written by Andrea Hnatievych
photos by Sage Thomas for Festival Squad
At a Glance
The inaugural year of Dusk Festival took place in Tucson, Arizona on October 22nd, 2016 and was created by inspired local University of Arizona Graduates (Page Pepp, John Rallis, and Steve Stratigoulias) with a goal of highlighting local talent and allowing them to grow with performers from around the world. Variety was a major feature that stood out for the event, the music catering to a wide range of interests and allowing exploration of new genres. The lineup showcased Luna Aura, Gaby Moreno, Wild Belle, Calexico, A-Trak, DJ Mustard, Danny Brown, Matt & Kim, and RL Grime.
Music genre: Indie, Hip Hop, Pop, Folk, Electro House, Trap
Capacity: Small (under 5k)
Crowd type: Family, College Students
Water stations: Yes, there was a water station near the food tents. The festival also had its own water bottles for sale and the team was handing them out throughout the night.
How to Get There
The historic Rillito Downs Park is located off of exit 250 on the I-10 and is only a couple miles away from the University of Arizona and Downtown Tucson. The festival had a pre-party at Illegal Pete’s (located at University and Tyndal), which provided buses to and from site noon to midnight. On-site parking was also available for $10 general, VIP for $20.
Where to Stay
Though most attendees were local, there were many hotels nearby as downtown was only minutes away. A few to check out were Holiday Express Hotel & Suites, Heart of Tucson, Comfort Inn Hotel & Suites.
The event was definitely created with foodies in mind. Local restaurants showcased their favorite creations in a line of tents inside of the festival, Empire Pizza and Pub, Greek House, Hub Ice Cream Factory to name a few. The prices were reasonable too, most $5-$10. For those over 21, Beers were available on draft from Four Peaks Brewing Company and Fireball and Jager had stations set up for shot tasting.
The celebration had a single stage that provided great visuals and enhanced the experience with it’s futuristic images. The visuals during A-Trak’s set were especially incredible and other-worldly.
Things to Do
Dusk festival was about more than just music. Attractions included face painting, the silent cinema, enjoying local grub, and the old school arcade. The arcade cost $2 an hour and $5 for the day, containing many classics such as Pac-man. The silent cinema was free, an outdoor projection of various movie clips with subtitles, a very popular attraction between sets. DJs kept the crowd high energy in between main acts with sets on top of the art bus not far from the entrance.
What makes the festival different?
The festival heavily emphasized the importance and beauty of supporting local, music and food specifically. It was incredible seeing local restaurants showcase their food instead of the usual vendors that are seen at most events. The location was beautiful as well, the Race Track at the base of the Catalina Mountains. Scenic views aren’t something you can find at every event and create a memorable experience overall.
Dusk Music Festival built a unique experience for its attendees and the creators did a great job considering it was their first event. The lineup and set times were catered perfectly to the vibes at certain times of day. The first few sets of the day were energetic and light, getting the crowd excited for what the rest of the night will bring. Calexico, the folk band for the night, set the mood for the glorious tropical sunset that occurred and as the moment of dusk swept in, A-Trak blew the crowd away with his rare, live turntablist set. Dusk marked a change in atmosphere, the crowd became wilder and the lights were brighter than ever. Danny Brown led the crowd with chants and craziness. The hilarious duo, Matt & Kim kept the crowd entertained with their usual tactics, blow up dolls, balloons, and enormous beach balls to name a few. Their interaction with the crowd was masterful and full of excitement, incinerating mosh pits and crowd surfing. Kim even let the front row hold her up, proceeding to twerk for the audience. The experience was one of a kind, setting the excitement for RL Grime to close out the night with his apocalyptic, trap and electro set. The drops were heavy and the energy kept high until the event was completely over. Overall, the festival allowed for the city of Tucson to shine and I can’t wait to see what 2017 has planned for Dusk Music Festival.