Mesa Music Festival: A Field Guide to This Weekend's Event

The inaugural edition of the Mesa Music Festival this weekend is nothing if not aspiring.

First of all, the weekend-long event – which will take place from Friday, November 13, to Sunday, November 15 – is being held in the normally sleepy East Valley suburb, which, last we checked, isn’t exactly a local epicenter for live music (the encouraging efforts by the folks at the Nile Theatre and Club Red nonwithstanding). That particular perception may change after this grand undertaking, which will feature more than 200 different musicians and bands from across Arizona and throughout North America performing on any of a dozen different stages at businesses and venues along Main Street and around downtown Mesa over the course of two days and nights.

The Mesa Music Festival certainly has some lofty ambitions, as some of its organizers have been quoted as saying it has the promise to turn into another South by Southwest-like extravaganza. And while that remains to be seen (or may not happen entirely), the MMF definitely has the potential of being one of the Valley's better music festivals each year, certainly one with the biggest lineups. That's because of the sheer volume of bands that are scheduled to perform at the event.

And believe us, there are going to be a lot of artists and acts performing at Mesa Music Festival, ranging from bands who have been performing around the Valley for years and plenty you've likely never heard of before.

Homegrown punk legends Authority Zero will ostensibly serve as the festival’s headliner when they perform on Friday night, but if the Mesa natives aren’t your thing, there will be a vastly diverse selection of live music to choose from, ranging from hard rock and hardcore to indie, folk, Americana, and a slew of other genres. That includes a decent selection of great local acts (Emby Alexander, The Oxford Coma, Halocene, B.O.T.S., Murrieta, LightSpeedGo, and Doll Skin, and Beretta Sun) as well as bands from all over the U.S. and even as far away as Canada.

Oh, yeah, and the entire festival is completely free to attend.

And while Saturday and Sunday will be focused on performances, as a large majority of the bands and musicians scheduled to appear at MMF will do their thing on either of those days, the first day of the festival on Friday, November 13, will be dedicated to more of the business side of music and helping artists grow and maintain their fanbase. Events will take place at the nearby Phoenix Mesa Marriott and include a keynote address from onetime MTV/VH1 personality and 120 Minutes host Matt Pinfield, a Q&A session with Alan Niven (former manager of Guns 'N' Roses and Great White), and a music licensing seminar with Les Scott of the National Association of Record Industry Professionals.

Needless to say, there will be a lot of music-oriented activities taking place in downtown Mesa this weekend during MMF. In order to help you get the most out of the experience, or at least know what's happening and when, here is our field guide to the festival with everything you might possibly need to know.

Dates/Times: The Mesa Music Festival will run from Friday, November 13, until Sunday, November 15. The “Welcoming Party” takes place from 2 p.m. until midnight on Friday at the Phoenix Mesa Marriot, 200 North Centennial Way, while performances and festival activities will take place from noon to midnight on Saturday and Sunday along or near Main Street.

Location: The festival will take place entirely in and around downtown Mesa, chiefly along Main Street between Robson and Hibbert Street.

Price: Admission to the festival, its performances, and its associated events will be free. However, certain activities will require pre-registration and an official MMF badge, such as many of the events at the “Welcoming Party” on Friday at the Marriott, including the music licensing seminar with Les Scott and the Q & A panel with Alan Niven of Guns N' Roses/Great White fame. Space and availability will be limited for one-on-one mentoring sessions with musician Geordie Gillespie. (Anyone interested is asked to e-mail [email protected])

Age Limits: Everything will be open to all ages. Keep in mind, however, that ear protection is always a good idea for young ears (especially with some of the louder bands).

Weather: There's no rain in the forecast for this weekend, and temperatures are expected to be in the mid-70s all three days during the festival. After dark, however, things will get down to around 50 degrees or cooler, so consider bringing a hoodie or a jacket.

Getting There: Now that the Valley Metro light-rail system runs all the way to downtown Mesa, it's arguably the easiest way to get to and from the festival without worrying about the hassles of parking or if you're too intoxicated to drive. There are stations located along Main Street at either end of downtown at Country Club and Mesa drives. One-way fares are $2 each while an all-day pass is $4.

Those who are driving, will want to take the eastbound U.S. 60 or Loop 202 freeways to Country Club Drive and then head either north or south, respectively to get to Main Street. The festival's festivities are located just east of there.

Parking: More than 5,000 parking spaces are available throughout downtown Mesa, a large majority of which are free to use. Check out this online map for more information on where you can stash your car.

Other Activities: There will be more than just music happening at the festival or in and around downtown Mesa this weekend. Live painting will take place at an aerosol art wall from noon until 9 p.m. both days, free yoga classes will be offered from noon until 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at the Floating Lotus Yoga Studio, and b-boy dancing demonstrations will happen at Prime Cut & Sew from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. both days. NFL Play60 Clinics will also take place at various times throughout the weekend. (A full rundown of festival activities can be found here.)

