Things to Do

The 30 Best Concerts in Phoenix in October 2018

Foo Fighters are scheduled to perform on Monday, October 8, at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
Foo Fighters are scheduled to perform on Monday, October 8, at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Brantley Gutierrez
October is infamous for being a big month for concerts in the Valley, and with good reason. From now until Halloween, it's pretty much wall-to-wall with a whole mess of notable shows.

With the summer is firmly in the rearview, practically every music venue around town has a full calendars going, the fall festival season is in full swing, and some big tours are making stops in Phoenix. Legnedary names like the Foo Fighters, Best Coast, Pitbull, Drake, the Flaming Lips, Christina Aguilera, Sting, Shaggy, The Damned, Kamasi Washington, Maggie Rogers, and Joan Baez all have shows scheduled over the next few weeks.

Yeah.

Meanwhile, a new music venue (the Coca-Cola Sun Deck at Sun Devil Stadium) is making its debut and the Arizona State Fair is returning with its annual concert series.

In short, we hope you’ve got plenty of time and money to spare, otherwise, you’re going to miss out on some big gigs.

Details can be found below. And for even more live music happening around the Valley in October, hit up Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar.

This list has been updated to reflect scheduling changes for certain concerts.

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Singer-songwriter Ella Vos
Joanna Rentz
Ella Vos
Thursday, October 4
Coca-Cola Sun Deck at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe


Singer-songwriter Ella Vos has been a musician for many years, but had yet to record a proper full-length album. That all changed when she wrote and recorded Words I Never Said, which was released last November. The album is a throwback of sorts to the days before streaming, when proper albums had actual structure. And, at only 11 tracks and a shade under 35 minutes, it’s also a welcome return to the days when albums didn’t overstay their welcome.

Now, for those who like to put a little mainstream spin on their indie music, Vos has been likened to Frou Frou and old-school Sia. And while those comparisons are certainly apt, her laid-back, introspective approach to music calls to mind the musical stylings of one Lana Del Rey. Both tackle personal topics and layer them in metaphors, and both make this difficult feat seem effortless.

If anything, Vos views music as her own form of therapy. “Music as therapy is something I really needed, and maybe I always needed to do it,” she said. “But once I experienced that form of therapy, it’s quite addictive, so I continued to do it.” Clint Hale

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Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore of Tennis.
Luca Venter
Tennis
Friday, October 5
Crescent Ballroom


Being in the landlocked state of Colorado must be really grating for the husband-and-wife team of Patrick Riley (an Arizona native) and Alaina Moore. It’s why they so continually take to the ocean in their 30-foot sailboat, the Swift Ranger, to find musical inspiration from the waves, the wildlife, and the wind at their backs. The last time they set sail, they began in San Diego and ended up in the Sea of Cortez, and blogged about it for Urban Outfitters (which apparently doesn’t just sell overpriced, trend-hopping clothes). “Our routines are simple and the album is starting to take on a definite sound and shape,” they wrote at the time. “The inherent limitations of working on the boat have given us a streamlined sense of focus that we don’t have on land. It’s easier to see right to the heart of a song, to know what you have and if you’re doing what’s best.” How romantic! It’s as if Hemingway were still alive and had a man-bun. As for the music, the trip resulted in Tennis’ album Yours Conditionally, which continues their fascination with retro pop. Douglas Markowitz

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Bobb Bruno and Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast.
Brilliant Corners
Best Coast
Friday, October 5
Coca-Cola Sun Deck at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe

There's an oft-used analogy in sports about how a team functions best when its “glue guys” are performing at a high level. What's a “glue guy?” He's someone who keeps the team focused when there's a bevy of distractions from the team focusing on its goal, like, say, if your lead player is dating someone famous or if the hype is getting to be too much. You need a “glue guy” in music, too, especially when you're getting a ton of hype, and your lead player dates the dude from Wavves.

That's why many consider Best Coast's Bobb Bruno the ultimate music “glue guy,” including his longtime bandmate and musical collaborator, Bethany Cosentino. That's cool because he's an integral part of the band, but he doesn't get any of the press because of music journalism's obsession with lead singers, especially female ones. So it's nice to see that Bruno's bandmate, who's frequently the focal point of the group's press, believes he's so integral. Partnerships lead to great work, and if the critics are to be believed, the partnership that's Best Coast has done just that. Jaime-Paul Falcon

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The Flaming Lips perform at last year's Arizona State Fair.
Jim Louvau
The Flaming Lips
Saturday, October 6
Arizona State Fair

The Flaming Lips will take the stage at Arizona State Fair on October 6, knowing that many attendees are familiar with the band only because of the song "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1," a cult classic about a Japanese girl training in kung fu to fight an army of colorful robo-warriors. The band has been touring and recording steadily since 1983, though, and most recently released its 14th studio album, Oczy Mlody. In other words, these musicians have a vast catalog of music outside of "Yoshimi."

