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Phoenix Independents Bowl: Local Music Types Roll For Charity

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By Martin Cizmar

There ain’t no bowling alley at Kierland Commons. So, really, I am at a loss to explain what happened at Sunset Bowl Sunday, as a team from Desert Living Magazine bested two New Times teams and a slew of other area bands, promoters, club owners and assorted independent music types to win the inaugural Phoenix Independents Bowl.

See more shots in this slideshow direct from Sunset Bowl.

I mean, Desert Living? The magazine that, this month, has a story on how to downsize from 6,000 square feet to 900? Or recently ran a story about a writer going to the Geox shoe store to prepare for his trip to Milan? Where'd they learn to bowl?

Anyway, congratulations to Desert Living and to the other top teams (list below) and to “Psyko Steve” Chilton, who put on a hell of an event to benefit Local First Arizona. It was quite a scene, with What Laura Says, The Stiletto Formal, Modern Art Records, Good Fellas Merch, Stinkweeds, Modified Arts, Flying Blanket Studios and Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World all showing up to roll while rocking out to James Brown and Devo.

Read on for more about the event and to see how your favorite local band fared.

Psyko Steve says he came up with the idea for the Independents Bowl after going to Las Vegas for the Punk Rock Bowling tournament, which draws bands and industry types from around the country.

“It’s an idea I’ve been toying around with awhile, wanting to do something that was separate from shows, something that was neutral ground for everyone in different scenes or different subcultures or whatever you will,” he says.

There are only two independent bowling alleys in Arizona, so Sunset Bowl – a hip set of lanes with a great café and $1.75 drafts – was the place to do it, he says. The location was suggested by Brian Coughlin of Kinch (we’ll be running a feature on them in a few weeks – stay tuned) who remembered bowling there a decade ago.

“Since the charity was all about promoting locally-owned businesses that was kind of a big key for us, finding somewhere that was not a national chain because that defeats the whole point,” he says. “And this bowling alley is awesome. Almost everyone who’s come up to me has said they’ve never heard of it before or seen it, and that’s the idea.”

“We walked in here the first night, went up to the counter and asked the owner, Dale, ‘We want to rent the lanes out for an event who do we talk to about that?’ and he’s like, ‘Well you can talk to me and, you know, I’m independent, so I can do what I want.’ We hadn’t even pitched what the idea was, he just summed the whole thing up in the first five seconds we talked to him.”

The lanes, the cause, and the participants were all great, as was the music. The task of spinning for a crowd of scenester types must have been a little daunting, but DJ Shane Kennedy nailed it, playing a nice assortment of what he calls “the common American music that I would imagine people listening to over the years while bowling.”

The man came with a philosophy, starting with the answer to this question: “What is the common heart of the bowler? The American bowler? What is that common culture that’s shared over the years?”

Sadly, too much rocking out and not enough focused bowling led our New Times team – clubs editor Benjamin Leatherman, web editor Jonathan McNamara, web intern Yvonne Zusel and me – astray, as we finished 1-1, with scores well below those who made the eight-team playoff. Next year, it's me and three ringers.

The top six teams:

Desert Living Magazine (magazine)

Sketching in Stereo (band)

Good Fellas Merch (merchandise design and production)

The Rogue Bar

Select Shows (promoter)

J.D. Stooks (singer/songwriter)

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