Live and Otherwise: The Ice House Tavern

Local supporting local: There never was a sweeter statement. More importantly this is one of the best descriptions I can give of the local dive-bar treasure that is the Ice House Tavern. Located in central Phoenix, just west of Thomas Road and 40th Street, you’d never know the bar even existed without some sleuthing or recommendation via word of mouth. The bar/music venue is nestled snugly behind the Arcadia Ice Rink.

The view of the rink. Photo by Gabby Marshall.

After parking my in a car in a sketchy-looking back lot, I cautiously approached the bar entrance. However, my scared-y cat paranoia was unfounded (but in my defense the alley was quite dark). What greeted me was a super nice bouncer and a decently sized bar with a “homey” disposition. Not to mention the prices were more than reasonable.  Upon entering the establishment the first thing you notice is the giant Plexiglas divider that is separating the bar and an action-packed hockey game occurring on the other side of the windowpane. In the right corner is a small stage area (where the bands perform) and adjacent to the bar is this truly spectacular jukebox, with free play.

So what makes the Tavern such an impeccable Arizona music find? Why, its emphasis on the local scene of course! My whole adventure to the Ice House began at the invitation of a co-worker. Her husband was performing in a band, and she knew I would appreciate the quirky ambiance of the venue. While the band did a terrific job (see Mr. Eastwood), what really caught my attention was the very particular expectations the bar put upon them. The local bar stipulates that only creative material can be performed at any time while gracing their stage (so no cover songs folks). What a brilliant rule! Seeing as the bar has numerous acts throughout the month, this means that there is sure to be lots of new and original local talent to discover. The coolest part? Once you’ve played a few times, your band may be lucky enough to be included in their amazing jukebox, which only holds local acts; It only features local acts that have performed personally within the Tavern itself. It proves to be a terrific diversion between sets, and promotes the discovery of some tunes you might never hear of otherwise.