The 12 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

We're officially in the dog days of summer, folks. It's brutally hot with tons of humidity to spare, we've got months and months to go until things get more tolerable, and there isn't much you can do but suffer (or strap yourself to an AC vent).

On a more positive note, the live music scene is as busy as ever, and a multitude of memorable shows are happening nightly. Such is the case this weekend, as several big tours and “can't-miss” concerts will be happening.

That includes performances by Thirty Seconds to Mars, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Jeff Beck, Wye Oak, Stephen Malkmus, Gorgon City, and Treasure Fingers.

The annual Desert Splash pool party and will feature a day filled with DJs and hip-hop artists, followed by an after-dark pajama party.

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

Bun B
Friday, July 20
Club Red in Mesa
Catching a performance by influential Grammy-nominated rapper Bun B in such an intimate space as Club Red promises to be a memorable evening pulsing with the energy of early UGK and solo Bun B shows. Bun B rose to fame in the influential rap duo UGK, short for Underground Kingz, formed in ’87 with the late Pimp C. Bun dropped his debut full-length solo album in 2005.

On June 10, Bun B unveiled the cover art for his fifth solo record, Return of the Trill, on his Instagram account, saying the release is slated for August 31. It’s his first full-length release since 2013’s Trill OG: The Epilogue. With Optimystical, Kollateral, Thrice Authentic, Zelly Vibes, and Gramm Thomas as openers, expect the show to be a memorable night of hip-hop. Daniel Rodrigue

click to enlarge Sean Carey, better known as S. Carey. - COURTESY OF GROUND CONTROL TOURING
Sean Carey, better known as S. Carey.
Courtesy of Ground Control Touring
S. Carey
Friday, July 20
Crescent Ballroom

As S. Carey, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Sean Carey's solo material is definitely in line with the work he did as a part of a part of Bon Iver's backup band – and his voice is also a sweet but resilient focal point of a soothing Midwestern sound. But beyond the voice, the five albums in his discography (including this year's Hundred Acres) showcase Carey's classically-trained musicianship and knack for intricate compositions.

Whether Carey's singing from behind the piano, guitar, xylophone, or the varying wind and percussive instruments with which he's familiar, the gentle performer channels Brian Wilson, James Taylor, and Iron & Wine with comforting ease. Catch him at the Crescent on Friday night. H.C. McEntire will open. Bree Davies

click to enlarge Kye Gibbon and Matt Robson-Scott of Gorgon City. - COURTESY OF MELT BOOKING
Kye Gibbon and Matt Robson-Scott of Gorgon City.
Courtesy of Melt Booking
Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
Friday, July 20
Talking Stick Resort Arena

The coupling of Tim McGraw and Faith Hill has been the #RelationshipGoals of the country-music world for 20 years. No, seriously. They’ve lived together and loved together for years, and in 2017, this pair of mega-stars released their first-ever duets album, and they're backing it up with the Soul2Soul World Tour, which is now stretching into its second year.

The country prom king and queen, who have collectively sold a bajillion records, will be at the Gila River Arena in Glendale this weekend for an evening of country-pop and crooning. Cowboy hats and Wranglers are optional. Tom Murphy

Gorgon City
Friday, July 20
The Pressroom

Before joining creative forces as Gorgon City, Kye Gibbon and Matt Robson-Scott were already celebrated DJ-producers in their own right. Going by Foamo and RackNRuin, respectively, the two came up as part of London's beloved Black Butter artist collective and label, which also spawned the likes of Rudimental and international chart-topping quartet Clean Bandit.

Of course, the common musical denominator for Gibbon and Robson-Scott – as for most London-bred electronic dance music artists – is the U.K. bass that's in their DNA.

Innovating is certainly the operative word, especially if you consider the ways in which Gibbon and Robson-Scott have challenged the limits of pop with their explorations of electronic music history. Their albums and tracks are slices of exuberant bass-infused dance-pop that steadfastly refuses to temper its gritty warehouse rave vibe in favor of overly polished production. Sean Levisman

click to enlarge Guitar rock guru Jeff Beck. - COURTESY OF DANNY ZELISKO PRESENTS
Guitar rock guru Jeff Beck.
Courtesy of Danny Zelisko Presents
Jeff Beck
Saturday, July 21
Celebrity Theatre
There is no shortage of articles or opinions lauding the superb guitar playing skills of Jeff Beck. And deservedly so: He's part of what one might call the Divine Three (along with fellow guitar gods Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton). But Beck is the lone member of that league who never quite grasped the gold ring of wide commercial adoration.

After leaving an indelible mark on '60s British Invasion psychedelic rock with The Yardbirds on fuzz-addled songs like "Over Under Sideways Down," Beck set up shop as the solo artist he remains to this day. Tiring of vocal-driven rock songs (and probably vocalists, having unleashed Rod Stewart on the world), Beck set aside rock for jazz fusion and instrumental rock, the field he still plows today. Doug Davis

click to enlarge Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack of Wye Oak. - SHERVIN LAINEZ
Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack of Wye Oak.
Shervin Lainez
Wye Oak
Saturday, July 21
Crescent Ballroom

There’s a density to Wye Oak sonorities that extend far beyond what the two-person membership would imply. Lead vocalist, guitarist, and bassist Jenn Wasner surely has her work cut out for her as a multi-instrumentalist, but Andy Stack overachieves. Affording his right hand for kit drumming, Stack uses his left hand to simultaneously tickle the electronic ivory keys. Please, hold off on the Def Leppard jokes — he’s heard them all.

Their career has spanned six records and 12 years. Since the band’s early days, they’ve always married indie rock with hints of folk and dream pop. On their most recent album, The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs, which was released earlier this year, they’ve maintained that sound, although there’s a fair amount of experimentation sprinkled throughout the music. Some cuts are folkier than others, like the quick, upbeat “Over and Over.” Some even take notes from shoegaze, namely “Lifer.” But Wye Oak’s tracks are generally a lot of things, rather than a definable certainty, which is what makes them an exciting voice in the too-often oversaturated indie rock field.

For Wasner and Stack, The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs is a bit like a homecoming. The duo recorded it in their hometown of Baltimore, which comes across in the confident, grounded, yet intimate songs presented throughout the record. Tanner Stechnij