Phoenix has a long tradition of punk bars that serve up cheap beer and fast, aggressive (often sloppy) punk rock. Some great venues have closed over the years, and while we dearly miss Jugheads and Rogue West, punk bars continue to thrive in the Valley of the Sun. Most are situated in unassuming suburban strip malls, but these locations continue to host some of the best local and national acts the genre has to offer. Here we go.
2547 East Indian School Road
A dive, a biker bar, a music venue, and something of a snack counter, Chopper John’s has a lot going on along that busy strip in Arcadia. Punk outfits like Koffin Kats, Noonday Devils, The Sheckies, The Quakes, and cowboy punkers Outlaw Inlaws often rile up the crowd insider Chopper John’s. The rest of the time outlaw country bands more or less take over, which is still pretty punk. Spot them by the constantly updated black and red marquee sign, and head in with a good attitude.
George & Dragon
4240 North Central Avenue
The origins of punk are up for debate, but unless you're a Ramones enthusiast, the United Kingdom is the "official" birthplace of punk. The Sex Pistols, The Clash, and The Damned are among the forefathers of the genre, sardonically pleading "God Save the Queen." Punk is as much an English tradition as bangers and mash and good beer, so George & Dragon is a natural haven for the genre, and has been for decades. This is a Joe Strummer-heavy atmosphere, believe us.
Palo Verde Lounge
1015 West Broadway Road, Tempe
This Tempe haven, nicknamed the "Dirty Verde" (but nobody really calls it that), is everything a punk bar should be. It is small and dirty, and if the right band is performing, it's a center of chaos. Fans continually pack in to this legendary venue, which lacks a stage, yet has hosted hundreds of local and touring punk bands right there on the floor. If a flying object hasn’t hit you during a show at the Palo Verde, you haven’t lived.
Pub Rock Live
8005 East Roosevelt Street, Scottsdale
Formerly known as Chasers, this Scottsdale bar has hosted live music for decades. Before the name change and facelift, Chasers has hosted acts like The Lawrence Arms, Cobra Skulls, Steve Ignorant of Crass, and more. As Pub Rock, this Scottsdale bar continues to host a good share of the touring punk bands including Polar Bear Club, Nerf Herder, and Jello Biafra (ormerly of Dead Kennedys), The Queers, The Dickies, and way more to come. The bar was also where KUKQ was headquartered for SkaPunk Thursdays – the missed weekly live broadcast and live show series.
423 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
Scottsdale is essentially the antithesis of punk, yet it hosts one of the Valley's best punk bars. Upon walking into this dark and dingy dive, it's clear that it's a punk-friendly establishment. Pabst Blue Ribbon paraphernalia is everywhere, and a large mural featuring the likes of Lou Reed, Sid Vicious, Debbie Harry, and cats perched on pillars is pretty welcoming. The bar may be small, but it is just the right size to host a circle pit. There are also old punk show flyers sealed into the Rogue Bar bar itself.
Rips Ales and Cocktails
3045 North 16th Street
Nuzzled in central Phoenix, this mixed-use retro dive bar is perhaps known for monthly dance parties like Obscura, Shadowplay, and Spider-Web (a pop-punk dance party), plus punk shows often headlined by The Limit Club, The Booze Bombs, and more. In other words, if you have an aversion to '80s music and indie rock, check Saturday events ahead of time. Rips Ales and Cocktails features a recently renovated stage and an anything-goes attitude, making it a haven for bands that encourage crowd participation.
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1810 East Apache Boulevard, Tempe
First built as the historic White Dairy Barn in 1918 (and you can definitely still tell), this Tempe college bar has a little bit of everything. The music selections are diverse, with reggae, rock, hip-hop, folk, and punk bands all sharing the same stage depending on the night. Tempe Tavern welcomes local punk bands old and new like Via Vengeance, Plainfield Butchers, Inept Hero, Skull Drug, and more with open arms, and is a great place to scope out up-and-coming local bands.
Time Out Lounge
3129 South Mill Avenue, Tempe
Though it depends on whatever’s on the flier, Time Out Lounge has found itself hosting quite the rowdy punk show in this roomy barroom. Time Out brings in touring and local punk outfits, including Andy Warpigs, The Whining Pussys, MADD Dog Tannen, and untold amounts of other bands. The same couple has owned the bar for over 30 years, and the doorman will greet you in a Dwarves shirt. They also have a TouchTunes jukebox that usually pumps out NOFX, Mustard Plug, and early Blondie.
2915 North 68th Street, Scottsdale
This punk, biker, and cyclist-friendly bar is home to one of the best jukeboxes in the Valley. Selections from punk favorites like Dead Kennedys, The Clash, Dead Boys, X, Descendents, The Misfits, and more are likely to be heard within an hour or so of sitting in this cozy neighborhood bar. TT Roadhouse is one of the few places in town where patrons will gladly discuss the merits of GG Allin's "Bite It You Scum," and there may be a D.C. punk scene documentary playing while you sip high-end whiskey.
Yucca Tap Room
29 West Southern Avenue, Tempe
The wooden walls and dim lighting of this Tempe dive bar feel like a Midwestern basement. Though tucked away in a shopping center, Yucca Tap Room is a famed music venue, and has been home to a bevy of punk bands that have been active in the music industry for decades. We’ve seen acts like No Use for a Name, Pulley, Toys That Kill, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Agent Orange, Mustard Plug, Guttermouth, and so many more take the stage. The staff know their stuff, too, as you can spend as much time talking music with the security guards outside than the crowd inside.