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Float Fest Beat the Heat

 Float Fest is a bold endeavor that has paid off once again. Bringing thousands of music-loving Texans to the Cool River Ranch in San Marcos, in the middle of a scorching deadbeat Summer, has liability written all over it.  However the festival founder, Marcus Federman, along with his crack team have pulled off another spectacular festival weekend for the fourth year in a row.

The festival, which has grown larger every year, hit a new high this year in terms of the lineup, attendance, and overall production.  While an increase in ticket pricing, long entry lines, and scorching weather threatened to stem the flow of attendees- those setbacks were overshadowed by the impressive lineup and galvanizing atmosphere that made the slight inconveniences worthwhile.

The lineup of music acts were split down the middle, with half of them local and the other half national headliners:

Best 3 Local Performances: 

Sweet Spirit – Fresh off the road on their national tour, Sweet Spirit crashed back into the Austin crowd with a raucous performance on Sunday afternoon.  Lead singer, Sabrina Ellis, showed her trademark spunk while guitarist, Andrew Cashen, smashed guitars. Tearing through a hit list of songs like “The Power”, “Baby When I Close My Eyes” and “Rebel, Rebel” their performance was a refreshing shot of energy on a torrid day.

Walker Lukens – Playing with his band that looks straight out of a modeling agency, Walker Lukens proved his eclectic pop prowess while wearing a white suit in 100 degree heat on Sunday afternoon.  The emotive songwriter captured the crowd with emphatic songs like “Every Night” and “Lifted” while charming the pants off everyone simultaneously.  Walker’s charisma and music skills make his appeal undeniable and his songs make his future bright.

 Ume – While this local hard rocking trio played at the peak of heat wave on Sunday, they still managed to rattle the audience’s skulls in a good way. Lead singer, Lauren ‘LL’, demonstrates that big things can come in small packages with her whirring guitar and banshee-like vocals.  These Austin veterans continue to impress with their dedication to devastatingly awesome music and their longevity in making it. 

Best 3 Headliner Performances:

Cage the Elephant – This bluesy rock band form Bowling Green, TN is the embodiment of the rock n’ roll spirit.  Lead singer, Matt Shultz, parades around the stage like Jagger in his prime.  The passion, urgency, and exuberance of each band member creates a synergistic explosion of unparalleled proportions.  This young sextet stole Sunday night from Weezer and MGMT, as their brilliance couldn’t be contained.

Passion Pit – Michael Angelakos might be stepping away from music for a hiatus but his Saturday night performance showed that he and his band are still at the top of their game. Crushing songs like “I’ll Be Alright” and “Lifted Up” are the nectar from which pop hook-loving millenials feed.  Angelakos is a great example of a veteran artist who doesn’t take anything or any show for granted by giving his all on every song.

Mac Miller – While I have to admit, I was not a fan of Mac Miller prior to seeing his live show, the Pittsburgh rapper is persuasive in his power to impress.  Commanding a large crowd that hung to every lyric, Miller weaved in popular samples to his music that created something like a block party. While there might be more talented musicians and rappers in the world, no one can say that Mac Miller doesn’t know how to throw down.

3 Performance Let-Downs:

MGMT – Uninspired and mopey, MGMT came out flaccid and flat-lined in front of a crowd the desperately wanted to dance with them.

Mike Jones – The Houston rapper dropped the ball for the second year in a row. Jones seemed out of it and passed the mic to his posse for the majority of the show.

Neon Indian – More of a personal preference, but Alan Palomo chose to play all of his newer tracks, which aren’t bad, but refuses to acknowledge his Chill Wave roots that got him there.


Float Fest still remains a favorite for campers, tubers, and vibers who find reasons to attend that are not directly related to the music. Expect more stages, bigger headliners, and more extra-curricular activities as this atypical festival continues to blossom. Kudos must be paid to a team that somehow found a way to succeed in the Texas Summer in a city dominated by ACL and SXSW.


Float Fest 2017 Local Artist Preview

 Float Fest takes place this coming weekend, and while the festival's lineups have gotten progressively massive over the past few years, the honorable festival bookers have remained loyal to Austin artists.  Joining MGMT, Weezer, and Passion Pit onstage will be a slew of local musicians who represent some of Austin's most electrifying live shows.  

