[REVIEW] McDowell Mountain Music Festival

McDowell Mountain Music Festival hosted in Phoenix, Arizona brings to life the meaning of PLUR by donating 100% of the proceeds to two local charities. Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation is one benefactor of this event which focuses on the rehabilitation and treatment of children living with cancer. This life-giving charity uses cutting edge technologies and heaps of love to bring peace to its young patients as they battle with cancer. UMOM New Day Center fights poverty, by providing the largest homeless shelter in the Phoenix metro area. By offering employment services, a child development center, after school teen activity programs, and housing UMOM New Day Center works to unite the community. This charity offers a sense of peaceful well-being and respect as families work to better their lives.

McDowell Mountain Music Festival is for the children as well as the grownups, with a comfortable family environment that appeals to all ages. The kids had room to run around, play with hula hoops, and dance without being caught up in the crowd. This festival truly is a product of the close-knit community. Without community support, it would not have been possible. The staff was made up of volunteers and nearly everything, including the beer and fencing, was donated.

I attended day two of the festival which focused on electronic music. Among the performers were Chromeo, Emancipator Ensemble, and Flume. Chromeo gave the audience an electro-funk performance that left me wondering when I stepped into a time machine traveling to a 1980’s disco. With ample use of the keyboard and electric guitar, Chromeo brought the audience on a journey through time, incorporating melodies characteristic of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. The funkadelic duo is known for its blue-eyed soul, nu-disco and dance jams paired with casual pinup stage visuals. Their signature light up leg keyboard stands pull together the group image, giving off a suggestive, serenading vibe. With hip rocking rhythms, Chromeo’s upbeat performance left me boogying and grooving from start to finish. These disco masters did an amazing job of hyping up the audience, encouraging the crowd to get into the groove of their hip-centric jams. Be sure to check out Chromeo and Rufus de Sol on June 1st at Red Rocks.

Between Chromeo’s and Flume’s sets on the main stage, Emancipator Ensemble performed on the smaller stage. The smaller stage backed up to the food area, with an epic tye-dye vendor located nearby. Emancipator is a jam band whose downtempo trip-hop you can never get tired of. Emancipator Ensemble created a laid back environment with the use of guitar, drums, and violin. The ambient chillout music was perfect for laying on the grass, talking to friends, and grabbing a drink. By putting a unique twist and pushing the boundaries of electronic music, this band has you wondering what new sounds you will be introduced to next. Next time Emancipator Ensemble tours in the west I advise you check them out.

I was hyped to see Flume perform for my first time, but was left knowing I saw him at the wrong venue. The sound and light system was subpar in comparison to the bass heavy speaker systems and epic light shows Arizona is used to. Flume played a great deal of original music and also played favorites by Major Lazer and Odesza. I expected stronger transitions between the songs, but instead, they hit the audiences like waves, crashing down into silence. Admittedly the near silence between songs made it difficult to dance from one song to the next. Flume did, however, do a great job catering to the wide age range of attendees many who presumably never have seen an electronic show. Flume gave the audience a taste test of downtempo electronic and did a great job of keeping the older crowd engaged. His set lacked heavy build ups, crazy drops and fast beats that are typical of EDM show but still had the audience, moving in a peaceful sway. Overall the performance was a decent introduction to EDM. However, without a kicking bass system, this music didn’t feel right to my ears, it felt hollow and lacking depth.
Written by Brandon Lopez