The Nine Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

Looking for a memorable concert to check out during the next few nights? You’re in luck, as there are plenty of big shows happening. In fact, we’ve got nine picks for your consideration, all of which are taking place during the next 72 hours are certainly worthy of both your time and money.

That includes two straight nights of hardcore metal at the Marquee Theatre, performances by such singer-songwriters as Robert Ellis and the esteemed Al Stewart, and the return of the Dixie Chicks to the Valley for the first time in years. There are also gigs by rapper Maxo Kream, the bass fiends of Noisia, and an entire night devoted to trap.

As always, if you're looking for even more live music happening in and around the Valley, be sure to hit up our comprehensive Phoenix concert calendar for more options.

Maxo Kream – Friday, July 15 – Pub Rock

Maxo Kream absolutely loves playing to the worst of people’s imaginations. He preys on fear and instills confidence in the worst of your vices. Most of 2015 mixtape, #Maxo187, is built on gory violence and gangland expressions that bleed cold and blue. “Thirteen” trolls around dusty synths and autobiographical tales of growing up in Houston, venturing down the wrong path. Wolf de Michls is #Maxo187’s signature behind-the-boards auteur, offering plenty of room on “Cell Boomin” for Maxo and Atlanta’ Father to spit drug tales while suctioned to the middle of an A$AP party. If anyone were pissed about A$AP Rocky’s interpretation of screw and in a larger part, Screw culture — then they’ve got Maxo waving the flag for appreciators of the wave. It’s a “I’ll do this far better than you” motif, if nothing else. BRANDON CALDWELL

Noisia – Friday, July 15 – The Pressroom
Dutch trio Noisia have released music on the labels of Skrillex, Deadmau5, and Jay-Z, among others. The three guys produce tracks ranging from dubstep to breakbeat to house, but they are best known for their drum n’ bass. They’ve released several albums, and their music can also be heard featured on video games and in some short films. Noisia’s brand of DnB blends into their other genres of choice, making for some seriously gnarly and rhythmically unique, sometimes apocalyptic-sounding bass. Also in attendance will be like-minded bass aficionados Cookie Monsta and Dieselboy to open the show. SARAH PURKRABEK

Al Stewart – Friday, July 15, and Saturday, July 16 – Musical Instrument Museum
Though best known for a pair of '70s SoftSational Hits ("Year of the Cat," "Time Passages"), Scottish native Al Stewart should actually get props as an O.F.R.G. — Original Folk Rock Gangsta. After all, one of his early songs was a nearly 19-minute­ rumination on his sexual awakening and subsequent groupie-banging activity, including the BBC-bannable word "fucking," in "Love Chronicles." Then he rocked out with the account of a bullet-to-the-head murder in "Electric Los Angeles Sunset." Originally influenced by the lyrical paintings of Dylan ("Bedsitter Images," "In Brooklyn"), Stewart has wandered to his own muse, recording songs and indeed whole albums about his interests in Russia, trains, post-Revolutionary France, and collectable French wines. An amiable and humorous live performer, Stewart's singer-songwriter work is much more than his ditty about a kitty. BOB RUGGIERO

Desert Thawout – Friday, July 15, and Saturday, July 16 – Marquee Theatre
If you’ve ever been to a Desert Frostover before, well, you know what a great event Jeremy Jalowiec can organize with bands, vendors, and sponsors. Such is likely to be the case with its summertime counterpart, the Desert Thawout Music Festival, which will be held over two days at Marquee Theatre in Tempe, with doors opening at 5 p.m. In true “desert” fashion, the second day tends to be a bit heavier than the first, but there’s always something for everyone. The lineup on Friday, July 15, will include Radio Fix, Atoms Fall, Run Definitely Run, ThrowLogic, Stone Mary, Tome, Bloomfield, and Dead Light Shines. The festival wraps up the following evening on Saturday, July 16, with Sicmonic, Howitzer, There is No Us, Lost in Lie, Kruffix, Murkocet, Souless, Dawn Awaits, and Fatal Malady. LAUREN WISE