Over the years, the band has always balanced free artistic expression with the demands of pleasing various crowds. But the fact is, state fair patrons don't have to be familiar with the Flaming Lips’ music to be entertained by their stage show. Coyne and company typically incorporate any number of absurd props, costumes, and video displays, such as dancing Teletubbies, unicorns, and naked people. Coyne often makes grand entrances via a descending UFO, and at virtually every show he climbs into a plastic "space bubble" and rolls offstage like a hamster in a ball, relying on hands in the crowd to keep him moving. Enjoy the show, which will rival the state fair’s famed midway for sheer vibrancy. Howard Hardee

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Garbage
Joseph Cultice
Garbage
Sunday, October 7
Marquee Theatre In Tempe

The mid-’90s was a period of transition for rock music. The grunge subgenre that exploded at the beginning of the decade was in decline after its reluctant leader, Kurt Cobain, died. Left in its wake was the post-grunge and alternative movements that seemed to lump in any acts that weren’t classic rock. Bands such as Bush and Candlebox came to dominate the charts, but they never quite captured the raw energy of the original grunge movement.

Garbage were different, though. Helmed by three studio wizards — Steve Marker, Duke Erikson, and Butch Vig (the last being responsible for producing landmark albums such as Nirvana’s Nevermind and Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream) — and led by the charismatic Scottish frontwoman Shirley Manson, the band seemed to pick and choose all the best parts of the alternative genre. It created a polished, hook-laden sound. If you think Garbage’s musical output died after the turn of the millennium, you couldn’t be more wrong. Sure, their 1995 self-titled debut and follow-up, Version 2.0, represents the band’s peak of popularity. However, since then, the quartet have released four albums, from the misunderstood BeautifulGarbage to their latest, 2016’s Strange Little Birds, which is being heralded as a return to form for the band. Jose D. Duran

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Drizzy is coming back to the Valley.
Alexandra Gaspar
Drake and Migos
Monday, October 8
Gila River Arena


Drizzy Drake is having quite the year. He was flying high in February, when he filmed himself giving away thousands of dollars in Miami for his “God’s Plan” video. But it’s been all downhill from there: his feud with Pusha T blew up in Degrassi style in the Toronto rapper’s face when Pusha revealed via the diss track “The Story of Adidon” that Drake had a secret lovechild with a French porn star. So what did Drake do to save face? He reunited the Degrassi cast for his “I’m Upset” video! Problem solved!

No matter how you feel about Drake after “Adidon,” his concert at Gila River Arena is sure to be a fun time. Aubrey’s been pulling out the stops for his other dates, bringing out Big Freedia in New Orleans and squashing his beef with Meek Mill onstage in Boston. What could be in store for us? Douglas Markowitz

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The Foo Fighters are heading back to the Valley.
Brantley Gutierrez
Foo Fighters
Monday, October 8
Talking Stick Resort Arena


Folks, Dave Grohl might be an alcoholic. Whenever he plays a Foo Fighters gig, he carries out a drinking ritual that’s either terrifying or legendary, maybe both. “An hour before the gig, I have a Coors Light,” he told the radio station KLOS-FM. “About 50 minutes before the gig, I hit my first Jag (Jagermeister), finish the Coors Light, get another Coors Light going. Now there’s a bunch of people around, so I’m throwing shots at everybody and I’m taking shots with everyone in the room.” Again, he does this before every show. Basically, We’ve all heard stories about classic rock stars living hedonistic, booze-drenched lifestyles, but Grohl seems to be living one out as we speak. Part of me wants to respect it — the guy is an incredibly hard-working musician, who once broke his leg on tour and decided to carry on in a custom-made throne. But another part of me wants him to never tour again and check straight into rehab once he’s wrapped up. No matter what, though, he’ll definitely be hammered when he takes the stage at Talking Stick Resort Arena, so be prepared for that. There goes my hero … Douglas Markowitz

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Lovers of rap, pop, and EDM can vibe with Polyphia, the Texas-based shredders.
Travis Poston
Polyphia
Tuesday, October 9
Crescent Ballroom

The last time Texas-based shredders Polyphia came to town, the show packed the house at Club Red in Mesa. They’ll soon return to the venue again to share a bill with locals like Hail the Sun, Covet, and Holy Fawn and once again bring their hyper-catchy instrumental metal to the masses. It’s sure to be a solid show, even for people who wouldn’t normally think of themselves as progressive-metal fans. Lovers of rap, pop, and EDM can also vibe with Polyphia, since their influences range far outside their own genre. Think Ariana Grande bops meet virtuoso guitar riffs. Meagan Mastriani

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Lily Allen's making her first-ever appearance in Arizona this month.
Bella Howard
Lily Allen
Wednesday, October 10
Marquee Theatre in Tempe


