The Eight Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

There's a helluva lot of live music happening around the Valley this weeked — and that ain't no April Fools joke. There’s a free gig by The Struts over at Tempe Marketplace tonight, the multitude of performances during First Friday, and the Phoenix Lights electronic dance music free-for-all up at Hance Park on Saturday and Sunday.

Infamous parody band Mac Sabbath is also making a return to the Crescent Ballroom, esteemed folk singer Arlo Guthrie’s in town, and The Killers will pay a visit to the Marquee Theatre.

As always, all of these gigs (and many others) can be found in our extensive online concert listings. In the meantime, here are our picks for the best shows to see in metro Phoenix this weekend.

Arlo Guthrie - Friday, April 1 - Mesa Arts Center

As the son of "the patron saint of protest and the man who inspired generations of young men like Bob Dylan to pick up their guitars and rail against injustice," Arlo Guthrie, like his father, Woody, has never been — as pointed out by our sister paper Broward-Palm Beach New Times — "about the range or perfection of his singing voice or technical ability as a guitar player. Heck, it really isn't even about his songwriting, though he writes good ones. Arlo's primary offering is his ability to entertain while making meaningful statements." And this week, the singer will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of his signature song, which eventually become an album and film, "Alice's Restaurant." LAURIE CHARLES

Hot Buttered Rum - Friday, April 1 - Crescent Ballroom

Having formed during a backpacking trip on the John Muir Trail, San Francisco's Hot Buttered Rum is, on the surface, pretty much the embodiment of what many find so distasteful about the jam-band scene: Rum has worked with former members of the Dead, tours around the country in biodiesel-fueled vehicles and indulges in extended improvisational jams. But who wouldn't want to play music with their personal heroes and not just talk the talk, but live according to their high-minded ideals and have fun with their art? Musically, this band weaves together bluegrass, jazz and folk with a dash of rock for what is essentially upbeat music that is clever in its social critique without ever seeming preachy. If the members of Hot Buttered Rum can be saddled with the term "hippies," at least they aren't phonies. TOM MURPHY

Trace Bundy - Saturday, April 2 - Musical Instrument Museum Music Theater

Boulder, Colorado-based guitar virtuoso Trace Bundy has been a YouTube sensation for a few years now with more than twenty million views of his various videos — an extraordinary feat that few artists can boast of achieving these days. Bundy has forged an enviable international career that has dragged the staid world of folk and classical music kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Combining classical guitar with digital looping pedals, iPhones and avant-garde playing techniques has vaulted the young guitarist into rarefied air as one of the world's most prestigious and respected fretboard maestros. DUTCH SEYFARTH

Mac Sabbath - Saturday, April 2 - Crescent Ballroom

Heavy music, like heavy food, is best consumed voraciously and without much thought. But the McGenius behind the McDonald's-themed parody metal/tribute act Mac Sabbath is that they obviously put a lot of thought and skill into their quirky musical cookery, which roasts greasy fast-food corporations as much as it pays tribute to the pummeling rock of Ozzy and Sabbath. Like many gimmick-driven grinders, the members shroud themselves in secret sauce.

Mike Odd of L.A. costumed rock legends Rosemary's Billygoat is involved, which explains Mac’s ferocious metallic flavor and demented props. From their elaborate super-sized costumes — Grimalice, the Catburglar, and Slayer McCheeze back up creepy clown crooner Ronald Osbourne — to their clever, freak-fried takes on Sabbath’s lyrics (“Pair-A-Buns” to the tune of “Paranoid” and “Frying Pan” to tune of “Iron Man”), these happy meal menaces sizzle live, and always serve up more than the empty calories of most cover bands. LINA LECARO

Phoenix Lights 2016 - Saturday, April 2, and Sunday, April 3 - Margaret T. Hance Park

Carbon-based life forms of the Valley, be warned: the phenomenon known as the Phoenix Lights will once again invade our city a few days from now, bringing with it an otherworldly aura and an array of colorful beings into our midst. But before you start stocking up on ammunition or looking into alien abduction insurance, it bears mentioning that we aren't necessarily referring to the unidentified triangular-shaped array of lights that appeared over Arizona in 1997, but rather the local electronic dance music festival it inspired, Phoenix Lights.

Last spring, the outdoor EDM event brought thousands of dance music fanatics to downtown Phoenix for its inaugural edition, and looks to do the same this weekend when it returns for another visitation. And, by the way, it’s gotten a major upgrade. As before, Phoenix Lights 2016 will offer close encounters with a number of chart-topping DJs and EDM artists. This time, however, it's expanded to a two-day affair taking place on Saturday, April 2, and Sunday, April 3, that will touch down in a new location, Margaret T. Hance Park. Its lineup has also expanded and with twice as many performers promised, including such famed DJs and producers as Kaskade, Tritonal, Excision, Claude VonStroke, and Eric Prydz. Arguably the most recognizable name on the lineup is DJ Snake, whose collaborative hits with Lil Jon (“Turn Down for What”) and Major Lazer (“Lean On”) have been inescapable in recent years. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN

The Killers - Sunday, April 3 - Marquee Theatre

Sometimes an act who is past their prime finds themselves forced to downgrade from stadiums and arenas to theaters, clubs, and bars. Other times national level festival headliners ride through Phoenix and make a stop at the 2,500-occupancy Marquee Theatre. The Killers will undoubtedly sell out sell out the Marquee on their way to headlining Governor’s Ball in New York City. It's not the first time that Lucky Man Concerts has been able to bring an act to Marquee that could sell more tickets than the venue’s maximum occupancy in recent memory, like when Prince played some years back. But The Killers may be the first band to ever headline both a national level festival and The Marquee Theatre in the same year. A Killers arena show in Phoenix would already be hard enough to miss considering how long it has been since they have come through the Valley, but an intimate (for them) show like this in Phoenix? That could just be a once in a lifetime. JEFF MOSES

Supersuckers - Sunday, April 3 - Rhythm Room

For over 25 years, Eddie Spaghetti and The Supersuckers have been playing a raw brand of hillbilly soaked rock and roll in just about any venue that would care to book them. Over the years, a definite country influence has steadily wormed its way into the band's creative center resulting in 1997's signature statement, Must've Been High. Since then, The Supersuckers have released a horde of good music, including the recently released Holdin' the Bag. DARRYL SMYERS

Nervo - Sunday, April 3 - Maya Day and Nightclub

We’re willing to be there’s little, if any, sibling rivalry going on between sisters Miriam and Olivia Nervo. Why’s that? Probably because the Australian-born twin sisters rose to stardom in the music world together and have experienced mutual success in whatever they’ve done, whether its singing, songwriting, producing, or DJing. And it all started when they were 16, when both Liv and Mir inked a songwriting deal with Sony before going on to pen hit songs for themselves and such artists as Kesha, Ashley Tisdale, and UK pop star Rachel Stevens. In 2009, the pair helped the Grammy-winning David Guetta/Kelly Rowland hit "When Love Takes Over" before diving into the dance music world as producers. Since then, the Nervo sisters have collaborated with Afrojack, Steve Aoki, R3hab, and others, as well as dropped multiple hit tracks themselves, including the 2013’s blockbuster smash, “Hold On.” They also DJ, too, and have done so at clubs and festivals around the world. And by the way, they haven’t even hit their 30s yet. You can catch this sister act in action at Maya Day and Nightclub on Sunday, April 3, when Nervo headlines the Soundwave Pool Party at the swim spot. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN

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