So, got any big plans for the weekend? Despite the fact we’re firmly in the dog days of summer, there’s certainly plenty of things you could do, including checking out the ginormous meteor shower that’s going to fill the night sky, attending that “Four Phantoms” show, or seeing any of the new movies hitting theaters.
Of course, you could also go to one of the many great concerts happening in the Valley over the next three nights. That includes a collaborative performance starring gifted singer-songwriter Gregory Alan Isakov and the Symphony of the Southwest, a country-fried fiesta featuring crooner Jason Aldean and tour-mates A Thousand Horses, and the chance to assault your eardrums with death metal during the Summer Slaughter Tour. You've also got the opportunity to watch the legendary percussionist Terry Bozzio bang away on the world's largest drum kit.
Many other shows are scheduled to take place over the next 72 hours at local venues both big and small, all of which you can find in our online concert calendar. In the meantime, here are our picks for the eight best shows in Phoenix this weekend.
Lizz Wright – Friday, August 12 – Musical Instrument Museum
Singer-songwriter Lizz Wright, whose 2010 album, Fellowship, earned rave reviews and topped the Billboard jazz charts, is a Southern woman who still feels bound to the gospel sounds she grew up with. She feels the inspiration that comes with being raised on the Lord's music, but Wright doesn't see a conflict between the secular songs she performs and the sacred sounds she was raised on. She's also not tethering herself to the conventions that come with working in the jazz arena. "I describe myself as a singer-songwriter informed by gospel and jazz and my country roots of living," Wright says. "I see what I do as being very similar to the work of painters and sculptors. I borrow pieces of life and language. Everything is a composition. I think there's more of layering and a hybrid of styles than there is straight down the line music that is genre specific. I hope it can be experienced as art." JASON KEIL
A Thousand Horses – Friday, August 12 – Ak-Chin Pavilion
If you’ve been remotely cognizant of country music lately, with the radio on or the Academy of Country Music awards or the Country Music Association awards blowing up your timeline, then you know country bands are hot. There’s a still a place for pop and vocal powerhouses, but bands that can shred, write, and tour are in vogue, and A Thousand Horses are helping to lead the pack. Formed in Nashville out of a collection of South Carolina and Georgia natives, A Thousand Horses took off last year with “Smoke,” an seemingly omnipresent, vocally driven cut off their debut, Southernality, that’s a slice of big, classic country music. It’s a song that feels like something the genre’s been missing. On Friday night, the band rolls through the Valley as a part of Jason Aldean's Six String Circus Tour. K.C. LIBMAN
Gregory Alan Isakov – Saturday, August 13 – Mesa Arts Center
On first listen, with the banjo fills and fiddle and rare, low-mixed gasps of drums, it would be easy to dismiss Gregory Alan Isakov's music as folk songs played through a Valencia Instagram filter. But Isakov's is the sort of mournful, pensive music suited for rainy days and worthy of repeated listening. Born in South Africa, Isakov moved to Pennsylvania and ended up in Colorado, where he established himself as a first-rate singer-songwriter. Part of his success comes from his tremendous stage presence. Quiet, often hunched slightly, Isakov approaches the microphone with his guitar and begins singing in his smoky baritone, somehow commanding the undivided attention of every person in the audience. Few singer-songwriters can own a crowd like Isakov does, and it's part of his allure, alongside his strong songwriting, with its dense, tightly woven lyrics. This weekend, he'll continue his penchant for performing with orchestras, like his recurring collaboration with the Colorado Symphony, when he visits the Mesa Arts Center and will be backed up by the Symphony of the Southwest for what should be an evocative showcase of their combined talents. DAVID ACCOMAZZO
Summer Slaughter Tour – Saturday, August 13 – Marquee Theatre
