The smell of sweat and ash in the air. The slow rumble of a note thrumming from the bass. A singer, hair wet with perspiration, mouth open and welcoming to the tune it creates, steps to the mic. Guitarists thrash their heads to the raging beat of the drums, tearing their fingers against the strings. You’re surrounded by faces: college students, drop-outs, artists, families, and strangers.
This is the scene of bands playing in Phoenix, Arizona. Although they’re small, they have loyal and local fanbases. Performers often struggle to grow their following, but Phoenix is the place for many artists looking to kick off their careers and grow their following.
“The music scene here in Phoenix isn’t too bad,” Riccardi said. “Things in the last couple of years are starting to pick up, with all these new festivals here and new local bands being formed all the time. The local scene has loads of nice people who just love to get a mosh on or hear live music. Definitely a bigger scene for indie-geared bands over pop music.”
Some notable festivals in Arizona include the Goldrush Music Festival and the recently-made ZONA Music Festival. However, these often feature bigger, well-established artists. For local bands, there are a variety of pop-up events that give them the opportunity to share their music.
While the fans in Phoenix are welcoming and passionate about the local performers, bands are often faced with the costly reality of being emerging artists. In a statement from the Phoenix band Blu Joy, band members Kris, Niqo, and Dylan commented on this aspect of performing.
“If we could make any changes to the industry, it’d probably be lowering the costs of everything,” said Blu Joy, in a collective response. “From recordings and track production to merch production and even venue ticket sales. Lowering the costs would just make everything more accessible for everyone.”
The most unique spot is the Alibi House, a venue created by its namesake band. Joseph Riccardi explained the idea behind starting it up as a home for local bands.
“The Alibi House started simply from Alibi throwing shows for ourselves at this house,” said Riccardi. “Then more and more bands started reaching out, wanting to play, and it just turned into its own thing where we’ll just host shows for other bands. Sometimes we won’t even be playing.”
Every emerging band has its own distinct noise, often a combination of sounds from established indie, rock, or pop groups. In recent years, conversations have emerged on the similarity of songs recently (often in reference to Olivia Rodrigo, whose debut album has been met with copyright strikes). However, with their unique perspectives and young Valley lifestyles, Phoenix bands have made their mark on the industry.
When asked to describe their music, Blu Joy members compared their work to the likes of Weezer, the Beatles, Nirvana, and the Beach Boys, an eclectic mix of sound that perfectly captures their originality.
“We aim to make care-free, easy-listening pop music that appeals to, really, anyone,” the group said. “Whether you’re driving in the car or doing some errands around the house or you’re just in the mood for some tunes, we like to feel Blu Joy can fit any mood or time.”
Where Blu Joy dominates the retro-pop game, Alibi focused more on producing a range of music, stretching from soft ballads to hard rock (with a disco feel).
“At the end of the day, we just make whatever kind of music comes to us,” Riccardi said.
It’s hard to deny the magnetism of these local artists. At the end of the day, they’re the epitome of a dream realized, artists in need of a medium. They’ve found that solace in Phoenix, of all places.
“I think local music is important because everyone starts somewhere,” said Riccardi when asked about the value of Phoenix performers. “You could help be a part of the ‘next big thing.’ Even bands like Maroon 5 or Coldplay started playing to only a few people.”
An important part of local music, again, is community support. Social media plays a large role in growing audiences. Information for both Alibi and Blu Joy is included below, and I encourage you to check them both out. Buying merchandise from local performers is another way to directly fund their projects, shows, and future albums. So the next time you stumble upon a local performance in Phoenix, consider going in. I promise you won’t be disappointed by the atmosphere, energy, and passion these local artists bring to the stage.
Alibi recently released an 11-song album called “I think you think too much” and is in the process of remastering some of their older hits. Check out their socials below to see any upcoming shows they might be playing! Check them out on Instagram and Spotify!
Blu Joy just released their debut album in late January, and it’s fantastic. Their soonest performance is on 3/30 at the Rebel Lounge, supporting the Smooth Hands’ EP release. Check them out on Instagram and Spotify!
Local Love is a digital project dedicated to highlighting various local businesses, artists, performers, people, etc. in Arizona with the hopes of spreading the word about shopping/supporting locals. Through this, I hope to 1) educate readers about various new places, missions, or events that they might have otherwise missed out on and 2) support the blooming community we have in the Valley.