South By South Roosevelt moves downtown, brings three-day lineup of local bands

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Pete Facundo, a member of the South By South Roosevelt advisory board, said the festival has multiplied in size since its first year. Facundo said he hopes to see the festival bring money to local bands and businesses.
(Thomas Hawthorne/DD)

An upcoming festival in downtown Phoenix plans to bring greater attention, and some profit, to local bands and businesses.

South By South Roosevelt, abbreviated SXSR, will hold its second music festival along Roosevelt Street the weekend of March 1-3. Local businesses along the stretch from 10th Street to Third Avenue will provide the venues for the festival.

“Last year we did a completely free event,” said Pete Facundo, a member of the SXSR advisory board. “This year it has multiplied (in size) by three at least. Just more venues, more days, and a crap-ton more bands.”

Facundo said the festival was originally planned as a house show with bands performing on rooftops. The festival then transitioned into concerts in the front yard of a Tempe house off South Roosevelt Street.

“We were always looking for a big enough yard on Roosevelt every year. So we were like, ‘We could bring this downtown, and we could probably stir up the revenue on some of these places around here,’” Facundo said.

This year the festival coincides with March’s First Friday art walk and the 25th anniversary of Art Detour. Facundo said he hoped this would help draw people into the festival and raise greater revenue to pay bands and venues.

“They came to us and said, ‘Do you guys have space?’” said Michael 23, director of The Firehouse Gallery, one of the four venues hosting SXSR.

While 23 said it was strange that the festival was being held the same weekend as Art Detour, he said the “more the merrier.”

“We want to support a functioning music scene downtown,” 23 said.

The other locations downtown hosting the festival are Lawn Gnome Publishing, L-E-X3 Mercantile and The Wooden Tree. Different bands will perform at the venues each day.

“We were contacted last year by Pete,” said Bret Bender, one of the singers for indie duo Bogan Via, which will be performing at the event. “It was really fun.”

Bender said that this year the festival is bigger and more organized.

“There are a lot of bands we really don’t know, which is great,” Bender said.

Facundo said that a planned four band lineup last year developed into 22 acts. This year more than 40 bands are expected to perform.

“Our lineup last year was phenomenal,” Facundo said. “This year puts it to shame.”

Facundo said he plans to split the profit from ticket sales to pay the artists and locations and to help bring SXSR back next year.

“I want to see bands starting to get paid again,” said Facundo. “I want everyone to get a good share of this, make this festival more of an investment.”

The festival will cost $30 for a weekend wristband, $15 dollars for a single day or $8 dollars at each venue. Wristbands will be sold each day of the festival at the door of the venues. The first show will be at Lawn Gnome Publishing at 5 p.m. on Friday. A list of all venues, bands and times for the SXSR music festival can be found on the festival’s Facebook page.

Contact the reporter at tchawtho@asu.edu