After a decade and a half, the McDowell Mountain Music Festival just keeps on trucking. The free-spirited springtime event, which is also known as M3F, launched back in 2004 and has withstood the test of time, surviving location changes, cancellations, and even a couple of off years when it didn’t happen at all.
The nonprofit event is currently the longest-running music festival in Arizona and draws thousands of people each year to Margaret T. Hance Park in downtown Phoenix for a groove-filled weekend of indie rock, jam bands, and electronic dance music.
Such will be the case yet again during M3F 2019, which runs from Friday, March 1, to Sunday, March 3, at the park. More than three dozen acts are scheduled to perform this year, including headliners ODESZA, Empire of the Sun, Kurt Vile and the Violators, Umphrey's McGee, Big Wild, and Chicano Batman.
What else is in store for M3F 2019? Check out the following guide to the festival, which features everything you’ll need to know before attending.
When and where is the festival? M3F runs from Friday, March 1, to Sunday, March 3, at Margaret T. Hance Park, 1134 North Central Avenue. Gates open at 2 p.m. on Friday and 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
How much are tickets? General admission is $70 per day or $145 for the entire festival. VIP admission is $200 per day and is only available on Friday and Sunday only. It includes access to the VIP viewing and seating areas, free food, up to five free beverages, chair massages, and other perks.
Are there age limits? Nope. M3F is open to all ages, and kids 10 and under can attend for free with a paid adult. You might want to consider ear protection, though, given the music tends to get loud. The festival will also have a kids' zone featuring family-friendly activities. Hours are from 2 to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
What's the weather going to be like? Friday and Sunday will offer partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid-70s. It will get down into the 60s by the end of the night, however. On Saturday, however, there’s a 50 percent of rain during the day, so consider bringing a jacket, hoodie, or umbrella just in case.
What’s the best way to get to M3F? Frankly, you’re better off leaving your car at home and taking an alternate mode of transportation. Light rail stations are available along Central Avenue at Roosevelt Street and McDowell Road and are within a five-minute walk to Hance Park. Even better, it's free to ride with an M3F ticket.
There’s also free bike racks outside of the festival near the entrance at Second and Portland streets if you feel like cycling to the event. Ride-sharing services like Lyft and Uber are also an option.
Where can I park? Nowhere near the festival, for starters, since many of the streets surrounding Hance Park will be shut down all three days. (The Phoenix Police Department will also be watching out for any illegal parking.) If you’d still like to try and score a space, start looking a block or two south of Portland Street. If you find one, it’s $1 to $1.50 per hour per space and the meters run daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (pretty much during the entire festival). The Parkmobile app will allow you to reserve, pay for, and renew a street space.
Additionally, you could go with one of the various parking structures in downtown Phoenix (which will run you $10 to $20 per day) or one the Valley Metro park-and-rides lots around town and then take light rail the rest of the way.
What’s getting into M3F going to be like? The festival’s main entrance is located at Second and Portland streets on the south side of Hance Park, while the VIP entrance is just north of the Phoenix Center for the Arts, 1202 North Third Street. Each patron will be given a wristband with an RFID tag, which must be worn at all times while attending.
Will there be re-entry? Yes, provided
Are there ATMs at the festival? Yes, but given the usual fees involved, we suggest having some cash on hand. Credit and debit cards will be accepted, of course, but a few vendors will only deal with cash.
What sort of eats and drinks will be available? More than a dozen different food trucks and vendors will be serving at M3F and will have gluten-free and vegetarian options available. The lineup includes Freak Brothers Pizza, Gadzooks, Hot Bamboo, Voodoo Momma's, Island Noodles, Jake's Treat Trolley, Killa Dilla, Local Lunchbox, The Juicery, Reef's Kitchen, Shake Shack, and Pho King.
If you’d like something to wash it down with, a variety of liquor companies will have booths and tents on the festival grounds, including Bulleit Bourbon, Captain Morgan, Deep Eddy Vodka, Don Julio, Mike's Hard Lemonade, Oskar Blues Brewery, Tanqueray, and White Claw. Soft drinks and water can also be purchased from food vendors.
