James Blake stuns, Thundercat electrifies and Hundred Waters shine as FORM Arcosanti 2017 draws to a close
The culmination of FORM‘s fourth installment this past weekend in the Arizona desert was a testament to the masterwork of this small, hand-powered experimental festival alternative. An incredible amount of logistical planning clearly goes into the event’s production, though FORM continues to maintain a distinguished DIY ethos, even with its impeccably curated, substantially stacked talent billing set for the final evening.
Photo: Maria Govea
As important to FORM’s appeal as its lineup, however, is the event’s focus on artistry and open discourse outside of musical confines. The Hundred Waters-founded gathering made definitive statements this year in its commitment to purveying thought-provoking content across a number of disciplines, even inviting Planned Parenthood to make their first appearance at an art festival of this nature. Pathways to Paris, a collective of innovative activists, artists, and musicians dedicated to combating climate change also hosted a panel, ahead of the evening’s programming.
FORM’s final evening included Thundercat‘s return to the event for a second year in a row. The Brainfeeder affiliate provided one of the most entertaining performances of the weekend, filling the main amphitheater with soulful, funky bass licks from his recently released Drunk LP. Meanwhile, Tycho‘s energetic band-backed live performance fit the FORM aesthetic flawlessly.
Ultimately, the final night’s stage was set for equally brilliant back to back performances from James Blake and Hundred Waters. Blake made his solo piano performance debut, timidly, albeit masterfully holding the entire attendance in silent awe from behind the ivory and ebony keys. The British prodigy’s unaccompanied cover of Frank Ocean‘s “Godspeed” easily made for one of the weekend’s most memorable highlights, paving the way for his participation in the event’s after hours programming while DJing in his 1-800-Dinosaur cabal.
Photo: Jacqueline Verdugo
Hundred Waters kicked off the weekend with a surprise release, delivering Currency, a five-track preamble to their upcoming third studio album. In what has become a FORM tradition of sorts, the band debuted their new material live at the festival before a captivated crowd, which endowed their set with an element of fitting novelty. The group’s performance was altogether emotionally charged and cheerful all at once, with their most popular release, “Show Me Love”, invoking a lively, impassioned response from the audience.
Photo: Jasmine Safaeian
Closing a fourth year that showcased significant growth, from TIDAL sponsorships to the largest number of participants the festival has ever hosted, FORM met expected growing pains effectively and and efficiently. In terms of talent curation, programming, and ambiance, Hundred Waters, with the help of Moses Sumney, nailed FORM’s execution with impressive poise. As a lasting memento from the event, fans can revisit this year’s lineup with a free mixtape courtesy of FORM that includes contributions from Skrillex, Father John Misty, Tycho, How To Dress well and more. Pushing the festival model forward, FORM Arcosanti continues to have a powerful impact with each growing iteration of the event.