Off in Arizona there’s an amazing architectural eco-city called Arcosanti. The desert oasis that is the festival known as FORM grew from the minds of Hundred Waters after they played in Arcosanti and fell in love with the utopic space. Now a couple year later with drummer Zach Tetreault as the festival’s co-founder, FORM is not just a festival but a creative retreat worth the travel to. Unlike big box festivals FORM has a just a 2,000 person cap, with a sharp focus on the musical curation, as well as that of the art, panels and other activities that take place over the 3 days in May.
This year’s line-up was top notch featuring Courtney Barnett, Blood Orange, Daniel Caesar, Charli XCX, Beach House, Flying Lotus and even Skrillex among several others. We headed south with some 35mm film to get sandy and soak in the good vibes. Check out our captures and connections below where we asked the artists, festival goes, and people behind the scenes what makes smaller festivals like FORM more special.
Damon McMahon // Amen Dunes
It’s less hectic, for one, and maybe… yeah, it’s a little more intimate. It’s less impersonal.
Kaan Kilmanjaro + Ian of Kilmanjaro & Daniel Caesar’s band
Kaan: There’s something really intimate about it compared to… I think Ian actually would know more because he’s seen more festivals. But to me, it’s like sort of like a really, really good club night. So you sort of have this intimate relationship with everybody that’s there, but it’s not too many people. So it’s kind of like that but over multiple days which is really cool.
Ian: One thing I’ve noticed about this festival is that I actually was self conscious about pulling my phone out, like nobody had their phone out. I was watching Amen Dunes and I was like oh, I’ll put this on my story, and then I was like wait… I shouldn’t be doing this. I feel guilty. So that’s amazing because from what I’m used to, playing with Danny, it’s like I just see a sea of phones as soon as the hit song comes up. There’s just something… it’s about the moment. It’s so cool…It’s the difference between a small town and a big city. Just like interpersonal relationships.
Tatiana De La Cruz, actress and FORM guest services
The beauty in small festivals is the sentiment of family & being a witness to the glory of humanity & how truly interwoven are energies are with each other
Haran of Lychee & Pig City
“I’ve really grown attached to FORM since attending for the first time in 2016. I made new friends and reconnected with old ones like it was summer camp. That cozy feeling in addition to the beautiful surroundings and exceptional artists that are featured there every year make it something special. Smaller events like FORM and HOCO down in Tucson are much more manageable and enjoyable than larger scale festivals to me and should be considered as models for the future of live music.”
Kirk Lisaj, festival goer
“I never really liked going to stadium concerts or massive music festivals where it feels like I’m miles away from the performers. Personally, seeing music live has a separate merit from listening to it on my phone or my record player. When I go to a concert or festival, I really want to feel the unique, raw vigor of the performance, see the character(s) behind the music and emotionally align myself with the entire experience in a way that is present and honest.
That’s why small festivals like FORM hold a dear place in my heart, where I can have that genuine experience and connect with those who are there for the same reason. Smaller festivals also fabricate a weird sense of temporary community that I have not really experienced at larger festivals, which tend to feel more like a massive capitalist pseudo-experience. I find myself travelling greater distances to find these intimate musical experiences, and am grateful to have met so many lovely, likeminded people along the way”
Damian Abraham of Fucked Up
I think for me, this is the only type of festival I’d ever want to go to. I have no interest… and even as a music fan, I really didn’t have a lot of interest in going to big box festivals because it’s not as intimate as a show, it’s outdoors and I’m an indoor kid, and it’s kind of like not my thing. Whereas a smaller festival like this where there’s like a real complete destruction of the barrier between artist and patron or fan or just music aficionado, and we’re all kind of like rocking around together and kind of being together. I like that for a festival… Some people are lucky enough to get opportunities to be up on stage, but ultimately anyone can be up on that stage. And so I think with a smaller festival, you can kind of feel that energy, you can feel that…
I think a smaller festival in general is more about art than commerce, it feels like. Obviously everything’s about commerce at the end of the day. But this festival, it’s not like I’m being smashed over the head to buy a ten dollar bottle of water or to go do some sort of like branded initiation cigarette company thing. You’re just at this festival to enjoy art and to enjoy music. And I think to walk away inspired, you know, I’m inspired by the musicians here. And I think the curation of this show, this whole festival is fantastic. You see artists from all scenes, all genres kind of coming together.