As we get closer to Decadence Arizona 2019, it is important to look back at everything the previous Decadence Arizona 2018 was (and was not). Last year’s Decadence was arguably the biggest yet, having featured amazing artists like Skrillex, Above & Beyond, Marshmello, REZZ, and Porter Robinson. Big names drew big crowds to Rawhide, which resulted in an increase of attendees as well as logistical complications. For those that attended a previous Decadence, there were certain expectations that just seemed to never make it to fruition.
As a result of the temperatures, the main stage has historically been held inside a heated tent. Past events saw multiple entrances into the main stage, two from the sides and one from the rear. With the most recent year, there was a single rear-entrance that become bottlenecked around two LED viewing screens. It seemed the side entrances were replaced with elevated VIP seating that greatly narrowed the floor room inside. Making your way towards the stage was nearly impossible without it being a forcible advancement. The second stage held in the warehouse was not as bad, but still very much filled to capacity. If you were looking for some room to flow with anything larger than clothes, outside was going to be the only safe option.
Since water was intermittently unavailable, it required you to find the water tank that wasn’t empty after a bit of trial and error. Both water points were spread to the farthest ends of the festival, though within a short distance of each stage. Outside heaters ran out of fuel when they were needed the most, which increased the number of festival-goers at both stages. The weather certainly did not help the situation either. With rain having occurred the week leading up to Decadence, Day 1 saw mud spread throughout the venue. As a result of Day 1, a few from my group decided to spend the New Year at home (and I really couldn’t blame them).
The light rain on Day 2 only added to these issues. Little pools of water began to appear that need to be expertly navigated around, as well as horribly low temperatures (at least to Arizona standards). While there really wasn’t anything that could be done to control the weather, it added to the overall frustration of the night.
Following the event, surveys were sent out asking about the experience. I provided my honest and candid opinion, as I imagine most festival-goers did. At the time, I was very unsure whether I would be returning for Decadence Arizona 2019. On November 13th, the Decadence Arizona Facebook page had a post saying that the following changes were being made for this year’s event:
- Reconfiguration of the main stage area to create more dance floor space
- More entrance and exit points
- More water stations and heated areas
- Increased flooring throughout the event
- Capacity control to ensure a more comfortable experience
I was surprised when I saw this post. Many festivals will say “we hear you and are making changes,” but do not always take the time to outline what those specific changes are. So at this point the question really became, do I believe that Relentless Beats will hold true to their word and pull off what they committed to? In a word, yes. Relentless Beats has established a history of listening to their base and making improvements as a result of the feedback provided, so I have no reason to doubt them.
At Phoenix Lights 2017, I witnessed Relentless Beats pull off a miracle from a logistical nightmare. Originally to be held at the Margaret T. Hance Park in downtown Phoenix, the festival location was changed to Rawhide only 48 hours before the festival was to begin, as a result of safety concerns while setting up stages. Somehow, in that short time span, a full festival was created. For those that purchased hotels in downtown Phoenix, free shuttle transportation was set up to get attendees to and from the new festival location. Through their hard work and dedication (with a couple of sleepless nights tossed in), it was an amazing Phoenix Lights!
As Relentless Beats’ events continue to grow in popularity and size, significant care will be needed to ensure they retain the quality that has come to be expected of them. As with any expanding organization, growing pains are to be expected. As long as Relentless Beats continues to make their attendees valued and feel as if they are a part of this growth, they are sure to stick by them even through the pain. While not every change is sure to a hit, Relentless Beats is always trying and improving on how to make the next event better than the last. I am cautiously optimistic, and can’t wait to see what they have in store for Decadence Arizona 2019.