In its first year, the FORMAT -- "For Music + Art + Technology" -- festival Sept. 23-25 promised to fill 250 acres of forest-enclosed green space near Bentonville with some 80 musical acts performing live, including Australian band Rüfüs Du Sol, French indie pop band Phoenix, Beach House, The Flaming Lips, British electronic music project Jungle and The War on Drugs; nearly two dozen installations, integrated performances and art experiences by several well known artists, including Jacolby Satterwhite, Pia Camil and Marinella Senatore; and 14 of Nick Cave's iconic Soundsuits moving about the event inhabited by humans.
You can hear the pulsating beats of the music well before you arrive at Sugar Creek Airstrip, no matter how you get there -- by shuttle, bike or foot.
Once inside, you're hit with a zoo of light, sound and color. Festivalgoers are dressed in all manner of brilliantly colored and patterned things: shiny materials, neon swimsuits, an illuminated rainbow cape, a taxi cab driver's hat. Others have elaborately painted faces, arms wrapped in glow sticks or carry staffs, rockets and more kitschy accessories.
Six stages are on festival grounds. North of Oz and South of Oz are the largest, most traditional of them all, where the biggest names play their sets. DJ sets, local musicians and others took smaller stages and nontraditional spaces at Drag Me To the Disco, The Cube, Smokey's -- placed further into the woods -- and Next Door.