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The 30 Best Concerts in Phoenix in November 2018

Billie Eilish is scheduled to perform on Friday, November 16, at The Van Buren.
Billie Eilish is scheduled to perform on Friday, November 16, at The Van Buren. Highrise PR

November will be a month to remember in the Valley when it comes to concerts. Over the next several weeks, scores of memorable shows are scheduled to take place, including gigs by such high-profile artists and acts as Billie Eilish, Playboi Carti, Ghost, A Perfect Circle, Death from Above, Fleetwood Mac, Justin Timberlake, and Jorja Smith.

Influential electronica act The Orb also has a gig planned for the Valley in November, as do over-the-top tribute acts like Mac Sabbath and One More Time.

There are also a handful of festivals happening, including this year’s editions of the Arizona Hip Hop Festival and Mesa Music Festival.

It's going to be a busy month, especially with the holidays and all, but if you can somehow find both time and money to spare, consider checking out one or more of the 30 best concerts happening in Phoenix in November.

Details about each of these shows can be found below. And for even more live music happening around the Valley this month, hit up Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar.

click to enlarge MarchFourth marches into the Crescent on November 1. - JON MARGOLIS
MarchFourth marches into the Crescent on November 1.
Jon Margolis
Thursday, November 1
Crescent Ballroom

What started in Portland, Oregon, as a Fat Tuesday party back in 2003 has evolved into a must-see national act. MarchFourth’s high-energy and rousing sounds bring to light the deepest grooves of funk, swing, rock, and jazz, and their style pulls from an array of influences, like Sergeant Pepper leading a freaky Cirque du Soleil performance from the bandstand or European Gypsy camps stumbling upon the rhythms of Brazilian jungle tribes.

Concertgoers at the Crescent Ballroom on November 1 may not know what they are getting themselves into, but after attending this weekend’s show, there’s a good chance that MarchFourth will be on your list of live favorites. Maybe it’s the five-piece percussion corps using harnesses made from bicycle parts, the seven-part brass section that includes trombone, trumpet, and saxophone, or the 20 musicians and performers donning mismatched marching band uniforms — including crowd-surfing stiltwalkers, or the fire dancers. Yes, fire dancers. Get thee to this show. Lauren Farrah

click to enlarge Members of The Menzingers. - EPITAPH RECORDS
Members of The Menzingers.
Epitaph Records
The Menzingers
Friday, November 2
Crescent Ballroom

Formed in 2006, The Menzingers consist of Tom May and Greg Barnett (both sharing guitar/vocal duties), Joe Godino (drums), and Eric Keen (bass). Not a lot of bands can pull off having two frontmen without it turning into some nasty power struggle (case in point: Husker Du), but The Menzingers pull it off gracefully. And few bands benefit from having two songwriters working at the peak of their craft: 2017’s After The Party was one of last year’s most affecting records, a bracing 13-song collection about watching your 20s receding in the rearview mirror.

“Waiting for your life to start, then you die,” they sing on “House on Fire,” perfectly capturing the weird combination of inertia and eagerness that afflicts so many of us in our 20s: the feeling that our life is about to start for real any second now, and we’re just killing time until it happens. And the even more sobering revelation that awaits us down the road: That feeling doesn’t go away when you get older.

After The Party boasts a richer, more muscular sound than their past records. Part of the credit goes to producer Will Yip, whose ear for dynamics, and ability to make guitars sound as searing and rich as molten gold, also helped groups like Title Fight put out their best work to date. And while The Menzingers are riding high on the success of After The Party, they’re not resting on their laurels. Between long touring jags, they’ve been recording new material — like the surprise single “Toy Soldier,” which came out at the end of May. Ashley Naftule

click to enlarge The Struts want to conquer rock 'n' roll. - DANNY CLINCH
The Struts want to conquer rock 'n' roll.
Danny Clinch
The Struts
Friday, November 2
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Luke Spiller won't rest until he's a rock star. And he has a couple of things going for him: As the frontman for the English rock band The Struts, he exudes Mick Jagger's cocksure swagger onstage and bears an eerie resemblance to Freddie Mercury; in fact, he wears stage outfits designed by Zandra Rhodes, the English designer who outfitted both Mercury and Queen guitarist Brian May.

Spiller's band played in front of 80,000 people in Paris as the opener for the Rolling Stones, and Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters recently declared the Struts the “best opening band we’ve ever had.” There's no denying such high-profile support slots give the band a boost, but Spiller says it's difficult to measure success as a modern recording and touring group, particularly when the bandmates' goals are so lofty.

