Viva PHX has a ridiculously packed schedule, with 100 bands playing at more than 20 venues. It’s impossible to see everything, of course, and looking through the lineup can be daunting. So if you can’t make up your mind, here are four itineraries that will show off different parts of the event.
Catch all these bands and more at Viva PHX on Saturday, March 11, all over downtown Phoenix.
The Sampler Platter
By David Accomazzo
7:30 p.m.: Injury Reserve at Cityscape
8 p.m.: Jeff Rosenstock at Second Avenue Stage at Crescent Ballroom
9 p.m.: Deap Vally at Valley Bar
9:40 p.m.: The Maine at Comerica Theatre
11:10 p.m.: American Football at Second Avenue Stage at Crescent Ballroom
12:45 a.m.: Peanut Butter Wolf at Monarch Theatre
One of the most appealing things about Viva PHX is the wide variety of bands represented during the festival. This itinerary gives you a little bit of everything, mixing local bands with national ones and offering a wide variety of genres.
If you’re a musical polyglot, this one’s for you.
We start out at the main stage at Cityscape, where local indie hip-hop group Injury Reserve will kick off the night. Fresh off of the release of Floss, which features some certified bangers that are making all sorts of waves outside Phoenix, the group is undeniably on its way up.
Let’s hope that Injury Reserve plays your favorite cuts at the beginning, since we’re going to cut out a little early to head to the stage outside Crescent Ballroom, where punk songwriter Jeff Rosenstock will be tearing up the stage. His music is a great combination of catchy hooks, punk attitude, and thoughtful lyrics.
Rosenstock sets up the next band, Deap Vally, which is playing at Valley Bar at 9 p.m. The all-lady band is thoughtful, fuzzy, and feminist, which makes for a killer combo.
Cut out a little early and head down to Comerica Theatre to catch the Maine, the local band made good that is about to release a new album. Catch some lucha libre wrestling outside Crescent before making your way down to American Football on the big outdoor stage nearby, since that band hasn’t released an album since the late ’90s. For a nightcap, check out Peanut Butter Wolf at Monarch Theatre, and you can chill to PBW’s laid-back production.
Get on the Dance Train
By Amanda Savage
10 p.m.: Classix at Crescent Ballroom
11 p.m.: Girl Talk/Invisibl Skratch Piklz at Comerica Theatre/Monarch Theatre
12:25/12:30 a.m.: Uffie/YACHT at Crescent Ballroom/Valley Bar
1 a.m.: Sharam at Monarch Theatre’s Scarlet Room
First stop is Classix, an electronic music duo from Los Angeles that produces light, airy, progressive electronic music that’s a mix of dance and nu disco. They’re a great option for starting out your night if you’re looking to ease into the imminent shitshow that the night will end on.
You’ve got two options for the second stop of the night.
For those of you making decisions not based on age, these next two performers are both mash-up masters in their own regard. Girl Talk is basically the ultimate mashup producer. You’ll hear excerpts of everything you’ve heard on the radio in the past 10 years and beyond, especially anything remotely pop/hip-hop. Girl Talk works off of a laptop, and the Top-40 approach is definitely crowd-pleasing and something anyone can enjoy (the crowd at Comerica probably won’t get too weird for this one).
Invisibl Skratch Piklz are a group of turntablists, so similarly to Girl Talk, you’ll get a lot of mixing of different songs and sampling and a lot of creative scratching solos. However, this is not Top 40, but is heavily focused around old-school and underground hip-hop.
On stop three, you get two great choices: Uffie and YACHT.
Uffie is a French singer/rapper (that sex appeal alone is probably a decision-maker for most of you) whose heyday happened in the late 2000s when she worked with Ed Banger Records and was featured on a track called “Tthhee Ppaarrttyy” by Justice. Uffie is kind of the original bad bitch of that era, but she never broke through to the American mainstream. She’s back from a five-ish-year hiatus, and I very enthusiastically promote seeing her. No offense to YACHT — the group is pretty different from Uffie in that it has more of an indie-electronic vibe. It’s pretty arty and modern.
