Wet Electric celebrates a decade in EDM fest

Bruno Furlan is among the acts booked for the decade anniversary of Wet Electric, an EDM festival on April 27 at Big Surf Waterpark, 1500 N. McClintock Drive, Tempe. (Special to AFN)

Very few traces of the first Wet Electric in 2010 exist online.

One video posted on YouTube shows a sparse crowd dancing and thrashing about in a water park with seemingly no familiar DJ acts.

It was a simple concept in the early stages of what would become the massive, Wet ‘n’ Wild EDM festival it is this year with the stacked lineup we now know and love — partying to electronic music in a water park.

The festival took an upward turn when Activated Events founder and Wet Electric creator/producer Steve Thacher gave Relentless Beats (RB) founder Thomas Turner a phone call leading up to year three.

“I was probably an obvious good partner at the time because of my history with Relentless Beats,” Turner said. “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 said.

Wet Electric – the 18-and-older festival on 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 at 2.5 million gallons.

“(Wet Electric) was different,” Turner said. “(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, VNSSA and Will Clarke.

When Relentless Beats partnered 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 able to make it part of our annual plan to keep the lineup fresh and appealing,” Turner said. “There are a lot of people that want to book these acts, so it’s very difficult to pin them down,” he said.

What makes Wet Electric successful, according to Turner, are the fans in the Valley’s 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 said.

EDM saw exponential growth over the years, with a peak in 2016 when the industry was worth an estimated $7.4 billion, according to IMS Business Report. It also reported that in 2018 about 160 million EDM festival tickets were sold.

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 said. “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 said EDM will continue to remain a staple in American entertainment culture.

“There’s going to be staying power,” he said. “When I see my kids, who are avid dancers and gymnasts, and all their friends and parents 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.”

Relentless Beats had a hand in spreading the EDM word throughout the Valley, bringing in smaller DJ acts and popular EDM acts that otherwise wouldn’t make a pit stop in the Valley.

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 said. “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.”

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 said, adding that he books about 300 Valley acts a year.

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