It started as a whisper among friends: “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could put on a music festival that crossed genres and appealed to music fans of all ages, and do it here in Tucson.”
Eighteen months later, it became a plan: Bring in one, maybe two moderately known national acts supported by a handful of local acts performing everything from pop and punk to EDM and hip-hop for a daylong music festival.
Hence the birth last October of the Dusk Music Festival.
The second annual Dusk festival this weekend is bigger and bolder: Two days, two stages, 18 artists and headliners with big national reputations: Rapper Big Sean, electro-house DJ/musician Steve Aoki, DJ Jazzy Jeff (“For Da Love of Da Game”), EDM duo Louis the Child, R&B singer Madison Beer and the Minneapolis synth-pop band Poliça.
“We upped the ante,” said Page Repp, a Tucson contractor and architectural designer who conceived of the festival with friends and fellow University of Arizona graduates John Rallis and Steve Stratigouleas, and Illegal Pete’s owner Pete Turner. “We were able to do that through a lot of hard work.”
“This isn’t any of our businesses. This isn’t what we do” for a living, added Rallis, whose day job is in real estate financing. “We all kind of wore every hat last year. In the long run it will be a good thing because we were all able to learn every part of this.”
Dusk kicks off at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6, at Rillito Park, 4502 N. First Ave. Doors open an hour earlier for day two on Saturday, Oct. 7. Concerts run until around 11 p.m. each day.
Repp, 43, said the intention from the beginning was to create a festival that would grow each year and rival events in the Phoenix area that draw music fans away from Tucson.
“When we did it last year we planned it and we set it all up and organized it so that it would be the first year of a decades run,” he said. “We set it up as an institution that Tucson could be proud of. We wanted something great to keep people here, to keep them excited.”
The first year was not without its hiccups. Some neighbors of the park complained about the noise, which Repp said shouldn’t be a problem this year with an improved sound system.
“We hope it grows and we hope to add bigger and better names every year,” said Rallis, 37. “Getting people together kind of in the sun, having fun, just having an experience with people where there is good energy all day is priceless.”
Last year’s inaugural festival brought in just over 4,000 people, a number that Repp anticipates will jump to about 6,000 a day this weekend.
At least a quarter of that audience will likely come from the Phoenix area, he said, based on early ticket sales.