The McDowell Mountain Music Festival is the only 100% non-profit music festival in Arizona. All of the proceeds from the festival benefits two local, family-based, non-profits: Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation and UMOM New Day Center. And they have been doing this for 13 years! Each year the line-up gets better and better.. This year they brought onboard headliners Passion Pit, Portugal. The Man, Thievery Corporation, Phantogram, Beats Antique, and Widespread Panic for a three day downtown party in Phoenix, AZ presented by Deschutes Brewery. And these were just the headliners!!!
The festival grounds had two stages. One main stage and the other was a local stage for acts from the area. This was my first time seeing a festival highlight local talent and I was really impressed by the thought of it. Such a great way of giving the up and coming artists an opportunity to shine. One local act in particular that pleasantly stuck out to me is indie folk rockers Jared & The Mill. These guys have a great way of engaging the crowd and adapting the old style of folk into a more modern format. Also, beyond the festival grounds were late night shows hosted at The Crescent Ballroom and The Renaissance Hotel. There you could rage all night long with acts like Break Science, The Revivalists, and Teal Leaf Green.
There were a lot of artists on the bill that I had never seen before and was absolutely impressed when it came to their set. Passion Pit was one artist in particular that I listened to on occasion but finally got to see at McDowell. Such a fun stage presence playing hits like "Sleepyhead" and "Carried Away," They were also an extremely photogenic band which makes me want to see them again! Trampled By Turtles and Widespread Panic were also a couple act acts I had yet to see. Trampled of course played one of their greats, "Wait So Long," and Widespread opened their 19 song performance with "Space Wrangler."
A few acts that I have seen seen before were Thievery Corporation, Beats Antique, and The Revivalists. Thievery Corp was the Saturday night closer that happened to be their founder Rob Garza's birthday. They went extra hard during that set. Best set I have seen by Thievery hands down. Beats Antique threw a good set in as always but actually seemed a little dry in comparison to the last time I saw them in their headlining Creature Carnival Tour. They still had the epic costumes and inflatable colored dog but that tour was top notch with every song intricately designed. Still a good show though.
All in all McDowell Mountain Music Festival had a lot to offer and was a fantastic time! It's a festival located in our nation's 6th largest city with camping included. Camping did not seem like the ideal way to go and there was a lot of prime hotel options if you were coming from elsewhere. That's certainly the route I recommend if your interested in the future. It's a 100% charity festival, presented by a fantastic craft beer company and has a stellar diverse line-up every year. Also, the park used has the most luscious grass i have ever had the pleasure to dance on! Seriously worth checking out!
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