Concertgoers of metro Phoenix who haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19 would be wise to do so now. Otherwise, you won’t be able to attend many of the big concerts happening in metro Phoenix in September.
A total of 18 independent Arizona concert venues will only allow concertgoers who show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to attend shows later this month (some have done so already). It could keep you from seeing some high-profile and much-anticipated shows over the next 30 nights, including performances by Tame Impala, Pitbull, Korn, Staind, and Jason Aldean.
What follow is our rundown of the metro Phoenix’s biggest concerts in September. In light of the continued spread of the Delta variant and several national tours canceling recently, each gig on the list has been confirmed to the best of our ability.
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.
Lindsey Stirling at Arizona Federal Theatre
Lindsey Stirling, a onetime Valley resident, is the greatest musician in the narrow genre of classical/dubstep/hip-hop/Celtic folk. She’s released multiple albums, selling hundreds of thousands of copies worldwide. Stirling brings excitement to each track and has filled her latest album with lyrics about overcoming her struggles. On stage, Stirling moves with grace and earnest, her bow flying across the strings to provide melodies over electronic backbeats. Her intensity is infectious. And it is impossible not to get caught up in the spectacle. Stirling returns to her hometown this week with her tour in support of her latest album, Artemis – which draws inspiration from Greek mythology, anime, Harry Potter, and other geeky subjects. She’s scheduled to perform on Wednesday, September 1, at Arizona Federal Theatre, 400 West Washington Street, with Canadian-born pop/electronic singer Kiesza opening the 7 p.m. concert. Tickets start at $69.50. Taylor Gilliam
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
Gogol Bordello at The Van Buren
Gogol Bordello’s pulsing Mediterranean sound and sljivovica-drenched stage presence have found eager listeners from around the globe for decades. Gogol centers around frontman Eugene Hütz, who first assembled a motley crew of Eastern European ex-pats from various NYC bars and loft parties in the late ’90s. The band burst upon the NYC scene with a drunken, all-night party, drawing on Hütz’s itinerant background and love of rebel cultures.
In Gogol’s world, manic punk energy meets tribal drums as a dub bassline thumps along and accordion lines flutter above like hummingbirds over the Danube. Typical of the downtrodden throughout history, the group flips a bleak existence into a party. And through his impassioned delivery and earthy accent, Hütz imparts a message of unity through music, striking a nerve. But live is where Gogol Bordello must be experienced to really feel the true energy of the band. Experience it first-hand at The Van Buren on Monday, September 6. NuFolk Rebel Alliance opens the 8 p.m. show. Tickets are $30 to $35. Toph One
Gary Clark Jr. at The Van Buren
For over a decade now, Austin’s blues-rock and soul artist Gary Clark Jr. has been keeping real roots rock ‘n’ roll alive and kicking, racking up just about every award possible in the genre. Heralded by Rolling Stone as the “Best Young Gun” upon the release of his debut EP in 2011, Clark went on to win Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance at the 2020 Grammy Awards.
Discovered in his teens by Clifford Antone of Austin’s Antone’s music club, Clark cut his teeth playing with icons like music legend Jimmie Vaughan. Clark’s vocal and guitar sound have been highly sought after in the music world, leading the musician to record with artists as disparate as Sheryl Crow, Alicia Keys, Childish Gambino, and Tech N9ne. Country vocalist Suzanne Santo opens Clark’s performance at The Van Buren, 401 West Van Buren Street, on Tuesday, September 7. The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $50. David Fletcher
Mega 104.3’s 20-Year Anniversary Bash at Footprint Center
Local old-school R&B/hip-hop radio station Mega 104.3 is turning 20 this year (feel old yet?) and is throwing a birthday blowout on Friday, September 10, at Footprint Center, 201 East Jefferson Street. The concert will feature a selection of R&B artists featured on the FM station – which originally launched in 2001 – including Montell Jordan, Lisa Lisa, Zapp, Midnight Star, Evelyn Champagne King, Tag Team, and Rob Base. The gig starts at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $29.50 to $69.50. Benjamin Leatherman
Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo at Arizona Federal Theatre
