Big-ass music fest highlights AZ scene

By Celeste Meiffren
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, September 23, 2004

Tucson is hosting the very first BAM Festival on Saturday. No, it's not a boxing tournament. No, it does not have anything to do with Bam Margera. And no, it's not some weird Greek sexual party. It's the Big AZ Music Festival, and everyone's invited. Well, everyone's invited to be sober outside and listen to great music. Not everyone's invited to get trashed.

In its freshman year, the BAM Fest is off to a great start. The festival is hosting over 70 different bands, including UA's own marching band, at 50 different venues.

Stages will be set up stretching from the UA Main Gate all the way to Fourth Avenue, the music and cultural apex of Tucson. Most sets will be inside and for 21+, but three large all-age stages will be outside. The air will be permeated with local music and beer.

The BAM Festival is an opportunity for local and independent bands around the Southwest to be discovered and/or rediscovered by the hip college crowd found here at the UA. But you don't need to know the bands in order to have a great time.

BAM has booked such renowned indie and local artists as Sunday Afternoon Trio, The Jons, The Damnwells and Dickie Thompson. The festival also gives up-and-coming bands and artists a chance to play as well.

"(BAM) gives musicians like me the opportunity to play in front of people and get some support," said Nik Freitas, an independent singer from California.

Freitas has been involved in the local and independent music scene since his first album, Here's Laughing at You, came out in 2002. Right now, Freitas just wants to get his name on people's tongues. BAM is giving him an opportunity to do just that.

"[BAM] gives me a chance to play. I've been playing Tucson for a couple years now. I've never had a big turnout, but the people who have been there usually are really welcome to the music. I really like the vibe in Tucson," Freitas said.

Xrayok, a local band from Phoenix, is also playing at BAM. Front man TJ Hill is very supportive of the festival because it will bring more attention to the great local and independent music scene in Arizona.

"The whole [local music] market is saturated. There are so many bands in Arizona. You really have to weed through to find the good ones. But they're definitely out here. Hopefully, [BAM] will show people that there's a lot of cool music that is coming out of Arizona," he said.

"I don't really know what to expect, because it's the first festival. We're just going to try to keep it up-tempo, hopefully try to keep the crowd into it. Keep them excited. And hopefully I'm not too drunk," Hill added.

Nick Freitas will take the stage at 7 p.m. at Bison Witches. Xrayok will perform at Plush, also at 7 p.m.

All ages are invited to attend the outdoor venues. Most indoor venues will be 21+. Wristbands can be bought in advance for $5 from Zia Record Exchange or Main Gate Square Information Center. Tickets are $7 at the door.