The history of Phoenix’s DIY music scene is like an elaborate game of Whack-A-Mole. Venues pop up all over the place, only to get swatted down by rising costs, gentrification, poor attendance, neighbors with the cops on speed dial, or the owners and talent falling under the sway of Portland’s siren song. Sometimes they re-emerge under new names or pop back up in new locations. Sometimes the house venues and underground spots even take it to the next level and go “legit.”
Such is the case with Phoenix’s The Lunchbox. Started by Wax Castle’s Dannie Levie, it was originally just a place for Levie to record drums, but over time the place evolved into an underground hot spot, a place where local weirdos like Pro Teens, Dismal Light, Lav Andula, Willetta, and Lana Del Rabies could rub shoulders with touring acts like Wrekmeister Harmonies, Little Wing, Guantanamo Baywatch, Circuit des Yeux, and ADULT. The Lunchbox even became something of a one-stop shop for bands, offering recording and video services as well as screen-printing. LBX quickly went from being an “Ask A Punk” secret spot to a venue with a website, a Google-able address, and a social media presence.
But the game of Whack-A-Mole never ends, and now the shadow of the mallet is over LBX.
Since Levie and co. moved from their original 16th Street location to a larger building with a bar, they’ve faced mounting costs and expenses. An independent operation with no outside financial backing, the LBX crew are reaching out to the community for support. They launched a GoFundMe in November with a $5,000 goal (as of press time, they’ve hit $2,311). And to help move the needle farther into the black, LBX is putting on a two-day “Save LBX” festival. Tickets for each day of the fest cost $10 (with all proceeds going to LBX). The lineup currently breaks down as follows:
Tuesday Nov. 27
Wednesday Nov. 28
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Doors for both shows open at 6:30 p.m. The show is for people 21 and over.
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While Phoenix has seen a boom in music venues with the trifecta of Crescent Ballroom, Valley Bar, and The Van Buren, the local scene benefits greatly from scrappier spots like The Lunchbox. LBX has hosted some of the most adventurous and uncompromising artists in the country (as well as international acts like Father Murphy), groups whose music is too noncommercial and esoteric to get booked on larger stages.
The Lunchbox is a vital missing link, the bridge between DIY house shows and mid-size clubs. If you want to keep that bridge from getting burned down, you’ve got two nights to help put out the fire.
SAVE LBX: A Two-Day Show. 7 p.m. Tuesday, November 27, and Wednesday, November 28, at the Lunchbox, 4132 East McDowell Road, #7; lunchboxphx.com. Tickets are $10 via Eventbrite.