The Sets in Tempe Closes for Business
It saddens us to report this, but Tempe music venue The Sets has gone belly up after five years. As in closed. Finito. The big goodbye.
The multi-room bar and nightclub shut its doors permanently on Sunday night following a local battle of the bands showcase.
But as startled as we were to learn about the closure, it pales in comparison to the shock felt by the employees of the Sets, who told us they weren't informed of the decision until this past weekend and that it "came outta the blue."
Kim LaRowe, who helped manage the Sets and assisted with booking shows, says she was left "pretty speechless" when she heard the news.
"Pretty much everyone was taken by surprise," Larowe says. "I've been feeling sick over the situation ever since. This is just a big shit sandwich for everybody involved [with the Sets]. Not just for the people who lost their jobs, but also for all the bands who have been booked to play here."
According to rumors on Twitter, the closing was due to a financial crunch and the venue will now be used to house an expansion by an adjacent LA Fitness location. We spoke briefly with Scott Ford, general manger of The Sets, who declined to comment other than stating, "It was just the economy and we just didn't make it."
Larowe feels the closure of the Sets is a real loss to the Valley's music scene. She confirms that there were more than 20 different gigs booked for the Sets over the coming months and she's been spending the past few days working with promoters to find new locations for each show. Phoenix's indie pro-wrestling league Impact Zone Wrestling -- which held bi-weekly shows at the bar -- has also been left homeless by the closure. (Chris McClennan, one of the IZW's promoters, says she's currently attempting to secure a new location).
The Sets opened in 2004 after its original owner Harry Hekmatian converted his old pool hall (a.k.a. Pinkie's) into a sports bar and music venue in response to Tempe's citywide smoking ban from earlier this decade. Since then, it's hosted a wide range of hard rock, punk, and industiral shows (including such names as TSOL, Voltaire, KMFDM, Helmet, and JFA).
Not only did the joint survive the smoking ban, it also overcame a major hassle in 2006 when a resident from the surrounding neighborhood complained to city officials over possible noise ordinance violations. (Such complaints were ultimately dismissed).
"You know what's crazy, the guy in that backyard couldn't close down the Sets, but the economy sure could," Larowe says. "I've worked here for three years and this is the worst freaking end possible. If'd had any idea this was gonna happened I woulda told people to have their shows elesewhere."
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.
More Music News
- Muse Bassist: Twilight Movies Paved Way for Band's Stateside Success
Fri., Dec. 4, 8:00pm
Sat., Dec. 5, 8:00pm
Sun., Dec. 6, 3:00pm
Sun., Dec. 6, 7:30pm
- 9 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week
- The 10 Best Phoenix Bands Under the Age of 21 in 2015