Sweet Spirit - Arguably the most recognizable local act on the fest lineup, 'Queen Sabrina' never skimps on a live show. Raucous, empowering, and theatrical, a Sweet Spirit show is as magnetic as it is unforgettable.(4:45 PM Sunday @ Sun Stage)

Walker Lukens - One of the most creative singer/songwriters to claim Texas as home, Walker has put in the time to get where he is.  Eclectic pop diddies exude from his pores, while his hair may be the most recognizable in the austin music scene. (4 PM Sunday @ Water Stage)

Ume - A trio that levels all that stands before them, Ume emits swerving art-rock that rattles ribcages. Lead singer, Lauren 'LL', is a deceiving package of wanton destruction that shatters the stereotype of the girl-next-door. (3:15 PM Sunday @ Sun Stage) 

Los Coast - A soul-rock outfit on a hot streak, Los Coast is turning heads at every performance.  Trey Privott brings 'Stax-worthy' vocals to a swirl of multi-genre rock that ebbs and flows with volcanic zeniths. (2 PM Sunday @ Sun Stage)

King of Nothing - Originally hailing from H-Town, King of Nothing, brings enlightened rhymes to 'Skrewed Up' beats. Daren Napier channels the angst and pain of a life full of troubling transitions to elucidate a crisis of identity, and the music is stunning. (2 PM Saturday @ Sun Stage)



The Savage Poor Prepare to Release "Grown Ups"

Birthed from members of Shiny Ribs and Roxy Roca, The Savage Poor embrace alternative rock guided by social idealism with a fervent undercurrent of angst. The brothers, Jeff and Ben Brown, elicit a cinematic magnetism that infects the totality of their new debut album, The Grown Ups. Plotting to release their debut at One 2 One bar on July 26th, The Savage Poor explores the gamut of emotions from drab hopelessness, to inspiring exuberance. What brings each of their songs together, is the passion found behind each guitar lick and vocal which harkens back to a simpler time. With a reputable and talented lineage, the members of The Savage Poor are set on blazing through Austin eardrums on July 26th.


Billy King and The Bad Bad Bad Emit Surf Rock From Hell

 It's a rarity to see a band hit the ground running quite like Billy King and the Bad Bad Bad have in the past few months. House shows, a Do512 event, and a few other tune up gigs have all lead up to their much-anticipated upcoming headline show at the Mohawk on July 25th. Ominous drums, twanged guitars, and the otherworldly howl of Will Reynolds all coalesce to evoke a behemoth of a sound that is as sinister as it is hard-hitting. Reynold's impeccable vocals oscillate between a theatrical Screamin' Jay Hawkins and a Southern-styled Andrew Stockdale of Wolfmother. Bonham-esque percussion from Marty Chronister serves as the backbone from which the surgical guitar-stylings of Cam Wren spring forth, comprising equal parts power chords and face-melting solos.

 Frills and gimmicks are lacking as this trio smashes through a short but transcendent thread of songs that are now finally available on their debut EP Fever Dreamin'. The jittered punk diddy "Werewolf of Love" is an earworm of the highest order while "The Night Terror" slow-creeps into one the most cathartic choruses of recent memory. Billy King and the Bad Bad Bad don't need time to figure themselves out, they stand ready to unleash their hell fury unto us with wicked abandon, and you'd be a fool to deny their sacrament on July 25th at Mohawk.

-Lee Ackerley

Artists of the Month Glaze share recently released EP “Wasted Mind”

 Deli Austin scene Artists of the Month Glaze have earned this distinction largely on the basis of their recently released EP “Wasted Mind” (streaming in full below).  Combining lively three-piece alternative rock interplay with explosive dreamgaze elements, the four songs make for a compelling listen.  Lead track “No Surprises” features open note arpeggio guitar chords with matched bass figures propelled along by quick pattern high-hat and snare percussion.  Shredding washes of distorted guitar erupt over frenetic drumming as affecting melodies emerges via dramatic background vocals and extended guitar tones.  “Who Can Say” (which contains the EP title lyric) follows with a similar lead in structure while coming at an even quicker pace.  Along with effective quick-stop staccato breaks, there is an overwhelming romantic feel not unlike the gone (but not forgotten) Depreciation Guild (minus that bands chiptune/8 bit music underpinnings). “Mercury” adds a dreamier shimmer while advocating a desire to throw off the “nostalgia” and be “ready to be someone new.”  Final cut “Chow Mein” shifts the mood away from sentimental longings opting for the quiet-to-loud musings of “Surfer Rosa” era Pixies. - Dave Cromwell



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