Relentless Beats wrapped up its third rendition of Phoenix Lights in April. After calling Downtown Phoenix its home for years one and two – it had an unexpected venue change for year three. A mere two days before Phoenix Lights kicked off – the festival announced that the venue had been changed from the originally scheduled Margaret T. Hance Park to Rawhide Town & Event Center. The announcement was met with mixed reactions – mostly from people who planned their trip and lodging around being downtown Phoenix. Relentless Beats responded by having shuttles run all day from the original planned venue to Rawhide. The shuttles ran smoothly and I never had to wait more than ten minutes for one, even after the fest. Festival goers were also offered free parking at the new venue
This whole situation exemplifies the phrase, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Kudos to the entire Relentless Beats team to rising to the challenge and still putting on a top notch event.
As a first time traveler to Phoenix – it is hard for me to compare The Rawhide Event Center to any other large scale event venues in the area – but for the purposes of this fest I think it worked out perfectly. The festival boasted 3 stages. The Mothership and Invasion stage were close to the same size. The Colony stage was a bit smaller. Don’t let the size of the stage fool you though, talent was flowing on all the stages. Not too many festivals can brag that they had Above and Beyond, Keys and Krates and Pete Tong all playing at the same time. Sound bleed was only an issue when walking from stage to stage or if you were in the outskirts of the crowd. The walk was minimal, and with the Invasion stage being in doors it served as shelter from the dry Phoenix heat.
The last thing I will say about the venue was that I loved the fact that the medical station was one of the first things you saw upon entering. In the case that something was to happen it’s almost impossible that you wouldn’t know where the medical team is.
The Relentless Rangers” were on duty all weekend. The rangers are a group of volunteers whose goal was making sure every attendee was comfortable and safe, something very similar to Bassnectar’s “Ambassador” program. These volunteers patrolled the venue giving out water, ear plugs, sunscreen and even chewing gum. Every time I saw one of their neon shirts out of the corner of my eye they were helping somebody. I would love to see every festival adopt a group of volunteers like this for their festivals.
Phoenix Lights made sure that just because the festival is over, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the party is. Attendees were invited to purchase tickets to on-site afterparties which featured Illenium, Said The Sky, and Keys & Krates
Rawhide’s second night of on-site afterparties featured festival headliner Keys N Krates. Just a ways away, GRiZ prepared to take the stage at Shady Park for an exclusive Phoenix Lights DJ set aftershow. Shady Park quickly became one of my favorite venues.
Zeds Dead was assigned the coveted sunset set time and absolutely lived up to the challenge. Their song selection changed as the day got darker and darker. When the sun went down, all bets were off and the onslaught began. They played through classics and some of their new hits to a bass-hungry crowd.
Day two was opened up by Manila Killa on The Colony stage followed by K?d on The Mothership stage. This 1-2 punch of future bass and house tunes was the perfect way to jump start your sunday. The two made their Phoenix debut that day to eager crowds. Manila Killa played through his collection of feel good future-bass as his crowd slowly grew. On the opposite stage, K?d gave everyone a reason to remember his name. His mastery of a handful of genres had the whole crowd going crazy.
Zhu had one of the most fun performances of the whole festival. He gave the crowd the house tunes they all know him for, and even slipped in some heavier songs throughout the night. The build up to RL Grime’s “Core” was a thing of beauty. Do NOT miss him during this Summer festival circuit.
Bottom line is – Phoenix Lights was forced to relocate less than a week before the festival…and if you didn’t tell me that this was a new venue, I would have no way of knowing. There is something to be said about that. Well done guys. Hope to see you next year!
Photos Credit : Jacob Dunn