This past December 30-31, 2017, thousands of music enthusiasts took over the Rawhide Western Town & Event Center in Chandler, AZ, for Arizona’s biggest New Year’s Eve celebration, Decadence. Festival producers Relentless Beats and Global Dance pulled in 12,000 attendants per day, with a lineup that featured a cast of national acts including Armin van Buuren, Big Wild, Borgore, Boys Noize, Duke Dumont, Galantis, Justice, Louis the Child, Madeon, Oliver Heldens, What So Not, Zedd, Zeds Dead, Zhu, and many more. The two-day event featured two main indoor stages: The Diamond Atrium and Sapphire Ballroom, along with the outdoor Ruby Courtyard and carnival rides.
Big Wild performing in the Sapphire Ballroom. Photo by Victor Tranfield
With a number of destructive natural disasters and unusual political phenomena in the US, many would consider 2017 a wild and tumultuous year. Perhaps that’s why 2017 also seemed to be a big year for music and festivals, as people search for a means of community, especially in the festival realm: a place to escape the distractions of the world and find love and peace. On that note, we reached out to several artists and people in the industry to ask them:
“Can you recall a particular moment that stands out, which happened in 2017 that you think exemplifies the unifying power of music?” Here’s what they had to say:
“The power of music is crazy. People can just forget everything and be with their friends and just have fun. That’s what it’s all about. A very special moment for me this year was pressing play at my Sluggtopia Red Rocks show in front of 10k people and everyone coming together for the moment and forgetting about everything else. Can’t wait for 2018!”
“For me that moment was EDC Las Vegas. This year has been an extremely difficult for many around the world. To have the opportunity to play on that size of a stage and watch every single person out there forget about all their problems and issues is truly empowering. It was a moment I’ll never forget and a moment that the music really brought everyone together as a whole. It’s really a beautiful thing that I feel like only music can do for such an audience.”
BIJOU performing at the Diamond Atrium. Photo by Phil MacDonald
Thomas Turner of Relentless Beats
“When we announced Goldrush many were concerned overlapping fan bases might lead to an environment different than the one we have built in our electronic music scene. To witness it in fact be a cohesive event with many musical tastes coming together was such an amazing feeling. Arizona is really special place.”
Black Tiger Sex Machine
“It’s tough to single out a specific moment, so we are just going to choose our entire Midnight Terror Tour in 2017. We had the chance to play across all of North America in the span of a few weeks and it was our biggest tour yet. We always expect the smaller intimate shows to have a real unifying vibe, but we were so amazed to see these larger crowds coming together and enjoying themselves in such a positive way. And it wasn’t just one specific area. People all over are in tune with this idea of community and spreading positivity. It makes us really hopeful about the future, in spite of all the craziness that can happen in the world.
Music won’t hate. Music won’t judge. Music is here to stay. Music is our religion.”
While artists had the chance to reflect on the previous year, we spoke to festival attendants to ask the oft repeated New Year’s question: “what is your new years resolution?” While the festival’s name might betray a sense of extravagance, luxury, or self-indulgence, a fitting theme for an atmosphere of celebration, the reality is the responses were far humbler. In fact, festival owner Thomas Turner commented that Decadence was really about giving “our fans the most elaborate and immersive experience yet. Think of it as a ’Thank You’ for a great 2017 and a toast to an even bigger new year.” In other words, Decadence is less focused on self-indulgence and more of an unrestrained thank-you to the music community.
When festivalgoers were asked about their New Year’s resolutions, the responses resoundingly revolved around several key themes: self-improvement, self-love, helping those less fortunate, being more accepting, and being more environmentally conscious. When questioned, one festival attendant responded: “After 2017, I think we could all use a little more love.”
As thousands of people at Decadence danced, laughed, and celebrated the beginning of 2018 together, with a raucous celebration to end 2017, positivity was in the air; music enthusiasts radiated with a bright outlook entering the new year. Decadence Arizona 2017 was a magical weekend; take that magic that brings people together, share it with the world, and live and love relentlessly in 2018. Welcome to the future!
Editor’s Note: This was a collaborative article by Phil MacDonald and Victor Tranfield, with a special thank you to Caren West PR for assisting with artist relations.
Festivals: where magical things happen, like unicorns riding unicorns. Photo by Victor Tranfield