As you may have heard, Phoenix Comicon will take over downtown Phoenix starting today. There are also loads of MDW-related pool parties and club events happening every night this weekend. The Blunt Club is also throwing a two-day party in honor of its 15th anniversary.
And then there are all the big concerts and live music events going down. Highlights include legendary metal act Living Colour performing at BLK Live, Dead and Company’s performance at Ak-Chin Pavilion, and New Kids on the Block reliving their glory days at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Plus, local acts like The Stakes, Mouse Powell, and The Sugar Thieves also have album release shows happening this weekend.
Many of these shows can be found in the following rundown of the best concerts in the Valley this weekend. (And for even more live music, hit up our online concert calendar.)
Friday, May 26
BLK Live in Scottsdale
Living Colour bucked the trend of hard rock in the 1980s by infusing funk and avant-garde guitar work into the nearly all-white genre, picking up devoted fans and two Grammy Awards, going on tour with Guns N' Roses and the Rolling Stones, and creating an environment and message to other minority musicians that music is for everyone, no matter the genre. Formed in 1984 by English-born guitarist Vernon Reid, Living Colour went through a few iterations before finally settling on the quartet of Reid, Muzz Skillings on bass (who has since left the group and was replaced by Doug Wimbish), Will Calhoun on drums, and lead vocalist Corey Glover. In 1988, Living Colour released its debut album, Vivid, which includes the lead single "Cult of Personality." On the strength of the song's lyrics, frenetic guitar solos, and memorable riff, "Cult" became a radio hit. But even with a hit, things didn't come easily. "We dealt with a lot of overt and subliminal racism when it came to a band like ours," Glover says. "Beyond the skin color, it was the way we dressed, and people thought, 'What are you, a reggae band?' We were a band without a country. We weren't metal enough to be a metal band, not punk enough to be a punk band, and not R&B enough to be an R&B group." Nearly 30 years later, the band's signature song seems more topical than ever. "It's not just [Donald] Trump. There is a cult of [Barack] Obama; there is a cult of Bernie Sanders," Glover says. "People like Trump have been constructed by us to fit what we want to hear and what we want. The same thing with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders." Matthew Stewart
Friday, May 26
Guitarist Mikel Lander and vocalist Meredith Moore originally met in 2006 through a mutual friend at a Tempe house party. It may not have been a meet-cute sort of encounter (and Lander initially rebuffe Moore’s invitation to jam together) but it wound up changing both of their lives forever. The couple, who’ve been married for a few years now, form the core of The Sugar Thieves, one of the Valley's best roots/blues acts the serve up “meat shakin’” sounds that showcase their singing talents (Lander boasts a Tom Waits-meets-Nick Cave growl, while Moore has an astounding vocal range that’s always pitch-perfect) and his skills as a picker. Over the last decade, they’ve won the Arizona Blues Challenge on three occasions, gigged at venues across the Valley, and put out a few albums, the latest being 2 Cups. The eight-song LP, which dropped earlier this month on local label Fervor Records, features Lander and Moore doing what they do best, singing and playing the blues. They’ll celebrate the album’s release this weekend at the Rhythm Room (natch). Benjamin Leatherman
Friday, May 26
Talking Stick Resort Arena
Whether they’re singing, acting, or flipping burgers in front of the camera for a reality TV show, the Wahlberg family has become a pop culture staple. Though Mark is a dominating presence at the box office, it’s brother Donnie we can thank for acquainting us with this ubiquitous clan. He was the first member of the ’80s boy band New Kids on the
Friday, May 26, at Crescent Ballroom
Saturday, May 27, at Yucca Tap Room in Tempe
Valley hip-hop night The Blunt Club has put on a vast amount of shows over the last 15 years, to say the least. And while
Saturday, May 27
Club Red in Mesa
For more than 20 years, Norwegian musician Hoest has released wave after wave of dissonant black metal under the Taake banner. Playing all instruments on his albums and spewing raspy vocal venom, Hoest presents a Scandinavian black-metal sound that conjures up visions that are entirely in grayscale. That’s not to say that his recorded output is a barrage from start to finish. Taake’s most recent record, 2014’s Stridens Hus, is peppered with flourishes of catchy guitar hooks that place emphasis on the “metal” side of black metal, especially on tracks such as “Orm.” It is this blend of hooks and hammering force that makes Taake stand out from the vast array of corpse-paint-wearing musicians. Jason Roche
Read on for even more big concerts happening during Memorial Day weekend, including Dead and Company, MRCH, and Steve Aoki.