I’ll be the first to admit, I’m no stranger to music festivals and I’ve been known to dabble in what you might affectionately call, “hippie shit.”
To be honest, when I heard FORM Arcosanti being described as “life-changing” and “completely altering the future of music festivals” I was like, “meh.” I’ve been to sustainability focused, hippie-oriented, “life-changing” festivals before, and although I had an amazing time surrounded by sweet people, at the end of the day, they just felt like Coachella without all the assholes.
It’s true. FORM is a music festival with a surprising lack of assholes per capita, but FORM is also so much more than that. Here are the Top Five Things That Make FORM Arcosanti an Experience and Not Just Another Music Festival.
Photo by Jasmine @yasi
1. The Otherworldly Architecture:
Aside from knowing it was going to be a great place to get some photos based on a few cool Instagram pictures I’d seen, I knew very little about the lay of the land. Frankly, even after hanging out for five days, the place still felt like a constantly shifting labyrinth to me.
Arcosanti was built by the Italian architect Paolo Soleri as an experiment in Arcology (Architecture + Ecology). The result is a super Earth conscious, community focused, alien-like space with incredible acoustics. Unlike Coachella, where depending on where you are you might not hear a lick of your favorite band’s set and can’t move because there are 100,000 people packed like sardines around you, there is not a bad seat in the house at Arcosanti.
Likewise, there also isn’t one bad view in the house, but I’ll let these shitty iPhone photos I took speak for themselves.
Photos by Jasmine Peraza @psychicvoid
2. The Surreal Performances:
Hundred Waters and Moses Sumney did an incredible job of curating this year’s line up with heavy hitters like SOLANGE MOTHA FUCKING KNOWLES, Father John Misty, James Blake, Future Islands, and a dozen other of my favorite bands. However, as a person who goes to a shit ton of festivals, I’d seen most of those acts before. So as you might imagine, I wasn’t expecting my mind to be consistently blown away by every single goddamn performance during the weekend. Even if you’ve seen a band like Future Islands play four times like I have, it is a completely different experience at Arcosanti. (I was having so much fun, people were legitimately tweeting about me, lol.)
First of all, there are only 1,500 people in the entire space, so it is extremely intimate. Second of all, there are no barricades, so you can get super close to the acts. Finally, as I mentioned above, the sound is fantastic. It is utterly surreal to see an act with a huge production like Solange’s in such a tiny space. (She legitimately started dancing with women in the audience.) It is insane to be able to hear a pin drop during James Blake’s set. It is relieving to be able to casually sob throughout Mount Eerie’s entire set and look around and see that you’re absolutely not the only one. It is a hilarious experience to be able to smell Father John Misty’s cigarette smoke from the stage.
Photos of Solange by MARIA @THESUPERMANIAK
Photo of Tycho by MARIA @thesupermaniak
Photo of Kelsey Lu by Jacqueline @JeMapelleJacque
Photo of me in the left bottom corner having way, way too much fun at Vieux Farka Toure by MARIA @thesupermaniak
3. The Collaborative Atmosphere:
In truth, the focus on collaboration is probably the most distinct aspect about FORM. This year, IHEARTCOMIX ran the brand partnerships aspect of the festival, so that meant that we got to hang out in the incredible United Recordings x Beats Studio for a good chunk of the fest. The concept of the studio was a place that anyone could walk into and just pick up an instrument and start recording with their friends. Tell me another festival that allows anyone to handle hundreds of thousands of dollars in gear in the name of collaboration?!
A lot of beautiful music was created in that room, but the major highlight of the weekend (and my entire life) was the Father John Misty x Mount Eerie x Weyes Blood x Deradoorian supergroup that formed one afternoon. Need I say more?!
Photo of Vieux Farka Toure in the studio by IAN @HISTORIAPHOTOS
4.The Activities Were Just as Integral as the Music:
One of the most special aspects of the fest is that, in addition to music, there were morning meditations, sunrise yoga, film screenings, VR experiences, and informative panels. More importantly, most of these things didn’t conflict with watching musical performances. They were just as integral as the musical parts of the fest, and thus were accessible to all.
Photo of Planned Parenthood Panel by Jasmine @yasi
5. The Incredible People:
As you might imagine might be the case at a festival where every attendee is hand chosen to go to based on an essay they write, there are a lot of cool and inspiring people at FORM. What’s most surprising, though, is that no one is an asshole about it. Artists roam amongst the regular attendees. People don’t name-drop or try to one up each other. It truly feels like a place where everyone is equal. Not only that, but the residents are incredibly welcoming and sweet. I had a lovely couple invite me into their home and damn near convinced me to never come back to Los Angeles again. I drank the kool-aid, hard, and am still daydreaming about moving there for good.
The sweetness of the people honestly overshadowed everything. On the last day, there were gusts of 40 mph winds and dust was physically hurting my face and legs as my boyfriend and I struggled to load our camping gear into my trunk. A man appeared from nowhere and vehemently offered to help. When we said we were okay, he offered us a friendship marble, and goddamnit, I accepted it wholeheartedly without an ounce of sarcasm.
Photo of Thundercat by MARIA @thesupermaniak
Photo of Mount Eerie by IAN @HISTORIAPHOTOS
Photo of Future Islands by Jacqueline @JeMapelleJacque
Photo of Father John Misty by Jasmine @yasi
Photo by TONJE @TONJETHILESEN