In it’s fourth year, Euphoria Music and Camping Festival brought Austin its most impressive year of live music thus far. Headliners included Adventure Club, Pretty Lights, Ghostland Observatory, Tritonal, Thievery Corporation, STS9, Emancipator Ensemble, RL Grime, Big Gigantic, and so many more. Carson Creek Ranch provides an intimate experience for attendees. The ranch is a mid-size festival venue, so it is not hard to quickly befriend all of your campmates and fellow festivalgoers. A weekend full of rain and mud haunted the forecast but we danced away the torrential storms until right after the very last performance of the weekend. With the perfect balance of DJs and producers and live bands, Euphoria covers the entire spectrum of electronic dance music.
As everyone piled in to the campsites to set up for the weekend, everyone was pretty nervous about the clouds looming overhead. However, we lucked out and in typical Texas weather fashion (despite the 90% chance of rain) the skies turned blue without a single cloud! With everyone’s spirits lifted, we made our temporary homes for the weekend and made our way to start jamming. Day one was definitely more band-oriented with performances from STS9, EOTO, Emancipator Ensemble, The Werks and Sunsquabi. Some of our favorite producers were also sprinkled in throughout the day, like Adventure Club, Tritonal and Psymbionic.
The Emancipator Ensemble never fails to provide an exceptionally captivating orchestral ambiance during their performances. They are the perfect blend between a very hauntingly beautiful essence with a very danceable and upbeat rhythm. EOTO, comprised of the talented percussionists of the String Cheese Incident, always have one of the most unique performances of a festival. Every set they do does not include any prerecorded loops, so anything that you see them do on stage is completely live and improvised.
Earlier in the day we caught some of Boulder, Colorado’s finest, Sunsquabi. These guys know how to make you move and groove but their technical abilities cannot go unmentioned. As a three piece band they create such a full sound you would think there was five of them. Out of Dayton, Ohio, The Werks put on a very upbeat funky show, but are slightly more rock-and-roll oriented. And in necessary Sound Tribe style, STS9 closed out the main stage with the most hard-hitting electronic rock show of the night. The light shows are always mind-blowing at a STS9 show but one of my personal favorite bassists, Alana Rocklin, never lets that detract from their liveliness on stage.
Austin’s very own, Tritonal, always reps the best of Austin’s EDM scene. Their return home to Carson Creek Ranch was no exception. They have one of those euphorically uplifting sounds that no one can resist bouncing along with. We die-hard Tritonians were very pleased this past weekend. Adventure Club closed out the tent stage for the first night and it was nothing short of insane. The energy at an Adventure Club show never disappoints because they really know how to appeal to all EDM tastes. Whether you are one of those former metal heads turned raver, more into the mainstream popular music, or have just always been more into the electronic scene, Adventure Club have mixes of every genre you can think of. Hence, the reason they are one of my favorite and must-see producer acts at any festival.
We awoke to a bit of rain on day two which was initially alarming, but as luck would have it, the festival gods came to our rescue yet again. The logic behind this phenomenon surrounding the weather that was expected to inevitably cancel or postpone at least one or two shows was simple: Ghostland Observatory had finally returned and scared the rain away. Ghostland Observatory is one of Austin’s hometown heroes. They have been on a 3-year hiatus and graciously returned to the stage to give all the fans their necessary fix of laser beams and outrageous dance music. As one of these Ghostland addicts, I can attest to the sheer perfection that was their return.
Coloradans are leading the pack right now in a lot of my favorite dance music and Pretty Lights, of course, is at the top of that list of artists. Pretty Lights threw down an eclectic mix that seamlessly transitioned between his hits that focus more on mesmerizing trance-inducing melodies to his more high-energy tunes with crushing beats. Thomas Jack and Grandtheft also pumped up the main stage so much before Pretty Lights, I had to go change into more comfortable dancing shoes to survive the rest of the evening!
Lane 8 also closed out the Dragonfly stage, which is located right on the river that runs alongside the venue. Props to the production techs that created the hypnotic projections on the trees behind the stage on the other side of the river! After the main festival shut down there were also night stages closer to the campsite with some more great bands and DJs like Brede, Lady Parts, Eminence Ensemble, and many more. The Lunar Lounge night stage was a big bubble with a hilarious 90s feel and it was a great blast from the past atmosphere combined with current dance music.
The final day of the festival was stacked with more great local artists like Henry + The Invisibles and Andrew Parsons. The headliners included Thievery Corporation, Big Gigantic, RL Grime, Savoy, Late Night Radio (Live set), EDX, and a bunch more. Henry + The Invisibles is a really cool one-man show. He makes some of the most uplifting and positive music as well as always wears shiny capes, and who doesn’t love a shiny cape?
Colorado strikes again with another hometown favorite, Big Gigantic. They are very dynamic and appeal to all audiences with their energetic drums, layered with the soothing sax tunes, but also produced with some of today’s most recognizable hits and their own beats. On the other end of the spectrum, we ventured back to the tent stage for RL Grime, the name speaks for itself. His music is some of the most down and dirty trap and house out there and he brought the house down during his set at Euphoria. Any tired legs under that tent completely forgot about any of the numbing sensations that had been creeping in after a long weekend of dancing and it got beyond wild. A similar atmosphere came over the crowd during Savoy, yet another favorite out of Boulder.
Last, but certainly not least, was Thievery Corporation. This was my first time seeing Thievery Corporation and to say their performance exceeded my expectations is definitely an understatement. The energy level during their show goes through the roof. Thievery combines elements of so many different cultures and genres of music. They really have the innate ability to dig out any primal or tribal roots that you have no matter what ethnicity you are. Before you know it almost everyone is dancing like a middle-eastern goddess or a sexy salsa dancer. This was by far the best way possible to end this festival experience. The fact that the rain finally came and cancelled all the late night shows for the last night did not even seam as detrimental because of how amazing the rest of the weekend had been.
Euphoria Music and Camping Festival really outdid themselves this year in every aspect. Despite dismal weather forecasts, they were very well prepared with tons of mulch for the parking lots and festival grounds so it didn’t turn into a mud-fest. (The cloudiness was actually pretty nice when the sun wasn’t waking you up by cooking you inside of your tent at 8:00 am every morning like most spring/summer festivals in the south) All of the vendors were so friendly, the food in the campgrounds and inside the festival was on point, there were hardly ever lines at all getting in the festival and I never waited more than a minute or two for a drink at the bar. Everyone in the campgrounds was very respectful to each other and their neighbors as well. To even begin to fathom how they will top this year’s lineup will have us on the edge of our seats for the next year!
Staff Writer: Lindsay Shearon