When we think of American cities ripe with song and sound, our minds quickly move to places like Austin, Texas, Nashville, Tennessee, and New Orleans, Louisiana. Well, listen up, folks: this is our official declaration of the excellence of Phoenix, Arizona’s music scene. From Latin-inspired pickings to Southwestern fusion that vibrates with the spirit of the desert, don’t sleep on the Valley of the Sun. Instead, follow its melodies to the best live music venues in town.
Music Without Borders
Phoenix, Arizona is home to some of the most talented musicians in the country. The Southwestern city’s vibrant blend of both Latin and Native American cultures makes for a unique musical heritage and distinct sound, rich in texture and tune. This diversity too translates to the crowds that flock to house parties and concert halls to mosh and mingle — all are welcome in these parts. So if you’re heading out on the town for the evening, be it Mexican, jazz, punk, or Mariachi, there’s probably a live-set just a stone’s throw away and a performance right up your alley.
Las Chollas Peligrosas
Don’t take our word for Phoenix’s musical identity. Listen to the leading ladies of Las Chollas Peligrosas. The self-described “sisterhood” and local sextet fuses Latin folk melodies with accordions, violins, guitars, and multilingual vocals, drawing inspiration from their everyday lives as mothers and musicians in Arizona. Though the band is in its youth, its players are all veterans of the city’s music scene and believe that it’s on the rise as a hard-hitting destination. Fitting for the metropolis at the heart of the Valley of the Sun. Here are some of their favorite spots:
The Lost Leaf Bar & Gallery
If you’re big into beer and beats, The Lost Leaf is the venue for you. Located right off of Roosevelt Row Arts District in downtown Phoenix, the drinkery-come-art gallery enjoys nightly performances by a variety of musicians and bands. The perfect place for a weeknight whistle-wetting, here you can check out walls of beautiful artwork and dance the night away to an up-and-coming act.
Last Exit Live
Seven nights a week, Last Exit Live hosts the best in local talent and the biggins’ on national tours. The cozy indie music club is located in the Historic Warehouse District of Downtown Phoenix and is known for its classic red stage curtain, quality sound (for all of you audiophiles out there), and cutting production chops.
If you’re hungry for Arizona eats, thirsty for hooch, and have a hankering for checking out local talent, look no further than Crescent Ballroom. This former garage features free live music, the best in Tex-Mex eats, and a lounge that will help you loosen up for a round on the dance floor. From punk-folk players to DJs who spin all night, the venue is a favorite of both locals and out-of-towners, and one of the key spots that paved the way for the city’s celebrated music scene. If you’re looking to hop, the neighborhood is packed with great venues, including the Van Buren and Valley Bar. Fun fact: Every Thursday, Crescent offers a community bike ride around downtown Phoenix. Roll out for a fun way to see the city and work up a sweat for the cold beer and burritos that await at the bar post-ride.
The Musical Instrument Museum
You can’t talk about music in Phoenix without mentioning the long-celebrated Musical Instrument Museum. Here, visitors can explore a world of music in the largest museum of its kind across the globe. With a collection of over 6,800 instruments and objects, the institution is a truly multi-sensory experience. Rock out in the Experience Gallery; Revere the beloved tools of musical icons like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, John Lennon and more in the Artists Gallery; and relish in the memories of your days in the band.
Whether you’re into singer-songwriters, salsa, mariachi or moody alt-rock, there’s a space and a sound you’ll love in Phoenix’s expansive and eclectic music scene — one that, proudly, can’t be summed up by any single genre. This city deserves special notice!
"If You Go" Hit List
- Hotel San Carlos
- JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa
- The Saguaro Scottsdale
- Hotel Valley Ho
- The Clarendon Hotel & Spa
- Desert Botanical Garden
- Roosevelt Row Arts District — This walkable arts district boasts a mix of indie shops, restaurants, bars, and galleries.
- The Hive — A central Phoenix collective that brings together independent businesses and visual and performing artists.
- Goldfield Ghost Town — Step back in time and experience the wild west like it once was.
- Pink Jeep Tours — Looking for a full day of fun? Head north into Sedona or the Grand Canyon for exploration and wonderment.
Eat & Drink
- Tacos Chiwas
- The Larder And The Delta
- Shady’s Fine Ales and Cocktails
- Cobra Arcade
- Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.
- The Churchill