However, Spiller and company put on such a convincing Mötley Crüe-style show that it's easy to believe the most popular and culturally relevant forms of music are still played with guitar, drums, and bass — that rock 'n' roll isn't dormant, but dominant. Basically, they're banking on tapping into a huge, built-in fan base by blatantly ransacking classic rock’s Library of Congress. Howard Hardee

click to enlarge Get your funk on with The Motet. - PARADIGM AGENCY
Get your funk on with The Motet.
Paradigm Agency

The Motet
Saturday, November 3
Crescent Ballroom

Those who have come to know The Motet as an Afro-centric band should be happy with the band's directional shift on its more recent albums. While the African influences that gave the Boulder, Colorado, group its footing in the 1990s can still be heard, The Motet has morphed into a full-fledged classic-funk outfit. Originally conceived as a collective in which musicians come and go, the shapeshifting Motet has both incorporated growing trends and settled on classic styles. But at the base has always been Afrobeat, a blend of funk, Jimi Hendrix-style guitar licks, and indigenous rhythms popularized by Fela Kuti. Of course, reggae, dub, and electronica have played major roles in shaping the band's sound. However, funk is at the heart of The Motet's latest lineup. Elements of Parliament Funkadelic (and other George Clinton offshoots), Earth, Wind & Fire, Commodores, James Brown, Roy Ayers, and Prince fill the band's most recent albums. It's vintage boogie music that offers nary a moment's respite. Glenn BurnSilver

click to enlarge Joey Burns and John Convertino of Calexico. - JAIRO ZAVALA
Joey Burns and John Convertino of Calexico.
Jairo Zavala
Go Vote 2018: A Concert and Rally
Monday, November 5
The Van Buren

We’re just days away from what well may be the most important midterm elections in our lifetime. The stakes have never been higher for convincing folks to turn out on November 6. It's why every other billboard in town has been plastered with that potent four-letter word – "VOTE" – and all your friends on social media have been constantly reminding everyone on their feeds to register (you did register, didn't you?).

The fine folks at The Van Buren want to get in on the democratic process, too. That’s why they’re putting together an ambitious evening of performances on Monday, November 5, the eve of Election Day, called Go Vote 2018: A Concert and Rally. Hometown heroes Gin Blossoms will be headlining the evening and fellow kings and queens of the AZ scene Calexico and Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra will also be bringing the noise along with Mariachi Pasion.

Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Captain Mark Kelly, will also be making an appearance at the rally. Proceeds from the show will benefit Giffords: Courage To Fight Gun Violence. If the prospects of hearing some great tunes and donating to a worthy cause aren’t already enticing enough reasons to come out, Chris Bianco will be making pizzas for the event. Ashley Naftule

click to enlarge Claudio Simonetti and Goblin's Suspiria show is absolutely bewitching. - COURTESY OF ACTION! PR
Claudio Simonetti and Goblin's Suspiria show is absolutely bewitching.
Courtesy of Action! PR
Claudio Simonetti's Goblin
Tuesday, November 6
Marquee Theatre

It’s probably not a coincidence that Claudio Simonetti's Goblin is touring their score for the 1977 horror film Suspiria just as the remake is being released into theaters. The Italian progressive rock band, who frequently collaborated with the film’s legendary director Dario Argento, is performing the operatic rock composition as the colorful classic plays onscreen. Though Radiohead’s Thom Yorke is receiving rave reviews for his scoring of the 2018 version of this giallo, it is hard to top the spine-chilling original, considered by many critics to be one of the best movie soundtracks of all time. Jason Keil

click to enlarge Death From Above is coming to Phoenix on their Heads Up! Is Now tour — so get excited for some early stuff. - PAMELA LITKY
Death From Above is coming to Phoenix on their Heads Up! Is Now tour — so get excited for some early stuff.
Pamela Litky
Death from Above
Wednesday, November 7
The Pressroom

Dance rock duo Death From Above 1979 – now actually just Death From Above – is a band with a story. They were big, they broke up, and they returned. And while they’ve released two studio albums since the 2011 reunion, DFA is leading a late 2018 tour with a major theme, revisiting their 2002 debut EP Heads Up. The tour's title – Heads Up! Is Now – is a nod to both the EP and their latest album Outrage! Is Now, meaning there will be new songs from their latest, plus 2014’s The Physical World and 2004’s You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine, a mid-aughts dance party favorite.

