Lists

The 10 Most-Read Phoenix New Times Music Stories of 2020

Melissa Fossum
We hope you got to check out a few concerts before everything shut down in March.

The COVID-19 pandemic may have brought live shows to a halt, but local music in Phoenix chugged along in other ways.

Our top music stories of 2020 included Rage Against the Machine ticket drama, Kanye West's shady ballot tactics, and sadly, farewells to some beloved figures in the Phoenix music community.

click to enlarge The Van Buren will likely survive this crisis. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
The Van Buren will likely survive this crisis.
Benjamin Leatherman


10. This Is Bad for Everyone: How the Coronavirus Devastated the Phoenix Concert Scene

Live music was one of the industries hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. Promoters and venue owners were shell-shocked not only by how many shows were canceled or postponed, but by the speed at which it happened. With cases currently on the rise again, there's no telling what the future looks like for beloved local venues.


click to enlarge Would you have voted for Ye? - JASON PERSSE/CC BY-SA 2.0/FLICKR
Would you have voted for Ye?


9. Phoenix-Area Residents Say Kanye's Campaign Workers Are Using Deceptive Tactics

Remember that scene in Heathers when Shannen Doherty was telling all her classmates different things to get them to sign Christian Slater's mass suicide manifesto? That's kind of what signature-gatherers did in Arizona trying to get Kanye West on the presidential ballot; people reported being asked if they supported "independent women's voices" or "third-party candidates," with no mention of West's name. Despite the subterfuge, West didn't make Arizona's ballot.


click to enlarge Sarah Shelton and her husband, Steve, tearing through one of The Brand's tight punk rock songs. - KARL WENTZEL
Sarah Shelton and her husband, Steve, tearing through one of The Brand's tight punk rock songs.
Karl Wentzel


8. A Tribute to The Brand's Sarah Shelton

When punk rocker Sarah Shelton died at the young age of 38, the loss was felt by many in the Phoenix music community. Friends, family, and fellow musicians remembered her as a force to be reckoned with, a talented artist and poet, and a proud Chicana and Native American.



click to enlarge Remember when music festivals were a thing? - KELSEE BECKER
Remember when music festivals were a thing?
Kelsee Becker


7. Innings Festival 2020: Death Cab Walks Off, Weezer and DMB Hit Homers

It feels like a million years ago, but it was only in early March that thousands of attendees gathered at Tempe Beach Park for Innings Fest. Our reporters gave you all the deets from sets by Weezer, Portugal. The Man, Pedro the Lion, and others. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, there will be no Innings Fest in 2021.


click to enlarge Char's Has the Blues in midtown Phoenix finally found a buyer. - GOOGLE MAPS
Char's Has the Blues in midtown Phoenix finally found a buyer.
Google Maps


6. Char's Has the Blues Is Up for Sale

Popular blues club and frequent New Times Best of Phoenix winner Char's Has the Blues had been closed for several months due to the pandemic when we reported in June that the property was up for sale. Char's found a buyer last month; no word on what will become of the beloved establishment.


click to enlarge Valley Rockstar Memorial by Gina Ribaudo is located in Tempe. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Valley Rockstar Memorial by Gina Ribaudo is located in Tempe.
Lynn Trimble


5. Tempe Mural Memorializes Local Musicians Lost — From Chester Bennington to Doug Hopkins



Tempe resident Tommy Gwinn added some color to his neighborhood when he commissioned artist Gina Ribaudo to paint a mural on his property wall. The piece commemorates local musicians who have passed on. Right now, the mural includes Vince Welnick, Glen Buxton, Doug Hopkins, Chester Bennington, and Mike Condello, but there's room to add more faces in the unfortunate event it becomes necessary.



click to enlarge The Sun Club was hot, scummy, and beloved by many during its run. - TEMPE HISTORY MUSEUM
The Sun Club was hot, scummy, and beloved by many during its run.
Tempe History Museum


4. 25 Legendary Tempe Music Venues: Then and Now

Nostalgia pieces were a big hit with our readers this year. Turns out, nearly everyone who has lived in the Valley for a long time has great memories of some of our best music venues that are gone now, including The Sun Club, Bash on Ash, and Compton Terrace.


click to enlarge Kristopher Chupp, a.k.a. DJ Steel, was one of Arizona's COVID-19 victims. - DJ STEEL'S FACEBOOK
Kristopher Chupp, a.k.a. DJ Steel, was one of Arizona's COVID-19 victims.


3. DJ Steel Has Died

News broke late on a Monday evening that DJ Steel, a popular fixture at bars around town, had died of COVID-19. The 42-year-old was the entertainment director for the metro Phoenix Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row locations, and a beloved figure in the local music scene. A GoFundMe to help his widow with medical bills and other expenses raised more than $30,000.


click to enlarge Rage Against the Machine had some very angry fans earlier this year. - PENNER/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Rage Against the Machine had some very angry fans earlier this year.
Penner/Wikimedia Commons


2. Phoenix Rages Against Rage Against the Machine

Tickets went on sale in February for a late March Rage Against the Machine concert date in Glendale, the band's first show in the Valley since 2011. So when seats sold out in less than an hour, fans were big-time mad, taking to Twitter to excoriate the band. RATM eventually added a second show, but it was all a moot point anyway: Both dates were canceled due to COVID-19.


click to enlarge Founding member of Sacred Reich Jason Rainey onstage in the early days of the band with one of his favorite guitars. - STEPHANIE CABRAL
Founding member of Sacred Reich Jason Rainey onstage in the early days of the band with one of his favorite guitars.
Stephanie Cabral


1. Sacred Reich Founder Jason Rainey Dead at 53

The death of Arizona thrash metal icon Jason Rainey was a blow to the local music scene. Sacred Reich bandmate Phil Rind and former band manager Gloria Cavalera paid tribute to their friend and colleague, recalling the early days of the band and Rainey's kind nature.