The fourth and final stop of the dance train itinerary is the best. Sharam is a world-renowned producer and DJ. He’s articulate, and his music is respected. He’s not your typical EDM fist-pumping DJ; he sticks to more progressive and deeper house music sounds.
Sweet & Vicious
By Ashley Naftule
7 p.m.: Bogan Via at Crescent Ballroom
8 p.m.: Pure Bathing Culture at Crescent Ballroom
9 p.m.: HEALTH at Punk Rock Alley
10 p.m.: Joyce Manor at Second Avenue Stage at Crescent
11 p.m.: Fucked Up at Punk Rock Alley
“Hurts so good” isn’t just a Mellencamp song — it sums up the music I like. Show me a band like Jesus & Mary Chain that can mix some feedback with their bubblegum melodies, and I’ll love them forever.
With that vaguely sadomasochistic thinking in mind, I’ve put together this itinerary that starts sweetly and ends with eardrum-shattering viciousness. We kick things off at 7 p.m., when local duo Bogan Via take the stage at Crescent Ballroom. Their melodic chemistry and ghostly synth sounds create otherworldly songs that you can dance to.
At 8 p.m., we’ll stick around for Pure Bathing Culture. Their dreamy music is the perfect soundtrack for an early evening, as darkness descends and you start to sink into your Saturday night buzz. We'll then head to Punk Rock Alley for HEALTH’s 9 p.m. set. HEALTH’s music is synthy too, but they add in muscle, dissonance, and an intense stage presence. This is where you can let your inner headbanger off their leash for a while.
At 10 p.m. we’ll head over to the Central Avenue Stage at Cityspace for Joyce Manor. Their music is full of vintage Dookie-era pop-punk style, and their lyrics are wry, self-lacerating, and wise.
At 11 p.m., we’re at the Punk Rock Alley to get our senses savagely pummelled into oblivion by those concept album-loving Canadian hardcore titans Fucked Up.
By the time your evening is over, your head should be full of synth-pop earworms and your ears should be ringing with fuzz and feedback.
La La Land Redux
By Anthony Sandoval
8:40 p.m.: Death Valley Girls at The Pueblo
9 p.m.: Sad Girl at Last Exit Live
10:05 p.m.: Buyepongo at Goldwater Room at Renaissance Hotel
10:30 p.m.: X at Masonic Temple
Los Angeles has long been regarded as a breeding ground for a wide-range of talented bands. Everything from hardcore punk, to surf rock, soul, and Latin rock have all had their heyday in the City of Angels. It’s been 12 years since I made the move from LA to Phoenix, and while the Valley has proven to have a formidable music and arts community in its own right, I’m always nostalgic for catching shows at venues like El Cid in Silver Lake, the Whisky a Go-Go on the Sunset Strip, and the Greek Theatre at Griffith Park.
Skip the six-hour drive to La La Land and catch these Los Angeles-based bands this year, starting with Death Valley Girls. This gang of misfits dabble in the strange and unusual, and deal in rowdy rock ’n’ roll. Self-described as an “acid-tripping science experiment,” the quartet takes its cues in everything from the occult to UFOs.
Sad Girl’s name and album covers immediately evoke thoughts of homeboys with tear-drop tattoos and Locs sunglasses, but this lo-fi, surf-punk trio actually specialize in twangy guitar strums and groovy garage.
The prominent Latin-American community has also had a heavy hand in influencing the LA music scene. That mezcla is on full display in the Pan-Latin sounds of Buyepongo. They blend Afro-Caribbean rhythms with funk and jazz to concoct a tasty tropical treat. This year also happens to mark the 40th anniversary for popular punk rock outfit X, and their impossibly infectious classic, “Los Angeles,” still holds today.