Livewire in Scottsdale Is Closing — Here's Why

Livewire in Scottsdale ain't long for this world.
Livewire in Scottsdale ain't long for this world. Courtesy of Evening Entertainment Group
If you’ve never attended a show at Livewire in Scottsdale before, you might want to attend Monday, July 3's Bone Thugs-N-Harmony gig at the music venue. And not just because the renowned hip-hop act puts on one helluva performance.

As it turns out, it’s going to be the last concert ever at Livewire.

New Times has learned that the 1,100-capacity music venue will close its doors for good following the show. After two and a half years of hosting concerts in the heart of Scottsdale’s club-heavy entertainment district, the plug’s being pulled on Livewire by its owners, local restaurant and nightspot company Evening Entertainment Group.

According to Jeff O'Neil, operations director for EEG, the company plans to transform the 11,000-square-foot property into two new businesses.

Over the next several months, the building’s ground level will become a “high-energy Mexican food restaurant" called Casa Amigos. Meanwhile, the upper floor (which functioned as Livewire’s balcony and mezzanine) will become a state-of-the-art bowling alley called Sky Lanes.

Both spots will also offer nightlife elements and each will have a DJ booth with dance music and bottle service during the evenings.

It’s a definite change from the role the property’s played over the last couple of years.

Since opening in late 2014, Livewire’s stage has been graced by a wide variety of prominent bands and artists from multiple genres, including Lil Wayne, Jared and the Mill, Steve Aoki, Florida Georgia Line, Failure, Marshmello, and actor Jeff Bridges’ Americana band, The Abiders.

click to enlarge Jeff Bridges performs at Livewire in 2015. - MELISSA FOSSUM
Jeff Bridges performs at Livewire in 2015.
Melissa Fossum
It was a breath of fresh air in an area that’s become known for its glut of DJs, dancing, and nightclubs. As EEG co-owner Les Corieri told New Times in 2014, Livewire was a bit of a gamble.

"Something like this has never been done before," said Les Corieri, who co-owns EEG with his wife, Diane. "That's why we love the idea so much and wanted to do this. Nobody's doing this type of entertainment in Scottsdale at this level.”

According to O'Neil, EEG decided to take things in a different direction with the property after a couple years of running a live music venue.

How come? From what he says, competition with other venues throughout the Valley (including Phoenix’s ever-growing live music scene and wealth of spots) may have had something to do with it.

“Phoenix has a real established live music scene and it was hard to kind of break into that, I think. You're bidding on bands with casinos and established places. It was challenging,” he says. “I can't say it was a business we couldn't do, we've had a lot of great shows [at Livewire], but I think we just thought we could do better with the space, to be honest with you.”

And while he says that Livewire hosted a variety of great shows, including upward of two or three concerts a week at various points in its lifespan, EEG felt it was time for a change.

“At the end of the day, we were getting some great acts in there and we were filling the venue,” O’Neil says. “But we just felt with that location we could do better than what we were doing.”

A number of local rock and hip-hop acts were also able to perform at Livewire over the years. Reggae-rock act Black Bottom Lighters had the honor of being the last, as they gigged at the venue in mid-June.

Zelig Hess, the band's manager, said they were "confused and disappointed" at the news of Livewire's closue but were "grateful we were able to play there."

"They treated artist well [and] production was always on point," he says. "One of the best venues to play."
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.