Trapfest 2016 – Saturday, July 16 – The Pressroom
Like it or not, trap music still pretty much inescapable these days. It’s all over nightclub sound systems, Top 40 radio stations, and even the Billboard charts. (Heck, you might even hear it in a commercial or two on television.) And if you attended this year’s Electric Daisy Carnival, the bombastic and aggressive-sounding hybrid of hip-hop, bass, and electronic elements was being worked into the sets of many dance music artists and producers, including such trap-music early adopters and practitioners as GTA, Troyboi, and Stooki Sound. Many of these same artists happen to featured the lineup of this year’s Trapfest, the nationwide tour devoted to the genre, which will roll into the Valley on Saturday, July 16. Trap will boom from the speakers of downtown Phoenix venue The Pressroom for four hours straight, when each of the aforementioned artists – as well as Oshi, Just Blaze, Craze and Four Color Zack – start dropping tracks. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN

Todrick Hall – Sunday, July 17 – Comerica Theatre
In the days of the Internet, you no longer need pure luck — chance meetings with people who promise favors, drugs, and sex — to become a star. YouTube has cut out the middle executive and brought some truly talented people straight to the viewing public for their never-ending consumption. Todrick Hall is one of those success stories. He first became known as a semi-finalist on the ninth season of American Idol, and soon started scoring gigs on Broadway and even his own national tour. But he really broke out on YouTube, where there were no publicists or image specialists to keep his sense of humor in check. His updated covers of Disney musical classics and song-inspired flash mobs have earned him millions of hits and subscribers, an upcoming reality show on MTV and his own tour dubbed The Toddlerz Ball, which will stop by Comerica Theatre in mid-July. DANNY GALLAGHER

Dixie Chicks – Sunday, July 17 – Ak-Chin Pavilion

Like many bands, the Dixie Chicks elicit different thoughts and images depending on what you know of them. On one hand, they are a delightful country pop trio with two sisters (Marcie Erwin Maguire and Emily Erwin Robison) flanking a non-blood-related singer (Natalie Maines) and creating sensible harmonies and catchy, down-home rhythms. On another hand entirely, the three are highly empowered women who write and perform insightful songs on a variety of topics, including some hard-hitting social commentary worthy of the highest levels of respect For some, the latter aspect is a threat, and that's too bad. Anyone threatened by the Dixie Chicks is clearly doing something wrong with their lives. This isn't to say the Dixie Chicks are infallible by any stretch of the imagination, but when they busted out with "Goodbye Earl" on their 1999 album, Fly, it became clear these were not "chicks" to be messed with after they sang about poisoning an abusive husband with some not-so-tasty black-eyed peas. As the years have gone on for the 27-year-old band, the Dixie Chicks have continued to embrace both controversy and the spotlight while remaining outspoken advocates in the fight against violence toward women. TOM REARDON

Robert Ellis – Sunday, July 17 – Valley Bar
The result of two solid years of nearly nonstop touring — 300 shows a year, give or take — Robert Ellis' new eponymous LP, his third for New West, is both a natural extension of 2014's The Lights From the Chemical Plant and a demonstration of how much he continues to grow as an artist. Musically, Robert Ellis draws concentric circles around the simple country/folk of 2011's Photographs and self-released 2009 debut The Great Re-Arranger, adding layers of jazz and richly arranged orchestral pop without disturbing the core. By the same token, Ellis has sharpened his observational skills to the point where third-person songs such as “Amanda Jane” are as vividly rendered as the ones that feel more personal, like “Elephant,” “It's Not OK,” and “How I Love You” — a real lump-raiser where Ellis roams Houston's completely deserted streets in the song's striking video. CHRIS GRAY

Pitbull – Talking Stick Resort Arena

How many artists are international sensations, played at clubs worldwide, but also regarded critically as jokes? That's the territory in which Miami rapper Pitbull finds himself these days. Commercially, he's doing just fine — the man is a nonstop hit-making machine, even doing a song recently repping Norwegian Cruise Line. But no one respects the man's art, perhaps because of stunts like making lazy songs selling out to a friggin' cruise line. Or perhaps because the world can never forgive the man who made the banal line "I know you want me/You know I wantcha" into an inescapable earworm more contagious than measles. Nevertheless, Pitbull has made a career out of making music designed to get culos on the dance floor, and there's no denying he has that particular feat down to an art. DAVID ACCOMAZZO
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