Music News

Our Neighbors to the South: Phoenix Vs. Tucson

By Brendan Joel Kelley tucson.JPG Tucson

This last weekend I took a road trip out of town to see some music (more on that later), visiting my favorite little town in southern Arizona, Sonoita, and cruising through Tucson on the way there and back. I don't care much for Tucson, although the smaller town often gets better touring bands coming through there than we do up here (which I wrote about here a while back). It's just a little too weird and podunk down there for me.

Because of that, I took offense at a piece I read in the Tucson Weekly while I was passing through (you can read it here). In it the writer, Linda Ray, reviews a show that was part of a swap with Modified up here; it was PHX locals Lonna Kelley and Fatigo with Tucson's Golden Boots and the George Squier Orchestra, playing first at Club Congress down there and up here at Modified the next day. The writer gave some props to our locals, but opens the story by writing, "Having grown up in Phoenix, I avoid it as much as possible. In this millennium, I've only visited the art museum, attended a Dixie Chicks concert and seen a couple of live shows at Modified Arts."

She later refers to Modified as "a lost Tucson-style nightclub, and an important gathering place for alienated Phoenicians. I like to think of it as sort of a Huxley-like island of misfits, a resilient blue smudge on the red heart of Arizona." And that just made me throw up in my mouth a little bit. I don't consider Modified "Tucson-style" or even a nightclub really (that implies liquor, doesn't it?), so the writer must be so enamored by its art gallery environment and the fact its an all ages venue. It doesn't really matter, as the show she attended wasn't up here but was at the Congress down there. And also, I'm not paying too much attention to a writer who admits to only coming up here to catch Dixie Chicks shows. I just think that the bleeding hearts down there have their heads a bit up their asses if they think Modified is the only joint for "alienated Phoenicians," (and does being alienated imply that they're pining for the oasis that is Tucson?)

If any of the Tucsonians who are similarly ignorant would like to tour some of the great venues, clubs, and nights that pop off, just hit me up kids and I'll take you around, then you can judge for yourselves how we stack up. But I'll still be avoiding Tucson like the plague.

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Brendan Kelley