Very few traces of the very first Wet Electric in 2010 exist online.
One particular video posted on YouTube shows a much sparser crowd, dancing and thrashing about in a water park with seemingly no familiar DJ acts to be found.
It was a simple concept in the very early stages of what would once become the massive, wet ‘n’ wild EDM festival with the stacked lineup we now know and love: party to electronic music in a water park.
But leading up to year three, Activated Events founder and Wet Electric creator and producer Steve Thacher gave Relentless Beats founder Thomas Turner a ring.
“I was probably an obvious good partner at the time because of my history with Relentless Beats,” Turner says. “He reached out to me and we had a
conversation. I did it right away, and we’ve been at it ever since.”
This year marks a Wet Electric milestone – its 10-year anniversary – but this is technically Relentless Beats’ eighth year being involved.
“Most events don’t have a shelf life that many years, so to celebrate 10 years is really cool; it’s exciting,” Turner says. Wet Electric – the 18-and-over event that takes place Saturday, April 27, at Big Surf Waterpark in Tempe – now boasts multiple stages, renowned artists and DJs, waterslides, luxury cabanas, bars and the largest wave pool in the country (it’s a 2.5-million
gallon wave pool).
“(Wet Electric) was different,” Turner says. “(Thacher) had a vision for
doing something that was different than any of the events we had in our portfolio at the time, and that made it attractive.”
The lineup is a healthy mix of big names and up-and-comers, from Benny Benassi, RL Grime, What So Not and Bonnie x Clyde to Bruno Furlan, Sonny Fodera,
When Relentless Beats partnered up with Activated Events, Turner undoubtedly elevated Wet Electric, thanks to the connections he had made with artists and labels since he founded RB in 1996.
“Steve and I working together is a good thing because I’m in front of a lot of this talent and
It isn’t an easy task booking such large acts, either. “It’s always difficult securing them and getting them to sign off on it,” Turner says, adding they’ll entice the artist by offering to send the acts to another city at night or a Friday night to make Tempe appealing.
“There are a lot of people that want to book these acts, so it’s very difficult to pin them down,” he says. “It’s quite a bit of work.”
What makes Wet Electric successful, according to Turner, are the fans and the local, ever-growing EDM community.
“Electronic music is a staple of millennials’ entertainment options each weekend, and in Arizona, we’ve got a really good core group of fans that anticipate these events each year. They keep coming back,” he says.
EDM saw exponential growth over the years, with a peak in 2016 when the
EDM industry was worth an estimated $7.4 billion, according to IMS Business Report.
Comparatively, the EDM industry was worth an estimated $6.9 billion in 2014, up 12 percent from $6.2 billion in 2013. Between June 2014 and June 2015, EDM tracks were streamed 11.2 billion times.
It was also reported in 2018 that about 160 million EDM festival tickets were sold annually. After years of growth, the global electronic music business did slip by 2 percent in 2017 to $7.3 billion, but this was attributed to the many crossover EDM tracks now classified as pop or R&B in sales data.
There’s no slowing down the EDM industry, as IMS estimates that the global EDM industry could be worth nearly $9 billion by 2021.
“It’s just grown exponentially each and every year,” Turner says. “I’m driving down the road with my kids and they’re citing records on the radio they like and they’re acts that I book that play my events. And I can remember so many years ago that it was a subculture.”
Turner says EDM will continue to remain a staple in American
“There’s going to be staying power,” he says. “When I see my kids who are avid dancers and gymnasts and all their friends and parents all talking about what I’m doing and the acts that I book, I know that it’s here to stay. It’s become part of our culture.”
Turner credits the strengthening of the economy for the recognition, rise and success of more subculture events and festivals, like Full Moon Festival, which takes place every other month at The Pressroom.
“Here’s the thing: It’s not new,” he says. “Now that the economy stabilized and we’ve had a few good years, people are developing things again, and it’s lending more opportunity for more people to do things. You’ve got a lot of people posting events that have created families around the culture that they support. And it’s an exciting time for the city to have that culture being bred in it.”
Relentless Beats had a hand in spreading the good EDM word throughout the Valley, bringing in smaller DJ acts and wildly popular EDM acts that otherwise wouldn’t make a pit stop in the Valley.
His efforts didn’t go unnoticed by other movers and shakers in the EDM industry, either. In 2016, founder of Global Dance Ha Hau described Turner as the leader in the EDM movement.
“It’s an awesome title and something that we plan to live up to,” Turner says. He continues, “I spent the past 20 years of my life purveying good house music and electronic music culture through all the club and concerts we produce. We do the festivals, venues that we’re building, and we don’t plan to stop anytime soon.”
Wet Electric marks the start of peak event season for Relentless Beats.
“It represents spring break and we’re near the summer and vacations and that means good times ahead,” Turner says. “This event is a good kickoff off to all of that, and certainly for Relentless Beats.” Following Wet Electric, Relentless Beats immediately kicks off their pool parties at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale.
“It all just kind of happens one, two, three,” Turner says, adding he books around 300 local acts throughout the year.
At Wet Electric, Turner is excited to watch the underground acts on the RB
Deep stage, the festival’s newer stage –which made its debut about three years ago – dedicated to
“It’s become one of the big features of the festival,” he says. “Rather than being
He’s also excited to watch Will Clark and What So Not.
“What So Not is an outstanding act,” he says. “Honestly, I like everybody on the lineup. It’s funny, my first love is house music and underground music, but through operating Relentless Beats all these years, I’ve developed a fondness for all of it.”
Big Surf Waterpark, 1500 N. McClintock Drive, Tempe,
noon to 9 p.m. Saturday, April 27,
tickets start at $49.