Concerts

The Best and Worst of M3F 2022 in Downtown Phoenix

The Best and Worst of M3F 2022 in Downtown Phoenix
Neil Schwartz
The return of M3F (formerly known as the McDowell Mountain Music Festival) was a two-day experience full of tunes, people, and vibes.

Here's the best and worst of last weekend at Margaret T. Hance Park.

click to enlarge NEIL SCHWARTZ
Neil Schwartz

Best: The fashion

People-watching is the unspoken source of entertainment at any music festival, and M3F offered two days of prime views. The heavy EDM presence on the lineup ensured that a cadre of ravers and Burning Man types would show up at the festival, and they came wearing their best. We saw a lot of '70s-style jumpsuits, tie-dye everything, faux fur, wild colors, crazy sunglasses, and oddly enough, more than one man in a chicken onesie. Jennifer Goldberg

Worst: Lines

Complaining about lines at a music festival is like complaining about lines at Disneyland. There’s no use in being upset with the inevitable. But I’m not here to harp on the lines being long — that was a pill I was willing to swallow. Where M3F struggled is with line maintenance. At the main entrance, the general admission line didn’t fork into three separate lanes until roughly 60 feet from the entrance. Media, VIP, and Platinum passholders weren’t given clear instructions with where their entrance was, either, leading many to join the single file GA line, which at times wrapped a full circle around Second Street.

And the lines weren’t much better inside. In the food court area, vendors were placed in an inexplicable circle, as opposed to being lined up parallel for organization. During the 7 p.m. dinner rush, the lines to each vendor sometimes extended the entire diameter of the circular food court, intersecting with others and creating a messy spider web of hungry festival-goers. I saw a few wait in a half-hour line for bao buns, only to find out at the end that they were actually in the line for noodles. At that point, they took what they could get. Yikes. Gannon Hanevold

click to enlarge Heathen was one of the best parts of M3F. - NEIL SCHWARTZ
Heathen was one of the best parts of M3F.
Neil Schwartz

Best: Heathen the Art Car

There is no better welcome to a festival stacked with house and EDM performers than a pickup truck disguised as a bull named Heathen. And did we mention that it breathes fire? The truck, owned by local entertainment company Walter Productions, was placed at the entrance off of Third Street, unpredictably shot flames into the sky through a piston mounted on its cab. On a chilly Friday night, the blast of heat was first alarming, then endearing. In between sets, Walter could be heard from as far away as the Pompelli Stage in between acts. GH

Worst: The wind

Nothing ruins my mood quite like the wind. In a festival setting, at its best, it can be a nice breeze to cool off in the thick of the day. At its worst, the wind stirs up allergies and an altogether bad time. In the unmaintained dirt areas between Moreland Street and Roosevelt Street, the wind created small sand armies throughout the day, tormenting the many waiting in line at the general admission entrance and never losing a battle. Many fans entered the gates with itchy eyes and a sudden urge to buy a jacket at the merch stand.

The tissue-thin adornments on the side of the stages were no match either, swaying back and forth and turning jumbotrons into a moving target. When I stopped for a funnel cake between sets, the wind took the powdered sugar and turned my black jeans and gray hoodie into a monochromatic Jackson Pollock painting. I just wanted dessert and instead became the subject of Def Leppard’s biggest hit. GH

click to enlarge M3F attendees take part in a coloring project. - NEIL SCHWARTZ
M3F attendees take part in a coloring project.
Neil Schwartz

Best: The activities

No matter how much you love music, after two solid days at a festival, you need to mix it up a bit. M3F is great because it gives attendees other options besides staring at a stage. There were yoga classes, drum circles, coloring projects, art cars, photo props, and plenty of vendors selling stickers, sparkly capes, and more. It meant that even when we needed a break from watching the sets, we were never bored. JG
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