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Chandler, Ariz. – This past April 5-6 weekend, more than 18,000 EDM fans filled The Park at Wild Horse Pass for Phoenix Lights, the 5th annual UFO-themed festival produced by Relentless Beats.

Hosting a heavyweight lineup of international talent – Excision, Arty, Shiba San, Sasha, Kaskade, Griz, Claude VonStroke, etc. – Phoenix Lights also featured plenty of local favorites, who collectively brought their A-game and provided plenty of highlights themselves.

Also, for this Phoenix Lights edition, the creative crew at Relentless Beats made some welcome improvements. First of all, they designed new ways for the scantily clad to keep their buns from burning and, instead, relax with a generous spread of cushioned couch-beds. They offered thrilling displays of pyrotechnics and something we missed last year – tents – providing much-appreciated shade. There was also a noticeable addition of faux-grass around the stages that, not only provided a nice place to rest tired feet, but also worked wonders on keeping the dust-shuffling to a minimum. For Arizona-based events, that’s no small task.

A unique renovation to the festival’s house-flavored stage (The Colony) provided a circular design with speakers all around for a premium sound experience from every angle. The fest-opener was none other than Relentless Beats founder and long-time DJ, Thomas Turner (also featured in a recent issue of DJ Times), playing a b2b set featuring Michael Hooker (creator of Re: Sound music label). They not only opened the show, but shut it down as openers for the Claude VonStroke afterparty Saturday night. Dropping cuts like Jon Gurd’s “Now,” Hernan Cattaneo & Soundexile’s “Astro,” and Shall Ocin’s “Boreal,” they covered all ends of the house-music spectrum from deep and progressive to techno – it was the perfect set to ease into a long weekend of dancing.

Known as one of Phoenix’s top female DJs, Blossom (aka Emilie Fromm, a member of AC Slater’s Night Bass outfit) delivered a tight Friday set at The Mothership stage. Sporting signature bright, fuchsia hair, Blossom brought enough energy to get the early crowd plenty pumped. With the dancefloor behind her, she bounced non-stop to her versatile selections, which included INDOX’s sexy-tech “Hold You,” Redlight’s naughty singalong “Get Wavey” (“T-R-A-N-C-E, time to move your bod-y…”) and Dommix’s pumping “Pack Rack.”

Another crowd favorite (and Relentless festival regular) was Gerry Gonza. He had the crowd singing along to his own bass-heavy G-house favorites (like “Bad Bitches” and “Ass On Fire”) and his collabs “Energy” with Dillon Nathan (who followed his set), and “Shots to the Dome” with Destructo. As an added bonus, he kept himself busy with percussion fills on the drum pads. It’s no wonder he’s a staple at RB festivals – this guy truly knows how to create a killer party vibe and has definitely earned his spot in any line-up.

For fans looking for a genuine experience from a longtime headliner, Sasha brought the goods. The legendary DJ/producer played an extended set laced with the dark, hypnotic, deep-house sounds that had many of the weary festival-goers taking it all in while in full rest mode. We saw plenty laying in the “grass,” many wearing little more than smiles.

Florida-based Sam Armstrong was another solid party-starter for what I can only imagine as a slightly tired crowd on Day 2. Donning an impressive blonde Afro and a Death Row Records throwback T-shirt, he worked up the crowd with Dirtybird-family favorites from the likes of Walker & Royce (“All for the Gram”), Will Clarke (“No No”), Shiba San & Green Velvet (“Chance”), and Franklyn Watts (“Gucci Panties”). Strong.

San Holo brought his guitar, and threw down a varied mix ranging from shredding and head-banging, to lighter, auto-tuned ballads (his own “Go Back in Time” and “Always On My Mind”). What stood out maybe a little more than his music were his nearly continuous blessings to the crowd. Hey, he’s grateful for his supporters – nothing wrong with that.

But the set that had many of us grooving the most came from Malaa. Who is this ski-masked mystery man? No matter his true identity, he dropped a hip-shaking set that was undeniably groovy (Jacky & Holmes John’s “Mumma” and Noizu’s “No More”) and filled with plenty of straight-up party-starters (SLVR’s “Endless” and Don Diablo & CID’s “Fever”). Of course, he dropped some impressive originals (“Kurupt” with Tchami and “Bling Bling”). The fave, however, had to be Marten Horger’s manic, but deeply groovy “Badman Forward.”

That’s it from Phoenix Lights Version 5.0. Check out Relentless Beats’ upcoming calendar to see what’s coming up next on Arizona’s desert dancefloors.