McDowell Mountain Music Festival 2016: A Field Guide to This Weekend's Event

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To say that downtown Phoenix will be busy with live music and concertgoers this weekend would be an understatement. Two of the Valley's biggest festivals of the year will be taking place and bringing tens of thousands of people to the area who are eager to see a show, including the throngs that will attend the annual McDowell Mountain Music Festival.

And there are plenty of reasons why people will be flocking to the three-day event – which takes place from Friday, March 11, to Sunday, March 13, at Margaret T. Hance Park – not the least of which is the strength of its lineup this year.

There are a number of can't-miss acts at McDowell Mountain 2016, including Beck (who hasn't performed in Phoenix since 2008), Kid Cudi and The Avett Brothers. 

M3F's lineup of local artists is as strong as ever, and it will offer many of the same amenities that helped it become one of the best music festivals in Arizona, including its groovy vibe, infamous drum circles, lineup of food and drink vendors, and expansive merchants' row. Needless to say, there's a lot to see and do at M3F this year.

In order to help you get the most out of the event, here's a guide to M3F that encompasses everything you might need to know.

Where and When: M3F runs from Friday, March 11, to Sunday, March 13, at Margaret T. Hance Park, 1202 North Third Street, with opening and closing times varying throughout the weekend. Hours are from 3 p.m. until 11 p.m. on Friday, noon to 11 p.m. on Saturday, and 11:30 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. on Sunday. Performances start anywhere from 30-45 minutes after gates open each day.

Lineup: Beck, Animal Collective, Brothers Gow, MS MR, Big Wild, Kid Cudi, Porter Robinson, Bloc Party, The Avett Brothers, Gary Clark Jr., The Oh Hellos, Bird Dog, GRiZ, St. Lucia, Goldfish, Captain Squeegee, Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold, Taylor Upsahl, CooBee Coo, The Main Squeeze, Harper and the Moths, Luna Aura, The Haymarket Squares, Fairy Bones, Carlos Arzate and the Kind Souls, Sister Lip, The Senators, Kaleo, Firekid, Wyves, Ruca, Huckleberry, Endoplasmic, and Gus Campbell.

Prices: General admission will run you $70 per day or $170 for the entire festival. Meanwhile, those who want to live large can splurge on VIP tickets – which gets you catered eats and snacks, the chance to watch performances from a “Poser Deck,” valet parking, up to five cocktails or beers, and access to private bathrooms (i.e., not a porta-potty) – for $200 per day or $600 for all three days. 

Age Limits: The festival is an all-ages event. That said, consider bringing along ear protection for your kids and keep in mind that some of the lyrical content might not be suitable.

Getting There: If possible, ditch the car and hop aboard the light rail to get to and from the festival. There's a station blocks away from Hance Park and it's cheaper than a cab ($2 for a single ride, $4 for an all-day pass), especially if it helps you avoid a DUI after a day or overindulging your taste for craft brews. Dozens of pedicabs will be in the area for those who wind up driving and want to save their feet, particularly after parking far away. Speaking of which...

Parking: Prices vary depending on where you wind up leaving your vehicle. Street parking, if you can find a space, is $1-$1.50 (use the Pango app to pay in advance) while the various garages around downtown range in price from $10-$30 per day. Your mileage may vary. 

Weather: It's going to be sunny and warm (we know, big surprise) during the afternoon, with temperatures in the mid 70s or the low 80s, and a little chilly at night. In other words, bring sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat for the daytime, as well as a hoodie for after dark. Oh, and you'll want to stay hydrated, which leads us to our next topic...

Water: A free water station will be located in the southeast corner of the park near the restroom. Make sure you use it. The last place you'd want to wind up is the first-aid station or even the hospital with a nasty case of heat exhaustion or worse. 

Food and Drink: An array of food trucks and vendors – including Pho-King, Paletas Betty, Bombay Station, Just Breeze, and Hungry Monk – will be situated along the south end of the park. Oskar Blues Brewery and Ghost Pines Winery will both be at M3F with their respective adult beverages and two full bars will eagerly serve those of legal drinking age.

Vendors: The festival's famed marketplace will be at this year's event and feature numerous artisans and vendors, such as Martha Rotten, Future Primitive, Backpocket Products, The Giving Keys, Silver & Sage, Strive Dreams, Phil Lewis Art, Modern Day Hippie, Dana Blair Designs, High Thai, and others.

Bring: Besides the aforementioned sun protection, have some cash in your wallet, since not every vendor will have a Square and ATM fees might be pricey. Beyond that, organizers will allow blankets, reusable water bottles, umbrellas, low-backed chairs, blankets, flow toys, totems, costumes, and even selfie sticks.

Don't Bring: Any of the following items are banned from the festival grounds, so be sure to leave them at home — fireworks, weapons, drugs, pets, and/or drugged-up pets bearing weapons or fireworks. Outside food and beverages are also forbidden, as are drones, so forget about getting some amazeballs aerial footage of Beck, Bloc Party, or The Avett Brothers rocking out.

After-Parties: On both Friday and Saturday evenings, the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel will host M3F after-parties starring some of the dance music-oriented artists and acts from the festival, as well as special DJ sets.

To wit: Friday's after-party will feature the members of Animal Collective dropping a special DJ set that's likely to include plenty of electronica. Saturday's shindig, however, includes Goldfish and M!NT, as well as a DJ set by GRiZ. Both parties kick off at 11:30 p.m. and have a $20 admission price.

Set Times & Schedule: Here's a rundown of who's playing where and when at M3F.

Gates open at 3 p.m.


3:30 p.m.: CooBee Coo
4:30 p.m.: Captain Squeegee
5:30 p.m.: MS MR
7:30 p.m.: Animal Collective
9:30 p.m.: Beck


4:00 p.m.: Mr. Mudd and Mister Gold
5:00 p.m.: Taylor Upsahl
6:30 p.m.: Brothers Gow
8:30 p.m.: Big Wild

Gates open at noon


12:45 p.m.: Harper and the Moths
1:30 p.m.: The Haymarket Squares
2:15 p.m.: Luna Aura
3:30 p.m.: Bloc Party
5:30 p.m.: GRiZ
7:30 p.m.: Porter Robinson
9:30 p.m.: Kid Cudi


2:00 p.m.: Sister Lip
3:00 p.m.: Fairy Bones
4:30 p.m.: The Main Squeeze
5:00 p.m.: Carlos Arzate and the Kind Souls
6:30 p.m.: Goldfish
8:30 p.m.: St. Lucia

Gates open at 11:30 a.m.


Noon: Gus Campbell
12:45 p.m.: The Senators
1:30 p.m.: Kaleo
3:00 p.m.: Bird Dog
4:30 p.m.: The Oh Hellos
6:00 p.m.: Gary Clark Jr.
8 p.m.: The Avett Brothers


2:00 p.m.: Endoplasmic
2:30 p.m.: Ruca
4:00 p.m.: Huckleberry
5:00 p.m.: Wyves
5:30 p.m.: Firekid
7:30 p.m.: The Haymarket Squares

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