10 Things We Learned at McDowell Mountain Music Festival 2014
7. The Beer REALLY Matters
There is just such a difference in paying $6 to refill a sturdy souvenir cup with quality craft beer instead of paying $10.50 for PBR. Being able to sip on something during the show that tastes good rather than cheap swill was really a delight. Add the friendly bartenders at the three Deschutes booths and the beer was almost a headliner.
If you think a good beer can't accentuate a great show, then you've never sat back with a River Ale on a spring afternoon and listened to G. Love and Special Sauce lay down funky blues hip-hop jams. Deschutes brewery is definitely another act I hope comes back for MMMF 2015.
6. The festival campgrounds were not that bad.
Looking at it from the outside in, as a resident of downtown Phoenix, hearing that MMMF was charging people to camp in vacant lots around the festival sounded egregious. But through conversations with several of the festivals campers the camp grounds really sounded okay.
There were communal vibes, and they kept the party going as late as they could stay awake. The campgrounds even attracted patrons from as far away as Wisconsin and Michigan. As someone who lives with walking distance of the festival, I probably won't be camping at MMMF next year. But it's nice to know that those who come in from far away are being taken care of and get a spot to lay their weary heads for a C-note.
I had never seen Spafford before their Friday night headlining set on the local stage, and man do they have a great sound. The four-piece Tempe jam band puts on a killer show that is heavy enough to be rock but is still very jammy. It's not surprising that a band that plays regularly at the Sail Inn killed with the MMMF crowd, but it is still always pleasant to encounter a new local band.
If I were picking next year's locals for the Main Stage, I think Spafford would be number three, right behind Black Bottom Lighters and The Hourglass Cats. If there's one local band that definitely gets what MMMF is all about, it definitely is Spafford.