DIY Venue Spotlight: The Trunk Space

ALARM’s ongoing series exploring the best grassroots, non-traditional music venues

Quintron and Miss Pussycat performing at The Trunk Space. Photo courtesy of venue.
Quintron and Miss Pussycat performing at The Trunk Space. Photo courtesy of venue.

Name: The Trunk Space
Founded: April 2004
Location: 1506 NW Grand Ave., Phoenix, AZ
Booking contact: JRC via
We recommend including your website/MySpace link, date(s) you would like to play, a description of your sound, and your philosophy in the e-mail too.
Q&A with: JRC, co-owner, curator of art, booker, and sound technician

What type of bands do you book?
We specialize in avant-garde, experimental, and non-commercial folk forms of music. We are also very interested in hosting touring theater acts, film fests, and artwork.

Why did you want to open a DIY venue?
The Trunk Space started as an art gallery, but it made no sense to us to have 1,100 square feet and only use the walls. We saw a need for our town to support non-traditional music and performance, which is our passion, and we just started booking acts.

Is your venue grounded on any ideals?
I’m not sure if they’re ideals, but some rules we live by are: be easy to work with, be inclusive, and just because it’s not “popular” doesn’t mean that it isn’t good or valuable. Having said that, we tend to avoid pop and rock acts because we are trying to encourage more experimental work.

What kind of crowd do you attract?
We attract a pretty diverse crowd, mostly teens to late 20s, but there’s also a good mix of adults and folks from a wide spectrum of cultures: GLBQT, Latin, vegans, culture jammers, DIY punks, suburbanites, and “old school loves of the underground.”

How has the venue been an attribute to a community?
People tend to think of us as the “go-to gang” for anything that doesn’t fit in anywhere else. We’re not exactly punk, rock, or folk-types. We try to keep a very friendly and unpretentious attitude to what we do.

Also, none of us is really into drinking or drugs; the music and art aren’t an excuse for us to have a party. We’re very serious about it, so the rest of the scene here may think we’re a little square, but we are dedicated and sincere.

Have you been met with any challenges running a DIY venue?
Paying the rent is always hard. Because we don’t live in the space and try to give as much back to the performers as possible, some months are pretty difficult.

We are always pushing to spread the word about what we’re doing to the largest number of people possible, so overcoming people’s expectations can be tough. Making them see the value in a culture that has developed in their own backyards is hard when most of us grew up on diets of TV, commercial radio, and mall fashion.

Aside from live music, do you host any other events or programs in your space?
Yes! We also host two nights of long-form improv each month (, a live talk show, occasional classes on a variety of topics, circus sideshows, and burlesque reviews.

Are there any significant musical acts or artists that have drawn a crowd or had a significant performance?
From the local pool, the bands Father’s Day and Andrew Jackson Jihad are really coming into their own and getting some national attention. There is also Soft Shoulder, Haunted Cologne, Stephen Steinbrink (AKA French Quarter).

From outside of town, we’ve been the first people in PHX to give shows to Parts & Labor, Matt & Kim, Larry “Wildman” Fischer, Quintron, Jason Webley, No Age, Baby Dee, and a lot more. They might not have all been huge shows, but they meant a lot to us and the people involved.

Do you have a favorite anecdote regarding your venue?
It’s too long to recount here, but the night Jason Webley tamed a whole room of old-school punks, and got them to sing along to his sea shanties. It really crystallized what we want Trunk Space to be.

Do you plan on expanding or modifying your venue in the future?

We don’t own our space, so if we could find the perfect place, we’d consider moving, but we’re really happy where we are. Also, we’re constantly upgrading our sound system.

What advice could you give those who are interested in opening their own venue?
Do it because you love it.  If it’s something about money or ego, you will probably not be happy and eventually become disliked.

What events do you have coming up?

On Valentine’s Day, we’re hosting the “Pretty Things Peep Show” from LA. March will be packed with lots of great SXSW touring bands. In April on Saturday the 25th, we’ll be hosting the “REAL” Coachella: an all day music and performance fest with tons of local and regional bands.

The Trunk Space:

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