But this tour is a bit different. Not only will the band be selling copies of the vinyl repress of Heads Up, but bassist Jesse Keeler and drummer/vocalist Sebastien Grainger will also play the EP in its entirety. For fans, this is great news. The 2002 EP is a 14-minute, six-tracked explosion that does some serious damage. It’s move music. It picks up 13 seconds in and doesn’t relent until you’ve made it from point A to point B in a light sweat. Expect the same at their tour stop at The Pressroom on November 7. Lauren Cusimano

Wednesday, November 7
Gila River Arena in Glendale

The cocky hip-hop provocateur, record producer, and singer-songwriter behind such hit singles as "What They Want" and "Losin Control" is planning a November stop at Gila River Arena in Glendale. And he’ll be bringing his man-bun with him. He’s touring in support of Zoo, the recently released follow-up to his 2017 debut album, There's Really A Wolf. The 26-year-old identifies 50 Cent, Eminem and G-Unit as early inspirations and began writing raps as young as 7 years old. But before Russ took his turn at making an album, he produced beats for six years starting at 14. You know, the same age y’all were in the midst of puberty and probably wondering what you were going to do with your life. Diamond Victoria

click to enlarge Henry Rollins will headline this year's Mesa Music Festival. - HEIDI MAY
Henry Rollins will headline this year's Mesa Music Festival.
Heidi May
Mesa Music Festival 2018
Thursday, November 8, to Saturday, November 10
Downtown Mesa

What do you call a music event that promotes up-and-coming bands rather than established stars, and presents performances in vacated buildings, a cookie shop, music store, coffee house, smoke shop, and open spaces, rather than 20,000 seat arenas or 100-acre farmland? The Mesa Music Festival. Now in its third year, the city of Mesa-sponsored annual event has become a premier emerging artist symposium in Arizona.

The 2018 event is being held November 8-10 and will feature more than 200 acts from such styles as rock, pop, indie, folk, hip-hop, soul, and metal that will perform at various venues and locations throughout downtown Mesa. Many hail from the Valley, but even more are from all over the country and world.

For star appeal, the festival will have punk icon, spoken word artist, and writer Henry Rollins as its keynote speaker. The former Black Flag frontman will take the stage at Mesa Ampitheatre. Other special guests include renowned music photographer Bob Gruen and producer Poppy Kavanagh. The full lineup of bands scheduled for this year’s festival can be found here. Mark C. Horn

click to enlarge Josh Dun and Tyler Joseph of Twenty One Pilots. - FUELED BY RAMEN
Josh Dun and Tyler Joseph of Twenty One Pilots.
Fueled By Ramen
Twenty One Pilots
Friday, November 9
Talking Stick Resort Arena

This hard-to-categorize duo, which blends elements of rock, pop and hip-hop, has been around longer than you think. Twenty One Pilots formed in 2009 in Columbus, Ohio, self-releasing two albums and going through some lineup changes before arriving at the successful pairing of vocalist and keyboardist Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun. Their career took off after they signed to Fueled by Ramen in 2012, a subsidiary of Atlantic that became well-known in the early aughts for representing kindred artists such as Yellowcard, Jimmy Eat World, and Fall Out Boy.

Their second album with the label, Blurryface, is the one that put them on the map, earning them five Grammy nods, and one win in the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance category for the track "Stressed Out." Despite the fact that the group shares an honor with The Beatles and Elvis — they're the only three rock acts to have two top five singles at the same time — the music lacks their timelessness, but Joseph and Dun are aspiring poets and derived their name from an Arthur Miller play, so they've got some soul. Their newest full-length album, Trace, dropped in August and has fittingly produced several hits, including “Jumpsuit,” “Levitate,” and “My Blood.” Caroline North

click to enlarge Alex Paterson and Michael Rendall of The Orb. - COURTESY OF THE ORB
Alex Paterson and Michael Rendall of The Orb.
Courtesy of The Orb
The Orb
Friday, November 9
The Pressroom

The Orb got its start in 1988, inspired by dub and house music. Cited as an influence of many modern electronic music artists today, the act also had a major impact on ambient artists of the past few decades, including guitar bands like Seefeel and late-period Slowdive. Founded by Alex Paterson and Jimmy Cauty, who went on to form the KLF, the Orb came out of the post-punk world but took the elements of dub-bass and sampling to make a different kind of music.