Pat Benatar hasn’t exactly been high in the charts since the ’80s, but she’s been an unconventional cultural figure to this day. Feminist ideals have informed her career from the beginning, and her short hair style, fashion choices, and depiction of women in her music videos helped break down conventional views of women in mainstream culture. She sang songs about child abuse in “Hell Is for Children” and unabashed ballads of socially critical self-empowerment like “Love Is a Battlefield” and “Invincible.” Currently touring with her longtime creative partner and husband of 39 years, guitarist and songwriter Neil Giraldo, Benatar has aged well as a performer, and her famously powerful voice has remained captivating. They’re scheduled to perform at 8 p.m. on Saturday, September 11, at Arizona Federal Theatre, 400 West Washington. Tickets are $48.50 to $85. Tom Murphy
Korn and Staind at Ak-Chin Pavilion
It’s been a while since fans have been able to catch the nu-metal pioneers of Korn on stage, and in the meantime, they have been placated only by the band’s last studio album, The Nothing, which dropped in late 2019. Frontman Jonathan Davis has set tongues wagging in recent weeks, announcing that the band has finished writing its follow-up. Joining Korn on tour is fellow nu-metal band Staind and openers Fire From the Gods. The tour comes to Ak-Chin Pavilion, 2121 North 83rd Avenue, on Monday, September 13. Tickets are $39.50 to $89.50 for the 6:30 p.m. concert. Olivia McAuley
Lady A at Ak-Chin Pavilion
There’s nothing wrong with Lady A. Their über-wholesome brand of country music is far, far removed from the honky-tonks, redoubts of violence, heartache, and sin. It’s so positive it barely seems even possible. They’re very, very popular, as are their uptempo numbers like “Lookin’ for a Good Time,” “Our Kinda Love,” and “Perfect Day.” Those songs alone are replete with images of skipping rocks, afternoons at the lake, nights by a campfire, the open highway, and even what sounds like a one-night stand in the making (risqué!). There’s lots of action going on, but very little drama and zero conflict.
On the other hand, their best songs, such as bouncy single “Downtown” and monster crossover ballad “Need You Now,” at least take place inside something approaching the real world: the singer scolding her partner to take her out once in a while (damnit), and then of course in the throes of that late-night phone call she knows she will regret in the morning, but just doesn’t care. That’s good stuff. Lady A comes to Ak-Chin Pavilion on Thursday, September 16. Carly Pearce, Niko Moon, and Tenille Arts open the 7 p.m. concert. Tickets are $40 to $125. Chris Gray
Billy Bob Thornton and the Boxmasters at The Rhythm Room
A sad part of being a major celebrity and starting a rock project on the side is that people will show up out of nowhere to see your band and ignore your music because they just want to see “you.” Sometimes the music somehow ends up overshadowing the celebrity and the band becomes noteworthy in their own right. The Boxmasters, actor Billy Bob Thornton’s off-and-on musical project, reach that early stage of notoriety years ago, but that still shouldn’t diminish the fact that his Boxmasters are making ace country-fried rockabilly. Imagine if Conway Twitty and the Kinks at their most mod got stoned one night in the ’60s and decided to record four albums out in Bakersfield. Thornton brings the band to The Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School Road, on Thursday, September 16. Pat Roberts and the Heymakers open the show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $50. Craig Hlavaty
Pitbull and Iggy Azalea at Ak-Chin Pavilion
You can’t mistake Pitbull for anyone other than Pitbull. With his shaved head, sunglasses, sharp suit and stellar dance moves, the Miami rapper is a force unto himself – a Latino sensation with crossover appeal and an international following. The Cuban heartthrob caught his big break in 2002 when a freestyle of his landed on Lil Jon’s Kings of Crunk album in 2002. Since then, he’s released 11 albums and been a mainstay on the Billboard charts. Currently, he’s co-headlining the I Feel Good Tour with fellow rapper and hitmaker Iggy Azalea, who’s blockbuster tracks include “Fancy,” “Black Widow,” and “Beg For It.” They’re set to roll through Ak-Chin Pavilion, 2121 North 83rd Avenue, on Friday, September 17. The concert starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $29.95 to $499. Aria Bell
Tame Impala at Gila River Arena
