McDowell Mountain Music Festival

Day Three of McDowell Mountain Music Festival Delivers in Every Way

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After Trampled by Turtles, the Haymarket Squares took their turn on the local stage for what was very likely the best-attended local stage set of the entire festival. It looked like the Squares had a crowd nearing 200 people in front of the stage as well as a contingent of nearly 40 milling about the fence on the outside.

All of the downtown Phoenix-based five-piece's songs seemed well received, from the heavily political "Revolt, Resists, Rebel" to the upbeat and fun "Let's Get Fucked Up." They even had the early evening crowd of hippies singing along to "Let's Start a Riot."

The Squares are another act who I would rank as a favorite for locals taking a main stage in 2016 following their Sunday set.

Beats Antique were next on the main stage, and while a lot of bands had played the festival so far they were the first real performers. The music had many of the burners and ravers entranced, while the dancers and light show had the jam band fans excited to catch something other than a singer or someone strumming a guitar.

For their grand finale, Beats employed the only special guest performer of the festival, that being their 10-foot-tall inflatable one-eyed cat. The cat danced and flailed in a similar fashion to many of the human beings out in the crowd, and following their set Captain Squeegee got to test their mettle on the local stage.

Squeegee was fresh home from their ride on the Epic Proportions Tour, which took them to Austin for SXSW among other places, and while their time on tour definitely showed through in how polished they sounded, it didn't show at all in their energy level, however.

Torgersen and Co. stuck tot songs that came mostly off their 2014 release To the Bardos, though they did bust out one funky new jam that I didn't catch the name of, but I did catch the groove.

Widespread Panic came up last on the main stage, and like I've known since my first festival experience festival Sunday's are meant for jam bands. But what I didn't already know was that Phoenix loves WSP.

The vibe was already set for everyone in the festival to have a great time. This is a festival with such a strong communal vibe that a volunteer at the beer tent was willing to lend me a dollar so I could afford one last beer, and mixing that kind of energy with tremendously warm music of WSP made the MMMF finale quite amazing.

In the past two years, all of MMMF's headliners, from The Shins to Umphrey's McGee to The Roots, have seen substantial crowd losses after about 45 minutes to an hour. But Panic seemed to retain the crowd right through the hour-and-a-half mark and on into the two-hour mark. Thousands of chilled out hippies just kept dancing no matter the groove.

By just past 10, Widespread had outlasted me after three days of nonstop music, and I wouldn't really be surprised if as of publication they are still down at Margaret T. Hance Park jamming it out. Either way, I can't wait to see what MMMF puts together for next year.

See the next page for the Critic's Notebook.

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Jeff Moses
Contact: Jeff Moses