The Sets: A Real, Full Service Entertainment Alternative
Can you find a place that showcases local and national bands that doubles as a place to grab a bite to eat and play a little pool? Is it possible to have a venue with wide appeal that is also so specific that those craving live bands find sanctuary?
If you long for the kind of space where you can just be yourself, but tired of the same old, typical watering hole, The Sets in Tempe may be what you’re looking for.
The Sets offers alternatives, and incidentally one of the largest pool halls you may ever run across in the Valley.
“We have the biggest pool hall in the state,” said Scott Ford, who has been with the establishment since its founding back in February of 2003. As a bonus, pool is free all day Sunday and Monday.
But Ford is not alone in ensuring things go well in the multi-tiered spaces. He also has the help of Kim LaRowe, the club’s booking agent, responsible for bringing in The Sets’ musical acts. A little uneasy with the high praise for her efforts, she looks much like the youthful crowds that come to hear music on any given night. Energetic with an eye for attracting musicians ( The Good Cheer – who are gaining some critical kudos– played here recently and are slated for the famed Troubadour in West Hollywood later this month). She is also concerned with everyone having a safe time while here in this multi purpose wonderland, but with an emphasis on young people having a sane place to enjoy the sounds.
For parents concerned about their children coming to a venue that has such broad appeal, La Rowe is serious about making sure the youngest patrons are not in harms way. “It is a safe place for kids,” said La Rowe. To ensure that, security is present and highly visible.
“We are going in a positive direction,” said La Rowe. That is clearly evidenced by the clientele. “We don’t have a certain type of crowd,” said Ford. An eclectic mix of people visit the club, from a group of young, co-eds from nearby Arizona State University to those tattoos and others with polo shirts and button downs–everyone here coexists in relaxed tranquility.
Inside The Sets is part dorm room chic and part music hall. The environment has the feeling of being part sports bar and part alternative music scene without diluting what may appeal to individuals expecting one or the other, or even both. It appears to be an attractive combination. “We are getting new business all of the time,” said La Rowe.
Housed inside of a mall, the space is deceptive on the exterior. It isn’t until you walk in that you become aware that there is 16,000 square feet of space inside. Open and airy, for smokers and diners, Tempe has had a no smoking ban hence the existence of an open bar, this segment of the multi part complex is known as “The Atrium.”
Offering pool tables and plasma screens galore, for those that want to watch football on Sundays and seeking something to snack on, food is available. Composed mainly of sandwiches and burgers, the menu offers a decent number of appetizers with the most expensive being the $14.50 sampler, which includes a quesadilla, four mozzarella sticks and an equal number of onion rings and wings finished off with chips, salsa, hot sauce and a side of ranch.
I opted for the wine burger. A beef patty marinated in red wine with mushrooms sautéed in wine and butter. At a modest $ 6.50, this is comfort food at a great price. A generous burger augmented by spicy French Fries, this a great compliment to a night out with the gang or just relaxing after a long day at the office.
What is equally surprising–or may not be regulars–is the service. The plate had hardly been placed before me when the chef emerged and asked if everything was ok. It took a few moments to realize that he was staff not a patron. There is a real connection between those who work here and those that come, which explains the detailed, and sometimes funny, entries on My Space for some of the more colorful personalities that are part of the unique ambiance that is The Sets.
Vastly different from the some music venues, where things are haphazard, The Sets is a tightly organized place that anyone can enjoy without feeling out of place or not welcome. Just leave the negative attitude and judgments at the door and watch the diversity around you.
The Sets is having a Grand Opening November 17th. Considering the standard they set, expect the unexpected and to have a great time while doing something just a bit different.
93 East Southern Avenue
(SE Corner of Mill and Southern)
Tempe, Arizona 85282
Open 7 days a week from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m.