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Category: Festivals

Zona Music Festival review

This past weekend the first inaugural Zona Music Festival took place at Margaret T. Hance Park in Downtown Phoenix! Another new festival in Phoenix is enormous for the ever-growing music scene out here. Created by Arizona’s largest indie promoter, PsykoSteve, this festival features indie, alternative, and old-school acts for all types of listeners. Trust us; the Zona Music Festival Review won’t disappoint!

On the festival’s first day, Arizona broke a state record for most single-day rainfall since 1908, but that didn’t stop thousands from showing up to have a good time. Luckily enough for attendees, the festival offered a new re-entry policy for the weekend, allowing everyone to come and go as they pleased.

The Setup at Margaret T Hance Park

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If you have ever attended Mcdowell Mountain Music Festival, the stage setups are in the same spots in the park. For Zona, a 4th stage popped up in the tunnel underneath Central Ave, along with a local beer garden and a village of local vendors! The main stage could have been a tad bigger and featured video monitors to see the artists playing on stage, but for the first year, it was fine. The VIP areas at the Nicks and Ronstadt stages could have been improved for what you’re paying. An elevated viewing area to keep patrons out of the mud would have sufficed. Aside from the dirt, which the festival had little control over, the only downside of the setup was the lack of water stations, and the ones that existed were empty within hours of doors opening. 

The Lineup and sets

We wrote about the lineup here when the festival was announced. However, some disappointing last-minute changes were out of anyone’s control. One of the most hyped-up acts on the lineup, Tegan and Sara, dropped two days before the festival as one of the members came down with Covid-19. The same goes for Waxahatchee and Kevin Morby, who were pulled the day of the festival, citing Covid-19. We didn’t let these two acts pulling out deter our spirits and still went into the festival excited for everyone playing.

There were no bad acts at this festival, but some shows stood out more than others. The Bleachers were phenomenal live and fought through the sound issues at the end of their set. They also brought out Bartees Strange to sing a Tegan and Sara song to make up for them having to pull out. Beach House put on a show in the pouring rain to close out night 1. Alex and Victoria seemed right at home in the shower, pouring their heart and soul into every song they played. Day 2 Turnover was the highlight while the sun was still in the sky. At night Japanese Breakfast was the star of the show. She brought radiant energy to the stage and had the whole crowd jumping. Closing out the festival was Portugal. The Man who put on a psychedelic ending set. Along with all these great acts, this festival propped up local artists from around the valley and gave them a stage to perform, which is something more festivals should be doing. 

Overall Experience

Despite the mud, the first-ever Zona Music Festival was a success and a blast for everyone involved. This event is a step in the right direction for the Arizona music scene, as there is no major indie/alternative festival in the state. So we were overjoyed to write this Zona Music Festival review! Zona was reminiscent of VIVA Phx, which used to take over all Downtown Phoenix’s venues, bars, and streets.

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We look forward to seeing what they will do with this festival next year and in the future. Hopefully, the festival will stay in Downtown Phoenix, but if it were to move, Tempe Beach Park could also be a good home for the festival. Who do you think is going to headline the festival next year?

Goldrush: Neon Dreams 2022 Review

At the beginning of October, Relentless Beats hosted the 5th annual Goldrush Music Festival, and a few team members took the trip to the Phoenix Raceway to experience it. With the theme this year being Neon Dreams, a nod to old Vegas, Goldrush leaves behind its iconic western cowboy theme. 2022 was the first year the festival took place at the raceway and not at Rawhide Event Center, and although these changes made the festival different from what it once was, it was still a great festival overall. 100+ talented artists performed over the weekend across the festival’s five stages, so we have a lot to talk about! Welcome to the goldrush neon dreams 2022 review! 

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The Setup at Phoenix Raceway

This year was the first time there was more than one large stage at a festival held at the raceway, so we had no idea what to expect. There was the mainstage megastructure called “Paradise Prairie,” a more petite side stage called “Moonrise Mountain” inside the warehouse, and there was a stage called “Coyote Cove,” along with a silent disco and art car. The scenes were far apart; once in the crowd, the sound bleed was minimal, if not non-existent. The production level on the three more giant steps was good but could have been better.

Paradise Prairie lacked pyro and had technical difficulties with the lasers on the first night. Coyote Cove, the warehouse stage, was our favorite, with numerous disco balls above and around the artist, a color-changing desert backdrop, and lasers on every side of the warehouse. The lasers covered every inch of the air above us and put on a spectacular light show to accompany each set. The after-parties were also located inside the warehouse, blasting music until 5 AM each day of the festival.

The Lineup

Goldrush featured something for everyone to enjoy. The festival’s headliners included Excision, Kaskade, Rezz, and more. That’s barely scratching the surface of this massive lineup. The undercard included talented acts like G Jones, Space Laces, HoneyLuv, and many more. There was plenty of local talent, too, with standout acts like Residuo, Tavatli, Avitas, Animate, and Peachy Keen. Like previous years, Goldrush hosted a DJ competition to open the mainstage; this year, Little Fohx was the winner. She performed a fantastic set. If you’re interested in learning to navigate the music scene as a DJ, check out our blog post here.

