Double Round Robin show brings new venue, opportunity, to downtown Phoenix

 

Joe Gonzalez, one of the eight visual artists at the Tempe Starving Artist Round Robin in Downtown Phoenix Friday night, knelt on the ground finishing the final details of his most recent work as the six evening bands played behind him. (Photo by Jessie Wardarski)

Joe Gonzalez, one of the eight visual artists at the Tempe Starving Artist Round Robin in Downtown Phoenix Friday night, knelt on the ground finishing the final details of his most recent work as the six evening bands played behind him. (Photo by Jessie Wardarski)

Tempe Starving Artist may have begun a revolution of sorts, and it all started with its Double Round Robin local music and art event on Jan. 25 in downtown Phoenix.

The round robin concept involves having multiple bands gather in one large and open space, prepare their sets and play one song each before moving on to the next performers. This means the viewer is constantly moving about the space and experiencing a different band, style and sound every five minutes or so, until each group has played at least three songs and the round is over.

Sociology freshman Arianne Hermida is a member of the band The Fire Letters, which performed in this particular space for its first time.

“I was really impressed with the fact that, for being such a new venue, that this is doing so well tonight,” Hermida said of her experience. “It has definitely started off on the right foot.”

The event took place at what was deemed The 314 House for the show, a house and covered venue area spanning about 12,000 square feet at the corner of 3rd Street and Roosevelt Road. Normally, Phoenix’s first minor league soccer team, The Wolves, uses the space, but coordinators Mickey Hamilton, Robbie Pfeffer and Gage Olesen were able to work with the owner and put this event on.

“This event is basically a litmus test for this idea – to use this space for an all-ages club, mixed-use area that features local art and music,” Hamilton said. He has been working with the owner for the past four years on changing the intention of the space.

An experienced event producer, Hamilton has been coordinating events for 23 years and said the Double Round Robin was more of an opportunity for Pfeffer, to whom he “passed the torch.” He mentioned plans to take control of the space sometime in February, which is when The Wolves soccer team is supposed to move from the space into an arena.

“There’s still a lot up in the air,” Hamilton said. “It’s hard to tell at this point what is going to happen.”

Pfeffer, who is well known in the both the downtown Phoenix and Tempe local arts scenes for his contributions and for being the editor of the Tempe Starving Artists monthly magazine, stages events frequently along with journalism major Gage Olesen.

Pfeffer said he heard about the “round robin” idea from Dan Deakon, an electronic artist out of Baltimore, and wanted to provide a different experience.

“The space is perfect for this kind of thing. I like that it’s in downtown and that it’s across from Modified (Arts), which has a rich history of DIY and all-ages shows and all that,” he said.

The daylong event started at 3 p.m. and held two different rounds of music with performances from 12 artists. At 10 p.m. three different acoustic players moved indoors to perform, and then the after party began. Featuring Snakes! Snakes! Snakes! and Playboy Manbaby, of which Pfeffer is lead singer, the energy was explosive as viewers began to mosh and slam dance.

One touring band in attendance, Bad Antics, sold shirts and music to help support their trip to California, where it will play in the L.A. punk scene with Keith Morris, known as the frontman of punk bands Black Flag and The Circle Jerks.

The event also featured local artwork from Tempe Starving Artist itself and other artists including Mo Neuharth and Shona Crawford.

Physics graduate student Mike Bell came out to support The Fire Letters and ended up staying until the event closed up shop around midnight.

“The variety in music this round robin thing gives is a really good idea, and I think it’s so cool that different bands get to see each other as well,” Bell said.

Bell said if events like Double Round Robin were held more often, he would be more drawn to downtown Phoenix, an area he does not visit regularly.

As for plans to continue showcasing artists in the space, Pfeffer said it’s still to early to tell and he needs to see what the owner of the property will do.

“I’ve got a lot of ideas for the space, but like I said, nothing is set in stone,” Pfeffer said. “I mean, I would like to do this more often. I’d like to do this particular round robin idea. So if we can do it, then we’re going to do it.”

 

Reach the reporter at Kylie.Gumpert@asu.edu