Phoenix Festival Vibes: Eight of the best local music events to check out this spring

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By Madison Rutherford

Phoenix is quickly becoming a premier destination for spring festival season – think sunny weather, silent discos, delicious festival food, eccentric outfits and, of course, an abundance of live music. Phoenix’s festival scene seems to be getting bigger and better each year, whether your thing is baseball, burritos, bass drops or banjos. Just don’t forget the sunscreen!


MCDOWELL MOUNTAIN MUSIC FESTIVAL (M3F)
THE TIME: Friday, March 1, 2 p.m., Saturday, March 2 and Sunday, March, 3, 1 p.m.
THE PLACE: Margaret T. Hance Park, 1200 N. 1st Street, Phoenix
THE PRICE: $70 per day, $145 for 3-day passes, VIP packages available
THE PEOPLE: Odesza, Empire of the Sun, Lettuce, Chicano Batman, Toro Y Moi, Allah Las, Mt. Joy, Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra, Big Wild
THE VIBE: Now in its 16th year, M3F once again brings its message of community, culture and charity to Downtown Phoenix for a one-of-a-kind celebration of arts and music for a good cause. The festival isn’t just committed to showcasing the vibrant culture of the Valley – it’s also rooted in helping local charitable organizations. This year, 100 percent of proceeds will fund Phoenix Children’s Hospital Music Therapy Program, Habitat for Humanity of Northern Arizona and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. An eclectic mix of electronic, indie, funk and jazz bands provide the soundtrack while local and regional restaurants like Gadzooks, Freak Brothers Pizza and Pho King provide the menu. Festivalgoers can also catch a relaxing yoga session before a set, join a drum circle conducted by AZ Rhythm Connection or witness local artists painting to the music throughout the weekend.
THE PLUG: m3ffest.com

 

INNINGS FESTIVAL
THE TIME: Saturday, March 2 and Sunday, March 3, 1 p.m.
THE PLACE: Tempe Beach Park, 80 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe
THE PRICE: $99 per day, $130 for 2-day passes, VIP packages available
THE PEOPLE: Incubus, Eddie Vedder, Sheryl Crow, Jimmy Eat World, Band of Horses, Cake, Grouplove, Guster, Liz Phair, G. Love & Special Sauce, Shakey Graves
THE VIBE: Last year’s inaugural Innings Festival knocked it out of the park. Spring Training’s answer to the Phoenix Open’s Bird Nest Festival, Innings is quickly becoming a Valley staple for sports and music fans alike. This year features a nostalgic lineup of luminaries from the‘90s and early 2000s like multi-platinum funk rockers Incubus and grunge rock veteran Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. Fans can also look forward to appearances from MLB legends like Roger Clemens, Rollie Fingers and Matt Williams. Attendees can try their hand at America’s favorite pastime with several baseball-themed activities and games throughout the park, or get their grub on at food vendors like El Jefe Tacos, Hoss Doggies and Ballpark Burger Co.
THE PLUG: inningsfestival.com

 


FLYING BURRITO FESTIVAL
THE TIME: Saturday, March 9, 4 p.m.
THE PLACE: Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. 2nd Avenue, Phoenix
THE PRICE: $14
THE PEOPLE: Bane’s World, Orkestra Mendoza, Donna Missal, Soft Kill, Playboy Manbaby, Nanami Ozone, Bogan Via, Citrus Clouds, Jerusafunk
THE VIBE: With four stages, 25 national and international music acts, lawn games, live lucha libre wrestling and more than 50 types of burritos, it’s safe to say the second installment of Phoenix’s south-of-the-border celebration, Flying Burrito Festival, gets bigger, better and beefier by the year. Is it a music festival with food or a food festival with music? According to creator Charlie Levy (of Crescent, Van Buren and Viva PHX fame), it’s both. And if the block party-style soirée is anything like last year, Levy has a few tricks up his sleeve. Munch on burros from local vendors like Jobot, Los Jeztecos and Cocina 10 (a.k.a the Crescent kitchen), sip on beer and cocktails and groove to a southwestern soundtrack from bands from Arizona, California, Texas and beyond.
THE PLUG: crescentphx.com

 


