Arizona State University v. New Mexico State University
Arizona State University athletic director Ray Anderson won’t come out and say it, but Todd Graham’s job is no doubt hanging precariously on this season’s outcome. The Sun Devils football coach breathed life into the program early on in his tenure, including two consecutive 10-win seasons, but has seen his successes wane dramatically over the past two seasons.
With his seat as hot as ever and with a daunting midseason stretch that will likely leave his team in tatters, Graham cannot afford to lose what ought to be a freebie against New Mexico State University on Thursday, August 31, at Tempe’s Sun Devil Stadium, 500 East Veterans Way. Fans attending the 7:30 p.m. season opener should expect the Devils to make quick work of the Aggies. Tickets are $9 and up. Visit the Sun Devils website or call 480-727-0000 for details. Rob Kroehler
A day of panels and workshops centered on science, technology, engineering, and math sounds like nerd paradise. And that’s precisely what you’ll find during the seventh annual Arizona SciTech Festival Kick-Off at Mesa Arts Center, 1 East Main Street.
The event is focused on “Building Arizona’s STEM Ecosystem,” with 40 sessions in seven tracks of interactive panels (including Art, Design through STEM and Computer Science and Engineering), and over 60 exhibitor tables. Attendees will include those in education, government, and nongovernmental organizations.
The kickoff runs from 7:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, August 31. Cost is $40 for general admission, $30 for educators, and free for students (though registration is needed). For more information and to register, see the AZ SciTech website or call 480-250-7764. Lauren Cusimano
Maybe you’ve seen Saskia Jordá’s work at Phoenix Art Museum or Scottsdale’s Canal Convergence. Using wood, fabric, and other media, she’s explored everything from forest fires to migration. Now, she’s taking on the concept of lineage with an exhibition of new work at Eric Fischl Gallery.
“Lineage” is anchored by an 18-foot-long burst of red that prompts reflection on the complexities of the human circulatory system that’s essential to life, the intertwined lines of individual and collective ancestry that infuse the human experience, and the artistic lineage of Jordá’s art practice.
You can catch the opening reception from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, August 31. Or see the free exhibit during regular gallery hours, which are Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The exhibition space is located on the second floor of the fine and performing arts building at Phoenix College, 1202 West Thomas Road. Visit the Phoenix College website. Lynn Trimble
You might think it’s still funny to burst out with the “I’m Rick James, bitch!” catchphrase, but the man who invented it probably won’t be laughing along with you.
Comedian, actor, and writer Dave Chappelle did hilariously play James on Chappelle’s Show, but he got tired of stand-up audiences bellowing it at him relentlessly. That was just one of the many characters Chappelle portrayed, solidifying his place as a comedic great.
Chappelle ended the TV show and didn’t take to the stage much until 2013, when he dove back into stand-up and headlined the Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival. Fans were thrilled to have him back in action. And earlier this year, when he released some Netflix specials, no one could shut up about it.
See the man in motion at 8 p.m. on Friday, September 1, at Comerica Theatre, 400 West Washington Street. Tickets are $50 to $100. Call 602-379- 2800 or visit the Comerica Theatre website. Amy Young
Gokus and Narutos and Pokémon, oh my. Expect to encounter all these popular anime characters (or their cosplay doppelgangers, at least) lurking around downtown Phoenix during Labor Day Weekend, particularly in close proximity to the Sheraton Grand Phoenix, 340 North Third Street. It’s the site of Saboten Con, the annual anime and Japanese pop-culture convention, which runs from Friday, September 1, to Monday, September 4.
This year will be the 10th edition of the event, which launched in 2008 and celebrates anything and everything with anime, manga, J-culture in general. Special guests include Funimation voice actor/director Dave Trosko, Carla Perez and Robert Axelrod from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and a variety of Japanese bands and musicians. Various panels and activities like a J-fashion show, concerts, cosplay masquerade, maid cafes, and more take place throughout the weekend. Hours vary. Daily memberships are $15 to $25, and a four-day pass is $50. Visit the Saboten Con website for more details. Benjamin Leatherman
What would your love life look like if you turned it into an art installation? See what a couple of recently married artists and graduate students, Christina Kemp-Sullivan and Buzzy Sullivan, came up with when they tried this at home.
The duo will present an ephemeral, photography-based exhibition called “Union” at Step Gallery, located inside ASU’s Grant Street Studios at 605 East Grant Street. It’s a reflection of their lives as emerging artists, graduate students, and newlyweds. The exhibition also hints at the challenges of living in an urban desert environment.
Take a look between 6 and 9 p.m. on Friday, September 1. The free show runs through Saturday, September 2. Visit the ASU event website. Lynn Trimble
Why are all the coolest celebrities expiring? Well, you’re aging, so the heroes of your formative years draw closer to death every minute. Go see a comedy!
At press time, Neil Simon’s still alive, and dude’s written 34 plays. (You could, too, if you spent your lousy childhood submerged in movies and books.) The second of those is Barefoot in the Park. It’s a love letter to 1960s Manhattan, but mostly it’s about becoming a grown-up and then meshing your life with the right person for you.
The play runs through Sunday, October 8, in Desert Stages Theatre’s new Scottsdale Fashion Square space at 7014 East Camelback Road. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. on Friday, September 1. Tickets are $22 to $28 at the Desert Stages website or 480-483-1664. Julie Peterson
Four women share stories of crossed paths and borders as Sagrado Galleria, 6437 South Central Avenue, presents its newest exhibition. “Las Fronteras Nos Dividen, Pero El Arte Nos Une” features work by Giovana Aviles, Carla Chavarria, Isela Meraz, and Gloria Martinez-Casillas.
These artists have experienced “the beauty and hardships” of immigration. And one knows firsthand the perils and promise of living as an undocumented immigrant in the U.S. The gallery showcases those stories through textiles, water paintings, beads, photography, and multimedia work.
The opening reception runs from 6 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, September 2. It includes a 6 p.m. artist panel moderated by Phoenix-based grassroots organizer Marisa Franco. Visit the Sagrado website. Lynn Trimble
This year has been a rough one for Valley band Anarbor. In July, the group’s 17-year-old drummer, Tyler Hedstrom, took his own life. To celebrate his life, the band will host the Tyler Hedstrom Memorial Show, bringing together music, friends, family, and fans.
The lineup features Sundressed, Justin Reece, The Secret Destroyers, and Headstrum, a band led by Tyler’s brother Alex Hedstrom.
The Saturday, September 2, concert is at Wasted Grain, 7295 East Stetson Drive in Scottsdale. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $15 through Brown Paper Tickets. For more information, visit the Facebook event page. Lindsay Roberts
If a yard sale just doesn’t feel like a fitting goodbye for your VCR, VHS tapes, old magazines, posters, and board games, then consider joining the other tapeheads at the VHS Swap hosted by FilmBar, 815 North Second Street.
Presented with support from Zia Records, the second annual Vswap is a small vendors’ market of tapes, games, and assorted collectibles. There’s no charge to sell, and no charge to poke around. A screening of Fast Times at Ridgemont High follows the swap, and a live taping of the BS Movies podcast and a trivia session follow the movie.
The VHS Swap is from 8 to 10 p.m. (the movie starts at 10), on Saturday, September 2. To RSVP, see the Facebook event page. Lauren Cusimano
Read on for more of the best things to do in metro Phoenix this week.