Here’s the latest from Andrew From AZ. (This might shock you, but that’s not his real name.) Plucked from the obscurity that is our comments board, Andrew is snarky and a bit of a (reluctant) scenester, and he’s back documenting where to be and be seen in AZ.
They don’t look like much, hanging from the ceiling. When they’re blasting the fullest, clearest sound you’ve heard in Phoenix, it’s hard not to be impressed. The Crescent Ballroom’s four Electro-Voice speakers fill every corner of the space with a full sound that you can feel in your chest cavity. If you sit in the wooden bleachers in the back of the room, you can feel the sound in your a$$ and through your feet. “Everyone here is smiling,” a friend screamed in my ear during an intense guitar solo. We were standing about ten feet from the three-foot-tall stage, surrounded by a couple hundred hipster music lovers, plastic cups in hand, enraptured.
The just-opened Crescent Ballroom still smells like varnish. Its bathrooms are still shiny. They ran out of paper towels in the men’s room on Sunday and my IPA on Monday, but both quibbles were fixed by Tuesday’s show. Tiny issues aside, this place is legit. With an occupancy limit set by the City of Phoenix Fire Department at 543 souls, the Crescent Ballroom is a mid-tier concert venue. Larger than the Rhythm Room but slightly smaller than Tempe’s Clubhouse, Crescent has been making its impact felt across Phoenix’s indie music scene all summer. “What’s this Crescent Ballroom thing?” we wondered, as acts like Gang Gang Dance and Album Leaf released fall tour schedules with a mysterious paucity of details surrounding their Phoenix dates. When the venue was officially announced, music lovers valley-wide were awed at the first month’s lineup.
What we failed to fully realize at the time was that in addition to booking great shows, owner Charlie Levy (who has been promoting music with his local outfit Stateside Presents for over a decade) has what it takes to create an amazing venue. Details from the height and size of the stage to the smiling service you get at the bar to the stage lighting coalesce to create a place that’s easy to enjoy spending time in, even if the music playing isn’t exactly your favorite style.
Believe it or not, it’s only going to get better. “They’re supposed to be serving food either the end of this week or the beginning of next,” the server told us, as he dropped off a bag of chips and a tiny cup of salsa for us “to taste test,” he claimed. The salsa was delicious – as one would expect from a team comprised of Chris Bianco (yes, THE Chris Bianco) and Doug Robson, owner of CenPho fave Gallo Blanco. That’s right, if you haven’t heard, they’re teaming up to put together a menu for the new space’s kitchen, promising food that you can eat while watching the show.
Just two blocks off the light rail, Crescent is everything proponents of Downtown Phoenix’s music scene have been clamoring for since Modified Arts changed focus. The front of the house, the lounge, will feature live music seven days a week for no cover, and will be open from 4 PM until 2 AM every night of the week (!!!!). There are two bars, one in the lounge and one on the left wall of the concert hall. Both feature a full liquor menu and some solid, if not particularly noteworthy, beer options. Visit crescentphx.com to see the calendar, and if you want my advice, buy your tickets (mostly under $20 with fees) immediately. Several of the more popular shows are already close to selling out. This place has changed the live music landscape in Phoenix, and you WILL be impressed with what you find.