McDowell Moutain Music Festival, more commonly known as M3F, rocked the Valley last weekend. The music festival sponsors arts, community, education and environment in the Phoenix area; 100% of every ticket goes to charity, and since its inception over $4.4 million has been donated.
M3F Festival manager Warner Bailey stated on the first day of the festival, “We set a record last year with about 25,000-30,000 people over the two days between staff, volunteers and fans. This year we’re looking to do right about the same, we had a big influx of ticket buyers this morning, and we always do a big walkup locally. We’re aiming to break that attendance record and donate even more money.”
In terms of this year’s donation, Bailey says they don’t yet have an approximation, but hope to beat the previous record.
“Last year we donated $1.2 million, and that’s the benchmark, it was a record year. For all festivals, it was a year that saw attendance records broken all over the place, but this year we’re seeing a big return of fans and a lot of new fans,” Bailey said. “55% of fans are from outside the state of Arizona, so that’s encouraging that we’ll get to that number again.”
This year’s festival took place March 3-4 at Margaret T. Hance Park in downtown Phoenix.
The opening set on the main Vista Stage was local indie artist Veronica Everheart.
“I had a lot of fun,” Everheart said. “We’re just a trio, so it was very crazy to take up that entire stage. But I had a lot of fun and got to have my name on the jumbotron, so it was really cool to have that experience.”
Everheart hopes to have some new music out by the summer when she returns to Arizona after finishing school on the east coast.
Samuel Holden Jaffe, who professionally goes by Del Water Gap, performed Friday afternoon on the Vista Stage, and did a meet and greet with fans after.
When it came to playing the festival Jaffe said, “I love Phoenix, and I always have really good shows here. I’ve been touring with Maggie (Rogers) and she was performing, so we decided to just jump on it.”
Del Water Gap guitarist Nick Cianci just released his own album, “Sometimes the Loveless” in February, and plans to continue promoting it after he finishes this tour.
“We’ve been on tour with Maggie Rogers for about a month, and we finish that on Sunday in San Francisco. Then I have a show in New York for my own album on March 19,” Ciancisaid.
Other notable performances from Friday’s lineup included English pop star Becky Hill and alternative/indie band COIN.
Maggie Rogers, who briefly crashed Del Water Gap’s set, performed Friday’s closing set on Vista with a showstopping set.
Audience member Paris Ryan and his friends have been Maggie Rogers fans for a while now.
“We’re here for Maggie Rogers. Everybody is so nice here in Arizona,” Ryan said. “It’s just a good vibe. We just moved here from Indiana, and this is our first fest!”
The second day of the fest saw more crowds and activity at the festival grounds.
ASU’s own local band, Slug Bug, winner of the Battle of Bands, performed the opening set on Saturday on the Vista Stage.
The invitation to play at the festival came as a surprise to the band.
“M3F posted something asking what local band people wanted to see played live, and people responded by tagging us in the comments,” explained Slug Bug bassist Ellie Willard. “Somehow they reached out to us wanting us to play, so we’re very lucky and very grateful that we were able to play today.”
Veronica Everheart was another local artist mentioned in these comments. “I think whoever commented was like, ‘We want Slug Bug and Veronica.’ Our bands are so intertwined, I think people noticed,” Everheart stated.
Slug Bug’s new EP, “Jazz Compilation 5”, released Friday, featuring four new songs, as well as their debut song “Old”.
Dance/electronic artist Evan GIIA performed her set on the Daydream Stage Saturday afternoon, and then met with fans after for a surprise meet and greet.
“I grew up performing and I got booked here three years ago, and it was the first time I’d ever played, so being here again this year was awesome. It was a really fun energetic set,” the artist said. “I decided to play all my favorite songs, but this is the last time I’m doing this set because I’m releasing a lot of new music later this year.”
Indie band Peach Pit took the Vista Stage late Saturday afternoon with a high energy performance that had the audience singing along.
Australian indie-rock band The Jungle Giants closed out the weekend for the Cosmic stage with a lineup of hits from their discography.
The final mainstage performance of the weekend was English DJ Jamie xx. His mashups and accompanying light show provided a dazzling close to the festival.
M3F has once again brought a wonderful experience to the Valley while giving back to organizations, truly emphasizing their focus on “community, culture, and charity.”