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Viva PHX: A Guide for the Over-40 Crowd

Z-Trip is scheduled to perform at 11 p.m. on Friday outside of Crescent Ballroom.
Z-Trip is scheduled to perform at 11 p.m. on Friday outside of Crescent Ballroom.
Courtesy Photo

With age comes wisdom. Like the common sense notion that the best way to tackle an event as big and complex as tonight's Viva PHX music festival is to have a plan, and a good one at that.

And given the sheer number of bands and venues involved (more than 70, in fact, spread out across 15 different stages around downtown Phoenix), there might be certain logistical problems for the over-40 set. There are so many great acts, yet so little time, and a certain amount of distance to travel between gigs. Good thing we have a few tips and where you should be and when.

Face it, you're not a teenager anymore, and this ain't Lollapalooza 1991. Even for those who haven't settled down or started doing the family thing yet, there isn't as much pep in your step as there used to be, which isn't a low blow by any means. It's the truth.

You might be in great shape with cat-like reflexes, but that doesn't mean you have time to waste on bands you might not enjoy or care about. You simply cannot be in two places at once, and for those who may not get out as much as they'd like, we've got you covered.

First off, as with any festival where walking is de rigueur, we recommend you put on some comfy yet stylish shoes and hydrate all day before the show (especially since you're likely to knock a few back over the course of the evening). And secondly, be sure to make use of not only the light rail whenever possible, as well as any of the myriad pedicabs that will be flitting about.

What follows is a rundown of suggested venues and acts to check out in order to ensure your rock will be maximized while you roll through downtown.

5 p.m.: The Vig Fillmore Some of you will want to show up on time so that you can say you were at Viva PHX from the very beginning, while others will arrive fashionably late. Our advice: get to The Vig early. You're completely in your element here, rubbing shoulders with others in a similar age bracket, and snag snazzy drink or craft beer that screams, "I read relevant magazines."

The Zubia Brothers are icons of local music, fantastically talented, and more than capable of rocking your socks off. The Vig also offers tasty eats, so of show up early enough, you get there early, you can get both some grub and some groove on.

 

6:30 p.m: Crescent Ballroom The uninformed will be loading up the Viva PHX schedule on their smart phones for the lowdown on where to head next. You, however, are already well prepared after reading this guide and have already started taking a brisk walk through a one of Phoenix's oldest neighborhoods over to the Crescent to attend a set by L.A. band In the Valley Below, whose set starts at 7 p.m. at the Crescent Ballroom.

The duo will provide a nice palette cleansing with their lush, yet danceable pre-indie rock grooves. Singer Angela Gail slightly resembles a goth-y Zooey Deschanel and their sound is reminiscent of dark-tinged, yet bouncy '80s Euro-pop with giant hooks that will reel you in and get your toes tapping. If you need a kid friendly, all-ages alternative to In the Valley Below show, you only need to go right outside as the Crescent outdoor stage will feature DJ Hartbreaks, who will be spinning mellow grooves with an R&B flavor starting at 6:30 p.m.

7:30 p.m.: Monroe Street Stage Take a quick walk down Second Avenue to the Monroe Street Stage for a dose of L.A. brat pop band Holychild. Fans of Bananarama and Luscious Jackson should dig their uppity and utterly pop sound, whose superbly produced recordings have garnered them some well-deserved national attention. This stop is also all-ages, so no problem keeping the kiddos both entertained and by your side. You'll likely be surrounded by teens and 20-somethings, but don't be alarmed. They are totally self-absorbed and will not harm you, unless you are easily offended by being ignored.

 

8 p.m.: Hotel San Carlos Meanwhile, the lounge inside the vintage hotel will be hosting bands all evening, including jazz-rock hybrid Something Went Awry. Fronted by local drummer and instrumentalist Spencer Ferrarin, the four-piece act specializes in an eclectic mix of distortion-laden hot licks and guitar solos with playful keyboards playing and percussion. Their sound vacillates between metal, prog, jam band crunch, and avant-garde jazz ambience in a potent fusion that's influenced by Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and "all things funky."

8:45 p.m.: Phoenix Alley Stage/Hard Rock Cafe At this point, you can head for either the Phoenix Alley Stage for Orange County's GRMLN or over to the Hard Rock Cafe to catch Anchorage's Avid Dancer. It's really boils down to a matter of taste and how much you want to walk.

Some folks who still like to skateboard a bit and fancy themselves a little bit dangerous will dig on GRMLN, who's got the lo-fi, punky noise thing going on; while those who might want to mellow it out slightly should consider Avid Dancer and taking in something that you'll probably read about in NME sooner rather than later.

9:30 p.m: Coffee One By this point in the evening, you might have to decide whether to pack it in or keep it going. For those who brought their brood, it might be time to call it a night, if you haven't already. But for you musical soldiers with mojo to spare, it's off to Coffee One and chill out with NYC's David D'Alessio or Philadelphia's Adam Arcuragi, two of the East Coast's more gifted singer-songwriters. Grab a revitalizing beverage and recharge while enjoying the craftsmanship of these talented troubadours before moving on to your next stop, which -- without a doubt -- has to be the Crescent's outdoor stage.

 

10:20 p.m.: Crescent Ballroom Whether you're going to check out infamous rap legend Sir Mix-A-Lot for either the nostalgia or irony factor, or just to join in the inevitable mass singalong that will ensue when he dives into "Baby Got Back," you definitely want to bust your hump up back up to the Crescent for his set. It's one of the "can't miss" parts of Viva PHX and affords you the chance to get your groove on with the rest of the "posse," which will be on Van Buren this time, instead of Broadway.

10:45 p.m.: Decision Time If the irony or nostalgia factor has faded by this point (or you've grown tired of busting moves or watching others pull twerking failroads), it might be time to plan your next move.

However, if you're into old-school turntablism, or remember the glory days of the Bombshelter DJs at such bygone joints as Nita's or the Green Room, stick around outside the Crescent for an epic set by former Valley resident and all-around mashup king Z-Trip. If not, hit the bricks.

11 p.m.: Last Exit Live/FilmBar You can either go local or national here. You'll argue, both internally and possibly with your companions, whether to either catch a band you might not get to see again anytime soon, or maybe support a friend-of-a-friend's band.

If you're a locavore, it's off to Last Exit Live for Zero Zero. One part sultry electronica, one part guitar hero, and equal parts substance and style, all rolled up into one package. The venue also boasts stellar acoustics and sound, so you audiophiles who appreciate a good soundman will be extremely pleased.

Otherwise, you are heading to FilmBar for Chicano Batman. Don't argue, just go. It will be the cherry on top of your sundae. What better way to finish a stellar evening then hitting up a swanky cinema to watch SoCal's coolest lounge band. Spy rock meets Latin rhythm with smooth Spanish vocals drizzled over the top. As a bonus, impress everyone at the water cooler on Monday with tales of staying out past midnight and catching the band with the coolest name at the festival.

Midnight: FilmBar Feeling tired? Don't stop yet. You've made it this far, and besides, sleep is for the weak. Wooden Indian, the local noisemakers with a wildly psychedelic tinge, will take over the theater at the witching hour. Plus, FilmBar has an awesome selection of wines and craft brews, not to mention DJs in the lounge. And since the crazies start to come out after midnight, staying put makes sense. If you choose to drink, make sure you have the number of a good cab company or the Uber app on your phone to in order to get home safe.

1:30 a.m.: Home Post on Facebook about all the bands you saw and brag about how you can still hang with the young crowd before passing out triumphant that you gave Father Time the finger.

Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.

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