Tempe Music Festival celebrates local bands while welcoming hometown heroes Gin Blossoms and The Meat Puppets
Now in its sixth year, the Tempe Music Festival brings an annual spotlight to town. As always, the headliners are national acts, meant to draw in a crowd of people who probably have little interest in local music and are far more likely to see a show at the Dodge Theatre than at your friendly neighborhood Yucca Tap Room.
What has been pretty cool, though, is that while big-name headliners bring in the ticket sales, the festival organizers have increasingly used it as an opportunity to showcase local bands to an audience that typically would not hear them.
This year's bill includes a couple of acts that helped put Phoenix on the map. Gin Blossoms are one of Arizona's proudest exports, and it's always nice to have them play here, especially because local gigs from the Blossoms as a unit are a rarity. The Tempe Music Festival is the one time of year that we can all count on getting a chance to see them.
But wait! What's this? A late schedule addition resulting in Meat Puppets' first appearance in the Phoenix metro area in well over a decade! Good, right? No. Great. One small problem. Not only is the band slated to play early (7:15 p.m.), but they're also four slots before everyone's favorite Black Eyed Pea, Fergie. Why should our local heroes — the guys who had an influence on grunge, alternative, and punk music, the ones whom Nirvana covered, and who recently reunited and put out a new album — take a back seat to the flavor of the month at the Tempe Music Festival, of all places?
What may seem strange at first (but is, in fact, unfathomably hip) is that Meat Puppets will be playing on the same stage and night as the Blossoms. Though country punk and alternative pop may not go together, both bands represent our best local flavors.
Though budding locals clearly aren't the focus of the two-day extravaganza, the festival seems to feature more local bands than ever before — some even on the main stage in impressive time slots. Sandwiched between Meat Puppets and Gin Blossoms (and also between Gin Blossoms and Fergie) will be the winners of the college and high school garage band contests.
But the best place to check out a local lineup will be the emerging-artists stage. The showcase offers a wide range of Phoenix music, and boasts some of the most promising artists we have. The bill features bands of different genres, from folk and metal to pop and experimental. Crowd pleasers Peachcake and What Laura Says Thinks and Feels will be there after their recent excursion to South by Southwest, along with other up-and-comers, such as the Loveblisters, Drew Alexander, and Vayden.
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