And if you'd like to some crate-digging and vinyl-hunting, the Nile Theater will also be holding its latest Record Fair from noon until 4 p.m. on Sunday, November 15. Admission is free.

Food and Drink: There will be no shortage of either, considering the wealth of eateries and drinkeries along Main Street and throughout downtown Mesa that will be open for business during the festival, many of which will be hosting stages or bands.

Bring: Comfortable shoes, cash, sunglasses and possibly sunscreen will all be good idea if you plan to attend the festival.

Don't Bring:
Laser pointers, weapons, fireworks, or anything else disruptive or destructive.

Lineup and Schedule:
As we said, there will be upward of a dozen stages and performance areas at MMF, each with its own distinct lineup of bands and artists. And while we encourage attendees to open themselves up to all the different genres and acts they're not familiar with (or just simply wandering the festival aimlessly and soaking up all the disparate sounds), here is a complete rundown of who's playing when and where for anyone keen on catching their favorite bands. 


Mesa Music Festival Welcoming Party at Phoenix Mesa Marriott
200 N. Centennial Way
2 p.m. - Registration at Milano Music
2 p.m. - Mentoring sessions with Geordie Gillespie*
4 p.m. - “Music Law” with Jim Kuzmich**
5:30 p.m. - “Music Licensing Seminar” with Les Scott**
7:15 p.m. - Q&A with Alan Niven**
8:15 p.m. - Keynote Address with Matt Pinfield
9 p.m. - Performance by surprise special guest
10:30 p.m. - DJ Var Lynn

* - Space is limited. E-mail [email protected] to request a mentoring session
** - Official MMF badge required for entry


MacDonald Stage
MacDonald & Main St.
Noon - Beretta Sun
1 p.m. - Rinsley
2 p.m. - Brooke Stratton
3 p.m. - Doll Skin
4 p.m. - Mr. Mirainga
5 p.m. - Razer
6 p.m. - Pasadena
7 p.m. - End of an Era
8 p.m. - Authority Zero

Milano's Music Store
38 W. Main St.
Noon - The Linford Twins
1 p.m. - DWARF
2 p.m. - Milano Music Anniversary Auction
4 p.m. - Kirra
5 p.m. - The Hidden Yards
6 p.m. - Dangermaker
7 p.m. - Lost in Atlantis
8 p.m. - Color of Chaos
9 p.m. - Asphalt Socialites

Lulubell Toy Bodega
128 W. Main St.
Noon - John Black
1 p.m. - Jason Robey
2 p.m. - Lauren Dair
3 p.m. - I Am Hologram
4 p.m. - Blaise Lantana
5 p.m. - Nelly's Echo
6 p.m. - Mikey Jahbree Wooley
7 p.m. - Ukulele Hiro
8 p.m. - Cmrn Hill
9 p.m. - Brandon Brains

Prime Cut & Sew
61 S. MacDonald
Noon - On the Scene
1 p.m. - Mar
2 p.m. - B-boy demonstrations
4 p.m. - Central Products
5 p.m. - Gramm
6 p.m. - Black Jewelz
7 p.m. - The Jones
8 p.m. - Yung Yoge
9 p.m. - Amiah
10 p.m. - Jennie J.
11 p.m. - Eric James

Inside The Bungalow
48 N. Robson
1 p.m. - Ciara Cisnero
2 p.m. - Katelyn Snyder
3 p.m. - Grim Bernhoft
4 p.m. - Nathan Jude
5 p.m. - BD Frank
6 p.m. - Dawson Rutledge
7 p.m. - Hollaman Lindsay

Backstage Attire
138 W. Main St.
Noon - Lifeline
1 p.m. - The Herps
2 p.m. - Devil Lies Down
3 p.m. - The Stillwinter
4 p.m. - Almost Awake
5 p.m. - The Audio Virus
6 p.m. - Westerner
7 p.m. - Vintage Wednesday
8 p.m. - 72names
9 p.m. - Emby Alexander

Desert Eagle Brewing Company
150 W. Main St.
Noon - The Swarthy Pirates
1 p.m. - Icelus
2 p.m. - Strange Lot 
3 p.m. - Young’s Modulus
4 p.m. - Ten Cent Dinosaur 
5 p.m. - The Companies 
6 p.m. - Chapter 23
7 p.m. - Midnight Clover
8 p.m. - The Dramedy
9 p.m. - The Rain Delay
10 p.m. - After Hours Access
11 p.m. - A Step Ahead

Queen’s Pizza
125 W. Main St.
Noon - Bad Tourist
1 p.m. - Josh Bierman
2 p.m. - Divided Minds
3 p.m. - The Sink or Swim
4 p.m. - Weslynn
5 p.m. - Hunter Sealy
6 p.m. - Nove Mese
7 p.m. - Ann-Marita
8 p.m. - People Who Could Fly
9 p.m. - Please
10 p.m. - Color the Lion
11 p.m. - Man Made Time

