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M3F Festival Goes Bigger and Better Than Ever

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With yet another successful year under their belt, M3F Festival continues to solidify its place as Arizona’s foremost music festival, and the only one where attendees have fun in the name of a good cause. 

Like every year, 100% of each ticket proceeds go directly to the M3F Fund, benefiting organizations across 4 categories: Arts, Community, Environment, and Education. Whether it be the music therapy program at Phoenix Children’s Hospital or nature conservation programs with the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, every ticket counts toward reinvesting into the well-being of our community.

2024 also marked tangible growth for the festival as its location shifted to mid-Phoenix’s Steele Indian School Park, a few miles north of its long-time home at Margaret T. Hance Park. While there was a definite learning curve for folks as they navigated new parking, transit, and entry situations, the change was ultimately for the better. For those who have been present at M3F in previous years, the upgraded space available to festival goers in the new Steele Indian School Park location came at a much needed time. The ample space provided by the park allowed for attendees to spread out and avoid being packed tightly together when watching each set, grabbing food, or browsing through the wide array of vendors present.

As for the festival lineup itself, this year did see a much more noticeable split in indie-alternative vs electronic and dance acts over the course of the two-days. While previous years have seen the two genres mixed thoroughly within each day of the festival, this year saw all of the indie genre’s heavy hitters stacked on Friday, much to the pleasure of attendees who only had to purchase a one-day pass to see their favorites.

That being said, Friday’s lineup was as close to perfect as one could hope for, with the noticeable last-minute absence of Bakar being the only thing holding it back. Starting off the day was rising local band New Royals, who won over their smaller crowd of dedicated fans with early 2010s-esque indie rock ballads. Other early-day standouts included the stunning Coco & Breezy, whose softer and more stylized approach to electronic music won me, a very not avid EDM fan, over. Learning the duo was composed of twins quickly explained the contagious chemistry displayed throughout the course of their set as they dove into impromptu, yet still very coordinated, dance breaks along to their own music, making it all but impossible to do the same from the crowd. From an outside perspective, I would say that the duo could very well have been the best electronic act of the whole weekend, but we’ll get into that later!

Sunset marked the start of the first night’s climax with Arlo Parks taking the stage. There was no other artist that could have made use of the golden hour ambience in the way that the soft-spoken English musician did. Serenading us with poetic sonic spells like “Bruiseless”, “Weightless”, and “Too Good”, among many others, Parks was without a doubt one of the best acts that the festival has secured in recent years, though that might be a biased statement as a fan.

From here, the night’s momentum only grew with indie-pop powerhouses Dayglow and Hippo Campus. The prior got the crowd moving with danceable tracks like “Then It All Goes Away” and “Close To You”, while the latter put on a passionate vocal performance with indie anthems “Buttercup”, “Way It Goes”, and “Bad Dream Baby”. Closing the night out was a stunning set by Dominic Fike, who was greeted by a wave of cheers and screams from ecstatic fans throughout the crowd at various points of the set.

The second day of the festival provided a set by Toronto-based indie-pop ensemble Valley who broke through the noise with catchy tracks like “Oh shit…are we in love?” and “nevermind”, and DJ Gordo who was deeply committed to interacting with his crowd and getting them moving to the fullest extent possible.

Thankfully, the sets by Gorgon City and Roosevelt on the adjacent Daydream and Cosmic stages, respectively, made up a steady flow of good vibes while Lane 8 closed the night out successfully.

Overall, 2024’s M3F Festival did exceed the expectations that had been imposed on it by loyal fans and worried locals who feared another nearby festival might overcome it. Truly, M3F has carved out a loyal following of its own that would not easily be shaken by changes in location or by coinciding dates. With a clear foundation laid for future growth in all aspects of the charitable weekend, one can only wonder how M3F will continue to build off of its own mounting success.

Photo courtesy of M3F Fest & Will Fenwick.
Photo courtesy of M3F Fest & Will Fenwick

Show Date: 03.01.24 – 03.02.24 // Phoenix, Arizona @ Steele Indian School Park // M3F Festival Goes Bigger and Better Than Ever
More from Brian Mecinas: Mickey Darling | M3F Festival Pregame

Brian Mecinas
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Based in Phoenix, Arizona! Environmentalist by day and concert photographer by night <3
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