Viva PHX, a music festival going for its second round on March 14, will host more than 90 bands in 20 different venues in the downtown Phoenix area.
“The music is the No. 1 thing,” said Charlie Levy, creator of Viva PHX. “No. 2 is the experience. If any of these bands don’t mean anything to you, you’re going to have a crazy great time.”
Usual music festivals have two stages and if you don’t know who is playing, then you don’t enjoy yourself, Levy said. But at Viva PHX, there are 20 venues playing at the same time.
“I want people to walk by a venue and poke their head in it and hopefully see the best show they’ve seen all year,” he said.
Three blocks of Monroe Street will be closed off for a giant block party with food trucks, vendors, artists and a Lucha Libre wresting stage in the dead center of it.
It’s a lot of small venues, but intimate ones like Grace Chapel, Phoenix Masonic Temple and the basement of the Orpheum Theatre, Levy said, which most of Phoenix probably doesn’t know exists.
“That’s why we want to keep it around 8,000 like last year, to keep it crowded but not overwhelming,” he said.
Levy said he can’t wait for people to enter Grace Chapel, part of that burned-down 100-year-old abbey on Monroe Street and seeing flamenco. “That’s fun for me,” he said.
Wild Ones (a band Levy raved about), Best Coast, Coolio, Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World and Arizona locals are the type of artists being featured this year. Levy said he also brought in bands from Mexico and Tucson to recreate those world music venues at South by Southwest.
“We kind of went for really great artists and not necessarily for flavor of the day,” Levy said, comparing Viva PHX to Pot of Gold and other music festivals in the Phoenix area at the same time.
A Spotify playlist is on the site to share music from the artists performing at Viva PHX and for the audience to discover them. “You don’t have to be the biggest music nerd to enjoy this festival,” Levy said.
Viva PHX was planned in three months last year, but more time did not make it easier because it had to be better, Levy said. “As long as the people keep wanting it, it’ll keep happening,” he said.