Review by Stephanie Rosa
If you combined mountains, warm weather, tall buildings and delicious food together, you would have just a taste of what McDowell Mountain Music Festival has to offer. Hosted in Margaret T. Hance Park in downtown Phoenix, this festival boasted top-notch organization, a wide variety of music, a family friendly environment and delicious specialty cocktails.
While the festival was relatively small, it was spaced out well, hosted one main stage and a side stage and invited hoopers and vendors to be apart of the M3 community.
McDowell Mountain Music Festival Quick Facts:
Crowd type: Family
Music genre: Alternative, Funk, Electronic
How To Get There
Located about 15 minutes from Phoenix’s Sky Harbor airport, this festival is a short uber ride from Margaret T. Hance Park, located in downtown Phoenix. The festivals central location also allows for easy transport by uber from any part of the city, or by Light Rail for those who are able to utilize public transportation. If you’d rather drive, there are tons of free parking spaces around the park, you just need to keep an eye out for them.
Where To Stay
Downtown Phoenix offers a plethora of hotels and sleeping accommodations based on your price range. Staying in Old Town, Scottsdale is also an option if you’re someone who would like to have a couple of drinks once the festival is over. Uber rides from Old Town to the festival would run about $15-$20. Additionally, Air BnB options are located all throughout Scottsdale and Phoenix if you’d rather stay somewhere with a homey feel to it.
There was a variety of food available at McDowell Mountain Music Festival including some Asian, American & delicious festival grilled food! There were some food trucks set up as well. The festival also had several bars with specialty festival cocktails (that were quite delicious and refreshing!). Free water stations were also available if you had a camelback or cup.
There was one main stage and one very small side stage. The main stage was large and simple, but the sound was great and there was no crossover in the sound when at each stage.
Artists You May Not Have Heard of But Can’t Miss
The festival was set up where an act was on the main stage, then an act was on the side stage and vice versa. There was no crossover in sets, so all larger artists were on the main stage. Per usual, GRiZ, Porter Robinson and Goldfish were great acts. Bloc Party was a band I had been dying to see since high school. They came in all the way form the UK and delivered a great performance.
Things To Do
While small, M3 Festival was family friendly and had a variety of activities. There were hammocks to relax in, a “vendor square”, for some shopping and a bunch of hoops laid out to hoop to some tunes in the sun. If you wanted to participate, there was a drum circle set up near the main stage and artists painting live.
Likewise, the festival offered inexpensive “late night” passes, for those who were looking to jam out extra late. For a minimal cost, festival go-ers could buy post-festival tickets, allowing them to stay on the festival grounds later for an extended set by one of their favorite artists.
Why Go VIP
M3 Festival had VIP available at an additional cost and included a private viewing area on the side of the main stage as well as some chairs to relax in if you didn’t want to sit on the grass.
What Makes The Festival Different?
- The Vibe – The energy and vibe at this festival was awesome. It radiated positivity and had a very eclectic group of individuals due to the variety in the music. There were children there who were able to dance and then sit down on a break with their families, and there were also groups in costumes ready to rave. The festival was accepting of nearly anything.
- Festival Food/Drinks – Not all festivals place a heavy importance on food/drink lineups, but M3 Festival did not fall short. One of my favorite parts of the festival was the ability to choose what type of cuisine you wanted. There were handfuls of options and they were all local food trucks, giving it a perfect touch of Phoenix in every bite. Similarly, the specialty festival cocktails (such as the M3 punch) switched up the bar game. These delicious handcrafted cocktails made it fun to choose which drink you wanted. There were several beer options as well, allowing a beer connoisseur to decide if he/she wanted a local brew, or something more mainstream.
(What should first timers know? Parking situation? Shuttle services? Security strictness? What is critical to bring? Whats the weather like, day vs. night? Crazy uber surges when leaving? Cost saving tips… can you bring an empty water bottle?
- BRING CASH. The festival bars were cash only, and unknowingly, I left my cash and debit card at home… not good. It all worked out, but if I knew ahead of time, I could have saved myself a headache.
- Water bottles are ok to bring in if empty and you can refill them for free at the festival.
- Bring a blanket, or chairs! This festival is family friendly, and allowed you to spread out to be comfortable as necessary. We had a small blanket with us and sat during some performances, which was nice to do in the warm sun.
- Come hungry! To me, having lunch, dinner (or both) at a festival is awesome when the food selection is great. Even with the small venue, the festival made sure to have a really great selection of dining options.
Overall, I would highly recommend M3 Festival. It had a diverse lineup, great food, lots to do in a small space, and it had a great energy to it. The weather was perfect, the crowd was friendly, and the location was convenient. I look forward to heading back to M3 next year.