Music fest brings plenty of tunes to Mesa

Music fest brings plenty of tunes to Mesa

By Shelley Ridenour

Tribune Staff Writer


Music will reverberate throughout downtown Mesa as the Mesa Music Festival returns for its second year.

The free event Nov. 10-12 is designed largely as an opportunity for up-and-coming bands to showcase their skills, but  this year several big-name performers are due in for the weekend.

Rock band Fuel headlines the Saturday night closing concert. Fuel’s big hit was “Shimmer,” from its first album, “Sunburn,” released in 1998. In 2000 the band released a second album, “Something Like Human.” It went multi platinum and included the singles “Hemorrhage (In My Hands)” and “Innocent.”

Fuel plays at 8 p.m. on the lawn at Mesa City Plaza, 55 N. Center St.

Friday is highlighted with a keynote speech by Chester Bennington of Linkin Park, the band’s lead singer. He grew up in Mesa.

Linkin Park’s debut album, “Hybrid Theory,” was certified diamond in 2005 and became the best-selling debut album of the decade. The band released five more studio albums.

Bennington also fronts Dead by Sunrise and was the lead vocalist for the Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington from 2013 to 2015.

“We think people will come down,” for Bennington’s talk, Mesa city spokeswoman Melissa Randazzo said, “even though he’s not going to play.”

About 150 to 200 bands are expected to perform throughout the weekend, Randazzo said. Organizers expect several thousand people to catch at least some of the shows.

The music festival is an ideal fit for downtown Mesa, city spokesman Steve Wright said.

“We want downtown to be unique and hip and fun for families,” he said.

Wright compares the Mesa Music Festival to the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas, which started relatively small and now is a huge musical event.

Oro Brewing Co., which is among downtown Mesa’s newest businesses, hosts two bands Thursday night from 9:30 to 10:45, getting an early start on the fun.

At 6 p.m. Friday, music gets into high gear at the outdoor pavilion stage at the Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main St. Five bands play until 10 p.m. there.

Eight other venues along Main Street also feature bands from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday. Those are Milano’s Music at 38 W. Main St.; the Milano’s Alley, 20 W. Main St.; Backstage Attire, 138 W. Main St.; Lulubell Toy Bodega, 128 W. Main St.; Smith-o-lator Cookie Shop, 124 W. Main St.; Queen’s Pizzeria, 125 W. Main St.; Desert Eagle Brewing Co., 150 W. Main St., and Jarrod’s Coffee, Tea and Gallery, 154 W. Main St.

More sites are added for Saturday’s mini concerts.

The main stages, at Mesa City Plaza at the Mesa Arts Center, have full-day lineups from noon to 10 p.m. The Arts Center has two stages.

A stage is planned at the Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame at 63 W. Main St.

Milano’s has two stages again, and music returns Saturday at Backstage Attire, Lulubell, Smith-o-lator, Queen’s, Desert Eagle and Jarrod’s.

Thursday and Friday are largely consumed by a symposium at the Mesa Arts Center.

The list of speakers at those gatherings is impressive, too.

David Ellefson, the bassist for Megadeth, a record-label president, producer and manager, is one. Geordie Gillespie, a partner at The Hatcher and a former executive with Sony, Columbia and Virgin record companies, also speaks. And, entertainment attorney Jim Kusmich and producer and manager Rene Mata are on the speaker list.

— Contact reporter Shelley Ridenour at 480-898-6533 or