POT OF GOLD MUSIC FESTIVAL
THE TIME: Friday, March 15 through Sunday, March 17, 3 p.m.
THE PLACE: Steele Indian School Park, 300 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix
THE PRICE: Starts at $109 per day, $180 for 2-day passes and $288 for 3-day passes, VIP packages available
THE PEOPLE: Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne, Kodak Black, Lil Baby, Gunna, Tinashe, Young Thug, Post Malone, Lil Pump, Doja Cat
THE VIBE: Usually hosted at Rawhide and featuring a reggae/rock-centric lineup, Arizona’s premier St. Patrick’s Day party is flipping the script this year. The festival returns for its fifth year with a star-studded soundtrack of hip-hop hall-of-famers like Ice Cube and Snoop Dogg and up-and-comers like Lil Baby and 22-year-old Asian Doll. In its first year at Steele Indian School, attendees can splurge on extravagant VIP packages, including a $20,000 group cabana with private concierge service, gourmet meals, complimentary cocktails and premium seating. This year’s Pot of Gold will also feature interactive art installations, rides, games and tons of grub, including vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options.
THE PLUG: potofgoldaz.com

 


COSMIC MUSIC FESTIVAL
THE TIME: Friday, March 8, 6 p.m. and Saturday, March 9, 3 p.m.
THE PLACE: Location announced the day of the festival
THE PRICE: $18
THE PEOPLE: Josh Teed, Space Pharaohs, Detcord, Excell, Nastyhumanz, Morgan Laine, Blakeland, Shred Kennedy, Dusted
THE VIBE: Every spring, this two-day camping festival features free-spirited art, workshops, music and more. Where is it? The mystery remains. What we do know is that Cosmic Music Festival is all about creativity and good vibes, featuring bands, DJs, lyricists, live painters, fire spinners and other performers showcasing their talents across multiple glowing stages. Expect otherworldly genres like psychedelic space rock, drum and bass, progressive trance and hypergalactic hip-hop.
THE PLUG: cosmicfestival.info

 


FULL MOON FESTIVAL
THE TIME: Friday, March 22, 8 p.m.
THE PLACE: The Pressroom, 441 W. Madison Street, Phoenix
THE PRICE: $20 online, $25 at the door
THE PEOPLE: Black Bottom Lighters, Dela Moon, Dustin Zahn, Sam Groove, Dark Mark, Nodari, Soundscrybe, The Hourglass Cats, Techno Snobs
THE VIBE: Every other month, The Pressroom in Downtown transforms into an underground multigenre “microfestival” where music, art and culture mesh. With dozens of interactive art installations, performances and stages (think art cars, live painting, DJs, bands, fire spinning and plenty of photo opportunities), the Full Moon Festival’s goal is to provide exposure to burgeoning local creatives looking for a progressive platform. And what better way to foster creative energy than under the light of the full moon? The Full Moon Festival serves as a microcosm for Phoenix’s most cutting edge creative scene, while celebrating the celestial vivacity of the lunar cycle.
THE PLUG: facebook.com/fullmoonfestivalphx

 


PHOENIX LIGHTS
THE TIME: Friday, April 5 and Saturday, April 6, 5 p.m.
THE PLACE: The Park at Wild Horse Pass, 5040 Wild Horse Pass Boulevard, Chandler
THE PRICE: $99 per day, $149 for 2-day passes, VIP packages available
THE PEOPLE: Kaskade, Excision, Arty, A$AP Ferg, Claude VonStroke, Party Favor, San Holo, Must Die, Svdden Death, Mustard, Griz, Big Gigantic
THE VIBE: Take us to your leader! If EDM is your jam, Phoenix Lights is an out-of-this world immersive experience that you’ll have to see to believe. With interactive intergalactic photo ops around every corner and a genre-defying lineup (with more to be announced!) ranging from Harlem rapper A$AP Ferg to revolutionary record producer Kaskade, the fifth annual two-day rave presented by Relentless Beats is sure to be a stellar celebration. Be aware that Phoenix Lights is a cashless event, so any purchases made at the festival must be done with a pre-loaded wristband.
THE PLUG: phoenixlightsfest.com

 


COUNTRY THUNDER
THE TIME: Thursday, April 11, 2:30 p.m., Friday, April 12 and Saturday, April 13, 1 p.m. and Sunday, April 14, 1:30 p.m.
THE PLACE: 20585 E. Water Way, Florence
THE PRICE: $75 per day, $160 for 4-day passes, VIP and camping packages available
THE PEOPLE: Trace Adkins, Clay Walker, Lonestar, Craig Campbell, Restless Heart, Brett Eldredge, Tim McGraw, Dierks Bentley, Chris Stapleton
THE VIBE: Bust out your ten-gallon and your Tony Lamas – it’s time to work on your two-step! Country Thunder is a touring country music festival that comes to Florence every April for four days, and brings with it some of the biggest names in the biz. It’s also one of the only music festivals in the state with on-site camping. Attendees can catch the action at the main stage or side stage or enjoy one of the many attractions and activities this wild western party has to offer, including a mechanical bull, hot air balloon rides and, of course, camping. “Glamping” options are also available.
THE PLUG: countrythunder.com/az

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