Crescent Ballroom celebrates three years of music, food and friends with a free concert

(Taylor Bishop/DD)
Crescent Ballroom, a 1917 building remodeled into a music venue, celebrated their third birthday on Oct. 23 with a free concert. A Cloud for Climbing, Bearstate and DJ my Funeral were some artists featured in Crescent Ballroom’s third birthday concert. (Taylor Bishop/DD)

Crescent Ballroom, a music venue that plays live performances every day from national or local bands, celebrated their third birthday with a free concert on Oct. 23.

The venue holds up to about 550 people, and the kitchen, Cocina 10, serves food and drinks just a room away from the stage where main events play their music. Five different musical artists performed at their birthday party event such as Gardens & Villa, a “galactic fever,” techno-alternative band from Santa Barbara.

“When we started out we didn’t know how it was going to work out down here,” Ehren Stonner, an employee at Crescent Ballroom, said. “A music venue in downtown… and now it’s become sort of a landmark down here and it’s been really cool to watch.”

Stonner, who worked with the venue since the beginning, said the audience has grown with various regular customers. However, they do run into people who have never been to the venue before.

The staff were running throughout the mid-sized venue’s kitchen “doing a little bit of everything,” and most of the employees performed multiple different chores from cleaning the counters, to setting up the stage.

“Even if we’re security and we’re helping to set up the room or interfacing the bands making sure they’re all set up,” Stonner said. “Everyone pulls together here, and it’s small enough that it’s like whatever needs to be done we do.”

Owner Charlie Levy said that most of his staff have been with him since Crescent Ballroom’s beginnings, and he sees them as family. He said it’s exciting to be part of a business in downtown Phoenix because it’s growing at such a fast pace.

“We’re all kind of cheerleaders for each other,” Levy said. “The more things that come downtown, even music especially, it’s better for everybody. You want a place with more than one option.”

Crescent Ballroom is small enough that every seat is a good seat, and the audience can meet the local and national bands because of how small the venue is.

The building was built in 1917, and Levy said it was a whirlwind recreating the venue with new life and a new atmosphere that audiences can enjoy.

Riley Beach, an audience member at Crescent Ballroom, has been to around five other concerts at the venue in the past such as Bombay Bicycle Club, a national indie-folk rock band.

“I like that it’s really close up,” Beach said. “You can hear the music really well and you can see all the band members too.”

One family stood by the merchandise table in the ballroom while waiting for the show to begin. William, 19, Tyler, 13, and Darrin Ruof, 49, have seen about 10 shows during the past two years. Crescent Ballroom is a great place to see a band in a small club, but it’s not so congested, Darrin Ruof said. Some of the smaller clubs have little to no personal space for guests, he said.

The Ruofs like the intimacy of Crescent Ballroom, and they haven’t seen any changes in the past couple of years. However, no change is a good thing because they like being able to speak to band members without security closely watching audience members.

Their favorite band to see at Crescent Ballroom was Foxygen, an American indie rock duo. Darrin Ruof likes taking pictures of performances, and he said it was the best concert to shoot pictures of because of the venue’s intimacy with bands.

“When you get a crazy band, they can be grabbing your shoulders,” William Ruof said. “He was coming into the crowd and singing in the crowd.”

Levy said people at Crescent Ballroom take each day as it arrives on their calendars because they have too much going on that prevents them from thinking of long-term goals for the venue. However, he said he wishes people would take three minutes and discover a band they’ve never heard of before. He said seeing a personally unknown band and discovering new favorites at the venue can be a great experience for any guest.

Crescent Ballroom is a unique place where you can have a real dinner with friends and see a show in the same building, Stonner said. He, like the venue’s guests, looks forward to the fourth or fifth birthday and beyond.

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