There’s a music festival happening May 12-14, 2017, in the experimental town of Arcosanti, Arizona. Here’s everything you need to know about FORM Arcosanti, from applying for tickets, camping there and who’s performing.
Editor’s note: Want to know what it’s really like to attend FORM? Our reporter Kellie Hwang is posting highlights and updates from the festival all weekend. Check back for insider details now through Sunday.
3:24 p.m. Settling in
As bus loads of festival goers are dropped off, it’s the next mad sprint to get a campsite. The footprint is not huge, so the coveted areas by the cliffside and under trees were quickly taken. Festival goers soon realized this will be a cozy experience, with tents set up inches from each other.
Musician Deradoorian was the first act scheduled, going on at 2:30 p.m., but she has been pushed back to 4 p.m. Those set up spent time napping on the beds in the Vaults, buying cocktails and beers at the bars, and hanging out chatting with friends at the Amp stage.
11 a.m. FORM Arcosanti Check-in: A long, long wait
Welcome to the fourth annual FORM Arcosanti music festival, hosted by indie rock back Hundred Waters.
Like last year, festival goers checked in offsite at “ParkCosanti” off the Cordes Junction Road exit on the I-17. Check in started at 11 a.m., but many people arrived before then in hopes of beating the crowds. Unfortunately a lot of people had the same idea, and the lot was already packed.
There were two shuttle buses running back and forth from Arcosanti, and at 11 a.m., a couple hundred people were already waiting with all of their stuff. When the shuttles arrived, it was quite chaotic without any real organization, so people rushed the buses and started to throw their stuff underneath. My group and I ended up waiting for more than two hours while four buses went by, including one that was already full with festival goers from another lot. Some people have reported waiting for more than three hours.
Bigger artists on more stages
“Last year, we took a huge leap from 2015, and took a lot on our plate that we had never done before,” said Zach Tetreault, co-founder of FORM. “We’re still adding some things, expanding on programming and adding a few more participants. … This year we want to hone in on all of our strengths and make everything as enjoyable for everyone as possible.”
Organized by indie band Hundred Waters, FORM offers a unique experience for festival-goers, performers, volunteers and Arcosanti residents to mingle and share a collaborative and creative journey that stretches beyond your typical music festival experience. Attendees come from across the world, made up of other musicians, community organizers and creative types, with a little over 1,500 participating this year.
The festival is still accepting applications to attend, and the luxury Patron Packages are still available to purchase. Those who are interested in volunteering can also still apply.
Schedule highlights: Solange, Skrillex
The line-up is curated by Hundred Waters and fellow performer Moses Sumney. Here are some of the schedule’s highlights:
- Solange will close out the main Amp stage on Friday night.
- Skrillex returns to FORM for the third year, and will play his set at the Canyon stage at 12:30 a.m. Saturday.
- Father John Misty will take the 9:20 p.m. slot on Saturday, followed by Future Islands at 10:50 p.m., both at the Amp stage.
- Festival organizers Hundred Waters will perform at 10:10 p.m. Sunday, followed by the final Amp stage performance by James Blake, a solo piano set.
- The Envelop space will feature 3D sound space performances with 6:41 sunrise slots by Manitous on Saturday morning and Switchcraft on Sunday morning, and a 3 a.m. Sunday set by Christopher Willits.
Higher prices help festival grow
Tetreault said the festival has always revolved around musicians that the organizerslove, and he wanted to bring more bigger name artists this year.
“As a musician, I tour and play shows all over the world, and playing (at Arcosanti), there’s something special about it,” he said. “For that reason, I always felt like we could get more and more bigger-name artists to engage with this.”
The festival is in its fourth year, and used to be a free-by-application model with an optional $100 donation. This year, attendees paid a $229 early-bird experience fee, which has since gone up to $389. Tetreault said the change is to help the festival sustain and grow.
“While it may appear drastic, it’s really the bare minimum for us to accomplish this,” he said. “We wanted to improve the artist experience, too, which is a huge part of this thing. … We are accommodating artists more this year and fulfilling riders more, hospitality to crews and the hotels they request. This has allowed us to book artists like Solange and Future Islands.”
New cultural series: Climate change, film screenings
A number of other changes are taking effect this year:
- Last year there were long lines for few varieties of food. This year will feature more vendors, including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.
- Organizers are working harder to reduce the festival’s carbon footprint, including using compostable plates, cups and cutlery.
- More shade structures throughout create areas to relax and nap, especially in the patron experience area.
The new cultural series this year will feature the following programming:
- Pathway to Paris, a collaboration among artists, musicians, activists and sustainability experts to find solutions to climate change;
- a panel from Planned Parenthood;
- artist interviews and panels from Saint Heron, which is the name of a compilation album from Solange Knowles’ record label, Saint Records;
- Two film screenings:”Whose Streets,” about the uprising in Ferguson following the shooting death of Michael Brown by police; and “Chasing Coral,” a look at why coral reefs around the world are disappearing.
“Organically, it happened that at the festival people come and when they leave, they take something positive with them to their communities,” Tetreault said. “The goal is the encourage that and be a catalyst for it, and to be having conversations.”
‘I’ve always dreamed of creating music with space as a dynamic element’
The Canyon stage is returning, where participants hike down from Arcosanti into the open canyon. Tetreault and his team build the stage, and Los Angeles-based artist collective Elestial Sound creates the environment, an encompassing space. Last year, Skrillex and Four Tet did a late-night performance at this stage, and surprise guest Local Natives also performed there.
Envelop is a new space at FORM this year, founded by returning performer Willits. The 3D, immersive experience features 360-degree sound and is meant to create “a space of intentional listening and conscious connection,” according to the description. Envelop offers spatial audio utilizing open-source software tools, and will be the site of several early-morning performances.
“I’ve always dreamed of creating music with space as a dynamic element, just like rhythm or melody,” Willits said. “Envelop a space where listening can more easily take priority. We’re providing another option that’s different from the traditional theatrical ‘stage.’ The audience is more in the experience of the sound, as opposed to the music being projected at them from a one-directional stage.”
One of the most important parts of FORM is bringing attention to Arcosanti and its mission.
“We’re really highlighting a site that is extremely significant and culturally under the radar for a lot of people,” Tetreault said. “Arcosanti stands for something that has never been more significant than now. It’s a more thoughtful approach to building cities. Phoenix is a city that is so sprawled out, and in a lot of ways is very inefficient. We need to look toward alternative methods of architecture and urban design like Arcosanti.”
Free album compilation download
Listen to the artists who will perform at FORM in a free-to-download compilation. The album will include 18 tracks from artists including Father John Misty, Skrillex, Tycho, Kelela, Hundred Waters, and more. The album will be released via WeTransfer on April 20. Download it here.
If you go: FORM Arcosanti
When: Friday-Sunday, May 12-14.
Where: Arcosanti, 13555 S. Cross Road, Mayer.
Admission: $389 for the experience fee, must apply and be selected. Patron Experience is $2,100 for one, $2,500 for two.
More details: experienceform.com.
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