Are Out-of-Town Festivals Worth the Hassle?

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Benjamin Leatherman
Seasoned festival-goers at McDowell Mountain.
Music festivals have been around for decades, and they're only becoming more popular. Each year, millions of fans fly around the world to attend more than 270 fests of various genres in the United States alone. They aren't a cheap experience, either: between festival tickets, travel, hotels and basics like food and water, you end up dropping anywhere from $500 to $1000, and beyond (ahem: This might be a good time to check out our list of 11 Ways to Attend a Music Festival on a Budget.)

Which raises one inevitable question: is it really worth going to festivals out of town?

The act of actually getting to a festival out of the Phoenix area can be a love/hate relationship... or at least it is for me. (Please, PR friends--don't revoke my press applications! You can't see this, but I'm batting eyelashes that aren't nearly as convincing after a peace-treaty whiskey shot.)

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McDowell Mountain Music Festival 2013 (VIDEO)

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Melissa Fossum
Black Thought of The Roots
Are you still sleeping off the hangover you picked up at the 10th annual McDowell Mountain Music Festival? In case you somehow missed it, MMMF 2013 brought some great acts to Phoenix. We're still tapping our feet every time we hear a song by The Roots or The Shins, and we've got our fingers crossed that Margaret T. Hance Park will be play host to more McDowell Mountain Music Festival lineups in the future (and more music festivals in general).

Reviews, slideshows and dancing hippie GIFS say a lot, but they only say so much about the festival, so I made a video featuring 12 of the bands that played. Check it out after the jump.

See also:

-Our Complete Coverage of McDowell Mountain Music Festival

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14 Animated GIFs of Hippie Shenanigans from McDowell Mountain Music Festival

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Photos and clips by Benjamin Leatherman
Three attendees of McDowell Mountain Music Festival this past weekend. Check out our complete coverage of the event.
Attendees of last weekend's McDowell Mountain Music Festival at Margaret T. Hance Park found plenty of ways to feel the music during all three days of the event, including those folks of crunchier, groovier, and dread-headed bent.

Over the past decade, the springtime concert festival has been a popular destination for hippies, granola munchers, tie-dye fanatics, and the disciples of Jerry Garcia, probably because it typically boasts a healthy dose of jam bands, reggae acts, and prog rockers in addition to its diverse lineup of indie and Americana acts. And -- along with others in attendance -- they're in a mood to dance, with or without hula-hoops in hand. We grabbed more than a dozen clips of hippie activity that transpired at MMMF, which are presented in animated GIF form.

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10 Things We Learned at McDowell Mountain Music Festival 2013

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Melissa Fossum
Kongos at McDowell Mountain Music Festival.
This weekend, McDowell Mountain Music Festival celebrated its 10-year anniversary in style, at a new primo location of Margret T. Hance Park, with good beer from Deschutes, and with awesome bands like The Shins, The Roots, Balkan Beat Box, Les Claypool, and more.

You can catch up on our reviews, interviews, and photos, but what we've got here is a collection of the lessons the festival taught us.

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Dr. Dog and Les Claypool's Duo de Twang, McDowell Mountain Music Festival, 3/24/13

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Melissa Fossum
Dr. Dog. See the complete slideshow of Day 3 of the McDowell Mountain Music Festival.

Dr. Dog, Les Claypool's Duo de Twang, and More @ McDowell Mountain Music Festival at Margret T. Hance Park|3/24/13
The last day of a music festival is always an exercise in mixed feelings. The majority of the crowd is exhausted, sunburned, and dehydrated, but through it all, watching the headlining band is fun and bittersweet. As much as fans want to go home and soak up copious amounts of aloe vera, there are some lingering desires for the festival to continue for another day or two.

Yesterday was the final day of McDowell Mountain Music Festival. Fans got to celebrate one last time by rocking out to bands like Umphrey's McGee and Dr. Dog and flaunting their percussion skills in the epic drum circle.

See also:

-Les Claypool: Eccentric Bassist Would Rather Be Fishing
-The Roots, McDowell Mountain Music Festival, 3/23/13
-The Shins, McDowell Mountain Music Festival, 3/22/13

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The Roots, McDowell Mountain Music Festival, 3/23/13

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Melissa Fossum
Black Thought of The Roots on the mainstage of McDowell Mountain Music festival. See more photos.

The Roots @ McDowell Mountain Music Festival at Margret T. Hance Park|3/23/13
About an hour into their dominating set, the legendary Roots crew pulled out a trick few other bands could get away with: Drummer Questlove and percussionist Frank Knuckles did a drum solo. An extended one. It's always been my opinion that nothing kills the mood of a live show quicker than a drum solo (no offense to you "Moby Dick" fans out there), but The Roots mostly got away with it.

See also:

-The Roots, Fayuca, and More: McDowell Mountain Music Festival Day 2, 3/23/13 [Photo Slideshow]
-Questlove of The Roots Is So Much Better at Instagram Than You


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Downtown Phoenix's Last Exit Live Now Open

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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.

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The Shins, McDowell Mountain Music Festival, 3/22/13

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Melissa Fossum
James Mercer of The Shins performing @ McDowell Mountain Music Festival. See more photos in the complete photo slideshow.

The Shins @ McDowell Mountain Music Festival at Margret T. Hance Park|3/22/13
It's been 10 years since McDowell Mountain Music fest got started, and nine since Natalie Portman, as the prototypical "manic pixie dream girl" stated that The Shins would "change your life." In that time, McDowell Mountain Music fest has stayed its course, appealing to local music fans with a mix heavy on crunchy jam bands and a few carefully selected indie acts. The Shins, on the other hand, have enjoyed nearly a decade of divergence from a once-assumed path.

See also:

-Photo Slideshow: The Shins, Balkan Beat Box and More: McDowell Mountain Music Festival, 3/22/13

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Heartless Bastards: Songwriter Erika Wennerstorm Aims for "Clint Eastwood-Meets-Nancy Sinatra" Sounds

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Nathan Presley
Heartless Bastards
Timberlake-style audacity aside, it takes some serious stones to open an album with a six-minute-plus slow-burning anthem. But that's what Erika Wennerstrom does with "Marathon," the opening track of her Texas-via-Ohio band Heartless Bastards' 2012 opus, Arrow.

See also:

-Questlove of The Roots Is So Much Better at Instagram Than You

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Questlove of The Roots Is So Much Better at Instagram Than You

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Questlove (Questlove Jenkins) @ Instagram
Listen, you not as cool as Questlove, so knock it off.
Of all the stupid things we do with our phones, Instagram might be the worst. Not only has the app falsely convinced us all we're professional photographers, but it's done something even worse: It's encouraged our worst vainglorious tendencies. No one is Amaro-toning his or her real life. There are no 'Grammed photos of rashes or credit card statements; it's all fake, stylized versions of our day-to-day lives. We all should uninstall. Your Instagram profile? It should go. Mine? Definitely.

But Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, of hip-hop combo The Roots, can keep his.

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