Extraterrestrials and earthlings alike joined forces in Chandler, Arizona on April 7-8 for the largest invasion of Phoenix Lights Festival since it’s inception in 2015.
The fourth annual Phoenix Lights Festival took place at event organizers, Relentless Beats’, brand new custom-built venue, The Park at Wild Horse Pass. The Park was transformed into a festival goers’ playground, providing a variety of vendors loaded with rave essentials, food trucks serving all kinds of goodies (including vegan options), many self-serve water stations to keep attendees hydrated, Instagram-worthy alien themed art installations, the ranger outpost (which was perfect if you just needed to take a breather), and four stages, Mothership, Invasion, The Colony, and The Fallout, each sonically blessing our ears with an array of genres.
We started day one bright and early at The Colony stage, grooving to the house stylings of Arizona’s own Gerry Gonza. The temperatures were high this afternoon, but that did not deter Gerry from delivering the heat, warming up the Gonza fam for what was to come for the invasion. After the set, we had a short intermission, but it was well worth it… Gerry Gonza interview coming soon!
The Colony stage was hosted by Relentless Beats underground brand of house and techno, RBDeep, and Saturday’s lineup was otherworldly, hence our frequent trips to this stage. After our intermission, we returned to the Colony for some tech house, starting with Bruno Furlan and following with Fisher. Fisher is a master of “Crowd Control,” charming the crowd with his mega-hit “Ya Didn’t” and Billy Kenny’s “I Operate.”
After our tech house fix, we were on the search for some good ol’ bass house and JOYRYDE happened to be in control of the Mothership. After bouncing around to his genre-defying set, we returned to (you guessed it), The Colony. The quickly rising titan of progressive house, Cristoph, was on the decks. He paid homage to his longtime hero/mentor Eric Prydz, dropping tracks from his many alias, including Cirez D’s “On Off” and Pryda’s “Inox.” He also played his well-known single, “Epoch,” while images of Rick and Morty flashed to every beat.
Next to The Colony was The Fallout stage, which was reserved for the highly regarded of Arizona’s local scene. We frequented this stage in between breaks and the talent here was top notch. We caught some of Tryb’s set and made our way over to the main stage for Seven Lions, which ultimately became our favorite set of the weekend.
Where do we even begin with Jeff Montalvo, aka Seven Lions. We’ve seen Jeff many times, but his beautiful Phoenix Lights performance took us to another dimension and abducted our hearts in the process. Seven Lions has the innate ability to smoothly mix multiple genres. An example of this and one of the highlights was his seamless transition from a neck breaking dub track to Above & Beyond’s euphoric original “Peace of Mind.” His set also included two Jason Ross collabs, “Higher Love” and “Ocean,” a myriad of tracks from his ‘Where I Won’t Be Found’ EP, and his festival mix of “Falling Away.” It was truly a transcendental experience.
Check out actual footage from the abduction below:
While some of our group stayed at the Mothership for Gucci Mane’s performance, we were eager to flock to The Colony again for Dirtybird Justin Martin. J Mart played all of our DB faves before Green Velvet took the stage and struck the crowd with his green “Lazer Beams.”
The closers of the night consisted of Gramatik, Green Velvet, and Martin Garrix. There were options for everyone: Gramatik for some funky jazz, Green Velvet for the tech hearted, and Martin Garrix for those looking to sing their lungs out to his dance hits. We decided to split up our final set of the night, starting with Relief Records label boss, Green Velvet, and finally concluding Saturday at the Mothership with Martin Garrix. Garrix shot to outer space with an illuminating light show, while fluidly mixing his upbeat originals with his radio-friendly power ballads. The lasers danced to “Make Up Your Mind,” the audience praised the rave gods for “So Far Away,” and tears flowed as Dua Lipa’s vocals hit on “Scared To Be Lonely.”
The second day of Phoenix Lights brought even more fun in the sun as the energy from day 1 carried over. Our alien invasion started around 3:00 to catch the rising young dubstep talent, Ray Volpe, who performed at the Invasion stage. Not only did he throw down with some of his popular remixes, but he played tons of new music off his ‘No Emotion Allowed’ EP and we were totally there for it! We then caught some of Autograf’s set at the Mothership stage along with Eli & Fur at The Colony Stage.
The fact that all of the stages were so close to each other made it extremely convenient for festival goers to catch a little bit of everyone they wanted to see. Grabbing a drink and dancing from stage to stage was a simplistic highlight of the weekend for sure. However, it wasn’t until Morgan Page and Boombox Cartel’s sets that things really started to get spacey in the desert. As the sun started to set into a burnt orange and the cool, brisk air rolled in, the night was finally underway. To really set the mood, Zomboy then took us on an intergalactic journey with his deep, grimey dubstep tunes. Blow up aliens appeared in the front row, lasers projected over the beautiful crowd, and neon lights were everywhere to be seen.
The night was just getting started though as Diplo was up next on the Mothership stage. He came out ready to murder his set; the bass felt like it was actually making the ground move. He played everything from his older classics like “Set It Off,” “Boy Oh Boy,” and “Be Right There” to newer hits off his latest ‘California’ EP. Needless to say, this was an epic performance that totally reassured us as to why Diplo will forever hold a leading title in EDM.
The night ended with us catching a little bit of each of all the closing performances. We started at Umek and then migrated over to Bear Grillz and ended with Travis Scott; it was nice to go out with an all genre experience. All in all, day two was beyond lit. It was a day that we won’t be forgetting for quite some time!
Since it’s inception in 2015, Phoenix Lights Festival has seen massive change and growth. Starting as a one day festival with a smaller roster to now taking place over two days with more than 50 of the hottest acts in dance music at it’s very own custom park. Every year, we are thoroughly impressed with the development of Lights and 2018’s installment was no different. The artist curation, stage production, and vibes were on point! We can’t wait to see what next year holds for this out of this world event.
Special thanks to Relentless Beats and Caren West PR for the opportunity to cover Phoenix Lights Festival!
Co-Author & Photo Credit: Phoenix Gonzales