McDowell Mountain Music's First Day Delivers a Festival, Not So Great Music

Melissa Fossum
Passion PIt

McDowell Mountain Music Festival has consistently been my favorite musical event of the year since I first went in to 2013. Of all the metro Phoenix-based festivals it feels the most like a legitimate national level festival -- and really, with this year's lineup they just about are one.

They really packed in the dirt lot-camping this year, and the vendor options are just stellar. I completely understand that with a "music" festival the music should be the number one priority. But if all you've got is great music than you are hosting a concert and not a festival.

The good folks over at Westpac just seem to know how to create the right atmosphere for regular Phoenicians to let go of their inhibitions and go into full on festival mode right in the middle of downtown.

The people of Phoenix really let their freak flags fly for MMMF this year, complete with festival costumes, light up hula hoops, face paint, the whole nine yards. Not for nothing, the amount of street light poking through the trees also adds a certain amount of magic to the night sky, and that's coming from someone who didn't take anything stronger than Deschutes River Ale yesterday.

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Bingo Players' Maarten Hoogstraten on How Creativity Has Become a Cathartic Experience

Categories: EDM, Interview

Courtesy photo
Maarten Hoogstraten of Bingo Players.
Maarten Hoogstraten has been through tumultuous times the last couple of years. In late 2013, Paul Bäumer, his fellow member of electro-house duo Bingo Players, passed away after a short battle with cancer, which was a devastating experience to say the least.

Hoogstraten carried on, however, at the behest of his late friend and collaborator and continued to both perform and produce under the Bingo Players banner despite the tragic loss. According to the EDM artist and DJ, he had mixed emotions about doing so, but hasn't regretted it in the slightest.

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20 Years After His Death, Eazy-E Deserves a Spot on Rap's Mount Rushmore

Categories: hip-hop

Peter Dokus

For Eazy-E, the concept of gangsta rap was fully formed in his mind.

By 1986, the genre, which nobody then called "gang­sta rap" ("reality rap," please) had begun to sprout in L.A. by way of Ice-T's "6 'n the Mornin'," which was patterned after Philadelphia rapper Schoolly D's "P.S.K. What Does It Mean?" But there was no gangsta-rap label, and certainly no gangsta-rap genre.

Eazy-E was an unlikely progenitor. "I didn't know he rapped," remembers MC Ren, his future bandmate in N.W.A. "Ain't nobody know."

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7 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

Categories: This Weekend

The Hourglass Cats are playing McDowell Mountain Music Festival this weekend.

Here are our picks for this weekend. Be sure to check out our comprehensive concert calendar for more options.

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McDowell Mountain Music Festival 2015: Everything You Need to Know About This Weekend's Event

Benjamin Leatherman
The McDowell Mountain Music Festival main stage in 2013.
Downtown Phoenix's Margaret T. Hance Park will become something of a hallowed ground for music fans this weekend. Over three straight days, a couple of acres of grass will be transformed into an outdoor temple of sound during the annual McDowell Mountain Music Festival featuring some rather godlike deities from indie rock, electronica, blues, and jam band worlds will be eagerly worshiped by the faithful underneath the sun and stars.

Think we're laying it on a bit thick here? Probably, but it definitely could be argued that MMMF, which takes place from Friday, March 27, to Sunday, March 29, is something akin to a spiritual experience for some of the thousands of people who turn out for the annual event in droves. Its also a pilgrimage of sorts for some folks who travel across a few states to attend.

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Phantogram's Josh Carter Reveals Details on Collaboration with Outkast's Big Boi

Phantogram and Big Boi will soon release an EP.

Phantogram has been making the big-time festival rounds over the past half-decade or so, and even though it isn't really a jam band, the group will stop at this weekend's McDowell Mountain Music Festival. The fest isn't really a stretch for the Bonnaroo veterans, but suffice it to say, four years ago, Phantogram probably would not have been considered for this festival.

With just a couple of days left before the group's 7:45 p.m. set on Saturday at Margaret T. Hance Park, Phantogram's Josh Carter talked with New Times about Big Boi, Wayne Coyne, the role ego plays in the creation of art, and chowing down in unfamiliar cities.

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Right Hear, Right Now: 5 Great New Songs By Phoenix Artists


Mitchell Hillman listens to more local music than just about anyone in the Valley. He presents his picks for best new music in his column, Right Hear, Right Now.

The Senators - "Hummingbird"
"Hummingbird" is the first new song since last year's deluxe release of Harsher Than Whiskey / Sweeter Than Wine that contained two bonus tracks that were not on the original release. The Senators are a fantastic indie folk outfit with a gilded pop edge, a touch of rock sensibility and clearly and ear for multilayered compositions involving fascinating harmonies and beautiful instrumentation. If "Hummingbird" is any indication, their follow up album Battle Hymns is going to be simply outstanding, and I would expect nothing less from this talented crew. The new single is something that just makes me smile every time I spin it, and I've listened to it more times than I can count. Genuinely smile, because everything about it feels good, whether it's the horns, the harmonies, the upbeat pace or the fantastic vocals, it's just a wonderful Spring breeze for your ears. The Senators have partnered with Valley of the Sun United Way, and are currently promoting the new single release as a way for their fans and followers to give back to the Phoenix community with them. 50% of proceeds from 'Hummingbird' pre-sales will directly benefit efforts to end childhood hunger in Maricopa County.The Senators will be headlining the Local Stage, this Friday at the McDowell Mountain Music Festival and I am certain they will emanate nothing but good vibes.

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Drawing from Classic Rock and Funk, 
Valley Teen Gus Campbell Is Ready to Rock

Gus Campbell and friends

Though it's premature to call Gus Campbell a guitar god, he is a true talent. One could use adjectives like "wunderkind" or clichés like "He's an old soul," but the truth of the matter is the kid can flat-out shred for any age. At 16, Campbell has a maturity and musical acumen that many local musicians two and three times his age wish they had. After gigging around town (and out of state) for the past couple of years with his trusty Stratocaster in hand and bandmates Alex Chacon (bass) and Mark Savale (drums) , it is apparent this young man is ready to take things to the next level. Who knows? Maybe he can take it to levels we have yet to see.

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Fifteen for '15: The Phoenix Acts to Watch This Year

Categories: Cover Story

With summer preparing to give us a triple-digit reminder why the snowbirds leave in April, local musicians are hard at work.

Lucky us, because we get to reap the fruits of their labors.

The Phoenix music scene is as diverse as the Valley of the Sun is large. With everything from house DJs to conscious hip-hop to old-school groove metal, there's something for you no matter your favorite genre.

We've sifted through hundreds of local artists to present 15 talented troubadours poised to make waves in the Arizona music scene this year. This selection represents just a small sampling of the singers, instrumentalists, and performers who make the Phoenix music scene so great.

Catch them around town -- while you can.

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Van Halen to Play Ak-Chin Pavilion on Monday, September 28

Categories: Announcements

Maria Vassett
Van Halen is prancing into town later this year.

Van Halen is retuning to Phoenix later this year for the first time since 2012. The band known for hits like "Jump," "Hot for Teacher," and "Running With The Devil" will perform at Ak-Chin Pavilion on Monday, September 28.

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