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A Look Back At McDowell Mountain Music Festival 2016

Photo: Meghan Lee

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This past weekend Margaret T. Hance Park in Phoenix Arizona was packed with music fans celebrating McDowell Mountain Music Festival’s 13th year. This festival places an emphasis on the surrounding community by donating 100% of the profits to two local charities. Not only does this festival have an excellent mission, it has attracted some major headliners this year including: Beck, Kid Cudi, and The Avett Brothers topping the lineup.

Photo: Meghan Lee

Photo: Meghan Lee

Margaret T. Hance Park, located in the heart of Phoenix provided an excellent, easy to get to location. Inside the gates of the festival, green grass (which is rare for Phoenix Arizona) covered the venue. MMMF consisted of two stages, which continually switched off with their set-times with no overlap. This set-up was great because once an act was ending on the main stage, people could wander over to the smaller stage for the next set without stressing about missing anything from the other stage. The paths in-between the two stages were lined with local vendors selling a variety of items (clothing, handmade jewelry, hula hoops). Also lining one of the walls of the festival gates were local food trucks serving up some of Phoenix’s most delicious food.

Photo: Meghan Lee

Photo: Meghan Lee

The first day of the festival showcased both local and travelling bands. MS MR put on an extremely energetic show followed by Brothers Gow, Animal Collective, Big Wild and one of the major headliners closing out the night: Beck. As the evening got colder and darker more and more people packed into the park to see Beck (this was one of my personal favorite performances from the weekend).

Photo: Meghan Lee

Photo: Meghan Lee

The second day of the festival started bright and early in the Arizona heat with some excellent local bands: The Haymarket Squares, Sister Lip, and Fairy Bones. Other excellent sets from this day included Luna Aura (who pulled a guy on stage to serenade), Bloc Party, The Main Squeeze, Griz and Goldfish. By the time the sun began setting the park began filling up, with people lining the fences by the main stage. Porter Robinson put on a great show with mesmerizing videos accompanying his performance. St. Lucia also took the stage and amazed the crowd, with singer Jean-Philip Grobler having fun with his wireless microphone by jumping down into the crowd and taking selfies with the fans. Kid Cudi closed out the night with an energy-packed set in which he took pleasure in jumping across the speakers just inches from the photographers and fans, ultimately reaching down and signing a record for someone. The crowd loved this performance and it was a great way to close out the second night.

Photo: Meghan Lee

Photo: Meghan Lee

The third and final day of the festival had a different vibe than the other two days. Sunday seemed to be more relaxed, with a lot of children and families present. Most festival-goers setup blankets and umbrellas in-view of the main stage. Some great sets from Sunday included: Kaleo, Bird Dog, Huckleberry, Firekid, Gary Clark Jr., and of course The Avett Brothers closing out the festival (another of my personal favorites from the weekend). This was my first time seeing the Avett Brothers live and I am counting down the days until I can see them live again, they were extremely fun to watch on stage.

Photo: Meghan Lee

Photo: Meghan Lee

Overall, this was an excellent start to the 2016 festival season. While McDowell Mountain tends to be a more mid-level/local festival, it attracted some major artists this year, proving that these mid-level more local festivals have a great deal to offer those who may not have the flexibility to travel for some of the major national festivals. Now that my post-festival depression is setting in, I can look back at the amazing memories that McDowell Mountain Music Festival has created for me for yet another year. Be sure to keep this festival on your radar, each year it seems to be growing in so many great ways.

See our entire 2016 McDowell Mountain Music Festival photo album below.

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