Before I went to FORM Arcosanti, I was honestly pretty burnt out on music festivals in general. While there are a few that stand out amongst the many, it seems almost every festival is the same. You can copy and paste the lineup for the majority of them and no one would even notice. The deciding factor for many festival attendees is the convenience of location, with most residing in either a city park or the middle of nowhere. However, FORM Arcosanti breaks that mold, and there’s a lot more to it than just the music.
Taking place in Arcosanti, AZ – FORM has a venue unlike anywhere else. It feels more like the Star Wars planet of Tatooine than anywhere I’ve been. Arcosanti is a micro-city, or sort of “urban laboratory” serving as a prototypical living space with the intention of integrating architecture and ecology. The unique concrete-based architecture has a layout incorporating the natural landscape in the best way possible. Arcosanti proves to be the ideal location for a boutique music festival while FORM takes full advantage of the one-of-a-kind space. You won’t see the wild art installations you see in festivals like Electric Forest. Instead, they let the beauty of Arcosanti speak for itself and consciously occupy the space, taking full advantage of everything it has to offer.
There’s a beautiful amphitheater that hosted performances from artists like Anderson .Paak, Florence + The Machine, Kaytranada, Khraungbin, Snail Mail and many more. There’s literally not a bad seat in the house and not once did anything feel overcrowded. Seeing this caliber of artists in such an intimate setting is special to say the least – especially with how naturally this environment encourages them to interact with the audience. The compact site is also incredibly easy to maneuver from stage to stage, and there’s little to no overlapping sets.
Next to the amphitheater is a large area called “The Vaults,” which is essentially a open space with painted concrete arches offering cover. During the day this area has some laid-back sets along with various panels and workshops. However, at night it turned into a straight dance party where Skrillex, Peggy Gou, Bonobo, DJ Koze and more graced the dance floor. The sound slapped and the lighting couldn’t have been better. There was even impressive projection mapping in the canyon behind the artists. Just a small walk away hosts an even smaller, domed “Apse” stage offering the festival’s most intimate experience. Oh and there’s also a beautiful pool with daily DJ sets overlooking the scenic canyon.
The lineup certainly has something for everyone and is so well curated by Hundred Waters that you could stumble on any given set and find your new favorite artist. I went from seeing Florence + The Machine put on a churchlike experience followed by the entire crowd walking over to Peggy Gou for a rowdy dance party. The versatility was impressive yet somehow still managed to cater to everyone. It’s the only festival I’ve been to where you could see an amphitheater full of fans for solo harpist Marry Lattimore as well as Anderson .Paak and Kaytranada just a few hours apart.
There’s nothing “normal” about FORM. It feels a bit weird to even call it a music festival. The capacity is a mere 2000 attendees and it’s actually as much of a 3-day creative retreat as it is a music festival. The programming involves various thought-provoking talks, panel discussions sponsored by Patreon, workshops, poetry, immersive art projects and much more. If you go into it with an open mind you’ll have an unforgettable experience.
Like any great event, it’s very community-oriented. So much so that many artists go there for the full weekend just to hang out and take in everything FORM has to offer. When Chance The Rapper couldn’t make it last year, Flying Lotus made for an easy replacement since he was already planning to attend just for fun. It’s one of the few events I’ve been to that fans could run into and spark up a conversation with artists at any given time.
FORM curates partners in the best way with Equinox offering Yoga, mindfulness sessions and acupuncture / cupping recovery and more. Their digital partner Vero even came on board to offer a Creator’s Scholarship program to offer tickets to creators who didn’t have the means to purchase tickets. All around, FORM is one of the most thoughtfully organized festivals out there and I hope to return. Enjoy!