2010 sure was a fickle beast at times. A Kanye West album was top dog, a Canadian teenager ruled the world and a bunch of bands decided to boycott Arizona. But enough looking into the past, it's time to look towards a fresh, new 2011. What better way to get the juices flowing than to set some resolutions. This batch of resolutions, however, needs to be Phoenix-centric -- they need to focus on things that can help bolster the local Phoenix music scene. If these resolutions can be put into action early enough, who know what can happen for Phoenix in 2011.
Here now are my five New Years resolutions for the Phoenix music scene.
5. Portray The Sound Strike Positively
The bands involved with The Sound Strike boycott aren't going anywhere -- not until the boycott itself is dropped. That means that Arizona legislature needs to be changed, and that is something that a local music scene cannot change on its own. What that affected music scene can do, however, is become more active with their awareness towards some of its state's controversial Senate bills by offering information on how concertgoers can help make change. Actions like this have been going on since SB 1070 became a reality this past April and they need to continue on through 2011. A change will come and The Sound Strike has Arizona's best intentions -- even if those affiliated with the boycott refuse to set foot in Arizona.
4. Another Venue Starts Booking More Regular, Bigger Name Acts
The Phoenix Metro area has its fair share of class venues -- The Rhythm Room, the Marquee Theatre, The Clubhouse, The Mesa Arts Center, The Nile Theatre, The Celebrity Theatre and Comerica Theatre just to name a few. There are some other venues, however, that could emerge as a new contender for booking more well-known, national acts. Mind you -- I know that Cricket Wireless Pavilion, US Airways Center, Jobing.com Arena and the Mesa Amphitheater book their fair share of acts, but those aren't quite 1,000 capacity venues.
The Orpheum Theatre is a likely candidate for this, yet I understand that they have different rules for booking shows that may deter some bands from playing there. Having an existing venue such as The Compound or The Sail Inn book more big name shows could really have a positive influence over the local music scene just for the fact that bands would have another viable option for when they want to play Phoenix.
It sucks to say it, but the absence of Modified Arts really hurt things. The Rhythm Room is but one venue -- it can't do all of the work in this town.
3. Noteworthy Spring Tours
There are still bands that choose to play Phoenix, even if The Sound Strike has made it fashionable to act otherwise. Spring is the time of year when music festivals start up and bands plot their first big tour of the year. Phoenix has done well in the past as far as booking some bands who head West to play Coachella or SXSW, and that attitude needs to remain going forward in 2011. The Sound Strike didn't come into fruition until late April of last year, and some bands had already played Phoenix in March/early April while then joining the boycott list a few weeks later (Yeasayer).
Phoenix is gearing up for its first full spring with The Sound Strike boycott, so spring of 2011 will be crucial to see just how many bands are willing to come spend a night in Phoenix.
2. Solid Releases From Local Bands
Local bands made quite a splash in 2010 -- Jimmy Eat World, What Laura Says, The Whisperlights and even Gin Blossoms all released new music. There is no better way to bolster a local music scene than having that scene's bands release quality music that gets noticed nationwide.
More than a few local bands will most definitely step it up this year and do their part to help put Phoenix on the map -- I'm excited to see just who it will be for 2011. I know there are quite a few talented MCs around Phoenix, so it could be time for a Phoenix hip hop album to really make some waves nationally.
1. Initiate a New, Multi-Venue Music Festival
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This one must be prefaced by saying it's much easier said than done. For those that may not know, SXSW is held throughout the city of Austin at its various smaller venues and clubs. It's a frantic week of music and film that has solidified itself as one of the nation's -- if not the world's -- best music festivals. Other cities have their own versions of what SXSW is at its core -- New York has CMJ Music Marathon and Portland has MusicFest NW. Both of these feature many nights of different bands playing shows at any number of different venues throughout the city.
Phoenix has a solid-enough core of local music venues to be able to pull off a multi-venue music festival. Arizona Fall Frenzy and Tempe Music Festival are great in their own right, but something like a multi-venue festival could go over really well in an area such as Phoenix. Just imagine having three nights were The Rhythm Room has a full slate of bands while The Marquee and Clubhouse have their own unique list of sets for the night. I know venues compete with each other and such, but that doesn't seem to be a problem for Austin, New York or Portland whenever their respective music festivals roll around.
These are all just some suggestions for keeping things lively and interesting around the Phoenix metro area. Some are more grounded than others, but all deserve to be mentioned -- if not to actually be considered, than to create some discussion on the matter.
Please, give your two cents in the comments as to what is right, wrong, needs to change or needs to stay the same about the local Phoenix music scene.