It's tempting to say that Bands on Grand will be a glimpse of what's to come for downtown, when there'll be nightlife galore and bands playing all the time. Really, though, is that such a stretch from reality, at least in a modest, seeing-signs-of-life-down-there way? To be sure, you won't find 40 bands playing on a typical night in the area (yet!), but consider that while a couple of the festival's eight venues -- the art gallery/bookstore Perihelion and the bar Fat Cats -- don't usually host live music, every other stop on this walkable stretch of central Phoenix does. So this is just pushing the action to the next level, with the help of cheap wristbands ($10 in advance, $12 at the door) and an organizer with kick-ass taste in bands (Donald Martinez, whose brainchild is the ever-popular music Web site theShizz.org
). Most of the acts are somewhere on the spectrum between loud indie rock and high-energy pop, including The Necronauts, Minibosses, and Secret Life of Painters, but performers such as the earthy, acoustic Ten Dollar Outfit, outrageous punk band Meatwhistle, experimental hip-hop group Cross Platform, and groovy, eclectic DJ Seduce bring diversity to the lineup. All in all, it amounts to some of the city's brightest prospects, present or future.