If you remember the pint-sized, outspoken Lily Allen for her sunny ska and reggae-colored tunes like 2006's "Smile," a lot has changed in the 12 years since with the singer. In fact, her songs sound a lot closer to Lorde's now. That might strike you as something of a me-too through line in her career's evolution, but what's engaging about her songs. While Allen's beats and melodies want to hang with the Rihannas and Katy Perrys of the world, it's still weird to lump her in with them because she just sounds smarter. In early October, Allen will make her first-ever appearance in Arizona when she performs at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe on October 10. Steve Steward


Chief Keef
Thursday, October 11
Marquee Theatre in Tempe


The infamous Chicago rapper who helped boost drill music to substantial levels and influenced a generation of rappers is coming to the Valley in October. Since his debut album, Finally Rich, dropped in 2012, Chief Keef splashed into the game and the ripples are still being felt when new rappers like Lil Pump or Lil Uzi Vert step onto the stage.

Chief Keef’s drill music brought upon visceral images of his reality growing up in Chicago, but his ad libs like “Bang” or “Gang Gang” are something simple, yet made had a big impact on the younger generations. That’s why we have rappers like Lil Pump say things like “Esketit” and “Ooh” or “Yah” after every bar. Keef has already done so much for hip-hop and has reinvented himself with the release of Mansion Musick, his newest album, featuring tracks like “Letter.” Some of the lyrics may be on the simple side, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing as he tends to get creative with his bars. Fans of Chief Keef can look forward to raging with him on October 11 when he hits the Marquee. Julio Lugo

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Tally Tupelo
King Khan and the Shrines
Saturday, October 13
Valley Bar


Good vibrations will oozing from the cracks of Crescent Ballroom on October 13 as the garage-rockin', soulful, funky, psychedelic sounds of none other than King Khan and the Shrines, who visit Phoenix on their current tour. King Khan, also known as Arish Ahmad Khan, started making music back in the '90s in Montreal. He's been in bands like rowdy garage punkers The Spaceshits, along with Mark Sultan (a.k.a. BBQ) who later joined Khan to form The King Khan and BBQ Show, a punk doo-wop duo. With the Shrines, Khan brings his love of fusing styles, cranking up the dial into righteous levels. And capes. With King Khan and the Shrines, there are always capes; it's just part of the magic. Amy Young

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Clarion Call Media
We Were Promised Jetpacks
Saturday, October 13
Crescent Ballroom

Typically when bands are having success, time off isn't really an option. However for Scotland's We Were Promised Jetpacks, it was the only choice they had to continue as a band. "We started to write the new album and it just didn't feel right," admits guitarist and lead singer Adam Thompson. After recording and touring since 2009, when the tour for 2014's Unravelling was done, it was time to re-evaluate how the band went about being a unit. They’d been going hard since 2003, making where they came from seeming so much more poignant.

While their last release was well received, it showed a definite deeper side to the band's sound, distancing themselves from what a lot of indie rock bands sound like. However, the band's new album, The More I Sleep The Less I Dream is full of crazed energy, sounding like the work of men younger than those who made it. Produced by Jonathan Low (Mumford & Sons, The National), The More I Sleep The Less I Dream is a return to the energized sound that the band exhibited on their debut, with more earnest emotions sprinkled in. David Garrick


SunSquabi
Sunday, October 14
Crescent Ballroom


It shouldn’t seem surprising a band with Sunsquabi’s pedigree would come from Boulder, Colorado. Even the band’s name has a kind of stoner mountain vibe to it. Yet, Sunsquabi is not exactly stoner rock, at least not in the sense of bands (Fu Manchu, Kyuss, Eagles of Death Metal, etc.) typically labeled with that moniker. Sunsquabi, however, would be very good music to experience stoned. Why? Because the music is a trippy blend of jazz, funk, cosmic disco, classic rock, and hip-hop fused together with looping technology, live improvisation, and a willingness to take chances.

“We were absolutely encouraged to take chances! That’s a very good way of putting it. There is so much creativity and so many new ideas happening musically out here [in Boulder] that we had to really surrender to all the influences and find our own way,” explains guitarist/keyboardist Kevin Donohue. “We had to completely zone in on what it is that makes us unique to find our sound. And not everybody is going to like it when you experiment, so it’s definitely taking a chance.” Glenn BurnSilver

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The punks of Alkaline Trio.
Epitaph Records
Alkaline Trio
Tuesday, October 16
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Long before he stepped in for UFO-obsessed Tom DeLonge in Blink-182, Matt Skiba had Alkaline Trio. Alhough the world has heard more out of Blink-182 for the past few years, Skiba wisely kept his other band going. The trio is touring behind its newest album, the 13-track effort Is This Thing Cursed?, and has a stop scheduled for October 16 at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe. Expect another delightful night of bruised pop-punk with this band. Its tunes have withstood trends in pop-punk, and they speak to the angry teenager and the confused adult. Eric Grubbs
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Phoenix New Times Music Writers