Without a doubt, it has been a crazy and hectic year for everyone. Covid-19 put nearly everything on hold, especially live music. For a few months, we all were locked up in our house hoarding toilet paper, face-timing friends, with little to no human-to-human contact. This past weekend though, all that changed with one of the first music festivals back in Austin, Texas.
Seismic Dance Event produced by RealMusicEvents took over the live music capital bringing in some of the best in techno and house. Seismic is one of the growing number of techno/house festivals you can find in the states. The festival kept true to the roots with its all-black merchandise, mesmerizing visuals, and intricate art installations. The masses the festival attracted made for great energy, shuffling circles, and unique festival wear.
Day one started with the vaccination verification/covid testing. This process did take some time, but it's worth it to make sure everyone is vaccinated or produces negative test results for the safety of the attendees and staff. Everything was processed online to limit the interaction with the medical staff. Once attendees were verified negative or your proof of vaccination was confirmed, they could go and pick up your wristbands if they did not have one already. Once vaccination card/covid tests were verified on Friday, attendees were good for the whole weekend, if they had a 3-day pass.
Entry into the festival was swift and easy. One great feature was the contactless payment method to purchase drinks, merchandise, and other festival gear from third-party vendors. To get set up all one needed was to link your credit/debit card with your RFID wristband. Once that was completed, all you needed was to put your wristband up to register and it charged the card linked with your wristband, again limiting the amount of contact from staff and attendees.
Some notable sets from Friday had to be John Summit, Sacha Robotti, Lee Foss, and Claude VonStroke. The Tsunami stage held it down for being the second biggest stage, giving the crowd a great mixture of bass-thumping techno intermixed with throwbacks and a handful of recognizable originals. Sacha played some house classics like Tiga's "Let's Go Dancing," then incorporated Pink Floyd into the set and even added some new school songs by mixing in Cardi B's "Money." Lee Foss played some of his best originals like "Lies, Deception, and Fantasy," which had everyone feeling that ambient synth in the drop and singing along together. Deep Dish's set the vibe for me as the final set to my night at the Volcano stage, playing some funky house followed with a little dark techno. This night definitely did not disappoint.
Now in regards to Day 2, there were some hiccups I felt that could have been avoided. The weather called for heavy rain all week, continuing into the weekend.
The event was scheduled to begin at 1 PM CST. At 12:47 PM CST, RealDanceMusic postponed the event until 5. This was supposed to allow time for the rain to settle down, which it did significantly. Again this is something that was predicted all week long by meteorologists, however, organizers stated this was a "rain or shine" event.
Regardless of the rain stopping and not pouring down for a few hours, at 4:54 PM as people were parked and in line, minutes before the event was supposed to begin... day 2 of Seismic Dance Event was canceled officially. Numerous people were already at the event in line, on their way, and/or in the parking lot when they announced day 2 was canceled. The comments on Seismic's Instagram post here show some patrons disdain for the decision, with one patron labeling them as the new "FYRE Festival."
From that point on, from 5 PM CST until 8:52 PM there was no confirmation regarding the artists who traveled to perform this festival. There was also little to no information for the ticket holders as well. Luckily, RealMusicEvents did announce they were working on placing artists at local venues to perform, however, there was no confirmation until 8:52 PM CST. The amount of time from when it was canceled at 4:54, until the time they announced club shows at 8:54 PM CST created massive concern from festival attendees. Not to mention the artists were completely out of the loop as well with little to no information on what was going on. For example. Anabel Englund took to her Instagram story to let fans know where should be performing stating she wasn't given much of a heads up either and apologizing to her fans. RealMusicEvents even confirmed that artists were posting where they would be playing before they could in their passive-aggressive Instagram post below.
Regardless, some of the artists got their sets in like Bob Moses who played at Ceder Street Courtyard, then Sidepiece played at Vulcan Gas Company, while The Martinez Brothers threw down at Summit. That then left other artists who were supposed to play, without a set completely. Again, all this was announced hours after canceling the festival to ticket holders who scrambled to see their favorite DJs, leaving some unable to see them due to capacity limits at each respective venue. Mother nature can be a big problem to music festivals, and that is something everyone can understand, however, the way it was handled created some animosity with attendees Saturday night and throughout Sunday.
The weather again is not something you can avoid. However, the lack of transparency, communication and potential planning from the production company caused a lot of the issues.
The last day did return to the original venue, however, with the rain worse than it has been all weekend. It poured and poured for a good amount of time, even prior to doors opening, and literally when I walked in the rain started to get worse. There were tons of mud puddles, people were covered in dirt, but at this point, no one cared. This created an amazing vibe as everyone was getting soaked, dancing in the rain, splashing around in the puddles like children and helped one another to stay dry.
Sunday was a great last day because the artists on the lineup played some amazing sets. I don't think there was one set that wasn't true to the techno culture and sound. Some notable sets had to be Lucati, Kevin Knapp, Deborah De Luca, Phantoms, and ZHU's techno alias Blacklizt. Kevin Knapp definitely won the best set for me playing great remixes and edits of not only his songs, but from legends such as Carl Cox, Mark Knight, and more.
Phantoms definitely took the crowd on a roller coaster with their originals giving the crowd a deep house vibe, mixed with tech-house, intertwined with some beautiful vocals. The hard part though was deciding to see Tchami or Blacklizt, but I managed to see both. I started at Tchami, who stayed true to the festival theme playing tons of techno bangers, and not as many of his originals. It was very interesting to see and hear, but definitely showed me a side of his music style I haven't seen before.
ZHU did a great job mixing his songs, playing edits of hard dark techno accompanied by laying his vocals. I will say as well, the best visuals all weekend hands down go to ZHU, using some eye art that stayed true to his original project.
Overall, it was a fabulous first music festival in Austin, Texas after a hell of a year with tons of techno, amazing people, and loads of people dancing to the rhythm. Take a look at the photo gallery below from Alexis Spiegel (@ApexAmbedo) who did a great job capturing the ora and energy from the festival this past weekend.
Seismic will return to Austin on November 12-15th, 2021.
If you are interested in going tickets can be purchase here for $200. Get them while you can, they sold out quickly last time.