Tame Impala’s psychedelic sound could be the background to a night of debauchery at the club, or the soundtrack to a night spent alone and ruminating on the ruins of society. In short, he may be the consummate musician of our time, a constantly evolving artist who uses technology to make music that reflects on how technology has driven us apart. Kevin Parker’s live shows relish that collision, providing a high-powered production that thrills you to accompany lyrics that make you think. Better get jabbed twice if you want to attend his concert at 8 p.m. on Saturday, September 18, at Gila River Arena, 9400 West Maryland Avenue in Glendale, since Parker’s requiring all attendees be fully vaccinated (or show a negative test from the previous 48 hours) to attend. No joke. Tickets are $47.75 to $77.75. Tyler Hicks
Boots in the Park at Tempe Beach Park
Yes, there will be a couple of music festivals happening in September, including this one-day country music shindig on Saturday, September 18, at Tempe Beach Park, 80 West Rio Salado Parkway, headlined by Capitol Nashville artist Jon Pardi. L.A.-based promoter Activated Events – the folks behind the Valley’s annual Wet Electric festival – is putting on the event. Jameson Rodgers, Drew Green, and Michael Austin will also perform. Gates open at 2 p.m. Tickets are $59 to $149. Benjamin Leatherman
The Black Dahlia Murder at The Nile Theatre
Detroit’s Black Dahlia Murder first burst onto the metal world’s radar in 2001 with their attention-grabbing demo, What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse, followed by a four-track EP, A Cold-Blooded Epitaph, a year later. In 2003, the melodic death-metal band released a hell of a full-length debut with Unhallowed, and its blend of death-metal speed and crunch with black-metal screeching was unnervingly powerful. Since then, Black Dahlia’s put out eight different LPs, including 2020’s Verminous, its ninth studio album. They’re also a kick-ass live act and are currently touring alongside progressive metal group After the Burial. Both bands are set to invade The Nile Theater, 105 West Main Street in Mesa, on Wednesday, September 22, along with Carnifex, Rivers of Nihil, and Undeath. Tickets for the 6 p.m. show are $25. Phil Freeman
Luke Bryan at Ak-Chin Pavilion
Luke Bryan is considered the King of Bro Country, a title he seems to embrace while also hoping to be treated as a serious artist. Count all the lyrical references to alcohol, trucks, gurrls (not just girls), rural settings, and catfish you like. Thing is, the thousands of people who will come to Ak-Chin Pavilion, 2121 North 83rd Avenue, on Friday, September 24, will want to have a good time, pure and simple. Most mainstream country music is for people who grew up on Garth Brooks, Bob Seger, Tim McGraw, and Def Leppard, and weren’t afraid of hip-hop, either. Plus, it’s family entertainment. As easily mocked as the bro country genre is, it sure isn’t losing any steam by snark from those who don’t get it. Runaway June and Dylan Scott open the 7 p.m. concert. Tickets are $41 to $136. Eric Grubbs
Goldrush Music Festival 2021 at Rawhide Western Town
A herd of local electronic dance music fans will likely descend upon Rawhide Western Town, 5700 West North Loop Road, in Chandler during the last weekend in September when the Goldrush Music Festival returns to the venue for its 2021 edition, which will take place from Friday, September 24, to Sunday, September 26. The Wild West-themed event previously occurred in 2018 and 2019 at the venue, but took last year off because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s event is expected to be the biggest outdoor concert to be staged since the pandemic. The lineup is EDM-heavy, with headliners including Diplo, Illenium, Jauz, Zedd, Autograf, Kill the Noise, Zeds Dead, Griz, NGHTMRE, Above & Beyond, and dozens more. Gates open at 5 p.m. each night. General admission is $99 to $299; VIP admission starts at $169. Benjamin Leatherman
Jason Aldean at Ak-Chin Pavilion
As one of country’s biggest voices, Jason Aldean stretches the genre in unexpected directions. Atop typical country music trappings – meat and potatoes lyrics, emotive guitar, accented vocals – Aldean adds threads of soul, alternative rock, R&B, hip-hop, and world music. Power ballads meet clever fusion in Aldean’s tunes, which seem engineered for big, euphoric stadium performances. Aldean might flirt with comparatively radical ideas in his arrangements, but his music never fails to feel genuinely part of country music’s rich and storied tradition. He swings through Ak-Chin Pavilion, 2121 North 83rd Avenue, on Thursday, September 30, with opening sets by Lainey Wilson and Hardy. The concert is at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $40.50 to $125.50. Jonathan Patrick