In the Valley, there is clearly no shortage of places for nightly booty-shaking to a myriad of local DJs. From Scottsdale's glam clubs bumping EDM to Phoenix's dives roaring punk and garage. If you think you don't dance, there's a night playing a tune that's sure to prove you wrong.
Yes, these days, all it takes to be a "DJ" it seems are a canny sense of pop and a deep enough iTunes library. But amongst all the tech convenience, metro Phoenix has maintained a solid crop of folks holding it down the old-fashioned way -- two turntables and a microphone ("Where It's At" if you will...sorry). Beat matchers, selectors, whatever you want to call them, the DJs on this list stick to wax, and cull from genres as diverse as country, hip-hop, electro, funk, world, blues, and whatever else they can get their hands on from years of crate-digging.
Without further ado, we present our five favorite (mostly) vinyl DJ nights.
4. Valley Fever, Yucca Tap Room, Tempe
In 2006, veteran Phoenix DJs Dana and Johnny Volume were longing for some solid country. George Jones, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard -- what old-timers would call "real" country, the outlaw stuff: rough around the edges, and finding more in common with the attitude of punk than the country found on radio stations today. Coming up empty-handed, the two decided to start something of their own.
For the past eight years, every Sunday has brought true, roots country to Tempe's Yucca Tap Room. Dana and Johnny Volume remain the residents, but over the years the duo has brought in numerous guests on the decks, along with dozens of live bands ranging from locals Flathead and Hashknife Outfit, to rising nationals like Possessed by Paul James. Expanding occasionally to such venues as Crescent Ballroom and Rips Ales & Cocktails, Valley Fever has always maintained its presence at Tempe's fabled Yucca. Through the magic of vinyl, Valley Fever is preserving the spirit of Arizona's outlaw western past.
3. Biscuits and Buttermilk, Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix
Since its founding, Crescent Ballroom has made itself home to nearly every genre imaginable. Friday nights, that means soul and funk. Recently taken over by DJ Smite, this weekly groove-fest rocks the best in America's greatest musical exports, made famous by such labels as Sun, Stax, and Motown, all the way up to today's revival hits from Daptone.
Just as the music turns down in the main room on Friday nights, the lounge heats up. At midnight the party is just beginning.
2. Beat Swap Meet, Monarch Theatre, Phoenix
Hip-hop heads have always romanticized the magic of vinyl, which formed the beats of yesteryear, and informs the innovators of today. As part of that culture is the beat swap, a long-practiced tradition of trade, where DJs and MCs peeped each other's best finds in hopes of finding their next killer break.
In Phoenix, that tradition continues with the semi-regular Beat Swap Meet, of late held at downtown Phoenix's Monarch Theatre, and sponsored by the national record hub Discogs. Though trades and sales are the name of the game, each edition features half-hour sets throughout the six-hour event from such legends as Arizona music historian Johnny D, ensuring that the beat really never stops.
1. 602sdays, Bikini Lounge, Phoenix
How could we compile a vinyl DJ list without its local master? Hosted by scene-favorite Djentrification, 602sdays have run without fail for over a decade, making the middle of the week that much more bearable. Djent (neé Alex)'s many sets around town never leave the turntable, but Bikini is his kingdom.
Set in Arizona's oldest tiki bar (opened in 1947), the space feels packed with 50 people. So when each Tuesday the tables are pushed aside for a few hundred, it often doesn't seem possible. Running such an event for so long means innovation is imperative, and Djentrification is not afraid to do so. Mixing the latest single from local garage-psych band Cherie Cherie with a just-found Colombian techno remix 12" and Thai 45, no beat is untouchable. And with weekly guests on the wheels of steel, rare appearances from MCs-in-town like Open Mike Eagle, and burritos sometimes for sale, 602sdays is simply the place to be.
Correction: One of the entries originally published on this list contained inaccurate information and has since been removed.
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