First downtown McDowell Mountain Music Festival a success

By all accounts, the 2013 McDowell Mountain Music Festival pulled it off.

The festival, celebrating its tenth year and first time in a downtown venue, represents a big step-up for Phoenix’s live music game. A mid-sized festival of this size — equally welcoming to families and younger festival goers — was exactly what the area needed.

Located in Margaret T. Hance Park in the heart of downtown, the non-profit festival did an admirable job of matching local bands with legendary national artists. The balance was perfect for the festival, simultaneously drawing big acts downtown while giving local talent a bigger stage.

That the original plan for Hance Park called for an amphitheater should be no surprise to any festival-goers. The acoustics were absolutely stellar: crisp and propulsive, without ever becoming overwhelming.

The Roots’ Saturday performance marked the high point of the three days, with a tight, funky performance that included their own songs mixed in with covers like “Jungle Boogie,” “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” and “Immigrant Song.”

Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes impressed the crowd with their affable indie-barnyard-boogie style on Friday, equaling the performance of that day’s headliner, The Shins.

Other noteworthy performances included locals Dry River Yacht Club and Decker, Dr. Dog, and the always odd bass-slapping wonder Les Claypool trying on yet another new hat with his new Duo de Twang.

MMMF’s announcement this year brought amazement at the quality of the line-up and the new location. It’s a credit to the festival that even before it had wound down, folks were buzzing about how the line-up and layout would shape up next year. With a festival like this calling downtown home, it’s hard not to already feel excited at the prospect of next year.

Photos by Brandon Kutzler/DD