Music News

How Music Festivals Keep the Music Industry Afloat

This week's New Times cover story examines the music industry's only 21st-century success story: The incredible boom in live music in general and festivals in particular.

Since you might still be in the throes of a Coachella hangover -- or maybe you're getting ready to camp out at That Damn Show Saturday afternoon -- the story couldn't be much more timely. Here's a look at three festivals that attract Phoenix-based music fans in droves.

McDowell Mountain Music Festival

The 2013 installment of the McDowell Mountain Music Festival--the 10th--transformed Margaret T. Hance park into a full-on campgrounds-and-stages music-fest. It featured The Shins, Les Claypool, and The Roots, among others. Oh, and a lot of dancing hippies:

That's what I like about hippies, among other things: They're always finding some strange new thing to twirl around in lieu of a yo-yo. If you're ever desperately in need of a set of devil sticks, stop the first guy with dreadlocks you pass and ask him to open up the back of his Volvo.

We liked the increasingly poppy sounds of the Shins and were a little shocked that The Roots can pull off both a drum solo and a "Sweet Child o' Mine" cover. We also learned that Joe Arpaio sucks, but so does petition overload.

Coachella 2013

The enormous growth of music festivals across the country has coincided with -- and perhaps been best exemplified by -- the growth of Coachella from an indie hotspot to an unavoidable cultural force. What brings people to the desert every year? Well, the huge names, probably. But also this, from our cover story:

"You text. You don't call. You don't write notes. You don't pop up at your friends' house. You Skype. We're not touching each other," says rapper Murs, who founded the Paid Dues festival in Los Angeles. "Technology has separated us so much [that] it's natural for us to have this desire to come together, and [festivals] really cater to that communal nature."

Of course, here in Arizona you have to decide whether it's worth all that driving, along with the ticket price. But once you have you'll get to see top-tier bands, wild campground parties, and people who are just trying to sleep.

It's a year's worth of concerts, and a series of bizarre parties, and a dust storm--several weekends packed into one.

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Sound Wave

The Sound Wave Music Festival makes one particularly novel alteration to the music festival idea: It takes place at Big Surf Waterpark, in Tempe.

The third time was most definitely the charm for the Sound Wave Music Festival.

The inaugural edition of the electronic dance music massive back in April 2011 was plagued by unseasonably chilly rain that kept attendance woefully low. Six months later, club and concert promoter Steve LeVine rebounded with a second Sound Wave that featured bigger crowds and a better line-up of performers.

Last night's version, however, was a far more spectacular affair than its predecessors, boasting an enormous crowd, an amazing array of electronica artists and DJs, epic sets, and a certain fantastical aura and joie de vivre that perfectly captured the energy and effusiveness of the current EDM zeitgeist.

Dance music, dancers, and waterslides -- there are worse reasons to get together with "EDM junkies, hot girls in skimpy neon outfits, bare-chested bros, people in weird costumes, dudes in banana hammocks (and little else), and rave kids by the carload."

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