There weren’t any bad sets. However, a few stood out more than others. Versa made his Arizona debut at Goldrush this year. Despite being one of the first performers, he delivered complex hitting bass music to Moonrise Mountain. Skepsis had the whole warehouse jumping with his bass lines, accompanied by an other-worldly laser show. The energy within the warehouse during his set was unreal. Unsurprisingly Chris Lake put on a spectacular show like he always does; every time he performs, it is an entirely different set. Playing more techno than he usually does on the main stage of a festival is a sight to behold.

After the festival’s second day, Acraze did not play the festival at all for an after-party. He played an insane set full of tech house until 4 AM in the warehouse. Dom Dolla closed out the festival on Moonrise Mountain and played the best set we’ve seen from him, his mixing skills were next level, and he put on quite the show. The after-party that night featured Space Laces, and he tore apart the warehouse; he is one of the best in the dubstep genre. He is a genius producer and an even more talented DJ, and you can see it in his sets. 

Final Review of Goldrush

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Goldrush: Neon Dreams was a great three-day festival; everything was outstanding, from the stages to the production to the lineup. We couldn’t have been happier to write the goldrush neon dreams 2022 review! The sets we ended up catching were terrific, and there were some tough calls regarding set conflicts. Every artist on the lineup is worth checking out, as they are incredibly talented. We had very few problems regarding the crowd, and it was a good time everywhere we went. Overall the festival was terrific; however, it can not compare to the last edition of Goldrush in 2021, where the western town was in the center of the festival. While we miss Rawhide, the new festival grounds are promising and have a bright future.

ZONA Music Festival: Festival Spotlight

A brand new music festival is coming to Downtown Phoenix this winter. The first-ever inaugural ZONA Music Festival will take place on December 3rd & 4th, calling Margaret T. Hance park it’s new home. Brought to you in collaboration with Psycho Steve Presents and Downtown Phoenix Inc, the first edition of ZONA will be huge. Reminiscent of the once great VIVA PHX Festival, this boutique festival is for all lovers of alternative, indie, pop, and rock. 

The festival announcement was Wednesday, August 24th, in a press conference where Mayor Kate Gallego and Congressman Greg Stanton gave a few words before an acoustic performance from Phoenix-based band Breakup Shoes.


Who’s On The Lineup?


ZONA Music Festival is a breath of fresh air for the Phoenix Indie music scene featuring a diverse lineup of national and local talent. Set to headline the festival is Beach House, Portugal. The Man, Bleachers, Tegan & Sara, and Japanese Breakfast. With an undercard featuring great acts such as Chicano Batman, Lucy Dacus, The Front Bottoms, TV Girl, and many more! It doesn’t stop there, though, as 40 bands and various local vendors will transform Margaret T. Hance park this winter. 

Psycho Steve Presents has been involved in the Phoenix music scene for over 20 years and has always emphasized incorporating local talent within their events. This show is no different. It features touring acts that originated here in Phoenix, such as UPSALH, Breakup Shoes, and Sydney Sprague, who have all recently had significant years in their careers. Joining them are up-and-coming local talents such as Pariah Pete, Glixen, Playboy Manboy, Diva Bleach, and Miniature Tigers. 

Finishing up the killer lineup are Bartees Strange, Beach Goons, Black Carl, Chloe Lilac, Destroy Boys, flor, the Garden, the Happy Fits, Jeff Rosenstock, July Talk, Lucius, the National Parks, Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra, Pom Pom Squad, the Red Pears, the Regrettes, SALES, SASAMI, Sitting On Stacy, Sub Urban, Turnover, Waxahatchee, and Kevin Morby.


The Buzz


“We are beyond thrilled to be among this incredible lineup and return to one of our favorite cities in the United States. It’s been three years, and we look forward to getting on stage and strutting our stuff at ZONA in December!” Tegan Quin & Sara Quin said in a recent press release. Destroy Boys said, “So excited to return to Phoenix for ZONA festival!!! So many killer bands are playing, plus this is one of our favorite cities.”


Our favorite artists playing ZONA


Baltimore-based indie-pop duo Beach House is headlining the festival, and rightly so. The last time the duo played in Arizona was in May 2018, making this a long-awaited comeback. Coming straight off the tour of their brand new album “Once Twice Melody, “this is a set you won’t want to miss. 

Michelle Zauner, also known by her stage name Japanese Breakfast, is another artist headlining the two-day festival in the winter. Combining the sounds of alternative and pop, her most recent album, “Jubilee,” has something everyone will like. Japanese Breakfast will be a weekend standout with an incredible stage presence and a bubbly personality.

Hidden within the undercard is Lucy Dacus, an extremely talented singer and songwriter, with bandmates Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker. Her third solo album, “Home Video,” is an emotional autobiography about her religious upbringing in Virginia and her self-exploration battle.

The Front Bottoms are another undercard band that is a must-see. Hailing from New Jersey, this rock band has been around since 2006 and found its fame within the midwest emo and punk scenes in the early 2010s. The band has great energy on stage and puts on a great show every time they perform.

Weekend passes are available on  ZONAmusicfest.com Single-day GA and VIP tickets won’t be available until closer to the festival date. Make sure to check this one outcome during wintertime.

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