A Rant About the Music Choices in Valley Coffee Shops and Restaurants


*Photo Taken by Ao Gao at Goldbar Espresso.*

The Valley has a long list of restaurants and coffee shops, like Cartel Coffee Lab, Carly’s Bistro and Phoenix Public Market, that have consistent customer bases with generally glowing reviews of their products.

Many of these are great places to sip a drink and chat with friends. Some even become alternatives to a study room or library, where people can work alone or in teams.

The music that plays in the background of each of these food spaces varies across the city, but for quite a few there seems to be a pattern to play a mix of 2000s soft indie-rock— and students are starting to notice the distinction.

“Carly’s Bistro is the heart of ‘Phoenix restaurant-music-core,’ with its mix of generic classic rock and inoffensive contemporary indie rock,” says recent ASU grad Brandon Kutzler, 22.

Most of these shops have an overreliance on music from popular 2000s bands like The Shins, The Strokes, MGMT or Bon Iver. When looking at the demographic of the young Phoenix workforce, it’s easy to see the correlation. Many of them grew up listening to that music during their formative high-school years.

Other places, however, have a tendency to switch the style up. For instance, Lux and Jobot Coffee and Dining in Phoenix often bring DJs to set a chill vibe for customers, or to play music from local acts like Andrew Jackson Jihad.

“Jobot sometimes orbits those flavors but they’ll throw in off-kilter stuff. Hip-hop, hardcore punk, electronic music or, if you’re lucky, Sleep’s stoner-metal classic one-song album Dopesmoker at 4 a.m.,” Kutzler says.

More and more young college students frequent these shops, and in general people see these as places to work during certain times of the week, whether that is in the afternoon or at 4 a.m. on a Saturday. The music should be able to fortify those feelings of efficiency; classical, ambient or light electronic could help guide people to new music while still enhancing their productivity.

Students live in a time where considerable attention is put into playlists as a musical format, with people thinking about what they listen to and what music best fits a particular activity. As more people grow comfortable using streaming sites and apps, they begin to rotate through more music faster.

Valley restaurant and coffeeshop employees should adapt to the same style and be a little more selective when choosing music. These gathering spaces play a pivotal role in guiding people’s music choices, and reduce the risk of music becoming stale.



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