Saltmine Studio Oasis
48 S. MacDonald
Noon - Something Like December
1 p.m. - Painting Fences
2 p.m. - Merit
3 p.m. - Commission:28
4 p.m. - Sydeproject
5 p.m. - Undefined
6 p.m. - Murrieta
7 p.m. - True Violet
8 p.m. - Stereo Rex
9 p.m. - LightSpeedGo

Callahan Automotive Stage at Il Vinaio
270 W Main St.
Noon - Mustang Corners
1 p.m. - Gaiteros del Valle
2 p.m. - The Weezul Brothers Band
3 p.m. - Kris Angelis
4 p.m. - Robby Roberson
5 p.m. - New Chums
6 p.m. - Radio London
7 p.m. - VerseCity
8 p.m. - Tridon
9 p.m. - Billy Moon Project

Jarrod’s Coffee, Tea & Gallery
154 W Main St.
2 p.m. - Eric Douglas
3 p.m. - JC & Laney
4 p.m. - Karen Mansfield
5 p.m. - Annette Conlon
6 p.m. - Lisa Dilk
7 p.m. - Don Pedigo
8 p.m. - Grant Maloy Smith
9 p.m. - Eric Schaffer and the Other Troublemakers

Nebula Vaping
58 W. Main St.
4 p.m. - DJ Var Lynn
5 p.m. - Onza DaVichi
6 p.m. - DJ Rokkwilder
7 p.m. - Luna 13


MacDonald Stage
MacDonald & Main St.
11:45 a.m. - School of Rock Sugar Skulls
1 p.m. - Logan Arceneaux
2 p.m. - Rome Will Burn
3 p.m. - Fate Under Fire
4 p.m. - Halocene
5 p.m. - Edge of Paradise
6 p.m. - Surprise Guest

Milano’s Music
38 W. Main St.
Noon - Fly on the Wall
1 p.m. - Spooky Kool
2 p.m. - The Last Outlaws
3 p.m. - Wake the Bat
4 p.m. - Funky Bonz
5 p.m. - Alex Squared
6 p.m. - We, Beloved

Lulubell Toy Bodega
128 W. Main St.
Noon - J.L. Forbes
1 p.m. - Mike D’Angelo
2 p.m. - J3xF
3 p.m. - Robbie Sellers
4 p.m. - Golden Plates
5 p.m. - Karen Crusher
6 p.m. - Chad Gregory

Prime Cut & Sew
61 S. MacDonald
Noon - Poizonous Logik
1 p.m. - ProdAgal
2 p.m. - B-boy demonstrations
4 p.m. - Rukstar and Enano
5 p.m. - Avenue of the Arts Crew
6 p.m. - Mobb Robb

Backstage Attire
138 W. Main St.
1 p.m. - The Drip Grinders
2 p.m. - Posival
3 p.m. - The Oxford Coma
4 p.m. - The Jacob Cade Project
5 p.m. - Stands With Fists
6 p.m. - The N9N3

Desert Eagle Brewing Company
150 W. Main St.
Noon - Off the Ground
1 p.m. - Tortugaz
2 p.m. - Sons of Medusa
3 p.m. - Solomon King and the Chosen
4 p.m. - Maricopa County Prison Band
5 p.m. - Midnight Satellites
6 p.m. - Wide Awake

Queen’s Pizza
125 W. Main St.
Noon - Secret Circus
1 p.m. - Alex Mullins Band
2 p.m. - Nina Speaking
3 p.m. - Wild Ride
4 p.m. - Ghost Like This
5 p.m. - Warlike Figurines
6 p.m. - Wren’s Ghost

Volstead Public House
105 W. Main St.
2 p.m. - Ericson Holt
3 p.m. - Don Whitcher
4 p.m. - Hannah Lopez
5 p.m. - Lindsay Saunders
6 p.m. - Lucas Mac Brown

Saltmine Studio Oasis
48 S. MacDonald
Noon - Patrick Joseph
1 p.m. - ViceVersa
2 p.m. - Property Six
3 p.m. - End of an Era
4 p.m. - The Loners
5 p.m. - B.O.T.S.
6 p.m. - Miles to Nowhere

Callahan Automotive Stage at Il Vinaio
270 W Main St.
Noon - Artstream –
1 p.m. - Jacob Morris Band
2 p.m. - Seth Loveless Band
3 p.m. - Kathryn Cloward
4 p.m. - LeeAnne Savage
5 p.m. - SaraBeth
6 p.m. - Christopher Shayne

Jarrod’s Coffee, Tea & Gallery
154 W Main St.
Noon - Jim Pipkin
1 p.m. - Tom Tuerff
2 p.m. - Jon Scott
3 p.m. - Marilyn Moser
4 p.m. - Mike Mlinko
5 p.m. - Mary Kaye
6 p.m. - Linda Chorney
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.