Crowd at McDowell Mountain Music Festival (M3Fest)

Partying for Charity?

“Look at that giant bottle of Tito’s over there,” the lead singer of Dr. Dog told the enthusiastic crowd last night Friday night. “Isn’t it outrageous?”

And it was kind of wild to see this giant, clear, plastic bottle of Tito’s in the middle of Hance Park, sticking out next to a few downtown Phoenix skyscrapers.

“Outrageous,” he repeated, before going into the next song with the rest of the band.


Drinks at McDowell Mountain Music Festival (M3Fest)
Gettin’ our drank on


When I think of McDowell Mountain Music Festival, “outrageous” isn’t really the first word that comes to mind (though it does describe a 25 ft. tall bottle of vodka very well). The festival says that it adopts a “3 C’s” belief: community, culture, and charity. And I think those 3 C’s do a much better job of describing this friendly little fest, often referred to as “M3F.”


Anderson East performing at McDowell Mountain Music Festival
Anderson East


M3F celebrated its 15th year this past weekend and, as was tradition, 100% of their proceeds went to Arizona charities. So I could feel even better drinking my vodka sodas and waving my arms around to some Washed Out, knowing I was supporting my community while doing so. The event took place at Hance Park right next to the light rail in downtown Phoenix.


Downtown Phoenix sunset during McDowell Mountain Music Festival (M3Fest).
Downtown Phoenix sunset


This fest is all ages, and while you may find your fair share of fringe and an occasional flower crown, you won’t find any Coachella snobs here. The crowd at M3F is neighborly – the kind of place where you can catch up with some old classmates or run into your boss from your first job.

There are groups of excited high schoolers that easily could have been you and your friends many years ago. There are parents who used to do the festival thing and now are bring their young kids (complete with giant protective headphones).

At this point I didn’t know what was more entertaining: the band jamming on the mainstage or these two kids on the lawn recreating WWE and tackling each other in the grass.


Crowd for Cut Copy at McDowell Mountain Music Festival
Crowd for Cut Copy


Oh, and the lineup. Though M3F is a smaller fest with an emphasis on local, the team was able to put some big names on the lineup.

This year, festival-goers were able to experience artists such as Father John Misty, O.A.R., the Revivalists, Mura Masa, Nick Murphy, Gorgon City, Dr. Dog, Griz, Big Gigantic, and more. There was something for everyone at the three different stages and staggered set times meant you wouldn’t have to miss any of your faves.


Dr. Dog at McDowell Mountain Music Festival (M3Fest)
Dr. Dog


While it may not be a giant event, it certainly doesn’t slack on the stage production. You got your fair share of lasers and lights and video. I managed to find my way to the front for Gorgon City and had an absolute blast. It was comparable to many other shows I’ve been to.


Gorgon City performing Motorola at McDowell Mountain Music Festival (M3Fest)
Gorgon City performing brand new single “Motorola”


Oskar Blues returned this year as the ultimate beer sponsor – complete with souvenir cups (and I’m proud to say that my roommate and I now have a set of 4). Attendees got to sip on their favorite brews such as Dale’s Pale Ale – and the giant Dale’s Pale Ale can made a perfect meetup spot for you and your squad.


Inflatable Dale's Pale Ale from Oskar Blues Brewery at McDowell Mountain Music Festival (M3Fest)
Oskar Blues Brewery “Dale’s Pale Ale”


If you were looking for the hard stuff, Tito’s, Tanqueray, and Bulleit had it covered at the bar. The festival-themed cocktails were super delish and went great with a sunny Saturday afternoon on the grass.


Tito's vodka and soda at McDowell Mountain Music Festival in Downtown Phoenix
Tito’s vodka with soda and lemon


All in all, it was a wonderful weekend with wonderful friends. I got to climb on top of a green-lit box to see the entire crowd at Lemaitre. I ate some delicious potstickers and convinced three new friends to go order some for themselves. I found some wild leggings at a booth and the sales person told me they were made from “real unicorn fur – ethically sourced, of course.”


Leggings from a vendor at McDowell Mountain Music Festival (M3Fest)
Whole lotta leggings


And I got real nostalgic and emotional when I heard a few old tracks that I love – which is probably one of the best parts of any festival experience.

If you’re looking to support your local community and have a great time right in the heart of Phoenix, you’ve got to get yourself to M3F. Go ahead and mark your calendars – the website says they’ve got next year’s dates confirmed: March 1st-3rd.

If you wanna hear some of the tunes we heard this weekend – peep this playlist we made for ya:


We’re pumped to have Melissa at The Deli this week.

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Did ya read about Breakup Shoes’ album release last week? You should.

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