The freaks and geeks of punk band Playboy Manbaby will be getting weird this weekend at The Van Buren during their 10th-anniversary show on Friday night. It’s one of several “can’t miss” concerts happening at metro Phoenix this weekend and will also have sets by Simpsons-themed metal act Okilly Dokilly and geek rap king Mega Ran.
Other notable shows on tap for the Valley from Friday, September 3, to Sunday, September 5, include performances by Regional Mexican singer-songwriter Pepe Aguilar, pop-punk band New Found Glory, and Prince besties Morris Day and the Time. Between the Buried and Me will also pay tribute to one of the biggest albums in their discography on Saturday night at Crescent Ballroom.
Details about each of these events can be found below. For even more live music happening around the Valley, check out Phoenix New Times’ online concert calendar. Keep in mind, though, that the Delta variant of COVID-19 is a growing danger right now and venues will be crowded with people at many events. If you’re going to attend, we encourage you to take precautions like wearing masks or maintaining social distancing.
Morris Day and the Time at Celebrity Theatre
Even though Prince’s control-freak tendencies made him itch to play every instrument himself in his first band, Grand Central Corporation, friend and guitarist Morris Day swung his swanky balls around enough to earn a place in the little guy’s future collaborative royalty. Day’s song “Partyup” ended up on Prince’s genre-ravaging Dirty Mind, and Day was repaid with his own band, The Time, a funk-rock powerhouse that was the first of Prince’s many post-success pet projects.
The Time was the unbridled id of Paisley Park, and the group’s 1981 self-titled debut was led by choice workouts like “Cool” and “Get It Up.” The band dressed like dandy new wave pimps and featured geniuses like Terry Lewis and Jimmy “Jam” Harris. As goofy as their antics were, The Time’s masculine excesses kept it raw. They’re scheduled to perform at 8 p.m. on Saturday, September 4, at Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street. Tickets are $40 to $80. Chris Estey
James McMurtry at Crescent Ballroom
Decades from now, when social anthropologists look back on which musicians most accurately and articulately captured the plight of the dwindling American middle class in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, they’ll surely home in on the brilliant Austin songwriter James McMurtry. Rivaled only by Jason Isbell in his ability to construct compelling tales of small-town pathos without sounding patronizing, McMurtry doesn’t exploit his characters or paint them in overly dour strokes; even his meth-heads have a good time here and there.
But off-the-grid life isn’t an excuse for McMurtry to sing about lakefront bonfires and Daisy Dukes. Such backwoods blowouts are the stuff of Music Row fiction, filled with trucks, cans (both containing beer and affixed to chests) and one-night stands. Yet for as flawed as the protagonists in his songs can be, you’d still much rather spend time with them than the buff bros and babes by the beach. McMurtry is scheduled to perform at Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Street, at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, September 3. Admission is $22. Mike Seely
Hot Club of Cowtown at Musical Instrument Museum
Milton Brown and His Musical Brownies and Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys combined the au courant hot jazz with the fiddle music of their Southwestern upbringings and invented Western Swing in the early 20th century. Similar influences and instincts led to something called rock ‘n’ roll a couple of decades later, yet Western Swing remains classic American dance music that never sounds dated.
Asleep at the Wheel revived it 40 years ago (and are still swinging full-speed ahead) and the Hot Club of Cowtown are damn fine 21st-century practitioners. Fiddler and smooth singer Elana James and Django-esque guitarist Whit Smith met through a 1996 Village Voice ad seeking compatible pickers and realized their blend was a match — the kind that starts a fire. Add one upright bassist (currently Jake Erwin) and they had themselves a combustible trio that nailed Bob Wills’ tunes (“Ida Red”), Hoagy Carmichael (“Stardust”) and original compositions. Hear them at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, September 3, at the Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 East Mayo Boulevard. Tickets are $38.50 to $44.50. Michael Simmons
Playboy Manbaby at The Van Buren
Whether you heard about it from friends, through social media, or after seeing their goofy billboard along Seventh Avenue, local weirdo punk band Playboy Manbaby’s 10th-anniversary show is happening on Friday, September 3, at The Van Buren, 401 West Van Buren Street. And from all accounts, it’s going to be just as colorful and weird as Playboy Manbaby itself.
Described by frontman Robbie Pfeffer as “a multimedia extravaganza celebrating 10 years of DIY chaos,” the show will also feature geek rapper Mega Ran, Ned Flanders-themed metal act Okilly Dokilly, and indie band Together Pangea as openers. Pfeffer and the rest of Playboy Manbaby are tight-lipped about what their headlining set will entail, other than stating on Facebook that it “will be real weird and real fun.” Based on the band’s penchant for colorful antics (check out their TikTok for evidence of such), we’re guessing it will be memorable. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $25. Benjamin Leatherman
Pepe Aguilar at Gila River Arena
Perhaps you’re not an avid follower of the vast array of traditional styles that generally get lumped together under the banner of Regional Mexican, but millions upon millions of record sales annually indicate that there is most definitely a market. Pepe Aguilar are without question two of the most widely respected and prolific artists of the genre, and deserving of all the respect he gets.
The Texas-born singer-songwriter and Mexican-American has a career spanning four decades, during which time he’s not only mastered the classic charro style, but also successfully paired traditional ranchera sounds with Latin pop stylings, dropping close to 30 releases to his credit in that time. An eight-time Grammy winner and recipient of more than a dozen Premios Lo Nuestro awards, Aguilar is no stranger to accolades. His Jaripeo sin Fronteras Tour comes to Gila River Arena, 9400 West Maryland Avenue in Glendale, at 8 p.m. on Saturday, September 4. Tickets are $40.50 to $200.50. Christopher Lopez
Between the Buried and Me at Crescent Ballroom
Now in their 21st year of existence, the North Carolina progressive metal band Between the Buried and Me is heading back out on its postponed 20th-anniversary tour and will pull into Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Street, at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 4. The band will be playing two sets during the solo show. The first will be a career-spanning setlist with songs from their 2002 self-titled album all the way to their 2021 album Colors II. Their second set will be a performance of their 2009 album The Great Misdirect, which they’ll play in its entirety.
Considered by the band as their greatest work, it’s a sprawling six-track album that combines progressive metal with technical death metal and avant-garde metal. While the album was met with mixed reviews when it first came out over a decade ago, The Great Misdirect is now regarded as a metal masterpiece following in the footsteps of Queensrÿche and Dream Theater. Tickets for the show are available here. David Fletcher
New Found Glory at Marquee Theatre
Have you waited too long to see New Found Glory? Have you found that perfect opportunity to drown in some high school nostalgia? Well, if the needle on your record player is wearing thin, it might be time to finally see them live on Saturday, September 4, at Tempe’s Marquee Theatre, 730 North Mill Avenue, on the Pop Punk’s Still Not Dead Tour.
Though New Found Glory’s golden days may not have stayed, as the tour’s name suggests, the band is far from dead. Releasing their 10th album Forever + Ever x Infinity to mostly favorable reviews last year, New Found Glory current sound pays homage to the music styles and sad-boy themes of their early work, this time with a slightly harder edge. The current tour has NFG playing alongside ska-punk band Less Than Jake and newcomers Hot Mulligan and LOLO. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show are $33 to $53. David Fletcher