psychodrama, or, in a worst-case scenario, a breakup. In the case of local punk act The Linecutters, however, it begat a new album. According to vocalist/guitarist Don Liano, the band endured some tumultuous times over the last year, which gave them plenty of fodder for the 12-song LP, Anthill, which dropped this week on local label Slope Records. “We were going through a severe rough patch as a band, to the point where a breakup seemed very likely,” Liano says. Every track on the album deals with a specific emotion, like “Anxiety,” which concerns feelings of doubt over the future of the band. “It's mainly [centered] around the negative things we’ve experienced throughout our day-to-day life,” Liano says. “That wasn't necessarily intentional, it's just kind of what we naturally like to write about. The songs are each like an extreme caricature of specific feelings we have.” Creating Anthill allowed The Linecutters to channel their emotions in a positive direction, he adds. “Putting this record out has brought a whole new life and motivation to the band. We already almost have enough material for a sophomore effort,” Liano says. Benjamin Leatherman

Julian Koster of Neutral Milk Hotel and The Orbiting Human Circus (of the Air).EXPAND
Julian Koster of Neutral Milk Hotel and The Orbiting Human Circus (of the Air).
Courtesy of Merge Records

The Orbiting Human Circus (of the Air)
Saturday, May 20
Trunk Space

What could be better than listening to a weird podcast about a timid janitor named Julian who works at the Eiffel Tower and has committed his time to dreaming of being on the variety show also called the Orbiting Human Circus of the Air, which broadcasts from the top of the tower to a live audience? Well, seeing it live and in person, of course. Normally, fans of the funny and surreal audio podcast are treated to Julian’s inner thoughts as he converses with The Narrator, an imaginary voice only he can hear. The Narrator is quick to point out Julian’s consistent failures. Julian also interacts with the variety show’s staff and performers, some of the latter include a bird that plays numerous instruments. The live version of the podcast takes you inside the Orbiting Human Circus of the Air variety show to witness its weirdness and learn why Julian is obsessed with this bizarre world. You could be treated to acts like a trombone-playing polar bear, or possibly witness legitimate feats of time travel. This immersive event offers songs, stories, and maybe even some magic. The whole shebang is the brainchild of musician Julian Koster, known for being part of the Elephant 6 indie rock collective, and in bands like Neutral Milk Hotel. Koster’s solo project, The Music Tapes, delivers sonic delights as part of the freaky festivities. Amy Young

The Rebel Lounge's Two-Year Anniversary
Saturday, May 20
The Rebel Lounge

Rebel Lounge owner Stephen Chilton is kind of in disbelief about how two years have gone since the popular music venue opened. "It's sort of crazy," he says. "It doesn't feel like two years. It either feels way longer or way less, depending on the day." And in those two years, the place has become what many consider to be one of the Valley’s better live music spots. It’s also been one of busier ones in Central Phoenix, as it's hosted an estimated 700 gigs since its debut in May 2015. “We've done around 350 shows a year,” Chilton says. “Which is a lot to have happened in that time.” And a lot of 'em have been great, with the exception of the now-infamous performance where rockabilly act Three Bad Jacks set off the sprinkler system. “There have been some slow and off nights, but it's been pretty great,” Chilton says. “We've had everyone from Kool Keith to GBH ... so it's really been all over the map, which is kind of how I like it. For most people, the room doesn't have, like, one sound that defines it, which is what I've been going for." Year three for The Rebel Lounge kicks off on Saturday, May 20, with its second anniversary show that will feature punk-grass outfit The Haymarket Squares, rockabilly band Outlaw Inlaws, and Americana/folk act Some Dark Hollow. "All three bands have played at Rebel a few times and they're ones we really like,” Chilton says. “So it seemed like a fun local show to celebrate the occasion.” Benjamin Leatherman

Read on for even more big concerts happening this weekend, including The Damned, Strelitzia, and Dirty Disco.

