Willetta playing at the Lunchbox.EXPAND
Willetta playing at the Lunchbox.
Ris Marek

Inside the Lunchbox, Phoenix's DIY Venue on 16th Street

Since October 2016, Dannie Levie has been running a one-stop shop for up-and-coming bands looking to perform and record their music in Phoenix. It's called the Lunchbox.

Located at 16th Street and Catalina Drive, the intimate, 100-person DIY venue hosts up-and-coming touring and local acts. And Levie records the performances using analog sound equipment, while his counterpart captures the shows on video.

“We are doing live recording on my Tascam 338 tape deck, and Josh John does the visuals on analog circuits," Levie says. "The video is like an analog feedback that he makes using a video mixer, which uses people’s bodies as feedback."

Bands including Guantanamo Baywatch, Palm, and Willetta have played the Lunchbox in recent months. Locals Slow Moses, Gene Tripp, and Pro Teens will perform there on April 22.

The all-ages space is cozy, with some booths, a sound control room, a stage area, and a lobby, where records are for sale. It has a closed-in echo chamber quality, where reverb and delay effects bounce off the walls.

That's precisely what Levie's going for.

“The best shows I’ve seen were small shows where you were just in it, and felt a part of the whole thing," he says.

Levie has a background as a musician, environmental consultant, and has recorded several bands. Both Levie and John are also members of local post-punk band, Wax Castle.

They didn't set out to open a venue. At first, Levie just wanted a bigger space to record drums. He set up all the sound equipment in the space.

The first event at the Lunchbox was a Halloween party with a handful of bands, and from there Levie went with it. More and more shows were booked organically, as word circulated about the space.

In addition to being a venue and recording space, the Lunchbox also offers screen-printing services. It really is a one-stop shop. A band can play a show, record their music, get live video footage, and even print their posters and T-shirts at the Lunchbox.

A selection of records and books at the Lunchbox.EXPAND
A selection of records and books at the Lunchbox.
Ris Marek

Amid an ever-changing music scene, the Lunchbox looks primed to foster the growth of up and coming bands, and to serve as a stepping stone between major venues.

“We need an intermediate spot where touring bands can come through that won’t sell out Crescent, but could sell out Lunchbox," Levie says. "We’ll put some other awesome local bands on the bill that fit. Then we can record both acts that night and help them both out."

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