Viva PHX is back and you're a year older, 40-somethings. Bolder? Maybe. Clever, definitely, and probably more inclined to party downtown than last year. In fact, it's obvious the over-40 set is taking back the night, since so many of you are out and about on a regular basis, running the music scene, and making cool things happen without demanding to be noticed. Your generation practically runs the place anyway, but since the younger crowd isn't reading this, your secret is safe, at least for now.
Will you be biking around the festival this year? Bikes are really, really popular these days and it really is the best way to get around. Good for the air, good for your legs, and if your bike is super cool, even better for your image. Perhaps you'll depend on your hush puppies, which are probably desert boots or converse all-stars, and this is okay too, especially if you're not afraid of potential blisters ruining your night. Whatever your mode of transportation, Viva PHX is spread out like a mofo this year, and while you may have good intentions of seeing as much as possible, you still need a game plan.
Just like last year, you'll want to fuel up properly, which includes some hydration. The weather should be beautiful, of course, but trekking around the town means you'll need to be ready, willing, and able. May we suggest grabbing a light meal at say,Thirdspace
on Grand orCarly's Bistro
on Roosevelt and including a healthy intake of water, especially if you're planning on sampling one(or several) of the many delicious beers or cocktails available at the venues you'll be visiting as the evening unwinds.
Our first stop of the evening, once you get your wristbands and ear plugs (don't be shy ... and save your hearing for a full night of great music) in order is the Alley Stage, where Brooklyn's Wax Witches (Burger Records) take the stage at 7 p.m. Led by Alex Wall, the bands know their way around deliciously snotty garage punk, which makes their Alley Stage appearance even more appropriate. For the less adventurous, you would probably be pretty happy staying right there all night as the Alley Stage lineup is pretty stellar from top to bottom, but we think Wax Witches will whet your appetite for some pretty killer stuff to come.
(**Another great pick to start your evening off would be locals No Volcano, who will be rocking the ALAC stage at 7 p.m.)
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From the Alley Stage, though, we highly recommend taking your bad selves over to the Crescent Ballroom, which is probably every 40-something's favorite venue in town these days. The Crescent features great sound, good food and drink, and a nice sized space where you can see some of the cooler touring bands on a regular basis. Our hats are off to the staff at Crescent who have helped provide a good vibe to Downtown Phoenix for a couple of years now, so it's a no brainer to head over there to catch Sonoma County's The Velvet Teen and their dreamy northern California indie sound (think Dinosaur Jr meets San Francisco's Carlos). The 15-year-old band has put out a pretty good collection of EPs and LPs, (at least) one of which should make their way into your collection after you take in their 8 p.m. set. If you're feeling a bit peckish, we highly recommend the both the barbacoa and al pastor burritos from Cocina 10.
After The Velvet Teen, you might try to catch the end ofAndrew Jackson Jihad's
set on the Monroe Stage if you want a little taste of local flavor. The Jihad has gotten pretty popular, so you might not even realize you're watching a local band. We recommend you stay right there, though, and get ready to get your ass rocked off byThee Oh Sees
at 9 p.m. These San Franciscans have been tearing up things all over the world for the better part of 18 years at this point and have not lost a step. Fuzzy, noisy guitars over a driving drum beat and vocals that sound like a cross between the late Lux Interior fromthe Cramps
and Mark Mothersbaugh ofDevo
. Thee Oh Sees will be worth the entire price of admission, so from this point forward, you're making a profit on your investment for sure.
At 10 p.m., there is another act completely worth the price of admission and then some. Like the musical equivalent of an Ed Mell landscape, Tucson's Giant Sand featuring Howe Gelb is playing the Grace Chapel, and that's all you need to know. For the uninitiated, Giant Sand is one of the finest purveyors of the "desert sound" there has ever been. Imagine Lou Reed and Leonard Cohen had a love child and left him in Tucson with nothing but Bob Dylan and Neil Young's noisier records to listen to, but that doesn't even really do Gelb justice. Gelb and Giant Sand have been all over the music map and back over the years and their set at Viva Phoenix will, no doubt, prove to be an instant classic.
After Giant Sand redefines cool for you, march on over to ALAC and take in London's2:54
. We know what you're thinking, "Wait a minute, what aboutBest Coast
?" Well, those are fine choices, as would be hitting up the Alley Stage again for localsPlayboy Manbaby
, but the show to see, the one you'll talk about for the rest of the year is 2:54, which promises a cool, no, chilling vibe you won't get from former L.A. "it" bands (no offense intended). 2:54 reminds us a bit ofPJ Harvey
, although way more shoegazer-ish...almost a heavily sedatedThrowing Muses
. Just like the Alley Stage, you could have a fine time spending your whole evening at ALAC and 2:54 will finish your 11 p.m. to 12 a.m. hour nicely.
As March 14 turns into the ides of March, you're probably about out of gas, but for those of you ready to soldier on, the best thing to do is head back over to the Crescent for Still Ill, a San Diego-based Smiths/Morrissey cover band. Still Ill will take the stage at 12:30 a.m. and play all your favorite Smiths and Morrissey songs, so get a little maudlin, get your '80s on, and sing along. Who wants to bet they play "How Soon is Now" last?
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