One of the main forces that drove Stateside Presents' head honcho, Charlie Levy, to create Viva PHX in 2014 was the fact that he simply doesn't like traditional music festivals very much. Who can blame him? Giant crowds of people in exposed, enormous fields, listening to bands amplified from 500 feet away? Yuck. So Levy created Viva PHX, a festival based on the urban model of South by Southwest. (Disclosure: New Times is a sponsor.)
Instead of one or two giant stages, Viva PHX takes over dozens of stages throughout downtown Phoenix. For one magical night, giant crowds of music lovers fill spaces of downtown usually devoid of people, even on a Saturday night. This year, Jimmy Eat World singer Jim Adkins' solo set was just a few steps away from kickass rock band Thee Oh Sees, who played just blocks away from Valley locals Gospel Claws. No event better showcases the potential of Phoenix as a music city. If Viva PHX proves anything, it's that we're more like Austin than we thought.
Readers Choice: McDowell Mountain Music Festival