As a major institution in the Phoenix music community for years, VIVA PHX began as a festival where thousands of music fans would celebrate the city’s vibrant culture by seeing both emerging and established artists at dozens of venues around town. Unfortunately, A “multitude of factors” pushed the festival’s organizers to go on what they thought would be a brief hiatus in 2018 to take a “deep breath and regroup.” However, organizers did not foresee a global pandemic that would wreak havoc on the entire live music industry. After restrictions were finally lifted and live music came back in full force, it seemed that perhaps the spark inside VIVA PHX had been extinguished. But now, on its 10th anniversary, VIVA PHX is rising again and boasting an impressive lineup of touring bands, local artisans, and world-class cuisine.

Matt Baquet speaking at the VIVA PHX 2024 conference to announce the music festival return and artist lineup. (Photo: Jeaninne Kaufer)

“The city of Phoenix is ready to show what it’s made of on a national scale,” says Matt Baquet, a key organizer of the festival as both a partner with Best Life Presents and owner/founder of Ranch House Media. As I spoke with him, he enthusiastically shared his team’s vision for the festival, emphasizing the importance of local community involvement. Far more than just an ordinary music festival, Baquet describes it as a showcase for local art, music, cuisine, and tech, all converging as Phoenix continues to be one of the fastest developing cities in the U.S. “Visual artists are an equal part of the lineup, we treat the food as part of the lineup,” he said. For instance, Baquet highlighted the work of celebrated local artist Joshua Castañeda in creating the festival’s marquee poster and said that Castañeda’s visual motifs will be incorporated throughout the event.

VIVA PHX circa 2017, the last show before the hiatus. (Photo: Slaven)

Major community partners such as Visit Phoenix, Downtown Phoenix Inc., and Arizona State University all support this vision in their own unique ways. Baquet even hinted at a “collaborative art experience” hosted in partnership with the Phoenix Art Museum and said that fans would find out more soon.

Striking a balance between emerging local acts and national headliners isn’t easy, and the festival’s organizers have exercised thought and care in crafting each venue’s lineup. “We pay attention to the local bands that are really building something,” he said, adding that the goal is to “see growth in the lineup over time.” So, attendees could watch this year’s opening act become next year’s headliner. Baquet proudly confirmed that there are “locals on every stage,” as the festival will sprawl over 10 venues across Downtown this year.

Capturing the show through a fan’s point of view at the 2017 VIVA PHX. (Photo: Slaven)

The festival has so much to offer, far more than can be covered in a single article. Baquet touched on so much in our conversation, from the interconnectedness of music and cuisine to the eclectic mix of thriving music communities in Phoenix, including Hip/Hop, Latinx, Indie Rock, Punk and EDM. One thing is for sure, this festival is truly “by Phoenix, for Phoenix,” with the ultimate goal of cementing the city as a premier cultural destination across the nation.

For tickets and more information about VIVA PHX, please visit www.vivaphx.com.

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