Viva Phoenix’s swept through Downtown Phoenix for its Sophomore event March 11, 2017 with local favorites like MRCH and longtime heavy hitters including Wyclef Jean. 100 bands played in 20 venues throughout the evening from smallish spaces such as the Masonic Temple’s Boiler Room to Cityscape where, for the second year, Downtown Phoenix, Inc. in conjunction with Mayor Greg Stanton’s office, closed off Central Avenue. DOOM! Magazine photographer Devon Christopher Adams was in attendance and compiled a Top List of experiences throughout the evening.
Tone Loc. Yes, that Tone Loc. I overheard a woman in the front row asking “Who’s next?” when her friend mentioned Tone. He just smiled and patted her hand knowingly. Shortly, Tone Loc and his DJ took the stage as the crowds began to swell on Central Ave, and as he tore into “Funky Cold Medina” that woman knew exactly who this seminal rapper was.
P.O.S. & Duckwrth at Monarch Theatre’s “Blunt Club”. I caught the tail end of San Francisco hip-hop musician Duckwrth’s performance at the Monarch and was struck by the creative energy, positive vibe, and overall cohesion between stage and audience. After Duckwrth, P.O.S., founding member of indie hip hop collective Doomtree, took the stage. The crowd swelled and rapped along with this iconic musician as the line wrapped around the block to get into the venue.
Girl Scouts. What’s cooler than little girl scouts with wagons full of cookies outside large venues like Cityscape? Those same girl scouts with Square. Yup, their moms took credit card payments on their phones. Super convenient for late night face stuffing.
Reverend Horton Heat at the Masonic Temple. When I heard these rockabilly legends were performing, I had to photograph the show. We all crammed into the non-air conditioned Masonic Temple, & they started strong with their signature “Psychobilly Freakout”; the crowd went wild from there.
Rickshaws. Those bikers are great. Now don’t get me wrong, this number isn’t about the music, but isn’t a good fest all about the experience? If you had to get from Crescent Ballroom to the Monarch in a few quick minutes, jump into a rickshaw. Those people work hard and averaged about $10 per person per ride.
Injury Reserve at Cityscape. Years ago, in a former life, I taught high school English where a young Nate Ritchie enrolled in my class. Now that he and his rap outfit, Injury Reserve, have released their most recent critically acclaimed album Floss and are making a name for themselves on the west coast, I was eager to see them open Cityscape. As we chatted before the show, I watched the fans milling around hoping to get their albums, shirts, and wristbands signed by him. Cityscape was strictly a hip hop stage and bookending this venue with the new, fresh, high energy Injury Reserve and hip hop staple Wyclef Jean was pure genius.
Wyclef Jean. Wyclef was added later to the lineup for Viva Phoenix almost as as ace up the producers’ collective sleev. As mentioned earlier, Wyclef closed the Cityscape stage downtown by not only signing and rapping but also by playing the drums and guitar to show his true musical virtuoso. The best place to catch his show? Make a reservation for a table on Blue Hound’s balcony.
YACHT at Valley Bar. Last time I saw YACHT they opened for Vampire Weekend. The sound was terrible. Not this time. YACHT closed the Valley Bar taking stage just after 12:30am & ripped through a tight techno dance pop set that included lead singer Claire L. Evans engaging the modest crowd and having as much fun as we were.
Now remember, Viva Phoenix is seven hours over several large city blocks. We could not cover everything, but if you have a memory that you loved, feel free to post it in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.