I was super excited to attend Phoenix Lights this year. The Colony stage especially piqued my interest. This house/techno/tech-house stage boasted a billing with headliners such as Lane 8, Sage Armstrong and more. Charmingly set at the Park at Wild Horse Place in Chandler, AZ, this two-day event had a diverse list of featured artists and genres. I had fond memories of this annual event in the past and was really eager to see what the organizers of Relentless Beats had in store for this year’s edition of Phoenix Lights.
The girl line was long this year, but thankfully, it moved fairly quickly. Security was easy to get through as well, much to my relief. Glancing around, I saw lots of totems: bright, neon, fuzzy, LED, you-name-it, I saw it. I wondered how they would affect my view of the stages.
The Four Stages
Relentless Beats, the event organizers, really impressed me this year with their event setup. The different stages were set up a little apart from one another. Every space was well-thought out, with much attention to detail for the Phoenix Lights theme. As a result, UFO structures placed strategically here and there were both equally weird and wonderful. My favorite noteworthy piece was a silver triangular tank that shot out flames every now and then.
The first stage, the main stage, aptly named The Mothership, was a large structure set up high above the crowd. Visuals larger than life provided a stunning backdrop behind djs at the decks. Lights and lasers streamed out over the people, illuminating them in the crowd. Confetti cannons blasted out confetti during some of the artists’ sets. What a magnificent sight.
In the distance, the second stage called the Invasion Stage, gave me a Coachella vibe. A large white canopy covered the people with a white blank canvas for visuals behind the dj booth. In contrast to the dirt and grass, the floor was a white material that gave attendees a proper dance floor to move happily to the music.
The Colony Stage
The Colony stage was my favorite. It had a 360-degree stage, coupled with a canopy overhead, and fake green grass all around for people to use as lounge space. The canopy had a beautiful abstract design with shades of white, turquoise, blue and sunshine yellow that were cornered by pillars covered with ivy-green vines. The dj, spinning on decks slightly raised above the crowd, faced one part of the stage. Furthermore, three screens faced different directions about the stage. Artists’ names flashed periodically on screen amidst a backdrop of moving visuals, such as starry night skies.
The Fallout Stage
The Fallout Stage was the locals’ stage. The setup was an old Jeep with lights on it that djs could perform on during their set. I was very pleased to always see our community (Arizona) supporting its local artists. This is very important because it gives love and support to the artists who grow our music scene.
Water stations were readily available for thirsty attendees to refill their Camelbaks and Vibedration backpacks. Others opted for beer and liquor at other beverage stations. Food and drink vendors were dotted in between so attendees could get their grub.
Also, there were booths with artists’ merch, rave gear and the likes of EDM culture. The event even featured a massage vendor that saved my life on day two of Phoenix Lights. I almost did not make it that day, as I was exhausted. The massage felt heaven-sent.
IHEARTRAVES and Walter Productions had collaborated with Phoenix Lights this year. This section was a chill-out zone with a large bus with LED lighting and cozy seats inside for people to chat and relax in, and recharge before going back out to the festival. Similarly, there were wooden benches for people to sit down on that were interspersed with cool-looking art pieces. A canopy with shades of burnt orange and gold covered the people underneath. The floor was a spread-out lawn that guests could lounge on at their leisure. I loved all blackboards there too, because of the display of graffiti-style street art on them from local artists. What a dope way to showcase local art.
The Artists and their Music
My favorites artists at Phoenix Lights were Spencer Brown, Sage Armstrong, Elephante, Big Gigantic, Arty and Griz. Anjunabeats’ artist Spencer Brown brought trance melodies with chill, dreamy vibes. His set was truly a treat for the ears. Judging by looking at the people around me witnessing him, I could see they definitely felt the same. Also, his music was blissfully minimal yet entrancing at the same time.
I wandered over to the main stage where Elephante was playing. His visuals were on point: lots of elephants in trippy forms, melty liquids swirling in rainbow colors. Elephante’s music was perfect for the main stage. His electro-house tunes were full of bright, happy vibes that were so much fun to dance to.
I then ventured to the Invasion stage where Arty was about to hop on to his set. The white roof and backdrop complemented the LED lights that periodically changed colors. From where I was standing at the side, I did not hear much bass. Perhaps this was because I was in a bad spot. Arty did not disappoint. Dripping letters spelled out his name behind him while he hyped up the crowd. Lights flashed behind him.
