Downtown Phoenix's Last Exit Live Now Open
Photos by Benjamin Leatherman Sara Robinson and the Midnight Special performs at Last Exit Live last night.
It's gonna be an action-packed weekend for Brannon Kleinlein. The 38-year-old will be busy overseeing the locals-only side stage at the McDowell Mountain Music Festival at Margaret T. Hance Park. It's certainly a major task that he'll have to juggle along with this weekend's debut of his new downtown Phoenix music venue Last Exit Live, which held its soft opening on Thursday night and will host a MMMF after-party tonight.
But if the Valley music impresario, who also puts on the Apache Lake Music Festival every year, is feeling stressed out about his workload, he's certainly not showing it.
Kleinlein was the very definition of calm, cool, and collected Thursday night as he hung out at Last Exit Live, interacted with patrons, and handled any issues that popped up over the course of the evening.
"I'll admit it's kinda crazy and a lot to take on trying to open a venue and put on a side stage at a major festival all in one weekend. But everything seems to be working out," he says. "It worked out with timing as far as the cross-promotional purposes with the doing the festival and the name recognition and opening the venue in conjunction with that. The fact its in downtown [Phoenix] for the first time and we're downtown seemed to fit together, so it was worth the extra work."
Kleinlein says that he's considering Thursday night's show -- which attracted an estimated 50 people and featured performances by locals Sara Robinson and the Midnight Special, Greyhound Soul, and Hunter Johnson -- as well as this entire weekend as a "test run" for the venue prior to its official grand opening in early April.
Sara Robinson and the Midnight Special performs at Last Exit Live.
"It's doing exactly what I'd wanted it to do: get some bands on the stage, test out the sound system, get the bartenders going, and have some people in here," he says. "I wasn't expecting a packed, packed night or anything. If you throw a big event and get 300 people out for your grand opening, you're bound to have some problems, so it's good to work out the kinks."