FESTIVAL REVIEW- EUPHORIA Music & Arts Festival 2017- Austin, Texas

Euphoria Music and Arts Festival has to be the most diverse festival in Texas. It’s rare to see live band acts, hip hop, and EDM over the same weekend at the same event. Some might say that kind of diversity may cause identity confusion, but perhaps what we should recognize is that a music festival, when it has more going on inside it’s perimeter than the compilation of its music, actually becomes AN EXPERIENCE. And we at Sparked whole heartedly support that kind of commitment to rounding out the entertainment and experiential value of attending festivals.

We sincerely hope that this year’s collaboration with Art Outside to create the Art Outside Village continues next year with an even stronger presence. And similarly hope for strong returns of their partnerships with the Austin Permaculture Guild, a local Austin organization that teaches permaculture and sustainability practices throughout Central Texas, and with Sanctuary Yoga, a nonprofit yoga studio in Austin, Texas, that benefits the Amala Foundation.

It is with these partnerships that Euphoria has evolved into a ‘transformational festival’ without going so fast that it lost its ability to keep drawing the younger audience. And frankly, if a festival doesn’t have a young audience, we would not trust it. The youth in our world can mark a festival with a ‘truth’ stamp. They may not always understand the nuts and bolts of how a festival is put together, but they can certainly feel and connect to its spirit in ways most of can only strive to match.

The Art Gallery in the Art Outside Village featured saleable paintings from artists from all over the Americas and live painting occurred night and day inside the event ground: even picnic tables were being graffiti painted near the Euphoria Wedding Gazebo. Other art installations included uniquely designed butterfly bicycles by the Austin Bike Zoo, the stunningly colorful Pulse Portal designed by David McCarthy, fabricated with the help of a team of Chicago-based artists & partially funded by the Burning Man Honorarium Grant, a mountable lion statue, a Giving Tree where people could leave an item and take item and a Gratitude Tree where wishes, hopes, and dreams were tied on to rope for all to read. Yoga classes and movement workshops ranged from: ‘Partner Hooping’ with Samantha Sapphire, Acro Yoga with Empowered Acro founders Chris Cox and  Katrina Repman, and Flam Chen taught how to walk on stilts. Knowledge workshops ranged from: ‘Mindful Sexuality & Stop Swiping Right (how to Have the Relationships and Sex you Really Want)’ by Sofia Teplitzky, leader and practitioner of Orgasmic Meditation (OM) at OneTaste, to ‘Beekeeping Basics’ by Courtney Boudreau and ‘Water Conservation and Art for Environmental Protection’ by Lindsay Loftin, an Environmental Educator and the founder of Mermaids for Clean Water.

Photograph by Mario Miotti

Pulse Portal designed by David McCarthy

The continuation of these kinds of offerings should not be dependent on the attendance of the classes or their perceived success as defined by any measure of evaluation, but rather they should be built upon with unwavering dedication to the idea of what they provide. Music festivals are cultural statements and attendees come as much for what they expect the festival to provide, as they do to be surprised and opened up to new ways of thinking, being and living. It is the duty of every festival to keep providing leadership in these areas and we love the fact that Euphoria has all the constructs of being the most well-rounded festival experience in Texas for the years to come.

Photograph by Mario Miotti

Euphoria’s debut in 2012 and had around 3,000 attendees throughout the weekend. This year, right before Bob Moses took the stage on Saturday evening, there was talk that 70,000 people were at the festival. If those numbers are correct, or even close, then the Euphoria Music festival is on its way to big things. Perhaps it’s because Euphoria, in recent years, has widened its EDM and jam scene strike zone to include more rap and hip-hop, but at weekend’s peak, the gathering’s priorities were clear. Kevin Kurtin breaks it all down extremely well in his article for the Austin Chronicle Euphoria’s Urban Upsurge: Young Thug and Wiz Khalifa spike weekend EDM fest‘. I for one truly enjoyed seeing Wiz Khalifa rolling out his hits on the main stage Sunday night.

Some of our other favorite shows included, Pretty Lights Live, Chromeo (Canada), MobyBob Moses (Canada), The Floozies, and Papadosio.

Euphoria also boasts the best Silent Disco we have ever attended, run by America’s leading silent disco producers HUSHcast (San Francisco). Held in what is now called the Art Outside Village, the Silent Disco stage is in an area with a stream on one side and a hill on the other, forming a lovely little fenced in grove with big tree trunks and a massive disco ball above its center. At 2 am on Friday/Saturday and midnight on Sunday after the main festival grounds closed, a huge lineup for entry to the grove forms quickly, but in no time at all we are dancing again: a testament to the smooth production that kept the ins and outs swift, efficient and ready with plenty of well charged headsets. You get one on the way in, you give it back on the way out. No ID, deposit or form of collateral needed. For some reason, other silent discos make it so hard on themselves, but at Euphoria it ran like a well-oiled machine, and that made all the difference. Three channels of music gave anyone all they could want until 6 am in the morning. On the last night, even the Funk Hunters and Moby dished out some early morning sets until 5 am!

Photograph by Mario Miotti

In terms of the music, we were very happy with the wide range of artists playing over the weekend, and we did not feel at all that it was a festival hedging its bets. In fact, we loved discovering new artists that we had never seen on the circuit before: Ill-EshaManic Focus, FlamingosisBadBadNotGood, and young Canadian duo Tennyson. Festivals live and die on the strength of their lineup, but when we hear attendees say that they come for the community and what the festival provides above music, then we know the cultural draw is working. A festival brings people together and encourages us to be free and to rejuvenate our sense of wonder and fun. Attendees of all ages preform with poi balls, hula-hoops, and other fun extensions. Others run around and blow bubbles. Seeing people dance is just as beautiful as watching the DJs and artists perform their music. ‘Find Your Euphoria’ is a motto that should live on. Euphoria is about more than just music or art. It is about the connections we make and the experiences we have together.

It was encouraging to see attendees liberated, wearing bright colors, animal costumes or dressed as butterflies. Some walked on stilts, or covered themselves in paint. People could almost be called exhibits and performers themselves, and that is what we love to see at a music festival. Try something you haven’t tried before, wear something you haven’t worn before, have fun and BE FUN! Finding your Euphoria is what it’s all about, and you should never stop, even after you leave the grounds of the most diverse festival in Texas. Keep finding it in your own daily life and bring it all back to share with us in 2018.

To get the latest information about Euphoria Festival, visit http://www.euphoriafest.com,  and stay connected to their FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Photograph by Mario Miotti