He looked comfortable and in his element. It was definitely a feel-good set as his set started out with trance music. Then, he threw in a few familiar tracks that the crowd knew and sang along to, even playing a remix of “Losing It” by Fisher, which I found amusing. He even ventured into jungle-house territory. I was impressed.
Artists Big Gigantic and Griz were the standout names of Phoenix Lights. Big Gigantic sent shivers up my spine with their full, big-band sound. Their music was live and funky. They also ventured into some darker, heavier bass that drove the crowd wild. They truly lived up to their hype, fusing electronic music with hip-hop and jazz elements perfectly.
Similarly, Griz’s set had the same vibe. Griz, with his saxophone, played his signature funk, electro-Soul music. My soul felt alive and happy. There is just something about live sets that are so special. There is nothing quite like it.
Throttle, DJ Mustard, and Sikdope
I caught a bit of Throttle’s set, too. His set was electro-house and exuded progressive, happy vibes. Party Favor played well, though his set was not to my liking. He definitely lived up to his name and got people lively and jumping. DJ Mustard played some cool hip-hop tracks as well. During his set, I was surprised to even hear some future-bass from DJ Mustard, while this genre was San Holo’s focus. Sikdope also threw down, and although I did not headbang, I enjoyed watching others break their neck at the rail.
Jay Lumen, Malaa, J. Philip, and Kaskade
I was a little bored at Jay Lumen’s set; however, I am not a Techno fan. Malaa’s set did not do much for me as I found his lack of dynamics boring. I like djs to take me on a journey ( i.e. lows leading to highs). To me, Malaa was much better as a producer than as a dj.
J. Phlip was not too bad, but I did not vibe with some of her set. Kaskade’s set was a bit of a letdown too. Though I wanted a set that evoked emotion, he played otherwise. I have seen him quite a few times before at other events though, so I figured he wanted to do something out of the norm. It was not a bad set, but it just was not for me.
Next, I saw a totem that said “Kaskade makes me freaky” and it made me laugh. Another totem also said “We are Relentless,” a popular Relentless Beats hashtag.
Local Arizona talent
The local stage was super poppin’. I enjoyed watching Disco Zombie, Alaska, Lujan, Rolando Hodar and Austin Feldman. For the second day, the locals really did shine, and they were even better than the headliners I saw. Austin Feldman played some Brazilian Bass music, along with some of his hot new singles. This genre, one of my favorites, prompted my friend and I to squeal with delight and go ham to his set.
Animate, a DJ duo, impressed me hugely. Their set was hype and the audience loved it, too. Basically, the dirt ground did not stand a chance with all the dancing. It was always such a fun vibe at this stage. We have so much musical talent in Arizona. This stage was a true indication of that.
Some of our Arizona DJs had played earlier that day on the Mothership stage, such as Brett Ortiz, Bigstabes, Blossom and Vanic. Bigstabes was the winner of the Phoenix Lights DJ competition for his heavy, bass-driven sound that hit the soul with a vengeance.
The Festival Fashion
UFO-themed gear was out in full force: pasties in neon green, holographic, glow-in-the-dark tops and bottoms. Fishnets made their usual appearance, along with lots of diamanté on tops and leg wraps. Lots of people wore sexy combinations of mesh and black leather. Glitter, sequins and diamonds adorned girls’ faces, sparkly and bright. I loved the fact that so much thought and detail went into dressing for the theme. A girl with a blush-pink skirt with kandi looped along a belt on her waist stood out to me especially. I thought this was a really neat idea because people usually wear kandi on their wrists.
It was fairly chilly for me both days and I was glad for my jacket and long pants. For the first day, I wore a purple lace bustier with fishnets and leather leggings. For the second day, I opted for a black mesh bodysuit and black and silver joggers. As for footwear, I anticipated the dirt and wore practical black lace-up boots (great for getting down in).
Above all, I enjoyed myself hugely. Without a doubt, this was one of my favorite Arizona festivals. I look forward eagerly to what next year will bring to Phoenix Lights.
Relentless Beats really outdid themselves this year. Phoenix Lights was an absolute blast. The sound, stages and their production provided an otherworldly experience, a feast for the eyes and ears with the audio, lights, and lasers.
Totems, for me, did not get in the way of the production. They added creativity and flair to the event. There was lots of room to dance everywhere. Pyrotechnics and flashy dancers gave the main stage pizzazz. A lot of thought and care went into the event this year and it showed.
The only thing negative I would have to note is that there was sound bleed here and there. This was probably unavoidable with such a space, of course, and occurred only in certain areas.