The self-proclaimed “Most Extreme Tour of the Year” is on its way for the 10th year running. That's a long time to be extreme. The Summer Slaughter Tour has been slaying metal fans since 2007, and has been one of the only tours to provide a venue and platform for the more savage music fans among us, and this year's visit to the Valley should be no different. The event, which invades the Marquee Theatre in Tempe this weekend, promises to dish out as much brutality as its fans can handle. And with Cannibal Corpse as its headliner, the tour's musical offerings will range from progressive metal, to death metal and deathcore. For an event that will feature a total of 10 metal acts, including Nile, After the Burial, Suffocation, Carnifex, Revocation, Krisiun, Slaughter to Prevail, Ingested, and Enterprise Earth, this is sure to be one hardcore helluva time. MOLLY MOLLOTOVA
BT – Saturday, August 13 – Monarch Theatre
Brian Transeau’s legacy in electronic dance music is rather impressive, to say the least, as is his prolific resume, which includes stints as a composer, software programmer, and a reality show producer. The highly influential artist, who goes by the moniker BT, is considered one of the godfathers of intelligent dance music and trance, as he helped popularize and pioneer both genres and laid plenty of groundwork for modern-day EDM. Transeau’s also been nominated for a Grammy, appeared on DJ Magazine’s “Top 100” list multiple times, and holds the world record for the largest number of vocal edits in a single song for his 2003 track “Somnambulist (Simply Being Loved)." He’s not one to rest on his laurels, however, and continues to produce and perform, racking up some seriously frequent flier miles while playing clubs and festivals throughout the world. This weekend, Transeau’s travels bring him to the Valley for a gig at the Monarch Theatre on Saturday. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
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Too $hort – Saturday, August 13 – Club Red
This is a big year for rap legend Too $hort. Performing this weekend at Club Red in Mesa, the rapper known for wonderfully vulgar storytelling raps like “Freaky Tales,” as well as poignant social commentary on tracks like “Life Is ... Too Short,” will be continuing one of hip-hop's most prolific careers as he turns 50 this fall. In addition to a half-century of Too $hort, 2016 also marks the 30th anniversary of his Raw, Uncut and X-Rated tape, the 20th anniversary of his Gettin' It album and the 10th anniversary of one of the biggest hits of his career, “Blow the Whistle.” He also recently opened Digital BoomBox, a new multimedia facility in downtown Los Angeles and, thankfully for his fans, he’s still raw and still gettin' it after all these years. CHAZ KANGAS
Slim Cessna's Auto Club – Sunday, August 14 – Crescent Ballroom
For as long as the folk songs of hillbillies and Appalachian wailers have been called "country songs," the genre has been the province of those tiptoeing between grace and damnation — Hank Williams, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, the Louvin Brothers, and others for whom the pursuit of holiness often took a backseat to the pleasures of sin. For more than two decades, Slim Cessna's Auto Club has played country songs but expanded outward as well, incorporating elements of punk, rockabilly, gospel, and rocksteady, all the while evoking Christian dread, employing fire-and-brimstone wit, and singing bloody murder ballads. In that time, the band has developed a reputation as a tremendous live act, and it's well deserved. Led by two frontmen, band namesake Slim Cessna and the wild-eyed Jay Munly, the group's shows feel like violent, apocalyptic hootenannies or gothic church services where the preachers have dipped into sacramental moonshine. JASON P. WOODBURY
Terry Bozzio — Sunday, August 14 – Musical Instrument Museum
Drummer Terry Bozzio first came to prominence in the band of Frank Zappa, a manic presence propelling the group as featured in the movie Baby Snakes. Bozzio then went on to co-found the ’80s hit band Missing Persons before eventually landing with Jeff Beck. Since leaving Beck, Terry has spent much of his energy on the instructional website DrumChannel.com, along with assembling and playing the world’s largest tuned drum kit. The complete drum set, containing well over 100 drums, cymbals, and other percussion instruments, takes hours just to set up, and Bozzio makes sure to use every piece of it. If anyone’s ever said to you that drummers aren’t really that musical, an evening with Terry Bozzio and his massive kit will dispel that notion. TOM MEEK