Feature Photo: Peter Speyer
Brand new festival. A downtown Tempe takeover. Ominous grey clouds and a light drizzle hours before gates open. The inaugural Body Language stared the festival gods in the eyes and cranked up the speakers, flooding the streets with booming basslines and fun-loving fans. Amongst the sea of platform shoes, halter tops, glimmering sequins and checkerboard ensembles, the one accessory every attendee slapped on at the entrance was a genuine smile that never waned as the sets ticked by and the sun disappeared behind the mountains. The jubilant crowd cruised through the 3 day event like Carl Cox executing a transition, full of joy and with ease.
Block Party but Make It Rave
The layout for Body Language was a set-splitter’s dream, with 2 stages set up around the corner from each other and in the middle, Sunbar and the Abyss Stage, a respite from the outdoor elements if attendees so desired. With food and drink vendors lining the blocks as well as festival merchandise shops, you were never more than a few steps away from a thirst-quenching beer or emergency hoodie (unless they were sold out already). The slightly raised VIP area at Mirage Stage provided a great view of both the artist and the fans below and at the Labyrinth Stage VIP access got you almost close enough to help mix, particularly thrilling at night as the LED screens blared full strength. The vibes were high as attendees milled about the grounds, in most cases with plenty of room to dance. It was basically a guarantee if you knew someone there you’d run into them, allowing for lots of mid-street reunions and photo ops.
With every artist seemingly pulling out all the stops for the Body Language debut, choosing favorites is a difficult assignment. Day 1 VNSSA set the tone for a high-energy evening of bouncy beats. Patrick Topping blew the doors absolutely off the Labyrinth Stage with a non-stop barrage of stellar selects. On Saturday, Carl Cox sent the event into the outer realms of the atmosphere, the crowd exploding with glee numerous times throughout the 2 hour set. But leading up to the king himself, Adam Beyer riled up the thickly packed crowd, resulting in what was certainly the most packed portion of the 3-day event. Gene Farris provided Sunday’s attendees with his usual assembly line of highly danceable tracks and at that same stage Gordo (the house alias of festival trap creator, Carnage) wowed the crowd with many of his latest tracks.
It’s the Little Things
Easy entry, great sound quality, varied food & drink offerings were some of the more standard highlights of Body Language. The event seemed right at home in the streets of Tempe, with apartment dwellers along the Labyrinth Stage coming out to party with the festival attendees below. Pets made appearances on balconies, babies rocked out Hangover style (with ear protection of course), the event truly exuded a feeling of happiness and inclusion. Sunbar offered an unheard of amount of outdoor seating for those needing to rest their feet, not requiring a VIP status or table reservation. A cozy lounge filled with vendors, masseuses and event sponsors was also a nice escape from the crowd without having to sacrifice enjoying a set. There was even a nostalgic elementary school/Roochute moment thanks to a parachute appearing in the center of the festival which took no time at all to attract an enthusiastic swarm of partiers.
The post-festival reaction to Body Language was a resounding YES. Yes to this becoming an annual undertaking, yes to continuing to keeping its home in the streets of Tempe and yes to keeping it 3-days which allowed for longer sets and less conflicts. We’re still buzzing from this wonderful new addition to the festival calendar, stay tuned for what might be next for Relentless Beats’ house and techno extravaganza.