Michelle Branch and Other Chicks With Picks Drew a Small Crowd to Tempe Beach Park

Categories: Concert Review

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Jonathan McNamara

It's no secret that we at Up on the Sun love local music. Hell, our music editor just made the journey to SxSW to make sure you get to read first-hand accounts of how Miniature Tigers, Kinch, Dear and the Headlights and several other Phoenix bands did in Austin, Texas.

So it was with this love for all local music firmly held in our hearts that we ventured to Tempe Beach Park on Saturday, March 21 for the Chicks with Picks Music Fest. The event promised "over 70 performers" at three separate stages with the likes of Michelle Branch and Sarah Buxton headlining the event. We got all of that and more with only one problem: there was no one to enjoy it with.

Despite the brilliant premise of an all day music festival celebrating not only local music, but women in local music, very few people showed up for Chicks With Picks.

Truth be told, Saturday's concert was not the first Chicks With Picks festival. Founders Pandy Raye and Rhonda Hitchcock held the first one as the culmination of their weekly female artist showcase at The Buffalo Chip for a crowd of 1200 people.

That's quite a crowd for a club, but not really the sort of numbers needed to fill a venue like Tempe Beach Park.

So just how scant were those in attendance? How about only 200 or so by the time Michelle Branch took the stage at 10 p.m.?

It's a shame there weren't more Chicks With Picks supporters as Branch's performance was the highlight of the event. The sultry songstress performed acoustic versions of her ultra radio-friendly hits "Goodbye to You," "Are You Happy Now" and "The Game of Love" sans Carlos Santana. Branch even played a track or two from her alt country project The Wreckers.

Still, Branch bowed out with no encore as several of those in attendance were already leaving.

As for us, we left disappointed that there wasn't more of a reaction from all the concert-goers out there. We'd like to see the Chicks With Picks Music Fest succeed and become an annual part of the local scene. Here's hoping.

Critic's Notebook:

Better Than: not having a festival dedicated to women in music at all.

Personal Bias: "The Game of Love" is much better without Santana's tired guitar riffs messing it up.

Random Detail: The Oscar Meyer Weiner Mobile was present at Chicks With Picks.

Further Listening: Lilith Fair: A Celebration of Women in Music

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