Banana Gun performs at the Last Exit Live four-year anniversary party.EXPAND
Banana Gun performs at the Last Exit Live four-year anniversary party.
Jim Louvau

Banana Gun
Saturday, May 20
Crescent Ballroom

Creating an album is difficult, and Banana Gun’s Kyle Parks does not look fondly back on recording the quintet’s last full-length album, Love Instinct. Her description of the effort makes it sound almost hellish. “Our last album we did live,” Parks recalls. “I think that was because we were in a bad place in our lives. I felt like we trudged through it.” By contrast, the saxophonist says laying down the 12 songs on the band’s newest release, Dance Monkey Down in Faux Town, felt like a “celebration.” Guitarist Kevin Loyd smiles and politely disagrees with Parks’ word choice — like an older brother remembering a different version of a funny childhood memory. They share a laugh and it’s clear these two share familial love and respect that’s come from seven years of playing together, alongside bassist Ross Troost, drummer Ian Breslin, and guitarist Nic Dehaan. Whatever internal struggles Banana Gun have gone through in the last few years now seem to be water under the bridge, as they prepare for an album release party at Crescent Ballroom. With the music industry leaning increasingly toward singles and streaming services, it feels against the grain for a local band like Banana Gun, with their loyal local following and impressive live shows, to put so much effort into a full-length record. Albums seem almost passé despite the resurgence of vinyl, but Loyd knew the group had a cohesive collection of tracks that was worthy of being physically out in the world as opposed to floating in an electronic cloud. Banana Gun set up a page on the crowdfunding site PledgeMusic so fans can choose how they want to listen to their latest work. “We put a lot of effort and thought into how [the album] is put together, how the songs flow, and the story [we’re telling] as a whole,” Loyd says. “I still love listening to a good album.” Jason Keil

Attendees of last year's Dirty Disco.EXPAND
Attendees of last year's Dirty Disco.
Benjamin Leatherman

Dirty Disco 2017
Saturday, May 20
Rawhide Event Center in Chandler

As its name portends, Dirty Disco is what you’d call a messy experience. It’s sort of expected, given that the annual electronic dance party takes place in the middle of Rawhide’s outdoor rodeo arena and features thousands stomping and strutting around in the dirt while DJs drop high-energy and bass-filled sounds. In fact, according to Dirty Disco promoter Sam Groove says it’s one of the hallmarks of the event. (It’s also incorporated into its slogan: “One Dirty Stage, One Dirty Vibe, One Unforgettable Night.”) “I tell everyone that comes to Dirty Disco every year that they need to wear an old pair of shoes since they’re not going to be clean by the end of the night,” he says. “This isn’t a party where you’ll want to wear your $80 pair of Abercrombie jeans or anything like that.” The messy nature of Dirty Disco hasn’t kept EDM fans away from the event, which boasted a crowd of thousands last year, as well as an enormous stage featuring jets of flame and a number of notable headliners. And this year’s edition of Dirty Disco promises to be even bigger and will offer its biggest lineup to date, including such EDM artists as Berg, Code Black, Jordan Suckley, Jvst Say Yes, Dubloadz, The Prototypes, and Squnto. Not bad for an event that started out in 2010 as a renegade desert party outside of Florence. Benjamin Leatherman

The Sugar Thieves
The Sugar Thieves
Chadwick Fowler

Band Together — A Benefit For Katie Solliday
Saturday, May 20, and Sunday, May 21
Cactus Jack's

There’s a bit of ulterior motive to this two-night locals showcase at Cactus Jack’s in Ahwatukee, albeit a positive one: raising funds to assist an Arizona teen who’s in dire financial need. Last fall, Cottonwood resident Katie Solliday suffered a brain aneurysm that resulted in emergency surgery and spending several weeks in a coma. The experience robbed her of most of her motor functions (she’s currently relearning how to walk and perform other tasks) and racked up tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills. Enter local bands like Americana/blues group The Sugar Thieves and Grateful Dead tribute The Noodles, who have volunteered, along with numerous other musicians, to perform at this weekend’s event, which will benefit Solliday. Things get going on Saturday, May 20, with gigs by rockabilly act Eric and the Dominoes, Soul Sugar, Second Solstice, acoustic songstress Cassidy McCurdy, Led Zeppelin tribute band Zeppapotapuss, and singer-songwriters Walt Richardson and Shawn Johnson. The lineup on Sunday, May 21, will include ska band Mr. Incommunicado, Sunday School Substitutes, The Sugar Thieves, and The Noodles, who will also be celebrating their 20th anniversary. Several raffles will also be held throughout the weekend. Benjamin Leatherman

