The Underground Finds New Home in Arizona at Body Language Hosted by Relentless Beats
For someone who, up until very recently, was very adamant that I could never get into the techno and house scene, I’ve sure spent a lot of time recently at boutique festivals catered towards those exact genres of electronic music. Last weekend, I found myself in Phoenix/Tempe for the first time, having an absolute blast at a very well-executed first Body Language. This first-time festival had a block party set up that moved attendees between three stages that were set across an intersection in downtown Tempe, creating a unique experience that cannot be easily replicated.
I haven’t been to many first festivals before, but I’ve been to plenty of them which have been running for a few years, and still, Body Language was one of the better-planned ones I’ve experienced. Not only was the lineup impeccably crafted, an homage to the long-standing love Thomas Turner, founder and CEO of Relentless Beats, has for techno and house music, but the event was also really well-staffed and well-produced. To be a part of this special inaugural weekend was something else and it only enforced what I’ve said about the house community before – I greatly appreciate the kind and welcoming nature of everyone I meet at these sorts of events, and I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to capture so many smiles and laughter.
Day 1 of the festival did really feel like the first day of a first festival. The crowd was slower to move in than the other days, which can definitely be attributed to the fact that it was also a Friday, and it seemed like people didn’t really know what to expect, though I can completely chalk that up to my first-day jitters in an unknown environment. In any case, there was definite excitement sweeping through the air as people filed in, ready to be part of this special offering. Each of the three stages had its own energy to them, even with the festival being focused on the underground scenes.
The Mirage stage was the front-and-center stage which ran from start to finish on all three days. Local Phoenix duo Alaskan Franks had the pleasure of completely opening up the stage. It continued to see all sorts of talent from local DJ openers to tech-house OG closers. While each day had an outstanding lineup, I have to say that Saturday was probably my favorite of the three days because Carl Cox curated the entire lineup for this stage. Heavy techno hitters breezed on and off stage, and there was magnetic energy that just kept drawing me back to dancing in the crowd. Teenage Mutants, Township Rebellion, Eats Everything, and Adam Beyer warmed up the decks for techno champion Carl Cox and honestly, I don’t remember the last time I danced that much during a set and that says a lot because I’m always finding time to get down. Of course, I would be remiss to not mention other notable sets of the weekend: Wax Motif, SOHMI, Kasablanca, and Boris Brejcha easily top my list for the Mirage stage.
Not to be outdone by the “main stage”, the Labyrinth stage, while set off to the side, still brought a large variety of techno and house artists throughout the weekend, along with some surprises. Ida Engberg and Patrick Topping were among the names to grace the stage on Friday, each delivering a very different style of music to festival-goers. Westend, Lucati, and Gene Farris were all big surprises for me and also kept drawing me back to their performances with their high-energy mixes. Drezo brought out AZ local BIJOU on Saturday, which was not only a surprise to attendees but also to BIJOU himself, according to a later-posted Instagram story. Dombresky b2b Noizu and Walker & Royce were duos that served to close out the stage on Saturday and Sunday, giving crowd members an opportunity to wander over to the last hour of the Mirage stage.
The Abyss stage showcased its calling via its name by hosting the darker techno beats throughout the weekend, save for a few performances that were a bit lighter in nature. It was located within Sunbar, which was really interesting to have an actual bar and venue integrated into the festival network. Throughout the weekend, the crowd in and out of the stage fluctuated, allowing the stage to serve as a hideout from the larger outdoor crowds or sunshine. But if you were seeking out heavy techno energy…this was for sure the place to be. From JUR to Bellamor to Kody Black to Clawz and everyone in between, the DJs that performed on the Abyss stage gave the crowds a dark experience to complement the indoor darkness.
Body Language really sets the standard for first-time festivals. Everyone I interacted with over the weekend, whether they were working a concession stand to make sure people were fed or a staff member making sure things were operating smoothly or simply a festival goer trying to welcome spring with a weekend of dancing, was such a pleasure to talk to. If you’re looking for a small festival experience with big festival names and production, look no further than Body Language. And while the block party set-up is unlikely to return in the future, there is no doubt in my mind that it will still be such an incredible and unforgettable experience, so I look forward to seeing how it grows!
If you were unable to make Body Language and are now feeling massive FOMO, you will not want to miss out on PHXLIGHTS: Altered Orbit, hosted by Relentless Beats April 1 and 2, 2022.
The full photo album is available on Facebook! Photo credit: Elena Lin.