Live music and booze go swimmingly together. But you don’t need a rum and coke to rock out. Plenty of promoters and venues cater almost exclusively to all-ages and sober crowds. Here’s a handy guide to the best such venues across the Valley. 'Cause if the whole family can’t have fun, what’s really the point?
1124 North Third Street
Trunk Space is the Madison Square Garden of the Valley’s all-ages scene. The venue has called a couple of different locations in downtown Phoenix home over the years, all the while serving as a destination for the city’s diverse and dynamic DIY scene. Trunk Space consistently has provided a free and open space for experimental and off-kilter music for both local and national acts, and the fact that the venue now resides in Grace Lutheran Church is actually quite fitting: Trunk Space is a place of genuine worship for true believers of arts and culture.
Fiddler's Dream Coffeehouse
1702 East Glendale Avenue
This North Phoenix coffeehouse prides itself as a "smoke-free, alcohol-free" musical destination for local and international bands alike. Did we mention it's entirely acoustic? The lack of amplifiers or a sound system is a feature, not a bug. Fiddler's Dream fosters a warm and intimate atmosphere for enjoying folk, bluegrass, Americana, soul, and other more earnest musical stylings. It's like having a few friends over to jam while enjoying a hot cup of Joe.
The Cosmic Jam Hole/Cardiff Giant Tattoo
119 West McDowell Road
Inside Cardiff Giant Tattoo is Cosmic Jam Hole, a relatively new "venue" that’s quickly become home turf for many DIY and experimental artists in the Valley. But the Jam Hole is so much more than a concert venue. It routinely hosts yoga, art installations, live painting, stand up comedy, and even magic. That diversity and openness make the Jam Hole a place for all the wonderful weirdos to share love and energy (and maybe tattoo suggestions).
Snood City Neon
1018 Northwest Grand Avenue
This Grand Avenue venue caters to the weird, wacky, and wonderful. (How else would you explain the furry alien "Snoodmen" that define its brand?) Those out-there vibes also engender some genuinely great art and music, and Snood City Neon has spent the last year emphasizing an accessible space for folks from all walks of life. It's less about aesthetics and more about community and open-ended exploration of whatever's cool and interesting. If nothing else, it's a place to let your freak flag fly ever triumphantly.
Despite having been open less than six months, The Coven already is doing a lot right. The venue's aim is pretty direct, seeking to "spread pleasure and chaos," whether via art shows, indie concerts, or random community outreach (most of which are all-ages). It also operates with "masc and femme queer people ... at the heart of who we are," emphasizing inclusion while remaining open with the genres and shows organized. Does The Coven have what it takes to make it long-term? Maybe. In the meantime, it's a great to watch it grow.
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105 West Main Street, Mesa
We’re bending the rules a tad by lumping The Nile, The Underground, and Nile Coffee Shop under an umbrella of "99.9 percent" all-ages goodness. There’s no denying their impact on the east Valley scene (just peep all the awards we've given them over the years). The Nile retains a grassroots love of music, bringing people together in celebration of art, community, and all that entails. Things in the scene change, but The Nile remains a pillar.