Photos by: Matt Seiple
Tonight the sun lowers over Chandler, Arizona, as lasers guide the groups of ravers, candy kids, and partiers back in time to a small Wild West Town. This year the event was a short 20 minute drive from the last location, at Tempe beach park. Some party goers might be familiar with the area, being it touching the location of the last Mad Decent Block Party, and Decadence. Though to the relief of the Mad Decent attendees who faced multi-hour long lines, funneling thousands through a single door; the adjacent location provided improved parking, and logistics for the event – creating a less stress filled entrance and exit.
How To Get There
Located near the outskirts of metro-Phoenix, nearby hotels offer many affordable choices, range from $70-120, the closest of which, Wild Horse Pass Casino. Being 20 minutes south of Sky Harbor Airport – on the boarder of Tempe, and Chandler – travelers can make it from as far away as Flagstaff, and Tucson with 2 1/2 hours being the longest drive. As far as getting to the front gate, it’s relegated to mostly driving. Taxi’s cost as little as $5 from a close hotel, to $70 for north Scottsdale. With ride-shares like Uber, and Lyft running at least ten percent cheaper, they might be the best, and most efficient choice.
As ticket goers head right to a smoothly moving security line, those with groupons went to will-call, which looked to be a large sized crowd, but moved quickly. Once through, the backdrop starts as madness fills main street, inducting the over 7 thousand person crowd with the second biggest stage, out the gate. Set-off, opposite of the first alcohol vendors, The Tombstone stage with a mix of local and visiting artists, like Gesaffelstein & Cashmere Cat struck the match the blazing techno-clad inferno.
Tucked away about half way into the town is the O.K. Corral Stage. This Western Amphitheater’s half bleacher seating, and more dark-private setting, makes it a welcomed getaway for those freaking out, and wanting to chill to trance.
People showed their pride with packing the main stage (The Alamo Stage) from the get go, while fortunately keeping an ability to move most of the night. With DJs putting on hard sets, starting with Bijou, then NGHTMRE the crowd pushed the intensity up, setting the dial at explosive by RL Grime, and Deorro’s closing set. The mostly mix of 18 to 32 year olds, wore a wide range of rave gear, with over half the partiers showing support with some kind of swag. Cranking main stage beats with the wide main street, dove you into the crowd as the menagerie of people run to everywhere; ratcheting up the intensity, as you walk further into the ether. With all DJs running the crowd into the sky, people got pulled to dance from everywhere, shuffling around the sides and bouncing like jack rabbits, as thousands filled the main floor.
What VIP Looks Like
Coming up to the main stage we approach the VIP entrance to the left, leading to an olde west saloon, and an upper deck facing the main stage. The saloon was an interesting twist with it including a bar, pool table and seating inside, and out with two fire pits. Having the temperature ranging from 55-70 degrees the saloon’s location made it a good escape from the cold, being located right next to the VIP deck. A two part raised platform made VIP a welcomed viewing area for those wanting to escape the packed crowd. With half split between standing only, and tables the design was planned well. Though the area with the best tables, and banisters were oddly scarce; possibly do to the aggressive police presence deciding to post there all night. This did appear to be odd, being they would have great difficulty easily reaching any location except back-stage to help, though they maybe were there for the music.
Food/Things To Do
As moseying-erratacism drove partiers through the street, that beat drop pushes the Delorean to 88 mph; warping you into a world of nostalgia, as you pass through all the fix-in’s. With such attractions as jail houses, and mechanical-bulls to a saloon, and general store the location provides well for curious people. Not only is there food, bars, and bathrooms in the buildings, there are concessions, and merchandise lining the street. Having drink vendors placed throughout the event lines moved fast, with a multiple of food choices, and masseuse’s to complement. General concession foods where provided, with other vendors along the street serving candy, and treats like caramel apples, and popcorn. Along with food as you continue to the main stage there’s a variety of items like cloths, beads, art, and a multiple of other rave trinkets, and gear.
What Makes the Festival Different
The festival, centered in an old Western Town certainly made for a unique backdrop. However, the night ends cold, so festival goers might consider bringing something warm to wear. This did leave a few scantly dressed partiers ending the concert hanging inside the buildings. Regardless of if people were cold, the event had a lit crowd making it worth the dollar from GA to VIP.
Overall Rating 10/10
Whether for music, or culture you can find it in this whacked out western town, where the people came to talk, drink, drop, and rage in the name of peace, love, unity, and rave. 10 out of 10 rating.