Music to My Ears: The Haute 5 Live Music Venues in Phoenix

Christina Aguilera at the Arena in Phoenix on February 28, 2007

Musical artists are still electing to play shows in Phoenix despite all the SB 1070 insanity, and we, their loyal fans, are thankful. Here are five of the hautest venues to catch a concert at in the Valley, this or any year. How many have you been to?

US Airways Center

Open since 1992, many will remember the US Airways Center as the America West Arena. (The name changed in 2006.) The official home of the Phoenix Suns and a handful of other professional sports teams, the US Airways Center boasts more than 14,000 square feet of indoor space and some 18,000 seats with a concert stage that can be set up at the north end of the stadium, or in the very center. The US Airways Center and Arena are the two largest enclosed venues in the metro area, making them haute choices for many performers passing through town. The center is rigged for even the most complex technical audio-visual displays, making for some seriously sweet shows. (Was anyone at the Muse show? That’s what we’re talking about.)

US Airways Center is located at 201 E. Jefferson St. in Phoenix  602.379.7800

Dodge Theatre

With seats for approximately 5,500 concert-goers, the Dodge Theatre offers an intimate experience compared to other mammoth venues in Phoenix. It’s also something of a multi-tasker, having been the location sporting events (such as boxing), provided the set for Blue Collar Comedy Tour: The Movie, hosted the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame induction ceremony of 2010, and granted a stage to many a performer and musical act. Local band Jimmy Eat World has played good shows here in past years, although the next time they pass through Phoenix (Oct. 30), they’ll be mixing things up at the Marquee Theatre.

Dodge Theatre is located at 400 W. Washington St. in Phoenix  602.379.2800

Cricket Wireless Pavilion

The largest outdoor music venue in Phoenix, the Cricket Wireless Pavilion amphitheater boasts an incredible capacity of 20,000 – that’s 8,000 seats under the roof and another 12,000 on the sloped lawn. The first person to perform here was Billy Joel in 1990 and since then the talented and famous have just kept coming. John Mayer’s next Phoenix show will be here (Aug. 18), and on Sept. 14 the pavilion is likely to be filled with shrieks of joy from excited teens and tweens as the Jonas Brothers take the stage. The Cricket Wireless Pavilion, along with the US Airways Center, is listed as one of the Phoenix Points of Pride.

Cricket Wireless Pavilion is located at 2121 N. 83rd Ave. in Phoenix  602.2547200 Arena

The arena is quite simply huge. In our opinion, it feels even more spacious than the US Airways Center, although in reality, the two venues have roughly the same capacity for concerts and other performances. The Arena is newer, however, by about a decade – it opened in 2003 – and has been home to the Phoenix Coyotes hockey team ever since it was completed. Depending on where you live in the metro area, a trip to the arena, located in Glendale, could be a little bit more of a hassle than venturing to the more centrally located US Airways Center, which is in downtown Phoenix – but once you get there, it’s always well worth the trip. The arena is just across from the Arizona Cardinals’ University of Phoenix Stadium, and anchors the still fairly new Westgate City Center, an entertainment and retail development that has become a major destination in the Valley. Carole King and James Taylor played here in May and Carrie Underwood will perform here in October. Interesting fact: There are 88 private luxury suites in the Arena. Arena is located at 9400 W. Maryland Ave. in Glendale  623.772.3200

Celebrity Theatre

Celebrity Theatre is an oldie, but a goodie. Open for more than four decades, this venue was originally designed as a conference center but eventually made the change to a music venue – and we’re so glad it did. The theater seats 2,650 persons and features a round, revolving stage in the center of the room, meaning no seat is farther than 70 feet from the entertainer. LeAnn Rimes recently performed here, and past headliners include B.B. King, Etta James, Heart, Diana Ross, Jerry Seinfeld, Garth Brooks, David Spade, Chris Rock and Smashing Pumpkins.

Celebrity Theatre is located at 440 N. 32nd St. in Phoenix  602.267.1600