The Scene: Dancing in the Old Pueblo @ DUSK 2023
By / November 20, 2023

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DUSK Music Festival lit up the Old Pueblo November 10-11, 2023, taking over Jácome Plaza in Tucson, Arizona. Since 2016, this two-day music festival, featuring primarily EDM but also incorporating elements of indie, rock, and hip-hop, has been spreading positive vibes in Tucson. Although it has changed venues a couple of times since its inception, it appears to have found its forever home in the heart of downtown Tucson. The weather is top-notch in southern Arizona this time of year and DUSK does a pretty stellar job kicking off the southwest festival season bringing in blockbuster stars like Seven Lions, J. Worra, Louis the Child, 311, and more.

The festival season in the Sonoran Desert kicks off with the arrival of fall. With daily temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to 80s and lows settling in the mid-50s, the weather sets the ideal stage for this yearly celebration in the Old Pueblo. It’s a sought-after spot for artists to showcase their talents and for people to revel in the festivities.

Table Of Contents

1. Running the Numbers
2. The Scene
3. Music Highlights
4. Travel Tips
6. Final Thoughts

1. Running the Numbers

Dates: November 10-11, 2023
Editions: 6
Artists: 40+
MFW Beer Index: $10/12-ounce beer
Highest/Lowest Temperature: 76F/47F (24C/8C)
Reusable Cups? No
Free Water Stations? Yes

2. The Scene

The Venue
Dusk took over Jácome Plaza which sits on the northwest end of downtown Tucson. The plaza is surrounded by Tucson’s single skyscraper, the city library, the historic Pima Country Court House, and the YMCA. Three stages make up the bulk of the festival and are complimented with a mega VIP playground and viewing areas, a vendor village, a liquor lane with craft cocktails, tons of porta potties, and even a secret portal. #portalparty

Logos and decorative lights were cast on the surrounding buildings and in trees while temporary festival walls showcased eclectic murals from various local artists and lit-up art sculptures drew the attention of fans commuting to the next stage with neon walkways guiding the way. A giant water mill with tiny ducks was a popular meeting spot for lost friends. To top off the fun, a group of wacky flailing arm peeps were dancing by the hydration tanks and it made for the best party pics. The venue is all city so don’t worry about dust or falling into a cactus, although if you look, you can catch views of the iconic saguaro standing tall near the historic courthouse.

The Music
Like previous years, you can expect to see a lot of DJs spinning EDM, however, each year there are both international and local rock, indie, and/or hip-hop acts dusted throughout the lineup. Popular production duo, Louis the Child, played the main stage while local favorites, Miss Olivia and the Interlopers rocked the side stage to close out the first night and 311 got the mainstage jumping before headliner Seven Lions closed out the show on the second night.

The Crowd
DUSK is an all-ages festival and children under 10 are free with a ticketed adult but I wouldn’t say it’s a “family-friendly” fest. While there were some children in the crowd, I didn’t notice any installations or vendors geared towards entertaining the little ones. We did find a body paint vendor who was more than happy to paint a Pikachu on a cute little ones face though. The masses, which appeared to be college-age up to late 40s made for the best people-watching. Fishnets, binkies, and sunglasses made up the college fashion while gauged ears, tattoos, and vintage band tees rounded out the aged look. The crowd fostered an atmosphere brimming with positivity and vibrant energy, setting the tone for the entire weekend.

3. Music Highlights

Acts I Caught and the Unofficial Order in Which I Enjoyed Them

  • 311
  • Louis the Child
  • J. Worra
  • Shiba San
  • Miss Olivia & The Interlopers
  • Deathpact
  • Neil Frances
  • Coin
  • Bad Suns
  • AC Slater
  • GG Magree
  • Young Rising Sons
  • Troyboi
  • Gem & Tauri
  • Smallpools

Festival Favorite: DRINKURWATER for me! DRINKURWATER is from Germany, but is now based in the US and he traveled from Atlanta to electrify the Discovery stage. Chosen simply because of the clever name, I made it a point to visit the stage tucked in between two buildings on a narrow street despite nobody I talked to knowing anything about the producer, and oh boy, am I glad I caught it. People were bouncing off the walls to the sounds of heavy dubstep, myself included. DRINKURWATER is on tour and may be coming to a festival near you, look him up!

Most Captivating: Deathpact wears a hoodie over the face with lights that dance and put you in something like a trance. The solid backbeats layed a blanket for the genre-bending melodies which kept your head banging whether you wanted it to or not. Also, Deathpact was the loudest set I’ve ever heard, I wish I had my downbeats. And who is Deathpact anyway? 

4. Stray Observations

#portalparty and never-ending DUSK ducks

5. Practical Info

What’s the weather like? The temps can’t be beat during the day and are a tad bit chilly at night. It’s perfect weather for layering your crop tops, joggers, and trippy hoodies. Average temps for both days were 75F during the day and 50F at night.

What are the prime hours for music? Music starts at 3 pm each day and goes on until 11 pm. Plan to stay the whole time because the weather and lineups are so good.

Where did you sleep? This festival is located right downtown so there is no shortage of lodging options. Whether it’s historic hotels, new boutique options, or budget-friendly spots, there are plenty of lodging options within walking distance of the DUSK festival grounds.

How do you get there? Exit the interstate 10 at Congress/Downtown and follow the signs. There’s free parking after 5 pm on Friday and all day on Saturday and Sunday all over downtown Tucson. There are also a handful of parking garages surrounding the venue. I noticed a bunch of people coming in on bicycles and the city’s free modern-day streetcar which runs across downtown Tucson.

6. Final Thoughts

DUSK Music Festival is a win, an excellent time, very well organized, and a bucket list festival for music lovers in the southwest. Would I travel far to go to this festival? Yes!

Here’s a good time to consider – buy VIP tickets for next year, party hard Friday and Saturday, then on Sunday wake and go for a hike in Saguaro National Monument (saguaros only grow naturally here in the Sonoran Desert) or go to Che’s for a Michilada (best in town, I know) to decompress before you head back to reality on Monday. It’s worth it and so are you.

Written By

Armed with only a camera and a fanny pack, you never know what festival Coco will end up at next. Our resident festival expert floats from deepwoods hippie jam fests to downtown rock bashes to dive bar showcase festivals.