Music lovers flock to Crescent Ballroom

Crescent Ballroom has seen success in its first week of shows, including a sold out Blind Pilot show. (Rylee Grafil/DD)

Downtown’s newest music venue, Crescent Ballroom, is becoming a hot spot for local music lovers. It is off to a strong start after opening last week with a sold out Blind Pilot show.

“We have had a great line-up of artists the first few weeks, and a lot of people have come out to see the shows,” said owner Charlie Levy. “What I wanted was somewhere that people could come where they could see good live music seven nights a week.”

Tucked beside Sun Devil Auto on the north side of Second Avenue and Van Buren Street, Crescent Ballroom boasts a music venue, lounge and kitchen.

The mid-sized music venue may look intimate at first glance but can actually accommodate up to 500 patrons.

The venue itself is divided into two parts on nights that shows permit those under 21 years old — one section for those of drinking age and another for the underage crowd. Separated by metal dividers, both offer ample space for either sitting or standing while only one side provides access to a full bar.

The age-restricted lounge is open daily from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. and features live performances from local artists and a full bar. The interior, with its painted brick walls and wood-paneling, manages to be both sleek and cozy, offering both inside and patio seating.

The kitchen, Cocina 10, is led by local chefs Chris Bianco of Pizzeria Bianco and Doug Robson of Gallo Blanco. The small menu features Mexican-inspired dishes.

Despite some age restrictions, Crescent Ballroom still attracts a diverse crowd.

“It’s definitely great to see all the people who are of all ages and backgrounds who are music fans coming out,” Levy said. “Even in a short time, its become sort of this gathering place for people who are into live music.”

At a recent show, middle-aged business people and high school students alike danced to the drum and bass heavy electronic rock of Brooklyn-based band MEN while front man JD Samson introduced the crowd to her cardboard cutout band members.

“The Phoenix atmosphere has been really positive so far,” Samson said. “It was a really hard sound check but a really fun show.”

After noticing the metal dividers in the crowd, Lovefoxx of the Brazilian band Cansei de Ser Sexy –- better known as CSS for their initials –- jumped into the underage portion of the crowd to ask a member of the audience her age.

“Seventeen,” answered the girl.

“Only seventeen! The worst part of being young here is you can’t drink alcohol,” joked Lovefoxx, to the applause of those of drinking age.

While Crescent Ballroom is quickly becoming a go-to place for lovers of live music, Levy hopes it will contribute to the city’s growing music scene.

“What I really want is to turn Phoenix into a music town, like Austin, San Francisco, New York City or Los Angeles,” Levy said. “Obviously, I can’t do it alone, so Crescent is just my small part of it.”

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Correction: October 16, 2011

An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to JD Samson as a man. Samson is a woman.


  1. The article clearly says: “JD Samson introduced the crowd to her cardboard cutout band members.” It’s simply preceded by the commonly used and best understood word to describe the person out front in a band. It’s like lumping everyone one (men and women) together when you use the word “guys” to address a group. / eyeroll