Will there be water available? Yes. M3F patrons can bring in empty reusable water bottles into the festival and there will be free refill stations on-site. Vendors will also have sealed bottles of water for purchase.
Will there be vendors? Of course. According to the M3F website, more than 30 different local vendors will sell everything from apparel and artwork to henna tattoos and sunglasses. The full lineup can be found here.
What's the schedule? The music starts an hour after gates open each day at M3F. If you’re interested to know when your favorite artists and acts will be performing, here’s a daily breakdown for each of the three stages at the festival.
Friday, March 1:
Gates open at 2 p.m.
3 to 3:45 p.m. – Kauf
4 to 5 p.m. – Evan
6 to 7 p.m. – Mansionair
8 to 9 p.m. – The Knocks
9:45 to 11 p.m. – ODESZA
5 to 6 p.m. – The Hip Abduction
7 to 8 p.m. – Allah-Las
9 to 10 p.m. – Toro y Moi
3 to 3:45 p.m. – Max Pain and the Groovies
4 to 5 p.m. – L.A. Edwards
6 to 7 p.m. – Mt. Joy
8 to 9 p.m. – Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real
10 to 11 p.m. – Margo Price
Saturday, March 2
Gates open at 1 p.m.
2 to 2:30 p.m. – Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra
4 to 4:30 p.m. – Chicano Batman
6 to 6:30 p.m. – Kurt Vile and the Violators
8 to 8:30 p.m. – Jungle
10 to 10:30 p.m. – Empire of the Sun
3 to 4 p.m. – Young & Sick
5 to 6 p.m. – Lettuce
7 to 8 p.m. – Marian Hill
9 to 10 p.m. – Big Wild
2 to 3 p.m. – JJUUJJUU
4 to 5 p.m. – Big Something
6 to 7 p.m. – Sunsquabi
8 to 9 p.m. – Kevin Morby
10 to 11 p.m. – NoMBe
Sunday, March 3
Gates open at 1 p.m.
2 to 3 p.m. – The Uncommon Good
4 to 4:30 p.m. – Ripe
6 to 7 p.m. – Lettuce
8 to 9:30 p.m. – Umphrey's McGee
3 to 4 p.m. – The Noodles
5 to 6 p.m. – Maribou State
7 to 8 p.m. – Twiddle
2 to 3 p.m. – Cheap Hotels
4 to 5 p.m. – Holy Water Buffalo
6 to 7 p.m. – House of Treezus
8 to 9:15 p.m. – Opiuo
Will there be drum circles this year? Absolutely, since it's a hallmark of M3F. As always, Frank Thompson of AZ Rhythm Connection will conduct the free-form and inclusive performances, which will take place from 3:30 to 4 p.m. and 5 to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, and from 3 to 3:30 p.m. and 6 to 6:30 p.m. on Sunday.
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Are there any after-parties? Yup, there’s one happening on Friday night at The Pressroom, 441 West Madison Street, after the first day of the festival. Electronic dance music duo of Ben "B-Roc" Ruttner and James "Mr. JPatt" Patterson, better knowns as The Knocks, will perform at the affair. Doors open at 11 p.m. and admission is $20 per person.
What else is there to do? You can check out local artists creating works throughout the weekend that are inspired by the music of M3F. Or if you’d limber up before rocking out, hourlong yoga sessions will be conducted from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday prior to the start of each day’s performances.
What should I bring? A fully charged cellphone, sun protection, comfortable shoes, and your ID are all good thing to have with you to the festival. Beyond that, umbrellas, low-backed chairs, picnic blankets, non-framed backpacks, hula hoops (including the LED kind), totems, and costumes are all allowed inside.
What shouldn’t I bring? Anything that could be considered dangerous or disruptive, like weapons, illegal drugs, laser pens, or air horns. Outside food and beverages, pets other than service animals, and bad vibes are also verboten.