M3F Is Phoenix's Most Charitable Secret

M3F Is Phoenix's Most Charitable Secret

In a public park above a freeway tunnel, the sun beats down softly on the arid landscape that has been slowly turned into every Phoenix resident's best kept secret: M3F Festival. The small but mighty festival has been running since 2004, working to create a new framework for the growing popularity of the American music festival. It's one without waste, without pretentiousness and without profit.

It's a tall order, but the festival's loyal cult following expands far past the devoted locals and their families to provide a support system that allows such a rare festival to thrive. Despite losing a year due to COVID, M3F's most successful year in 2022 saw it raise over $1 million for charity. After artists are paid, vendors are compensated and the bills are covered, the rest of the festival's profits are invested right back into the community. From children's hospitals to music therapy programs, including a strong presence of Backline, an organization that connects music industry professionals with mental health and wellness resources, M3F wants to make its city and the world a bit better every year.

2023 saw a fantastic turnout. Despite an unfortunate last-minute headliner cancellation, festival planners and attendees alike flocked into Margaret T. Hance Park to make it the best weekend ever. Grammy Award-winning singer Maggie Rogers and critically acclaimed DJ and producer Jamie xx tore the main stage up, while co-headliners Polo & Pan, Toro y Moi, COIN and more helped close out each of the two nights with an infectious, positive energy. Even with the chilly desert breeze slowly weaving its way through the sweaty crowds, the combination of worldwide acts and local gems brought the heat.

And as for the reason that artists and fans alike keep coming back, part of it is owed to the inclusive and relaxed environment M3F fosters unlike similar electronic and pop-centric festivals. “It was so exciting playing my first festival set of 2023 at M3F the day after my album released," 2023 performer Chiiild explains. "It is such an indescribable feeling seeing fans' reactions to both the old and new songs.”

As for the future of M3F, it remains a favorite and essential tour stop for countless artists who love and support its message. Downtown Phoenix becomes a sprawling nightlife spot as art galleries, restaurants and bars keep the lights on a bit longer for families and artists alike. In an era where festivals become more inaccessible due to rising production costs, city disputes, security and more, M3F found its sweet spot as a charity-minded event that's as much a celebration of community and human compassion as it is about the music.

Below, take a look at some exclusive photos from M3F Fest in Phoenix, Arizona.

Becky Hill

Polo & Pan

Photos courtesy of Jade Gomez