Over the past 10 years, downtown Flagstaff has been home to a music venue that stands out from the rest – an all-ages, community-centric, passion-driven hole-in-the-wall called The Hive.
Through its existence, The Hive has become a central part of many Flagstaff musicians’ stories. Logan Warren, social media manager of The Hive, was first introduced to the venue when his band, Gone Before Us, played there on a whim in 2019.
“All I knew was that there was just some building that we were going to be playing at, and it turned out to be, to this day, one of my favorite shows that I’ve ever played just because it was such a good time,” Warren said. “All the bands that played were really good. The place was completely packed, and it was a Halloween show. That was kind of the start of my whole career path in Flagstaff. I moved up here, I went to college up here, and it just kind of brought me into the scene in a way that I did not expect.”
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Local indie-rock musician, Sierra Bryan played her first Hive show in 2018, which also jump-started her involvement in the local music scene. As Bryan continues to share her music beyond Flagstaff, she said the Hive holds a special place in her heart.
Similarly, local musician Ariel Smith said that despite touring across the country, his favorite shows have been at The Hive, right here in Flagstaff.
“There’s this feeling in the room that everyone there, from the sound person to every audience member, gives a damn,” Smith said.
For performers, the vibe on stage is often nothing short of electric, Kevin Cushman, front man of local indie pop band, Girl Etc., said.
“The people that come out to our shows are always full of enthusiasm and ready to have a good time,” Cushman said.
The Hive’s energy doesn’t just reverberate to performers, even audience-members can feel that magic that comes from live Hive shows. Bryan said the intimacy of a small venue can make audience members feel closer to the musicians and each other – even during louder shows.
Dartagnon Woodruff, lead guitarist and vocalist in local barbie-goth rock band, Dead Dudes, said the audience at The Hive’s positive energy can be felt from the stage.
“You’re watching this mass of goofy people writhe and churn like a big pot, and everyone is smiling,” Woodruff said. “There’s old-heads, goth kids, scene kids, hard-core dudes, frat bros, sorority girls, punks, losers, burnouts, and they’re all there to just break themselves free for the night and see a show.”
Assistant Director and Head Sound Technician at The Hive, Urian Lee said he first stumbled across the hive back in 2013 or 2014, when he used to live right around the corner.
“I was just walking by and I heard music coming through the doors, and it was actually Alex Van, Tiny Bird, playing,” Lee said. “Then, people just started showing up and it became a random Tiny Bird show. They were just practicing here. It was probably one of the best Tiny Bird shows I’ve ever seen!”
Local public relations manager, sound technician, producer and talent scout Andrew Baker said he’s known there to be a spontaneous energy that is unique to the Hive and makes it such a special spot in town.
Lee said live events happen and continue to happen at The Hive because people show up, and they show up to have a good time.
“The community has been really here for us, and I like to think that we’ve been there for them as well,” Lee said.
The Hive is like Flagstaff’s “Room of Requirement” for musicians – it “can sort of be whatever you want it to be,” Smith said. And that aspect of The Hive has been at its heart since its creation.
Alec Tippett is The Hive’s central director, administrative director, producer, studio technician, talent scout, and helped get The Hive running with its original founder, James Higby. Feeding a need for an all-ages, DIY music venue in Flagstaff – and a little inspired by School of Rock,– The Hive Came to be.
“Maybe we pollinated a flower that was waiting to bloom,” Tippett said. “We’re all here to create community and to create art and to do it in a positive way that’s free of alcohol and drugs, that people of all ages can come to and also that people can afford to come to the shows.”
Being a musician under 18 can be difficult, Tippett said. Without an all-ages venue, there’s not many places for those musicians to play aside from the woods.
“I feel like when I was starting out, like 15 years ago as a 15 or 16-year-old, it was like you went and played at the bar that had a strip club in the back, there were like no all-ages venues,” Tippett said.
Bryan stressed the importance of an all-ages venue for audience members, noting that she grew up going to shows often.
“The Hive prioritizing [being all-ages] as a core part of their space is a really special thing for shaping young musicians in Flagstaff,” Bryan said.
The Hive, in its creation, filled another void in the Flagstaff music scene – it became a place where musicians could come and learn skills necessary to grow in their craft.
“If you’re someone who wants to get involved with the music scene but doesn’t know how to begin, start with The Hive,” Smith said.
The Hive has become a place where community members of all walks of life have come to learn how to make a record, run sound, rehearse, run the door at a show, play live music. And, Tippett said that The Hive is not only a community space for everyone in Flagstaff, but really, the greater Southwest.
“Anyone who comes up to us and says, ‘Hey, I want to help out at The Hive, or do something at The Hive,’ we’re like, ‘Okay,’” The Hive’s community outreach manager, Ree Thompson said, noting that she initially got involved with The Hive by volunteering whenever help was needed.
“I don’t think I know of any other spots where you can just kind of show up and be like, ‘Hey, I want to learn how to run sound because I’m super interested in doing music in my career.’ I know places where you can pay a lot of money to go do that, not places where you can just sign up for a volunteer list,” Warren said.
Allowing young musicians to do what they can to make their music and learn how to get better is important, Warren said, and at The Hive, up and coming musicians can challenge themselves, be creative and grow.
In the community space provided by The Hive, several musicians have created projects that might not otherwise exist, lasting memories have been made and even more opportunities for local musicians have been created.
For example, alongside Tippett, local sound technicians and producers Andrew Grosse and Andrew Baker recently established Triple A Sound Solutions, a rehearsal and recording studio as well as a live event audio production company, which currently operates out of The Hive.
Grosse said Triple A Sound Solutions largely came to be as an effort to perpetuate different aspects and facilitate opportunities within the local music scene.
“Andrew Baker and I love making records, but also, from my perspective, if there’s no rehearsal spaces around – and there’s crazy noise ordinances around too – it makes it very challenging for the artists and musicians to grow and evolve what they’re doing,” Grosse said. “So, why wouldn’t we try to build out or go forward with rehearsal spaces and supporting the music scene like that? It’s completely logical to me.”
So at The Hive, Triple A manages rehearsals, mixes audio, offers studio recordings, as well as live performance recordings.
“Triple A’s mission is to provide a way to record what we have going on at this particular unique time in the Flagstaff music scene, which is very active. It’s the most active I’ve seen in a while,” Tippett said.
While Triple A intends to continue to work closely and in conjunction with The Hive, Tippett said that eventually, Triple A will be looking for a new location to expand the opportunities for Flagstaff musicians even further.
Tibbett said Triple A is booking through the winter, and is ready to make its mark, facilitating growth in Flagstaff’s music scene.
Lots of opportunities, music and magic have stemmed from The Hive, and that same passion for music and the community that made it such a special DIY-concert venue to begin with keeps Flagstaff buzzing about The Hive.
“Rather than looking out for themselves, [The Hive] is here to support the community, and from what I’ve seen, the idea of doing something great for this town has probably been a huge part of why they’ve been able to stick around for 10 years,” Smith said.
Even after some uncertainty amid the pandemic, The Hive pulled through with the support of rehearsal money and people eager to see live music make a comeback, Tippett said.
The Hive’s Administrative director and in-house show photographer, Nikki Gibala said one of her favorite memories of The Hive is when it hosted its first show post-pandemic.
“It just really put things into perspective,” Gibala said. “You don’t really know what you have until it gets taken away… I remember feeling so fulfilled and so happy to be back in my element. It just really made me realize how special of a place this is and how grateful I was for it to still be here.”
To those who have performed, practiced, learned or even just attended a show there, it’s clear that The Hive is at the heart of Flagstaff’s music scene.