This Is the Ethereal Music Festival Of Your Dreams
A lot of bad things happen in the desert. People start meth labs in RVs, hills grow eyes, and people test out nuclear bombs. Luckily, what’s going down in the middle of the Arizona desert this weekend is none of those things—though it is pretty bomb, as the youth say these days (do they?). It’s called FORM: Arcosanti and it may be the most bizarre three-day music festival you’ve never heard of. The good news is that it’s incredibly easy to get to. The bad news is we’re lying.
To reach the tiny experimental town of Arcosanti where the festival takes place, you’ll need to open Google Maps and probably buy one of those archaic paper maps, too. It’s 65 miles north of Phoenix and is an absolute journey to get to, but you’ll know your close to either the festival or certain death when you make it to a cluster of gas stations in a town called Mayer—no relation to John. That, or you could follow the caravan of 1,200 artists, musicians, and other creatives descending on Verde Valley for a festival that’s as much about the music and art as it is about the town it takes place in.
Arcosanti is no Indio. Birthed in 1970 as a visionary, experimental city, it was built by late Italian-American architect Paolo Soleri, and based around a concept he called arcology (or, a synthesis of architecture and ecology). Soleri built the town in such a way that’s incompatible with cars, while still creating a compact, earth-friendly, and urban locale. According to The Fader, it features multiple apartment-style residences, performance venues, artist studios, libraries, greenhouses, office spaces, and a star-gazing roofs complete with ergonomic concrete headrests. In other words, it sounds like paradise for those among us that feel physically ill looking at the skyscraper forest we’re living in.
A half century later, the town is still unfinished but boasts about 50 year-long residents—the majority of which are employees in charge of building up the space. It also covers only 25 acres of the 4,000 acres it sits on. So how did it go from being a town straight out of LOST to being the site of a music festival? And not only a music festival, but one that, now in it’s third year, features a lineup that includes Milk favs Empress Of and Perfume Genius as well as Skrillex, Thundercat, Bonobo, Four Tet, and dozens of other? Like most classic American tales of discovery, this one involves musicians and a road trip.
No, Britney Spears did not discover Arcosanti in a deleted scene from Crossroads. It all started with a band named Hundred Waters. On a road trip from Gainesville, FL to Los Angeles, CA, drummer Zach Tetreault and guitarist Paul Giese stopped by Soleri’s experimental city and, naturally, fell in love with it. The detour was originally envisioned as a way for the band to recharge but, after planning for six months, it became what it is now: a three-day event that’s free to attend (there are pricey packages if you’re into hot showers and beds) for anyone who can make it to Arizona.
“We started FORM a few years ago in an effort to bring the artists and people we admire together to become inspired. To be re-invigorated with the notion of live performance which as a touring musician can become so monotonous,” Tetreault said in a statement. “We envisioned a more personal, collaborative, lean and lasting festival experience. FORM is a platform for creativity and camaraderie to bloom and Arcosanti is the perfect home for such an experience to exist.”
It’s an incredible breath of fresh air from the glut of expensive music festivals that have put an emphasis on star power rather than creativity. Featuring musical performances, installations, technology, and talks, and all wrapped up in an eco-friendly package that’s smack in the middle of the Arizona desert, there really is no place like FORM.
FORM Arcosanti runs from May 13 to May 15 in Arcosanti, AZ. You can catch a live broadcast of Perfume Genius, Tyondai Braxton, Tortoise, and Julianna Barwick on Boiler Room. For more information about the festival, check out their interstellar website.
Stay tuned to Milk for more groundbreaking music festivals.
Images via FORM: Arcosanti.