Their debut album, 1991's The Orb's Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld, was an immediate hit in clubs and even made a splash on alternative radio with its single, "Little Fluffy Clouds." But the group was never content to repeat itself. As a result, the outfit's subsequent albums across the next two decades displayed the proclivity of Paterson and his various collaborators for reinvention – or even a mere inspired rejuvenation in revisiting roots. Tom Murphy

click to enlarge Five Finger Death Punch will headline this year's Ufest. - HRISTO SHINDOV
Five Finger Death Punch will headline this year's Ufest.
Hristo Shindov
Five Finger Death Punch
Saturday, November 10
Ak-Chin Pavilion

The Las Vegas natives of Five Finger Death Punch are bringing their brand of heavy metal to Ak-Chin Pavilion in November to promote their latest album, And Justice for None. After recovering from a tough year that led frontman Ivan Moody to cancel tour dates while he was in rehab, the band has come back stronger than ever. Breaking Benjamin will accompany Five Finger Death Punch, playing tracks from its newest release, Ember. Bad Wolves and From Ashes to New will open. Brad LaCour

click to enlarge Tobias Forge and the Nameless Ghouls of Ghost. - MIKAEL ERIKSSON
Tobias Forge and the Nameless Ghouls of Ghost.
Mikael Eriksson
Saturday, November 10
Comerica Theatre

You just have to love the Swedish heavy-metal outfit known as Ghost. You have to love it about as much as its members profess to love the devil in all his forms and under all his names, be they Beezlebub or Lucifer. Led by their “anti-pope,” Papa Emeritus III (a.k.a. Tobias Forge), Ghost features five instrumentalists, the Nameless Ghouls, representing all the elements: Air, Aether, Earth, Fire, and Water.

The Nameless Ghouls are perpetually shrouded in black cloaks and silver demon masks while the true identity of Forge is hidden behind skull makeup or other costuming. All members of the band wear upside-down crosses and serenade audiences with lyrics about the Antichrist and Hell. It's enough to make your local church lady faint onto a pile of cats. If this all seems like blatant, offensive blasphemy — good. It’s meant to be. What’s more, after only one listen, hard rock and metal fans of all ages will fucking love it. Angel Melendez

click to enlarge Will Claye performs at last year's Arizona Hip-Hop Festival in downtown Phoenix - DJ JOHN BLAZE
Will Claye performs at last year's Arizona Hip-Hop Festival in downtown Phoenix
DJ John Blaze
Arizona Hip Hop Festival 2018
Saturday, November 10, and Sunday, November 11
Downtown Phoenix

The annual Arizona Hip Hop Festival has undergone a few changes this year, to say the least. The locally focused hip-hop extravaganza, which features performances by hundreds of rappers, MCs, and artists from the Valley scene, has expanded to two days and will take place in a new location with an even bigger lineup than before.

The 2018 edition of the festival will encompass a sizable area along Washington Street between First and Second streets. The area will be fenced off and feature performances, activities, and events in all of the clubs, bars, and venues located in the area while two stages will be located outside.

Justus Samuel, the local community organizer and hip-hop impresario that oversees the festival, tells Phoenix New Times that, despite all the changes, the event still has the same focus: local hip-hop artists. More than 300 local rappers, MCs, and hip-hop artists will be featured this year, a step up from the 250 that appeared in 2017. “This year we're really focused on new faces,” Samuel says. “The last four years have been all the tenured practitioners and all the big names and the more prominent [artists], but this year we wanted to open things up to people who are really excited to be involved and we wanted to introduce the community to the faces to watch.” Benjamin Leatherman

Playboi Carti - GUNNER STAHL
Playboi Carti
Gunner Stahl
Playboi Carti
Sunday, November 11
Marquee Theatre

Jordan Carter, a.k.a. SoundCloud rap sensation Playboi Carti, began his rap career as a member of Awful Records, the iconoclastic Atlanta alt-rap collective headed by Father and featuring talents such as Abra, Key!, and iLoveMakonnen. He began gaining clout in the wider hip-hop world thanks to SoundCloud tracks such as "Broke Boi" and "Don't Tell Nobody." Last year, he released his self-titled mixtape, featuring the hit "Magnolia," a star-making song for both Carti and producer Pi'erre Bourne that made Bourne's production tag – "Yo Pierre, you wanna come out here?" – an instant sign that the DJ is about to drop a slapper into the mix. Carti also made it onto last year's XXL Freshman List, where he freestyled with the late XXXtentacion, and earned features on the like's of A$AP Mob's "RAF" and Lana Del Rey's "Summer Bummer."

Carti's latest project is this year's album Die Lit, which furthers his style of elastic, language-defying, adlib-filled rap and perfectly articulates the seemingly-disparate Millennial/Gen-Z desires to both die and get lit. It also features appearances by Young Thug, Skepta, Nicki Minaj, Bryson Tiller, Travis Scott, and of course Carti's best friend in the whole wide world Lil Uzi Vert. Pi'erre Bourne returns as executive producer. Douglas Markowitz
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Phoenix New Times Music Writers