Flynt Flossy in concert.
Flynt Flossy in concert.
Dave Lichterman/Flickr Creative Commons

Flynt Flossy and Turquoise Jeep
Sunday, May 21
Valley Bar

Fast fashion YouTube video rap crew Turquoise Jeep exist in the same universe as Pee Wee's Playhouse, Paper Rad, and Yo Gabba Gabba; like the aforementioned productions, they're colorful, control freaked, and hands-on. Lead MC Flynt Flossy has a refreshingly lighthearted persona along the lines of Shock G, Sir Mix A Lot, and DJ Lance Rock, lyrically rife with double entendres and goosey figures of speech. Compared to the great big world of hip-hop and its endless procession of yachts, slabs, and brand-name everything, a turquoise jeep provides an apt description of their hands-on, arts-and-crafts-forever aesthetic. Tex Kerschen

Sunday, May 21
The Rebel Lounge

Math rock is a tough genre to pull off. In the hands of subpar songwriters, the hyper-technical style can sound like a nerdy mess. That’s not the case with Strelitzia, a decidedly math rock band that mixes soulful jazz and post-hardcore to create an experimental rock sound that just plain vibes well.

The Gilbert-based group have been playing shows in the Valley for the past couple of years, and now their recording debut has arrived. This band’s defining feature is frontman Skylar Bankson’s soulful voice, which plays off brooding basslines. The band’s first EP, Why Couldn’t You Have Just Died in the Spring?, is out May 21 and promises their signature mellow blend of laid-back music with jazzy undertones — and a heavy dose of angst. Lindsay Roberts

The Damned's Captain Sensible (left) and Dave Vanian.
The Damned's Captain Sensible (left) and Dave Vanian.
Dod Morrison

The Damned
Sunday, May 21
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

There might be no band in all of music that’s harder to peg than The Damned. Though they came out of, and in many ways ignited, the punk movement in the U.K., they were nothing like their peers. They weren’t angry or ugly or driven by rebellion. Rather, they aimed to take listeners on a riotous journey, a heady sound trip that delved into psychedelia and macabre rock, ominous aesthetics, and aggressive, hook-driven sounds. Then they constantly changed things up with each subsequent release and live show, defining and then defying what punk rock has stood for over the last 40 years and counting. For the next year and a bit beyond, the band’s two iconic remaining original members, singer Dave Vanian and guitarist Captain Sensible, will be celebrating The Damned’s prolific career on the road. Sensible says that like The Stones, The Damned have battled ageism over their long career, and that particularly when it comes to punk, no one expects their kind of longevity. But they’re obviously still full of vim and vigor right now, having survived dramatic breakups and makeups plus hard partying over the years. In many ways, Sensible still seems like the life of the party, while his bandmate Vanian remains a more mysterious contrast. Their yin-and-yang thing still makes for appealing chemistry onstage and diverse textures on record. “I’m the light, happy pop guy,” Sensible says. “Whereas the other guy [Vanian] is the prince of darkness. We’re opposites. That’s the dynamic of the band.” Lina Lecaro

Folk rock band The Sweet Remains.EXPAND
Folk rock band The Sweet Remains.
Courtesy of SRO Artists

The Sweet Remains
Sunday, May 21
Musical Instrument Museum

It would be easy to compare the acoustic folk-rock trio The Sweet Remains to a group like Crosby, Stills & Nash. Easy, but not necessarily accurate. The group, made up of Rich Price, Greg Naughton, and Phoenix's own Brian Chartrand definitely shares similarities to CSN, but its music really has more in common with that of John Mayer or Jason Mraz. Of course, when you make the type of music that The Sweet Remains do, it's easy to draw comparisons to a multitude of artists. Still, the group does enough to make its music easily distinguishable from other acts. Even the formation of the band seems a match made in musical heaven. The members of the group came together after a chance jam session and debuted as The Sweet Remains in 2008 at South by Southwest. The group has been touring ever since and is still touring in support of its most recent album, Night Songs, which was released in 2015. Michael Escoto

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