When 2014 enters the history books less than 48 hours from now, it won't be remembered as the year that Tempe music died. Far from it. However, it was most assuredly a period of great upheaval and change for the city's live music landscape, as well as a helluva lot of hand-wringing, consternation, and sadness over the loss of several haunts.
There's little doubt that the loss of significant and popular Tempe venues like The Sail Inn, Long Wong's at the Firehouse, Big Fish Pub, and Parliament, some of which were sacrificed to the gods of blockbuster development that have been ruling over the city as of late, was a major blow to the many musicians who played at each and all the regulars who came to see them -- but it wasn't a fatal one by any means.
As local music booster and artist Deon Doughty told us recently: "I don't think big business can kill rock 'n' roll. Big business can't kill great music. Its going to come out whether its at a house party, whether its at a bar, or wherever. Its going to keep alive, its going to stay alive."
We're inclined to agree, considering that musicians and artists have found new spots to perform in Tempe, like the C.A.S.A. Lounge, or have stuck with old favorites that have continued to thrive this year, such as Yucca Tap Room or the Time Out Lounge.
Needless to say, things will inevitably keep on rocking and rolling in the city, no matter if its in bars or even backyards.
Meanwhile, Scottsdale was, well, Scottsdale, where the turnover in nightspots seems to be never-ending. Bars and clubs basically have a shelf-life of no more than a few years before they are rebranded, remodeled, or rebooted. Such was the case in 2014 when joints like Shotgun Betty's, Firehouse, and Smashboxx (all of which were hotspots around 2010) all closed down while such new establishments as BLUR, Livewire, and Cake all made an arrival.
We chronicled these various openings and closings of the Valley's many bars, clubs, and music venues over the last 12 months. And, with the end of 2014 upon us, would like to take a look back at all of the comings and goings of some of your favorite spots.
The Closings of 2014:
Long Wong's at the Firehouse Many a fan of the Tempe scene was saddened when Long Wong's suddenly announced its closure in March. The shabby chic venue went out with a bang, however, during a downright rowdy evening of music on its final night.
Smashboxx After three years in operation, which seems to be the average lifespan for most nightspots in the 'Dale these days, the Indian Plaza club went dark in May.
El Santo In May, the plug was pulled and the pool was drained at this party-hearty Mexican beach bar with a stylish swimming hole.
Club Red in Tempe Club Red was the next Tempe venue to put the city in the rearview when it left its original home at University Drive and the 101 and headed for Mesa.
The Western After merely a year of offering roots, Americana, and alt-country music within its quirky rustic dig, The Western in Scottsdale saddled up and rode into the sunset.
Goat Head Saloon Mesa suffered the loss of one of its few rock bars when the Goat Head Saloon unceremoniously 86'd itself at the beginning of June.
Public House on Sixth Once the summer hit and the college crowd vanished, this Mill Avenue pub and party joint went down for the count.
The Sail Inn Landmark Tempe music venue went to the great hereafter at the end of June, much to the chagrin of its large and loyal fanbase, but not before a three-day "Farewell Festival" filled with performances by many Sail Inn regulars.
Big Fish Pub Tempe In a weird and tragic bit of synchronicity, the Big Fish Pub, itself a mainstay of live music in Tempe, also shut down within days of The Sail Inn's closure.
Firehouse Scottsdale The hybrid dance club, sports bar, and lounge, which actually was located in a former firehouse (hence its name), got snuffed by its proprietors long about June due to what we suspect was a downturn in business.
Firehouse Tempe And its sister location on Mill Avenue was similarly extinguished a few months later with little fanfare.
Cowboy Whiskey Saloon This Stetson Drive honky-tonk boasted one of the shortest lifespan of any Scottsdale bar in recent memory as it opened in early August but was shuttered by early October. That's gotta some kind of record, y'all.
The Big Bang A hallmark of Mill Avenue's nightlife scene and home of many a raucous evening for more than a decade, this underground piano bar went silent at the beginning of September.
