The music world doesn't happen on its own. What we see on the surface is the result of passionate people behind the scenes, writing, creating, organizing, promoting, and working tirelessly to bring music to the venues, bars, and houses of Metro Phoenix. We will look at 25 here, some familiar, some new . Be sure to check out our 100 Tastemakers and 100 Creatives as well.
Community organizer, concert promoter, and musician A Claire Slattery showed a knack for bringing people together at a young age.
"I asked my mom when I was 18 if I could host a 'techno pancake rave' at our house in Omaha, [Nebraska]," she remembers. "She said yes, and the rest is history."
Slattery moved to the Valley in 2009. Since then, she has become a key player in the DIY music scene, from organizing shows at Trunk Space to moderating an active, feisty "anti-cop" (her words) Facebook group for residents of the Maple-Ash-Farmer-Wilson neighborhood in Tempe. She has been a member of local bands Treasure Mammal and Soft Shoulder, and DJs the occasional event a couple of times a month.
Her organizing efforts often fall under the music umbrella, but not always. Instead, she specializes in what she calls "community art." Her resume includes hosting a national mix tape exchange that involved more than 700 people, making a huge neighborhood map than hung on the wall at Cartel Coffee Lab for three months that invited people to stick pins in the houses they'd lived in, co-organized the tongue-in-cheek Drain Tempe Town Lake drive, and running the "Keep Phoenix Square" social media drive, which satirically lauded the opening of every chain restaurant in Phoenix, going so far as to organize a concert in the parking lot of a Chili's. To say she keeps busy would be an understatement.
"I’ve become really attached to Phoenix’s lack of a lot of things, which creates a big void for anyone to fill," she says. "I saw some opportunity and decided to jump in. I encourage anyone who sees a void here to do the same because we have lots of them and always need more people to participate."
One of her proudest moments is the "Vanishing Show," a series of house shows happening in one night whose location changes in frequent intervals in order to stay one step ahead of police responding to noise complaints. Last year's show got shut down, but Slattery still believes that it was successful in its own way.
"When it comes to community members voting and voicing their opinions about the heavy police presence in Tempe, Vanishing Show attendees walk away with personal experiences of having the cops attempt to ruin their night of fun," she says. "Luckily, I always have a backup plan, so our crew always comes out on top, and it’s always nice to make the police look like jerks."
What's your favorite venue in the Valley, living or dead? My absolute favorite venue I’ve seen a show so far in Phoenix was Adam Lovelady’s old home, the Carriage House. I only got to see a handful of shows there, but the ones I attended were incredible.
What do you think the music scene needs most? The music scene needs more people to care. Some of the most amazing shows I’ve been to here in Phoenix have had audience attendees under 15 and it always makes me sad that there weren’t more people who got to experience what I had just seen. I think a lot of these challenges come with the way that the Valley is laid out and that people get stuck in their little bubble of Tempe/Phoenix/wherever, and it’s difficult to get people to pull people out of it.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
What makes a good song? Good songs come from genuine emotion. I think if you can feel something or understand what the artist is trying to convey through their lyrics or composition and it feels like it’s coming from a place that is true or fabricated to the point where it appears to be true, then it’s a good piece of work.
What's your favorite local band? MAN-CAT. Followed closely by Boogienauts from Tucson, Waveform Analog Research, The Doyenne, Detached Objects, and Man Hands.
Who do you admire most in the music scene? I have admiration for anyone who attends events consistently and for the ones who book them.