Top 10 Must-See Fall Concerts

From festival fanfare to freestyling favorites, these artists will rock the Valley venues this season

By Cait Brennan, October 2015 Issue.

When Labor Day is in the rearview mirror, you know summer is really gone. Besides the cooler temps, this can only mean one thing: Fall concert season is upon us!

The remainder of 2015 is jam-packed with live concert excitement. Don’t take my word for it, here’s a look at 10 brilliant shows you mustn’t miss in the season ahead:

10Con_SummerEnds_CUTSept. 24-27

Summer Ends Music Festival at Tempe Beach Park 

By “Summer Ends,” they mean the calendar, not the temperature. We do live on the surface of the sun, you know. So hydrate, lather up the sunscreen, and get ready to have your face rocked off by a lineup that includes Kanye West, Big Sean, Cold War Kids, Spoon, Jimmy Eat World, Brandon Flowers of the Killers, Manchester Orchestra, Slightly Stoopid and even Hozier. Hm, I wonder if he’ll play “Take Me To Church”?

10Con_SamSmith_CUTSept. 30

Sam Smith at Gila River Arena 

The elusive Mr. Smith dodged us earlier in the year; his August show was postponed due to fatigue and the need for vocal cord surgery (and not at all because someone told him what Phoenix is like in August). Thankfully, he rescheduled and, ICYMI the first time around, he’s bringing his great voice and chart-topping songs to Gila River Arena in Glendale Sept. 30.


Oct. 13

Florence + the Machine
at Ak-Chin Pavilion  

Yeah, the dog days (of summer) are over, and her initial buzz may have died down a wee bit, but dollar for dollar, there’s no more powerful voice in music today than Florence Welch. The new album, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, will undoubtedly restore the band’s shine. And, after a nearly four-year layoff, Florence + the Machine are the best they’ve ever been.


Oct. 16

Marina and the Diamonds
at Marquee Theatre 

From debut single “I Am Not A Robot” to this year’s “Froot,” Welsh-born Marina Diamandis has cut a swath of originality across a couple of continents. It’s a rare treat to see her perform in the Valley and she crushes all opponents in the female electro vocalists department.

10Con_JanetJackson_CUTOct. 19

Janet Jackson at Comerica Theatre  

Your personal nastiness is not my business, but I call her Janet, and she’s back after an unconscionably long hiatus with a new album (coming soon) and a global tour that will likely propel her back to the top. Welcome back, Janet.


Oct. 22

Madonna at Gila River Arena 

Did you know that BBC radio refused to play Madonna’s recent single because she was “too old”? Age ain’t nothin’ but a number, baby, and Madonna is still epic (in the classical sense of the word, like Mt. Everest or some kind of Versace-clad tsunami). Seeing a Madonna show now is like what seeing Paul McCartney is for lovers of the Beatles – it’s a rare, nearly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to catch a great artist doing what they do best. She’s not going to be doing this forever, kids. Get out and catch her, so you can lord it over some young whippersnapper in 20 years.

Oct. 25

Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls at The Pressroom  

Oh sure, the popular kids will be over at the Marquee Theatre seeing ex-MCR frontman Gerard Way, and the beardy types will be over at the Orpheum watching Sufjan Stevens. But you? You’re fierce, baby. You like bold, hard-edged honesty and raucous, singable, soul-lifting anthems true to the spirit of punk. Frank Turner brings all that and more from Meonstoke, UK to the stage at the Pressroom. Don’t know who he is? Trust me on this: one Frank Turner show and you will be a fan for life.

Oct. 26

William Fitzsimmons at Crescent Ballroom 

I know nothing about William Fitzsimmons’ personal sexuality, but I do know that nobody, not even the rain, has such a large lesbian following. The man is even cited on as a “lesbro” – a “male friend to lesbians,” according to their lexicon. His folky, heartfelt, sometimes stark music explores all the deepest corners of the human experience, and there’s great beauty in that, no matter who you are.

10Con_IggyAzalia_CUTOct. 27

Iggy Azalea
at Gila River Arena

This is where I make a bunch of puns about Iggy Azalea’s show. Like it’ll “change your life” and you should get off “work” and “bounce” down there to see it, and don’t forget to wear something “fancy.” Well, I’m not going to do that. I’m not some cheap word tramp here to dance for your amusement. Go to the show if you want. I’m certainly not going to “beg for it.”

Nov. 13

Melissa Etheridge at Ovations Live at Wild Horse Pass

Grammy Award winner Melissa Etheridge has become practically an annual visitor to the Valley in recent years; on this stop, she’ll be playing solo, bringing an intimate feel to some of her classics as part of the “This Is M.E. Solo” tour.