Parliament The all-ages music and arts venue, which was housed in a Tempe industrial park and also functioned as the headquarters of local indie label Rubber Brother Records, was axed in a mutual decision by its staff and the property owner following noise complaints from neighbors.
Hidden House Turns out that Phoenix isn't immune to losing a cool and much-beloved music venue, as one of the city's more renowned hip-hop spots, The Hidden House, went down for the count in September.
American Junkie And then there was the tumultuous tale of American Junkie, which was sold to new owners, closed temporarily for a remodel, and reopened with a whole new look, only to subsequently close (this time permanently) by the end of September. C'est la vie.
Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill The namesake joint of country music superstar Toby Keith out at Mesa Riverview - which served a down-home mix of vittles, libations in Mason jars, and live country music - up and vamoosed around Halloween. There's still a location in Peoria, as well as one in the works for North Phoenix.
Shotgun Betty's Another southern-fried nightspot that headed for its last round up was this quaint Scottsdale spot that specialized in loud classic rock, waitresses dancing on the bar like something out of Coyote Ugly, and mounds of free peanuts. Chef Aaron May and his partners reportedly bought the place with the aim of reopening it with a new concept sometime next year.
The Openings of 2014:
Record Revival In January, the midtown LP emporium debuted newer, bigger digs along Osborn Road near Seventh Street.
Bottled Blonde The "stylish, industrial-chic" bar/pizzeria/nightspot opened in late January in the heart of Scottsdale's entertainment district.
Cake Nightclub This boutique nightclub is a sweet slice of upscale French-inspired stylishness that's been hosting DJs and dancing on weekends, as well as sexy shenanigans by its resident Cakedolls.
Club Palazzo The gothic club and dance parlor returned from the dead in April and once again welcomed in freaks, geeks, and creatures of the night into its domain.
Club Red in Mesa Despite a rather bumpy start over Memorial Day weekend due to a host of issues, Club Red successfully transplanted itself to a new home over in Mesa.
Wasted Grain The combination bar, dance club, and music venue opened in early July in the sprawling Scottsdale property, which includes the upstairs 100 Proof Lounge, that formerly housed Martini Ranch.
Chrome Nightclub Snazzy slot machines and flashy gambling games aren't the only sort of glitzy distractions at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler since this posh lounge and dance club debuted in July.
The King Scottsdale got a dose of barcade fun courtesy of The King, which boasts distractions ranging from video games to board games, after it booted up in July.
Allred Guitars Joining the many quirky galleries and mechanic shops of Grand Avenue over the summer was Allred Guitars & Guitar Repair, which opened inside the Bragg's Pie Factory building.
Copper Blues in Tempe The self-described "rock pub and kitchen," which already has a location at CityScape, opens]ed a Tempe version near ASU in September.
RCK CTY This basement-level bar along Mill Avenue, formerly the home of The Big Bang, began singing a different tune in October after becoming more of a nightclub and lounge.
EDM Phoenix/Element 14 First, it was known as EDM Phoenix, only to be rechristened as Element 14 less than a month later. Despite the name change, this downtown Phoenix nightspot's M.O. remained the same: drinks, dancing, and dope sounds.
Asylum Records This hard rock record store, once a Tempe fixture, relocated to Mesa over the fall and moved into the old Royale Theater building.
Linger Longer Lounge Local nightlife/restaurant developer Tucker Woodbury opened this new concept, which is similar to his Arcadia speakeasy-style bar The Little Woody, in November.
BLUR Nightclub One of Scottsdale's newest (and poshest) spots for drinks, dance music, and nightlife debauchery held its grand opening earlier this month.
Blues Alley Hidden House The Hidden House got a new owner, entirely new digs, and sort of a new name when it reopened recently.
Livewire The 11,000-square-foot live music and entertainment venue along Indian Plaza opened its doors this past weekend and will host concerts, comedy shows, and other performances.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!