2007 Tempe Music Festival Preview

Tempe Music FestivalSpring in the Valley is different than spring is back East. I’ve spent most of life in and around Boston where we definitely get four full seasons every year. Here in Phoenix, you are lucky if you get two. So the locals tell me that the true right of spring is the Tempe Music Festival and this week I’m ready to Rock Out, Tempe Style…I hope to have a definition for you next week as to what that really means, but hey, maybe I’ve coined the next big thing…

I’ve been here a full six months and have been craving to dive into the local music scene in more ways that one. Coming from Boston, I think I’ve taken music somewhat for granted, although we don’t have a “festival” so to speak that is unique to our area. The closest we had was one night a year where a radio station closed down Lansdowne Street and presented the “Best Music Poll”. We of course were stops on Lollapalooza (when it was a traveling festival) and the Warp Tour, but at the end of the day, you had to travel elsewhere for that true festival experience.

Last year I made it to Coachella, and I think that is going to be the gold standard to measure all other festival shows this year. Since this is my first go around at the Tempe Music Festival, I’m going to try and bring it to you from the perspective of the casual festival-goer. How was the lineup, how were the performances, how was the venue…those sort of questions, so you can gauge that vibe and if you need to make it a place to visit next year! I hope to be able to not only write a review of diary style of my adventure, but deliver a few video clips to try and convey what was really happening off the beaten path.

The festival is located in downtown Tempe right next to the sprawling campus of ASU. If I didn’t know any better, one would think this is just an extension of the University’s spring concert, just on a much grander scale in an awesome location. Friday night is even being billed as “college night” with discount admission with a valid college ID. The park is located on Tempe Town lake and will be saturated with sun shine all day long, as the forecast calls for sun and temps in the 80’s.

So with that stellar preface, let’s dive right into a preview of this year’s Tempe Music Festival, shall we?

The festival is of the two day variety and kicks off on Friday, March 30th at 5pm with “Captain Squeegee & the Soap Suds” (I can’t decide if that is the best or worst band name ever…I’m going to withhold judgment until I actually hear them play a tune) and concludes on Saturday night with headliner “The Fray”, who will presumably show us how to save a life in front of 10,000 screaming, prepubescent girls, but I digress. (Hey, I’m allowed to use a song title in a cheesy way ONCE in my article, aren’t I?) Sandwiched in between spanning two days there will be sets by “School of Rock”, “Gin Blossoms”, “Lifehouse”, “Pat McGee Band”, “Cowboy Mouth”, “Everclear”, “Yellocard” and “O.A.R.”. Only a couple of which I would go to a solo show to see, but all together make a decent festival lineup. I’ll let that lineup stand for itself for the time being without going into biographies and discographies for each band. That’s what the internet is for, isn’t it?

Of note in this year’s lineup is Everclear, simply because it is not the Everclear of old. The band’s frontman is still Art Alexakis, but that is where the past stops. The whole rest of the band has been revamped after a falling out on their last album in 2003. I’m not sure if it is a case of creative differences or the lead’s ego, but when it is your band and the true face of the project, you can do what you want I guess. Art has formed a completely new band and they are out promoting the “new” bands new album, “Welcome to the Drama Club”. The name is seemingly fitting if you look at the current state of Everclear, new vs. old. I’m really curious on what sound Art is back to on this new album.

Another aspect of the festival is that there is also a second stage labeled the “Fender Frontline Live! Stage” and as often the case at festivals of this size, you can usually catch an awesome set by one of the smaller bands on these stages. You’ll have to make some tough choices on who to see and who to miss at what time, but give it a shot. Check out the whole lineup and set times for this stage over at tempemusicfestival.com. The site is simple and not to overbearing with useless information. You can find the set times, ticket information, directions and what you can bring into the festival and such.

There will be plenty to do both before and after the festival both days, as it is right down the street from the hip “Mill Ave” which is also the host of the Tempe Arts Festival the same weekend. In fact, the street will be shut down so I recommend getting there early (I hear parking is a bitch) and really enjoying the day. It is a small walk between the festival site and Mill Ave and according to their site, you can leave and reenter the festival up until 6pm on Saturday!

I’ll see you next week with my reviews, notes, possible interviews and any other pertinent rants on my adventures at the Tempe Music Festival.

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