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Arizona Hip Hop Festival Is Hosting a Socially Distanced Edition — Plus More Phoenix Music News

Respect the Underground's Justus Samuel.
Respect the Underground's Justus Samuel. New Times Archive
Metro Phoenix’s live music calendar is constantly changing because of COVID-19 as promoters are announcing new concerts and festivals, canceling or rescheduling others, and adapting to life during the pandemic. Here’s a rundown of the latest news about upcoming music events in the Valley.

Arizona Hip-Hop Festival Staging a Socially Distanced Edition

The 2020 version of the Arizona Hip Hop Festival will be very different than its first six editions, says Justus Samuel of Respect the Underground, the event’s promoter. “We’re going to have tremendously limited capacity with only a few dozen people at most,” he says. The festival, which will take place at the Monarch Theatre on Saturday, December 12, will also have groups of four seated at tables, mandatory mask usage when people aren’t eating or drinking, and zero contact between performers and the audience.

The event will be split up into three two-hour “blocks” – 3 to 5 p.m., 5 to 7 p.m., and 7 to 9 p.m. – with tables in both the Monarch’s main room and second-floor Scarlet Lounge. Each will feature its own lineup of performers, Samuel says. “People will come in and stay for their two-hour block where their favorite artists will perform,” he says. “They’ll leave, we’ll quickly clean up and reset everything, and the next groups will come in.”

Tickets start at $20 per person and are available in groups of four. The festival’s performances will be recorded and streamed on Respect The Underground’s social media from December 26 to 28 along with a “16-Bar Challenge” MC competition. “It’s an odd situation this year because of everything with [the pandemic] but we figured its better to have some version than nothing at all,” Samuel says.



click to enlarge Tauheed Epps, better known as rapper 2 Chainz. - DEF JAM RECORDS
Tauheed Epps, better known as rapper 2 Chainz.
Def Jam Records

2 Chainz to Perform Drive-In Concert

The same evening as the festival, Def Jam artist 2 Chainz will be doing a socially distanced show of his own a few miles east. The rap superstar – who dropped his sixth studio album, So Help Me God!, last month – is scheduled to perform a drive-in concert in the parking lot of the Celebrity Theatre. It’s the first major hip-hop concert in the Valley since March and no opening acts will be featured. Patrons will be required to purchase both a parking pass for their vehicle (which ranges in price from $50 to $300) and individual $50 tickets for each passenger. Masks will also be required.


Arizona Musicfest 2021 Canceled

If you’d planned on attending any of the concerts making up next year’s Arizona Musicfest, its promoters have announced they're pulling the plug, according to a statement posted to the event’s website. “Sadly, based on the current rise of COVID-19 cases, the likelihood of a prolonged public health crisis, as well as the anticipated timeline for vaccination dissemination to the general public, the management and Board of Directors of Arizona Musicfest have determined that it is not reasonable or responsible to go forward with our season plans.”


The multi-genre festival features more than a dozen concerts taking place at multiple local venues from January to April each year. The 2021 lineup, which was announced this past summer, included performances by the Callaway Sisters, Tony DeSare, Emanuel Ax, and Pink Martini.


click to enlarge The Maine - EIGHTY ONE TWENTY THREE
The Maine
Eighty One Twenty Three

8123 Fest Moved to 2022

In other festival news, local pop-punk act The Maine have announced they’re rescheduling their annual 8123 Fest for early 2022. The multi-day event, which offers performances by the band and other local and touring acts, was originally set to happen in late March at Civic Space Park and other locations around downtown Phoenix. It’s now scheduled to kick off on January 22 in 2022. Ticket packages are currently on sale and range in prices from $100 to $150. More information can be found here.
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.