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The Highs and Lows of Lost Lake Festival 2017

Odesza fans at Lost Lake.
Odesza fans at Lost Lake. Melissa Fossum
The first-ever Lost Lake Festival is on the books. And it was one helluva weekend.

Superfly's three-day arts and music event took over central Phoenix's Steele Indian School Park from October 20 through 22, and brought heavy-hitting headliners Chance the Rapper, The Killers, and Odesza, as well as a number of musical acts with ties to Arizona, including Kongos, Futuristic, Bogan Via, and The Ricky Fitts.

Here's a look back at the highs and lows of the 2017 Lost Lake Festival.

High: Location, Location, Location
Whoever thought this park was a primo festival stop deserves a raise. It's a lovely setting: the huge hill overlooking the grounds, the rings of purple-lit trees lining the lakes, the families of ducks swimming around oblivious to the racket happening in the distance, the cool grass to lay on. It's an environment that begs to be explored, and wandering around the park grounds helps cut down on the monotony of waiting between acts. Ashley Naftule
Low: Throwing Shade
Look. We are down for sunshine ... in reasonable doses. But highs were in the low 90s over the weekend, the sky was mostly clear, and it was, as The Ricky Fitts' singer Elliot James succinctly put it during the band's Saturday afternoon set, "fucking hot." A few more shade structures within viewing distance of the three stages would've been way helpful for fans who showed up when gates opened — and sweated through the daytime performances. Becky Bartkowski


click to enlarge Kongos performed at the Piestewa stage at Lost Lake. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Kongos performed at the Piestewa stage at Lost Lake.
Benjamin Leatherman
High: Kongos' Lost Leaf Shout-Out
Despite growing up in both South Africa and London, the members of rock band Kongos still consider the Valley their hometown. The subject came up a couple of times during the band's Saturday afternoon set at Lost Lake, including when frontman Dylan Kongos noted, “It’s good to be home.”

He also gave a major shoutout to The Lost Leaf, the Roosevelt Row bar and venue where Kongos performed quite regularly a decade ago, back when they were just a local band. Before performing the song, “I Don’t Know,” Dylan mentioned how the spot played a role in its creation. “It's about not knowing things that you think you know,” he said. “And it was written after spending many nights inebriated at another 'lost' place, The Lost Leaf.” Benjamin Leatherman

Low: The Dust
If you've done any time in Indio for Coachella, you know about the dreaded coughing and snottiness that follows a weekend music fest in the desert. It's an affliction called "Coachella lung." If our post-Lost Lake sneezing (and all the dust we saw kicked up over the weekend) is any indication, this festival is primed to result in similar side effects. Lost Lake lung has landed, people. Bring your SARS masks and bandannas next round. B.B.

High: Getting Around
The organization of this festival is really on point, especially compared to FORM and McDowell Mountain Music Fest. Security personnel weren't super invasive at check-in, the people working the information desk actually knew what the hell was going on, and the festival grounds were laid out in a way that makes sense. A.N.

click to enlarge Walter Studios brought the fire. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Walter Studios brought the fire.
Benjamin Leatherman
High: Nightly Lake Pyro
One of the more impressive sights to be seen at Lost Lake didn’t take place on any of its stages. Instead, it happened on the massive pond in the center of Steele Indian School Park, which was lit up in spectacular fashion during various pyrotechnic displays.


Every hour after sunset, a variety of metallic lily pads scattered around the pond shot towering jets of flame that glowed in the darkness and transformed things into a virtual lake of fire. The choreographed pyro was set to music, ranging from a dubstep remix of Vivaldi to hard rock anthems by Metallica.

The fiery spectacle, which was created by local company Walter Productions, took some attendees by surprise after debuting on Friday night. By Sunday, however, it was one of the more talked-about and popular attractions at Lost Lake. Some folks got amped after each one, including one cat who channeled his inner Beavis during a display set to Rage Against the Machine’s “Bulls on Parade.” He even gushed, “Who doesn’t love Rage Against the Machine and fire? Fuck yeah!” B.L.

Low: "Gourmet"
The macaroni and cheese at The Pig Rig stand was basically $8 Velveeta. A.N.

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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski
Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.
Ashley Naftule