We’re officially in the season of overindulgence: We can eat as much holiday food as we want, drink the hell out of the spiked eggnog and mulled wine, and aren’t judged when we concoct dishes like "bourbon-glazed turkey with bourbon gravy" and "bourbon pumpkin pie." We spend more money than we should on decorations, gifts, or travel, all in the name of feeling merry. So the season of indulging in all that you love would only be complete with an incredible weekend of the best indie rock, reggae, and metal acts that Arizona has to offer. It’s all about to warm up with the Desert Frostover.
Taking place Friday, December 4, and Saturday, December 5, Desert Frostover 2015 is ready for another not-quite-frozen Arizona winter. For the past three years the event has surged and evolved in impressive ways. In 2015, it has moved from a venue with the capacity for 600 to one with 2,500, and over the course of two days will host seven comedians, more than 20 bands, food trucks, and other activities. It’s all ages, and the days slightly differ by musical tastes. Day one is more about alternative rock and reggae (think The Black Moods, We Steal Copper, Soundmankillz, and Black Bottom Lighters), while the second day is all about heavy metal, hard rock, and thrash (expect to see Pelvic Meatloaf, Ella Kaye, Deathgrip, Howitzer, and Resurgence Girls hit the stage). Comedians will perform during the band changeovers so that there’s always some entertainment.
“As band submissions were coming in back in May, I started throwing around the idea of a bigger, more refined event that focuses on reaching a much wider demographic. I started jotting down some goals I'd like to achieve with Desert Frostover this year,” explains Jeremy Jalowiec, the local musician (he’s the drummer for Howitzer), promoter, and concert organizer that started Frostover back in 2013. “I wanted a larger venue, larger stage and sound quality, all ages, food options that allow consumers to stay within the venue, and entertainment for an all-around experience — including comedians, artists, carnival acts, and more.”
This heavy metal highlight of the holiday season has come far from when it first started out in 2013, when Jalowiec asked six local bands that usually headlined shows to play one night together in the idea that the camaraderie brings more to the community than one band standing alone. The event sold out, and continued to do so the next year, when there were more than 20 bands on the bill. All stipulations were put aside, like pay and time slot, and the core concept of Desert Frostover was about putting egos aside to show that the Arizona music scene is a force to be reckoned with.
Back in May, Jalowiec ended up with more than 70 submissions for this year’s Frostover from Arizona and national talent. After spending hours doing research on each band, viewing music videos, listening to music, checking out their digital platforms, etc., he ended up cutting it down to about 24 bands—many were just cut on the fact that Jalowiec wanted to keep it strictly Arizona-based.
“One of the biggest challenges is breaking through people's preconceptions about what we can or can’t do: Two-day festival of all Arizona-based music? Can't do it. Biggest and best venue in town? Can't do it. 22 bands? Can't do it,” says Jalowiec. “We had to fight to change people's minds every step of the way to make a dream reality. We want to be a part of and help create something bigger—something no one has thought of to do in Arizona. We love this scene, this state, and want to show everyone how great they—and we are.”
It’s the community that makes the equation work here, and Desert Frostover has always been about recognizing Arizona musicians, small businesses, and causes. This year the event is working with the Wounded Warrior Project, which raises awareness and encourages the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members. The event is also supported by and partnered up with Arizona-based businesses, including Buzz Technical, Love and Hate Tattoo, Timmy Tees, The Best Clothing Company, and more.
This Desert Frostover will differ from others before it, and Jalowiec has experimented with some ideas that may or may not make the cut.
“I had asked if we could have a bouncy house on the patio, or bring in our version of ‘tomato justice’ like they have at the Rennaisance Festival, like where the guy insults you while you have the opportunity to throw tomatoes at him from a distance,” says Jalowiec. “These ideas were shot down due to safety concerns, which is understandable. Could you image a bunch of metal/rock fans intoxicated jumping in a bouncy house?”
We’ve got the full lineup for you here.
On December 4, the doors open at 4 p.m. for:
Black Bottom Lighters
The Black Moods
We Steal Copper
Run, Definitely Run
December 5th, day two, the doors are at 2:30 for:
Lost In Lies
If you’re going to attend, a two-day pass in advance and (with festival t-shirt) is $20. Single-day tickets in advance are $10, and a two-day pass in advance is $15. Learn more at DesertFrostover.com.