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The Sunroom is Tempe's hidden gem for loud music and good friends

One living room in Tempe moonlights as a lively music and art venue featuring audio reactive projections


Andrew Robinson, co-owner of the Sunroom, poses in front of the house turned venue on Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018.

Once a week, neighbors to the Tempe house with the giant blue guitar out front likely have to sleep with earplugs in — it’s show night at the Sunroom.

The Sunroom is one of many houses in Tempe that regularly hosts local and touring artists for a lively night of music, photography and much more.

Alex Gross, one of the owners and residents of the Sunroom, said he and his roommates moved into the house in May 2016 at the height of The Underground Foundation’s, or TUF's, influence.

“That was definitely a big inspiration, just seeing the underground house show scene and culture,” he said.

Andrew Robinson, another owner and resident of the Sunroom and a master’s student studying digital culture, said TUF’s events were a large reason the Sunroom began hosting its own shows.

“We knew we wanted to be a part of that community,” he said.

Robinson said that while the Sunroom does typically stick to throwing events for local indie and punk bands, it is not a specific type of venue.

He said the venue will host punks, rappers, poets and they are even working on an experimental video-making series.

A large part of the appeal of the Sunroom is the lighting and technical side of the shows, he said. The house features a projection screen that uses audio reactive projections which Robinson programmed.

“The louder the bands play, the crazier the animations are,” he said, “So it adds another extra layer of ambiance and environment to the whole thing.”

Gross said the unique elements the Sunroom offers are intended to set the venue apart from the normal, run-of-the-mill shows that are typical of the underground Tempe music scene.

“When we were first going to shows, it was always very straightforward,” he said. “You just go in and you’re expecting to see bands and they’re all vaguely punk bands and that’s cool, but we got to this point where we thought 'this is a physical space and we can do anything we want inside of it.’”

He said  breaking the barrier of holding only one type of show was what kept the Sunroom interesting. 

“It can be everyone sitting on the ground on blankets and there’s a somber acoustic thing or we can have people dancing to hard EDM in our kitchen,” Gross said.

Athena Burton is the Sunroom’s resident photographer, an experience she said she loves more than anything.

“It’s so cool because at this point we have a system down,” she said. “Everyone that’s a part of the Sunroom knows what they’re doing … and it’s so cool because as much as it’s routine, it’s different every time.”

She said as a photographer she ends up working very closely with Robinson because of his audio reactive projections. She said his lighting directly affects her photography but that the two are always on the same page.

Burton said the accessibility of the Sunroom makes it easier for her as a photographer to get bands to share her work.

“If you’re working for a publication and you’re shooting at the Marquee, it’s hard to go up to Chance the Rapper and say, ‘hey, I shot these photos of you, you want to take them?’ But I’ll take every opportunity I get (at the Sunroom) because you never know when that band is going to roll around and need a photographer for their next tour,” she said.

Burton said the Sunroom is more than just a house, it's a community of people and she tries to contribute to this feeling of community by being as open and welcoming as possible.

“I don’t want it just to be a house, I want it to be a home."

Reach the reporter at or follow @jsphprzz on Twitter.

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