Monthly music festival to bring together local bands and artists

During Phoenix FMLY Fest, Fifth Street hosted multiple bands on several stages, including Lawn Gnome Publishing. 4xF, inspired by Phoenix FMLY Fest, will share a similar set up. (Connor Descheemaker/DD)

Nearly 40 bands will converge on downtown Phoenix for Family Friendly Fourth Friday, a monthly all-day music festival starting Jan. 25.

Lawn Gnome Publishing owner Aaron Johnson said he was inspired to create Family Friendly Fourth Friday, or 4xF, after Phoenix FMLY Fest, a festival last December sponsored by FMLY and Tempe Starving Artist and featuring national and local bands from a range of genres.

“It was like, ‘Oh wow, that was really cool. We should make sure this keeps happening,’” Johnson said.

Robbie Pfeffer, Tempe Starving Artist’s founder and editor, said Phoenix FMLY Fest was a success as a festival with multiple bands and stages in a relatively condensed space downtown. He said he thinks monthly music festivals are a good idea.

4xF, which will be on Fifth Street between Roosevelt and McKinley streets, will be smaller than Phoenix FMLY Fest, Johnson said.

“It’ll be a little bit better for those that don’t want to be just bombarded by music at all angles,” he said.

The festival in January will be an experiment, as it is the first of the monthly series, Johnson said.

“Even though this one will be kind of like a hiccup, it’s going to be fun for those who come out,” he said.

Johnson said he does not think it will be hard to attract a crowd for the festival.

“First Friday works, right? But First Friday has gotten to the point where it’s like a zombie walk of suburban culture,” he said. “FMLY Fest is more community oriented.”

Johnson said 4xF will be what college students, artists and bands from Mesa, Chandler and Tempe need. It will provide the bands with an active audience that is excited about change and improving downtown.

The festival will cater to high school and college audiences, Johnson said.

“I thought it sounded really rad because First Fridays is more for like visual painters and stuff like that, not so much bands,” said Aydin Immortal, member of local band Wolvves.

Wolvves performed at Phoenix FMLY Fest and will return for 4xF.

Immortal said the downtown music scene needs 4xF because there are very few downtown music festivals and all-ages venues on Fifth Street. He also said the festival’s various genres will bring together different social groups.

Various stages will feature different genres, Johnson said. Bodega 420, a local grocery store on the northwest corner of Roosevelt and Fifth streets, will feature acoustic and smaller sets. Jobot, a coffee shop south of Roosevelt Street on Fifth Street, will highlight DIY crust punk, a fast tempo beat where vocals are screamed, and anarchist bands. Lawn Gnome Publishing will showcase up-and-coming bands that have only performed a few shows.

“There’s all kinds of crazy genres that are going to be exposed at Lawn Gnome that day,” Johnson said.

The January festival will be an experiment with an estimated 200 people attending, Johnson said. The one in February, however, will have funding from local businesses and Pfeffer’s help, which means more out-of-town acts.

“We actually impressed the local businesses,” Johnson said, referring to Phoenix FMLY Fest. “A lot of them are kicking down some cash to make it bigger.”

Some of those businesses include Lost Leaf and Bodega 420.

“I think the Phoenix downtown music scene is really starting to explode,” said Adrian Fontes, the owner of Bodega 420.

He said he wants Bodega 420 to be a part of that growth.

To advertise for the event, Johnson said local artists will design flyers to appeal to a diverse group of people. The flyers will range from 60’s psychedelic and 80’s photocopy rock bands to 90’s rave posters.

Other stages include Lost Leaf and Housing Collective, both on Fifth Street between Roosevelt and McKinley streets. Some bands performing are Hug of War, Miah Spring and Windmill of Corpses, according to the 4xF band roster on Facebook.

The festival will also feature art by the Galeria de los Muertos. It will start at 4 p.m. on Friday Jan. 25 and go until 10 p.m.

Contact the reporter at